GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Officials and residents here gave a special tribute to the late Gen. Paulino Santos as they celebrated the city’s 81st foundation anniversary on Thursday without the usual festivities due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) scare.
South Cotabato 1st District Rep. Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles and Vice Mayor Loreto Acharon led the wreath-laying ceremony at the monument and tomb of the city’s founder at the Plaza Heneral Santos.
The ceremony, which was preceded by a brief cultural presentation, highlighted the “simple but meaningful” celebration of the city’s founding anniversary, which coincides with the arrival of Gen. Santos and the first batch of settlers from Luzon on Feb. 27, 1939.
Nograles acknowledged that while Covid-19 remains a big threat, it will not stop them from celebrating the city’s cultural roots and development in the past eight decades.
She said the city owes its progress and growth to the colorful traditions and indigenous values of its early inhabitants as well as the sacrifices and hard work of its first settlers.
She said it should learn from the experiences of its indigenous inhabitants, the B’laan tribe, and the settlers in rising above the challenges of the “perilous times.”
She cited the effects of series of earthquakes since last year, the huge fires, diseases like dengue and polio, and the now the feared Covid-19.
“We have to move forward and keep going just as our settlers did 81 years ago,” Nograles said.
The wreath-laying ceremony, the only activity left after the cancelation of the annual Kalilangan Festival early this month, was joined by police and military officials, local government officials and personnel, and representatives from national government agencies.
Malacañang earlier declared February 27 as a special non-working holiday in the city in line with the celebration.
City Mayor Ronnel Rivera and other city officials decided to cancel all activities festivity originally scheduled from Feb. 22 to 27 in compliance with an advisory from the national government against the holding of public events due to the Covid-19 threat.
Last week, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Health and the Department of Tourism issued a joint advisory assuring that it is “now safe to organize and attend public gatherings, meetings and festivals” as long as all precautionary measures are observed.
But City Councilor Shandee Llido-Pestaño, chairperson of the city council’s committee on tourism, said it was already too late for the city to continue with the festival when the new advisory was issued.
She vowed to make the celebration more festive and grander next year. (PNA)