Towards the end of February, General Santos City always puts its best foot forward in a week-long celebration of its foundation as a community. This was the February 27, 1939 arrival of the first Luzon settlers under Gen. Paulino Santos on the land we now know as GenSan. It has been 79 years since that moment in history, and the prepared celebrations and festive events are some of the most extravagant yet. With the culmination date of the 27th on Tuesday next week, the start of the seven-day main festival period was held Thursday, February 22 at the Oval Plaza.
The majority part of the opening ceremony took place, in traditional Kalilangan fashion, during the afternoon. At the Barangayan complex in the Oval Grounds, an Agri Fair was kicked off. But the major component to start everything off was an event that has not been performed in the Kalilangan or even the Foundation anniversaries that preceded it. This was the Hudyat Parada, or civic military parade joined of course by marching bands, students and faculty from some participating schools, representatives from offices of the local government unit, and several NGOs. The Hudyat Parada passed through several of GenSan’s major thoroughfares like Santiago and Magsaysay Boulevards, Pioneer and Roxas East Avenues.
Upon reaching the Oval Plaza, the parade participants went for review in between the grandstand where the city government and event organizers waited, along with the VIP guests and audience on the Oval Grounds. Here the next part of the Opening Day celebration began, the Fiestahan sa Barangay. As part of the Fiestahan, schools that joined the parade put forth their respective drum and bugle choirs plus their accompanying majorettes for a performance competition.
With the coming of evening, the Grand Opening Program of the 2018 Kalilangan took place. It was filled with lavish production numbers intercut with speeches, opening remarks and greetings to GenSan, followed by performances of guest celebrities like Jona Viray. The night was capped off, as with past celebrations, by a grand fireworks display.
The rest of this week and part of the next will be given to all the expected special events that are signature of the Kalilangan celebration, from a traditional fashion show at the Phela Grande Convention Center (Friday) and at the SM City Trade Hall (Saturday), cultural presentations, concerts, sports competitions, singing and dance contests, beauty pageants, and even cosplay events. The culmination day is on Tuesday, February 27, with the early-morning cultural parade and dedication to the monument to Gen. Santos.
Photo courtesy of Kalilangan Festival 2018 FB Page