Around this point in time, one year ago, the COVID-19 infection has long broken out from Wuhan, China to nearly all points around the globe, including neighbors such as the Philippines. GenSan declared a state of calamity on February 4, 2020 as the city braced for possible incoming travelers carrying the virus. For a time, the LGU had hoped to maintain its timetable for that year’s annual Kalilangan festival, even if the spectators must follow then-newly introduced health protocols. Ultimately the decision was made to cancel Kalilangan 2020. Now, in 2021, with the COVID situation still uncertain and vaccines still not present, Kalilangan 2021 will just have to “go digital.”
The Philippine News Agency reports that the GenSan local government unit is now making preparations for an online celebration of the city’s 82nd foundation anniversary. Details were shared by city tourism operations officer Paola Barcelona, regarding a finalized schedule of activities within the traditional Kalilangan celebration period of February 22 to 27, most if not all of which will likely go digital to minimize crowds during this ongoing COVID pandemic. Said crisis, despite being unwelcome, actually made its way into the theme for Kalilangan 2021: “Kulturang Nagkakaisa Laban sa Pandemya.”
On a statement to local press this past February 2, Barcelona said that the events lined up for this year’s Kalilangan will get innovations in hope of making them livelier and meaningful in the face of COVID, especially after it put an end to the celebration last year. Events will range from concerts, games and showcases of Gensan and the city’s over 80 years of history, cultural diversity and community development. Most will be filmed and streamed online via the LGU’s various official social media accounts, particularly the LGU-GenSan and LGU-City Economic Management and Cooperative Development Office pages on Facebook. Generals may watch event streams there, maybe even join contests.
Before the official Kalilangan festival week however, side events like a MSM enterprises mini bazaar will already begin opening by next week. As for the major activities such as the ceremonial wreath-laying at the Gen. Paulino Santos monument at Plaza Heneral Santos, attendees will be limited again for anti-COVID safety. The virtual presentation for Kalilangan 2021 will be the culmination of sorts for GenSan’s initial foray into online streaming to replace events in 2020 such as the City Charter anniversary, Tuna Festival and Paskuhan sa GenSan. Decorations for the latter have yet to be taken down in some major roadways.
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