THE annual town fiesta of Isabela town drew a crowd that the police estimated to be around 12,000 at the localty’s public plaza to cap the celebration on Saturday, April 23, 2022.

On the last day of “Kinalipay sa Isabela,” townsfolk and its visitors from across the Philippines and even abroad feast with delight at the last events and activities up until the dawn of Sunday.

The week-long celebration made a return after two years of hiatus because of the pandemic, and the first fiesta was held in time of the administration of its municipal Mayor Irene Consunji-Montilla.

Tourism Officer-in-Charge Jacel Jane Pineda said, “we have seen the hope to celebrate as Negros Occidental downgraded to Alert Level 2, which allows a maximum of 50 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and 70-percent outdoor venue capacity.”

She added that this year’s celebration listed limited activities, which deviated from some previous traditional activities which are usually crowded with spectators due to the continuous threat of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Anchored on the theme “Pagpasalamat sa mga Bugay kag Paghigugma,” the festival celebrates life and hope, and abundant harvest in agriculture and community excellence.

Francis Ryan Pabiania, Member of its Local Culture and Arts Council, said that the fiesta underscored also the importance of its people and communities’ contributions to the programs and growth of the municipality, especially in agriculture and highlighted advocacy-based events.

“The current situations gave us an opportunity to experience and celebrate life’s abundance and to connect to communities,” Pabiania said.

He said that they want to bring people together, promote local identity and celebrate life’s abundance to spark hope and happiness amidst these challenging times.

Misa Pasalamat and a ceremony that opened Agricultural and Food fairs as well kicked off its celebration on Wednesday, April 20.

The opening was led by Montilla, Executive Assistant for Barangay Affairs Juan Miguel Montilla who both cut sugarcanes as a symbolic act to honor farmers and to depict its tourism campaign, Discover Isabela: Sweet Beyond Sugar.

Isabela is also known as the “Sweetheart of Negros.”

Other activities included Hugpong, an outreach for persons deprived of liberty with Isabela pageant holders through the years; Tilaw, a food demonstration of locally sourced "kulitis" and "aratiles" with Chef Mae Selene Resultay; Hampang ‘ta, volleyball and basketball tournament and exhibition games; various rabbit activities, cultural shows, and among others.

The said celebration was capped with Dayaw, a road tour performance of Kagayon Dance troupe with its artistic director Rudy Reveche, Parada Isabela participated with more than 30 sectors, awarding eight awardees on various fields in Pasidungog: Harvest of Isabela’s Excellence, and Kinalipay with celebrity guests KD Estrada and Alexa Ilacad, Project Juan band and DJ Ian Caram; and a grand fireworks display.

Further, Montilla stressed that she had seen that the people had so much fun and that she’s thankful to all sectors who participated, especially to the farmers who served as the "backbone of the agricultural town."

She said that this is the time to celebrate after two years of challenges brought by the pandemic and typhoon Odette that strongly hit Isabela last December.

“It is my hope that in the succeeding years, we will again share happy moments like this [Kinalipay sa Isabela] so that we will have happy memories in Isabela,” she ended. (PR)