Sinulog, Dinagyang, Ati-atihan on
THE SOUTHERN BEAT  - Rolly Espina () - January 15, 2008 - 12:00am

There were some events and incidents which failed to dampen the traditional electrifying tribute to the Sto. Niño. These included the Sinulog of Cebu and Kaban­kalan City, the Ati-atihan of Kalibo and the forthcoming Dinagyang of Iloilo City.

And, of course, the Dinagsa of Cadiz City and other similar festivities – all paying tribute to the Holy Infant Jesus. Hala Bira resounding in swaying to the “1-2, 1-2-3” beat of the ati-atihan drums.

In the case of Iloilo, the best development was the distribution by the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation of P3-million in subsidy to the 15 “tribus” participating in this year’s celebration.

The amount was contributed by the city government to the foundation as subsidy for the tribes.

Actually, what was distributed by the weekend were only P810,000, the first 10 which had performed commendably in the last three years each had received P220,000. The five remaining received P165,000. Dinagyang still has to start on Jan. 25 to 27, this year.

But Kabankalan City started this week with the drum beats gathering tempo as the Sinulog opened. The climax, however, will be by the weekend with the various competing tribes regaling the crowd with their dance performances.

But, despite the din of preparations for the various Sto. Niño celebrations, the most feverish preparations in Bacolod, Silay and Talisay cities were for the Jan. 18 operationalization of the new airport of international standards in Silay City’s Barangay Bagtic.

The problem was that there were last minute preparations, especially in terms of the licenses or permits for shuttle buses to and from the new airport and Bacolod.

Until today, the LTFRB has yet to come out with the list of shuttle buses granted permits, whether temporary or permanent, to ferry passengers to and from the airport neither has the LTFRB issued guidelines as to the fare.

So with cab fares. Bagtic, incidentally, is 20 kilometers to and from Bacolod. Thus, initially, the transport fare to and from the airport was estimated to amount to about P380, which could double if the cabs were to return to Bacolod sans any passenger.

Even acting Governor Isidro Zayco complained that the Air Transportation Office, has been sending confusing signals as to when actually would be the formal opening of the airport. Earlier, it had been set for early in the morning. Later, the Public Information Office sent notices that it has been reset for the afternoon.

Vice President Noli de Castro is the principal guest with Rep. Mikey Arroyo of Pampanga. Rep. Monico Puentevella, vice chair of the transportation committee of the House, will also grace the occasion.

The other guests include Silay City Mayor Jose “Oti” Montelibano, Talisay City Mayor Eric Saratan, and Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia. So with acting Gov. Zayco and other local officials.

But, as I had earlier mentioned, it was not clear when actually the inaugural ceremonies will take place. Until the last minute, there could be changes in the schedules. And that could torpedo preparations.

Farewell to Montelibano

To a certain extent the funeral of former Governor Alfredo Montelibano Jr., who also served as Mayor of Bacolod for two terms, dampened to a certain extent the enthusiasm for the new airport.

Actually, the latter is controversial because there are a large number of Bacolod residents, including members of the business community, who have signed the petition spearheaded by Mayor Leonardia to retain the present Bacolod airport.

The petition was submitted to Malacañang through Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita last weekend. Taipan Lucio Tan, who owns almost half of the sprawling Bacolod airport area, had given his go-signal to the plan by the Bacolod mayor to have the area serve as venue for the flying school and also to handle planes to keep Bacolod on the tourist map.

Anyway, the Montelibano farewell could have drawn a lot more people were it not that it had to bury his remains at the family mausoleum in Hacienda Binitin, Murcia.

Still, a crowd of about 3,000 accompanied the funeral cortege from the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod to the family hacienda where Alfredo Montelibano Sr., former Negros Island governor, is also buried.

Montelibano was the longest surviving governor of the province from 1968 to 1986. He also served as mayor of Bacolod from 1988 to 1995.

Batanes Bishop Camilo Gregorio was the principal celebrant of the funeral mass. He was assisted in the blessing by Msgr. Victorino Rivas, vice general of the Bacolod Diocese.

The group that accompanied the remains of Montelibano included farm workers, teachers, businessmen, government employees and officials as well as members of the province’s elite and middle class professionals.

“He was a man of service, who served his people well,” was how Msgr. Rivas paid tribute to Montelibano. “His being a Catholic defined his life, his conviction his choices, and his close friendship with the late Bishop Antonio Y. Fortich, Montelibano translated into love for the Church and a deeper relationship with the Diocese of Bacolod,” Rivas added.

And, yes, despite the Montelibano wealth, Rivas pointed out a well-known secret among the Montelibano family. Junior died poorer than when he first entered into politics, he continued.

With that, all one can say, with the Sto. Niño festivals ongoing – “Hala, Bira” and Viva Señor Sto. Niño.

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