Calls for unity echo during the Abaca Festival events
posted 4-Jun-2017  ·  
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The province’s leadership as well as officials of national agencies echoed the same call for unity in the effort to boost the agricultural sector through the Abaca Festival and at the same time enhance its tourism industry

With the overwhelming support of Catandunganons making this year’s edition grander that its maiden version, the 2nd Abaca Festival with the theme “Tibay nin Abaca, Maogma na Isla” commenced with a thanksgiving mass at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral officiated by Bishop Manolo delos Santos which was attended by government officials, heads of offices, employees and other individuals. It was followed by the opening of the Abaca Trade Fair held at Plaza Rizal which was facilitated by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through OIC Provincial Director Heginio Baldano

On the afternoon, the abaca showcase at the capitol lobby was unveiled by Governor Joseph Cua together with PhilFIDA executive director Kennedy Costales, PhilFIDA OIC-regional director Mary Anne  Molina, and Department of Tourism (DoT) regional director Maria Ravanilla. Products made from abaca fiber were displayed to exhibit the skill and talent of Catandunganons.

An unexpected number of participants of the Night Parade showed their creativeness by wearing accessories made of abaca with lighting decorations that made the night even more colorful and spectacular to the enjoyment of the crowd.

During the formal opening of the festival at the capitol grounds, Vice Governor Shirley Abundo reminded everyone that the week-long celebration is not only for merriment but especially for honoring the unsung heroes of the abaca festival: the abaca farmers and strippers.

Dir. Costales called for unity to save the almost dying industry due to what he described as the in-house buying of the abaca fiber, adding that there is a deficit of 35,000 metric tons in the production of the fiber. The Philippines remains the biggest producer at 85% of world output, with Ecuador contributing 14% and Costa Rica 1%, while Indonesia has started to plant the crop. The PhilFIDA official disclosed a new way to uplift the lives of abaca farmers in Catanduanes, whicn produces 39% of the country’s fiber, and assured that PhilFIDA is always ready to help them.

For her part, Dir. Ravanilla said the festival is really apt because even though Catanduanes is often visited by typhoons which destroy millions in properties and livelihood, the Happy Island and its people remain resilient and robust.

“Abaca is said to be the most durable among the natural fibers, posing a noteworthy reputation for sustainability and persistence,” she stated. “Abaca’s attributes mirror the enduring spirits of the Catandunganon people which forms the groundwork of livelihood in the province.”

The festival promotes local culture and the arts, she said, calling for unity in the tourism industry to uplift  the people’s livelihood, raise their dignity and achieve inclusive growth.  She challenged the provincial government to make Catanduanes a livable province where everyone lives with dignity and no one is left behind.

Congressman Cesar Sarmiento congratulated the organizers and recognized the provincial government headed by Gov. Cua, Vice Gov. Abundo, PBM Vincent Villaluna, Tourism Officer Carmel Garcia, the mayors and all others who helped in setting up the festival. He pointed out the need for true partnership between the abaca and tourism industries in Catanduanes, expressing his belief that the institutionalization of the abaca festival can yield the peak of both industries in the future.

Gov. formally declared the opening of the festival, with the ensuing fireworks display that greatly adding to the celebration.

The week-long celebration was highlighted by series of events such as the Abaca Farmers’ Day where abaca strippers competed in the stripping relay competition while TESDA offered free haircut, manicure, pedicure and massage to abaca farmers and strippers.  

An interagency convergence Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) for the implementation of the Provincial Commodity Investment Plans (PCIPs) in Catanduanes was signed by the concerned regional offices, Department of Agriculture (DA)-Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) and the provincial government headed by Governor Cua for the institutionalization of support and commitment for the development of abaca and mangrove crab industry in the province.

The other events were the Hawaiian-inspired, Abaca Stakeholders Night at the governor’s residence, the Kampeon sa Kusina Contest, search for Mr. Bicol World, Creative Dance Competition, the grand float parade joined by Jollibee, Oppo, Pinoy Lingap Damayan Cooperative, Manila Hemp Trading, Mr. Bicol World, Virac Town Center and Chingbee Trading, a concert by Itchyworms and local bands at the Ginumanfest at Plaza Rizal sponsored by Ginebra San Miguel, a Mobile Passport Servicing at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan sponsored by Vice Gov. Abundo, and the Virac Town Center Metrobods Bikini Open Competition that night. (Gidoemaly Romero/GO Information Unit)

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