GENERAL SANTOS CITY – For the second straight year, South Cotabato province will celebrate its 55th foundation anniversary and 22nd T’nalak Festival without the usual spectacle due to the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Argie Ryan Asaria, senior tourism operations officer, said on Wednesday the celebration slated July 16-18 will be done in a simple manner but residents will still have a chance to experience the festivity virtually.
He said it will start on Friday, July 16, with an interfaith thanksgiving celebration at 10 a.m. that will be joined by a limited audience based on instructions from Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr.
The local government invited representatives from the religious sector to join the event at the South Cotabato Gymnasium and Cultural Center, which will end with a release of doves, he said.
“This is the time for us to express our thanksgiving to the Lord for giving us another year to celebrate the T’nalak Festival and how far we have been despite the pandemic,” Asaria said in a press conference.
He said they have set the number of participants to a “very small number” and with specified seating arrangements.
The Covid-19 health protocols will be observed during the event in compliance with the province’s prevailing general community quarantine status, he noted.
Asaria said residents may join the interfaith event via Facebook Live through the provincial government’s official page, Land of the Dreamweavers and T’nalak Festival accounts.
In the afternoon, he said they will start airing via Facebook the “T’nalak throwback” featuring the major events that the provincial government last hosted in 2019.
He said it will be followed by a showcase of the local government’s programs and accomplishments under the current administration.
Asaria said they will feature the grand pageant and coronation night of the Mutya ng South Cotabato 2019 in the evening and will continue the next day with the previous cheer dance and hip hop dance competitions.
On July 18, the province’s 55th foundation anniversary, he said residents may relive the pomp of the 2019 festivities, especially the ‘tri-people’ grand parade.
“We will certainly miss the usual shoulder-to-shoulder crowd that shows up in our streets on that day but we will make sure that our celebration will continue despite our situation,” Asaria said.
He did not disclose the budget for this year’s celebration but cited that it is very minimal when compared to the PHP27 million allotted in 2019.
The bulk of the budget intended for the festival was realigned by the provincial government to augment its Covid-19 response efforts, he added. (PNA)