Text and Photo by Henrylito D. Tacio
After two years of silence due to the pandemic, the town of Bansalan in Davao del Sur will again come alive as it celebrates its 70th year of existence on September 18.
“Every town anniversary is special,” said Councilor Kirby Villaraiz on why this year’s celebration is meaningful. “This time, we are embracing the COVID-19 and living with it.”
Atty. Villaraiz, who is the chair of rules and tourism, added that the celebration “is also a declaration that we won the battle against the pandemic.”
The week-long celebration will start on September 12 and ends on the 18th. “(We want) to include all sectors,” explained Atty. Villaraiz on why it is a seven-day celebration.
Because the virus is still very much around, all participants and those who will witness the prepared events are required to observe all the necessary health protocols like wearing of face masks and physical distancing. The minimum attendance is only 70% of the capacity.
“The activities, which we have not enjoyed in the past two years, can relieve our longing,” says May I. Ladeza, a barangay councilor. “But we have to consider that COVID-19 is still around the corner and so we should be responsible by doing those health protocols for our safety.”
Several activities have been prepared for the week-long celebration, including a quest for Miss Mutya ng Bansalan, Hip-hop Contest, Battle of the Bands, and Digital Photography and Poster Making Contests.
Among those that will be missed this year’s celebration are the street dancing, folk dance competition, and floral float parade.
One of the most awaited activities is the recognition of this year’s outstanding Bansaleños. One of the recipients, although posthumously, is Salinta Monon. A Gawad Manliklikha awardee from the National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCAA), she was born in Bitaug.
Former recipients were broadcast journalist Jay Sonza, print journalist Henrylito Tacio, Dean Israelito Torreon of Maria Jose College of Law, organic farmer Benjamin Lao, flight surgeon Teofredo Esguerra, migrant worker champion Leila Rispens-Noel, and University of Mindanao professors Loreto Valdez and Rola Andal.
Bansalan – named after a Bagobo datu – was once a barangay of Digos. Then President Elpidio Quirino named it a regular town on September 18, 1952. Matan-ao and Magsaysay were former barangays of Bansalan.
Bansalan is politically subdivided into 25 barangays. The current mayor is Edwin Reyes.