North Cotabato to hold local festival despite attacks

The Philippine Star

NORTH COTABATO, Philippines - The province will still hold its 10-day â€œKalivugan Festival”  to highlight the province's growth and development  despite the calamities and bombing  attacks that hit the area in recent weeks.

The term “Kalivugan” in the Menuvu vernacular can either mean an important “peace gathering,” or convergence of tribal communities to resolve community issues and concerns.

This year’s August 20-September 1 traditional event, which is to highlight the cultural identities and ethnicity of the diverse communities,  the trade and investments and eco-tourism potentials of North Cotabato, will also highlight the 99th founding anniversary of the province.  

The festival, to be participated by local government units from all three congressional districts in the province, will also signal the start of the preparations for the 2014 centennial commemoration of the founding anniversary of the province.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza  said the police and military have implemented joint security measures  to ensure the safety of thousands expected to participate in the 10-day event.

The province, often geographically referred to as North Cotabato, is known administratively as Cotabato Province, a component area of Administrative Region 12.

The territory of the province was originally a part of the vast Cotabato Empire Province created 99 years ago, during the American occupation.

`Empire province’

The vast empire province, once touted as the country’s largest, was divided in the early 1970s by then President Fedinand Marcos into what are now adjoining provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, and South Cotabato, which were originally under Region 12.

Political and geographical development in the past two decades led to the creation of the cities of Tacurong, Koronadal, and Kidapawan and the Sarangani province out of the areas once covered by the defunct empire province.

Maguindanao, which means “people of the flooded plains,” became a component province the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 1990, through a plebiscite that led to the ratification of the ARMM’s first ever charter, the Republic Act 6734, which was amended and became R.A. 9054 through another referendum in 2001.

A Liberal Party stalwart, Mendoza, now in her second term as North Cotabato’s provincial governor, said the Kalivugan Festival will also be a showcase of the unity of political, traditional and religious leaders in the province and the local civil society organizations.

“These are the factors and forces that sustain the socio-economic growth and political stability in the province,” said Mendoza, who had served as representative of the first congressional district of North Cotabato for three consecutive terms before she was elected governor in 2010.

Bouncing back from conflicts

The province was one of the areas in the south badly devastated by conflicts sparked by the “all out war” campaign against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2001 by then President Joseph Estrada.

More hostilities rocked parts of North Cotabato as a consequence of the military’s restoration in February 2003 of government control over the MILF’s supposed “last frontier,” the Buliok Complex at the border of Pikit, North Cotabato and Pagalungan, Maguindanao, and the aborted August 5, 2008 crafting by the rebel group and the government of the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain.

The province had posted a rise in investments and employment with local and foreign investments in  various agricultural and commercial ventures in recent years.

The security measures meant to prevent saboteurs from disrupting the Kalivugan Festival, which will be held at the sprawling capitol grounds in Barangay Amas in Kidapawan City.

1Lt. Nash Sema, civil military operations officer of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion, which has jurisdiction over Kidapawan City, said their intelligence operatives are now monitoring  the area.

“All our security missions are being coordinated closely with the provincial police office and the office of the provincial governor,” Sema said.

Highways leading to the provincial capitol, located at the foot of the majestic Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak, will be tightly secured for the whole duration of the activity.  - John Unson










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