Bansaulog fetes Bansalan

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Thursday, September 8, 2011


BANSALAN, a first class municipality of Davao del Sur, is set to celebrate its 59th anniversary this September. Both the local government officials and private sectors are busy preparing for the forthcoming events.

“We are all ready,” says Geraldine Batal, the town’s tourism official.

Various programs are already lined up for the weeklong celebration that will start on September 12 and wind up on the 18th, the town’s founding anniversary.

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On September 12, an opening ceremony for the celebration will be held at the municipal hall. At night, a search for Little Miss Tourism will be conducted at the ABC Gym.

Several events are being lined up in the subsequent days: jobs fair on the 13th, garden show and cooking contest on the 14th, and agri-day (including a carabao costume parade) on the 15th.

September 16 will showcase the skills and talents of various pupils and students of the municipality during the drum and lyre and cheer dance presentations.

However, the most anticipated event is the street dancing which will transpire on September 17. Students and pupils from several schools will stomp their feet and dance their way in the town main’s street while audience will ogle watching them perform from the municipal hall up to the athletic ground of Bansalan Central School.

On the day of the anniversary itself, a Parada ng mga Karetela is scheduled. This ends up at the ABC Gym, where the anniversary program will be held. The town’s Mayor, Edwin G. Reyes, will deliver a message based on the celebration’s theme: “Panaghiusa: Tulay sa Kalinaw ug Kauswagan” (Unity: A bridge for peace and progress).

If Davao City has Kadayawan or Cebu has Sinulog, Bansalan has Bansaulog, the name of the weeklong celebration. “Bansaulog comes from two words,” Batal explains. “From Bansalan, the word ‘bansa’ is taken from. Saulog is actually a local term for celebration. As such, Bansaulog simply means Bansalan celebration.”

Bansalan used to be a barangay of the municipality of Santa Cruz. When Digos (now the province’s capital and a city) became a town itself, Bansalan was part of it. On June 6, 1952, Bansalan was separated from Digos and under Executive Order No. 506 became a town itself. In 1957, Matan-ao was created out of the territory of Bansalan. Ten years later, Magsaysay followed suit.

Bansalan is one of three gateways of Davao del Sur to Mount Apo. The other two are Digos City and Santa Cruz. Two years ago, when Kidapawan City in North Cotabato closed its pathway going to Mount Apo, most mountain climbers came to Bansalan to scale the country’s highest peak.
Mountain climbers had to pass the captivating barangay of Balutakay. Serene, good fertile lands, and cool weather, Balutakay is good for high value crops like cabbage, carrots, onions, and lettuce. Farmers plant these crops following the contours of the mountain.

Although there are several crops – including rice and banana – are grown in its flatlands, the town has chosen coconut as its one town one product. Farmers practice diversified cropping and coconut is one of the crops used in diversification.

One of the champions of coconut from Bansalan is Benjamin Lao. After doing extensive research, Lao started his own coco sugar production. In 2005, he was chosen as the most outstanding farmer of Davao del Sur. The following year, PCARRD recognized him as a Magsasakang Siyentista. In 2007, the Department of Agriculture (DA) bestowed him the honor as one of the country’s outstanding farmers.

In 2008, Lao launched Donna Belle Coco Sugar and for the last two years, he has been exporting his products to the United States and Canada. “My coco sugar is guaranteed 100-percent free from chemicals,” he says. His other products, with coco sugar as staple ingredient, include ginger brew, banana chips, coconut polvoron, coconut balls, and lemon grass tea.
Today, Lao Integrated Farm in barangay Eman is one of the two most-often visited farms of Bansalan. The other one is the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) in barangay Kinuskusan.

MBRLC is known around the world for its various sustainable farming systems like Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (Salt) and Food Always In The Home (Faith) gardening. Its former director, Harold R. Watson, received the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for encouraging international utilization of these farming technologies.

Bansalan is also known for people who have become famous in their professional careers not only in the Philippines but in other countries as well. Leading the list is Dr. Teofredo T. Esguerra, a flight surgeon who is an expert on emergency medical services, part of which is high altitude medicine, and was the physician of the Filipino team who scaled the world’s highest peak, Nepal’s Mount Everest.

Another is Jojo Adlawan, a singer who used to play the role of the Engineer in London’s stage production of Miss Saigon. Then, there’s Jay Sonza, a multi-awarded broadcasting journalist. Another one is Serapion Metilla, a former teacher who revolutionized bonsai in the country, earning the moniker the “Father of Philippine Bonsai.”

Leila Rispens-Noel, who used to live in the Netherlands but has moved to Hong Kong, is one of the most sought speakers on such topics as migration, development, remittances, and capacity building of diaspora organizations.

Bansalan has a total land area of only 20,770 hectares and is subdivided into 25 barangays. Sitting 72 kilometers south of Davao City, Bansalan is very accessible by land transportation. The town is sandwiched by two cities: Kidapawan and Digos.

How Bansalan got its name is an interesting story in itself. The Provincial Tourism Development Plan shares this information: “Bansalan got its name from the one simple farmer named Bansalan who one day dug the earth in search of potable water to quench his thirst. Fortunately, he dug a spring which didn’t satisfy his thirst but also his other companions. Rain widened the spring and the constant erosion of soil led to its formation into a creek, and later into a river. Bansalan did not live long. His companions, who were recipients of Bansalan’s labor named the river after him.”

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 08, 2011.

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