Celebrations amid rising political tension
THE SOUTHERN BEAT - THE SOUTHERN BEAT By Rolly Espina () - April 24, 2007 - 12:00am
The political season reaches a hectic pace within the next three weeks. But despite rising tension in some places, Filipinos, especially Western Visayans still find time to observe their traditional fiestas or festivities.

Last Sunday, the Panaad Festival of Negros Occidental drew to a close amid fireworks. The atmosphere united officials of 32 local government units despite differences in their political affiliations, according to Negros Occidental Gov. Joseph Maranon.

Maranon said this was due to the fact that LGUs gave their best and showcased their best during the event, which drew a record-breaking crowd to the Panaad Park and Stadium in Mansilingan, Bacolod City.

Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia received a praise from Maranon, who congratulated him for his "lucky streak" with the crowning of Bacolod’s Christer Maria Taclobos as 2007 Lin-ay Sang Negros.

He added that Bacolod’s adopted son Manny Pacquiao won his recent bout. The city’s entry in the Pop Dance showdown also won first place. And Leonardia, according to Maranon, is assured of victory in the May 14 polls.

But yesterday also marked the opening of the one-week Pasalamat Festival in La Carlota City.

Mayor Jeffrey Ferrer, now candidate for congressman of the fourth district, had his hands full attending to the influx of tourists from all over Western Visayas and the country who trooped to La Carlota for the Pasalamat Festival.

Since it was started 28 years ago by the late Mayor Luis Jalandoni (Nonoy), of the famed Executive Combo, Pasalamat had grown into a major event that has gradually drawn hundreds of tourists annually to La Carlota.

One of the main attractions of the event is the Latin American beat that became so popular with the locals, especially the young. Thus, there eventually emerged in La Carlota not only widespread love for percussion instruments, but also local creativity. Thus, one can find percussion instruments fashioned out of native materials by the La Carlota youths.

And, of course, Pasalamat (thanksgiving) is never complete without the usual derby. Incidentally, the president of the Negros Gamefowl Breeders Juancho Aguirre, a La Carlota resident also gained a reputation as one of the best sources of Negrense fighting cocks.

Aguirre said yesterday that cock breeding has developed over the years into a secondary industry in Negros Occidental. The province exports yearly millions worth of fighting cocks, usually to Metro Manila and the Mindanao provinces.

But it is not only the Negros festivals that are attracting attention. There is the Outdoor Museum, which kicked off Antique’s Binirayan Festival last April 1 and will run until the end of the month.

Antique Gov. Sally Zaldivar-Perez called the Outdoor Museum as an attempt to retrace the doors of the celebration of "our greatness."

This includes initially the plazuela and the five streets surrounding site which were named after past governors of the province.

The streets were recently dedicated in their honor and were named Gen. Leandro Fullon, Antique’s local hero of the 1896 revolution, Gov. Tobias Fornier, Gov. Alberto Arcega Villavert, Gov. Calixto Zaldivar, and Gov. Josue Cadiao.

The trail starts from the EBJ Freedom Park named after the late Gov. Evelio Javier.

The cultural revival sparked by Perez has boosted the revival of the Binirayan Festival, the comedy festival, and various cultural activities that have marked history and culture in Antique.

As a matter of fact, Antique has won the tributes for Perez’s revival of interest in Kinaray-a, which has become now the lingua franca of residents of Antique and the first district of Iloilo.

Kinaray-a works and poems are often now heard over the air in radio. Local periodicals have also taken interest in publishing articles and novellas in the vernacular.

Another major event will be the ringing of the giant bell of Pan-ay in Capiz. That will be on May 1, the start of the annual fiesta.

The bell, however, had been mistakenly benn called the title of the biggest bell of Asia. Actually, there are much bigger bells in Asia but definitely, the Pan-ay bell biggest such Catholic hurch bell in the Philippines.

It is at the belfry of the Sta. Monica Parish in Panay town, just a few kilometers from Roxas City.

As a matter of fact, I recall climbing its belfry and marveling at the panoramic vista of the surrounding areas. It also gives one the chance to remember how much our forefathers must have sacrificed to hoist those giant bells up the belfry.

Our visit (my late wife, Dr. Lourdes Espina had accompanied me) coincided with the recent break in of the Panay Catholic museum. I received word that the latest addition to Panay’s prestige was the installation of a historical marker in front of the Parish church to commemorate one of the earliest evangelization missions of the Spanish friars in the country.

Augustinian friars founded the town and the parish church way back in 1581, according to Panay Mayor Felipe Barredo.

Thus, despite the rising political fever which is now drawing to a close, Western Visayas remains focused also on their festivals and their vacation spots as in the case of Boracay, which is full of tourists this summer.

ADDENDA. If there is a classic case of political tension, it was the issuance of arrest warrants to five of 26 supporters of Pulupandan mayoralty bet Samson Mondia on Saturday. Three of these supporters were barangay captains facing charges for alleged theft and grave threats. Mayoralty candidate Magdaleno Pena said Mondia’s running mate, Pulupandan Vice Mayor Julia Seminio, and four other council bets have also been served orders by the court to vacate their homes within five days. The rest of the 26 were reportedly facing theft and grave threats for removing fences Pena had set up to fence off the Montilla property in Greenbeach, Pulupandan. Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge Manuel Limsiano Jr. has set the bail at P6,000 each. A similar amount was set for bail for grave threats.Mondia expressed surprise why the judge issued the warrants without first holding a preliminary investigation for both charges. The National Conciliation Mediation Board voluntary arbiters Archie Baribar and Mateo Valenzuela have ordered the West Negros College to pay its faculty and employers P3.2 million as their share of tuition fee increases from school years 1994 to 1997. The WNC Faculty and Employees Union is headed by Rafael Cabatana. Jose Ortiz, the union’s lawyer, said the decision is not prejudicial to the complainants filing a claim for their share from tuition free increases after school year 1996-1997.

ALBERTO ARCEGA VILLAVERT ANTIQUE GOV ARCHIE BARIBAR AND MATEO VALENZUELA BINIRAYAN FESTIVAL LA CARLOTA OUTDOOR MUSEUM PASALAMAT FESTIVAL WESTERN VISAYAS
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