SAN SIMON -- In support of the bird-flu affected poultry owners, the Municipality of San Simon celebrated the first Chicken and Egg Festival over the weekend at the Nuestra Señora del Pilar Parish Church grounds.

The event was organized by Rev. Fr. Homer Policarpio and the Parish Pastoral Council in an aim to dismiss the negative perception on the avian influenza outbreak which hurt the poultry industry.

Policarpio, who also presides over masses in San Luis town, said he personally witnessed how the outbreak affected the daily lives and livelihood of people inside ground zero and within the seven-kilometer controlled zone.

“Nakita natin ‘yung epekto sa kabuhayan ng mga poultry raisers natin at gusto natin na makatulong sa kanila. Dito sa event, gusto natin ipakita na ligtas kainin ang mga poultry products natin dito sa Pampanga. Kapag naiintindihan na ng ating mga kababayan, unti-unti makakabalik na sa normal ang negosyo ng mga poultry raisers natin (We saw how the livelihood of poultry raisers were affected and we want to help them. In this event, we want to show them that it's safe to eat poultry products in Pampanga. If our countrymen understand, the livelihood of our poultry raisers will soon be back to normal),” he said.

Policarpio also said that he united the leaders from the fourth district to show that the Church, the government and the state are one in combating the bird flu virus in the province.

San Simon Councilor Dey Tayag, who chairs the Committee on Agriculture, said the program also aims to inform the public of the importance of maintaining cleanliness in the community as part of the biosecurity measures.

He stressed that municipalities that have poultry businesses must start implementing stricter measures on biosecurity to avoid another outbreak.

“Aside from the assurance that we are bird flu-free, gusto natin i-take ‘yung opportunity para i-inform ang mga tao, mga poultry owners at local officials sa importance ng kalinisan sa komunidad natin (We want to take the opportunity to inform the people, poultry owners and local officials the importance of cleanliness in our community),” he said.

Sto. Tomas Vice-Mayor Gloria Ronquillo, who was present in the event, lauded the initiative of Policarpio in coming with an event with the sole purpose of helping those who were affected with the outbreak.

She stressed that the local government of Sto. Tomas unites with all in efforts to promote poultry products in Pampanga as its part of its assistance to the poultry industry in her town.

During the event, the 14 barangays of San Simon prepared different chicken and egg dishes which was shared by local officials in a boodle fight.

Drug reformists of Bahay Pagbabago ni Apung Pilar also presented song and dance numbers to show that there is still hope and a second chance in life amid the struggles that people face.