MIDSAYAP, Cotabato (Jan 11) – One of the region’s most popular festival, Midsayap’s “Halad sa Sto. Niño” commenced on January 10 with a splendid line up of events joined by thousands of people from Cotabato province and nearby places.
A holy mass started the day’s activities with Fr. Navarro “Jun” Matas, OMI officiating. His homily centered on the year 2014 being a very special to the people of Cotabato.
This year, the province of Cotabato celebrates its 100th founding anniversary and the launching of the year-long centennial activity was done simultaneously with opening of Midsayap’s Halad festival.
2014 also marks the 75th year of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the Philippines. This is also the 75th year of “Halad” in the municipality of Midsayap.
“This year will bring us hope, faith and fulfillment of our mission to help our brothers and sisters especially those hit by calamities”, Fr. Matas said.
He also reminded everyone to continue living out the true essence of being a Christian – love, repentance and reconciliation.
The theme of this year’s Halad festival is “Ang bayang matibay ang debosyon, pinagpapala ng Panginoon”.
After the mass, thousands gathered for the festival of lights and procession led by provincial and local government officials of Cotabato.
Cotabato Governor Emmylou “Lala” Taliño-Mendoza, Vice-Governor Greg “Dodong” Ipong and Cotabato 3rd District Congressman Jose “Ping” Tejada joined the procession with lighted candles.
Also in attendance to give their support to the opening were nine Provincial Board Members of Cotabato – Noel Baynosa, Irene Claire Pagal, Chris Cadungon, Dulia Sultan, Loreto Cabaya, Eliseo Garcesa, Jomar Cerebo, Kelly Antao and Rogelio Marañon.
The Midsayap local officials were led by Vice Mayor Abeth Garduque. With him at the procession were Fr. Rizaldo T. Orola, Sto Niño Parish Priest and Rolly C. Sacdalan, CPA, Chairman of the Halad festival Executive Committee in Midsayap
Many of those who joined the procession brought images of Sto. Niño and have them blessed.
Joining the parade where the Centennial Commission, heads of offices of provincial capitol, Parish Pastoral Council, Halad Executive Committee and St. Mary’s Academy of Midsayap drum and lyre corps,
The procession immediately followed by a program at the Midsayap municipal plaza where the opening of the weeklong Halad festival was formally opened and the Cotabato Centennial line up of activities launching was also done.
Here, an emblem of the Cotabato Centennial and Sto. Niño were lighted by the officials, making the opening ceremony a highly symbolic.
An audio-video presentation of the history and beginnings of the Cotabato Empire province were shown to the spectators. The film, though short and simple amazed many people and took them back to the humble beginnings of Cotabato.
When his time to speak, Midsayap Vice – Mayor Garduque narrated on his town and its people’s warmth, talent and creativity.
“The people of Midsayap would like to take this wonderful occasion of the “Halad sa Sto. Niño” festival and show our identity and share our God-given talents. In many years, Halad as a street-dancing competition has become a significant identity of Midsayap and for this we are very grateful” Vice-Mayor Garduque said.
The municipal government of Midsayap has, for the first time extended the festival’s duration to up to 10 days. The Halad festival in Midsayap is done every 3rd week of January and this year it falls on January 19.
The mayor called upon his constituents and the rest of the province to come to Midsayap and join the fun-filled activities prepared by Midsayap LGU and the Halad Executive Committee.
Gov. Taliño-Mendoza for her part has appealed for full support and cooperation of the people of Cotabato for both the “Halad: festival and the centennial celebrations of Cotabato.
“With solidarity, we can make the 100 years of the province of Cotabato a very memorable and significant event”, the governor said.
With this, everyone in the crowd shouted “Pit Señor”, “Viva Sto. Niño”and “Mabuhay ang Cotabato”.
The Halad festival opening and Cotabato Centennial Activities launching were highlighted by fabulous display of fireworks in the evening which lasted for 20 minutes.
Everyone at the municipal plaza gazed with amazement at the fireworks display.
After this, the people had so much fun in dancing at the theatrical showcase Dance of the People and singing the OK sa Cotabato, a song composed and performed by the Maki-Rudy band of Makilala. (JIMMY STA. CRUZ)