Travelling around GenSan in the earlier weeks of this month, one might have taken note of the preparations being done along the streets: the banners on the main thoroughfares, the tarpaulins bearing the names and logos of many company and corporate sponsors, the usual market fair and carnival rides at the Oval Plaza. Things were supposed to have been set for another fun celebration of the Kalilangan Festival. But a health crisis across the world has entered the Philippines and worse, was suspected of reaching the city itself. All plans were scrapped, and this Thursday, the commemoration at the heart of Kalilangan was carried out without even a little whimper.
Minda News has it that the 81st founding anniversary of the community that would become General Santos City was celebrated, after a fashion on Thursday, February 27, The simple ceremony held at the junction of Pioneer, Pendatun and Roxas East Avenues, in front of the Plaza General Santos where the monument to the city founder stands, was one of the last remnants of what should have been a two-week long period of festivities for GenSan, that was unfortunately derailed by the ongoing danger of COVID-19.
In a rather anticlimactic conclusion to the cancelled Kalinangan 2020, the wreath-laying ceremony at the General Santos monument was a small affair, performed by city officials and the descendants of the original 1930s settlers led by Gen. Paulino Santos of the National Land Settlements Administration during the presidency of Manuel Quezon. This event was led by Mayor Ronnel Rivera, who while sad that the grand Kalilangan celebration period was scrapped out of fears from novel coronavirus, noted that the foundation anniversary could still be celebrated in another way. And indeed, there was also a follow-up program that was held at nearby Mindanao State University – CETD Campus Gymnasium at Oval Plaza, also covered on social media.
Nevertheless, this was all a pale shadow of what could have happened between February 14 to 27 had it not been for the necessary health safety measures enacted following the quarantining of a suspected COVID-19 patient in the city just as the Kalilangan celebration period was about to start. As consequence for the cancellation, the Oval Plaza flea market was truncated and never filled with agro-trade exhibitors, while the usual carnival rides fairgrounds were forced to dismantle and pack up their rides before customers could pay to enjoy. Both sectors reported large losses due to the cancellation of Kalilangan 2020.
If it is any consolation, the P800,000 monthly rent for occupation space at the Oval Plaza by the festival organizers has been refunded, and Mayor Rivera has promised that all this trouble will be made up for at Kalilangan 2021.
Image from Philippine News Agency