A FESTIVAL calling our attention to renew our commitment for the environment.

This was how Bago City Nicholas Yulo described the just-opened Mount Kanlaon Natural Park (MKNP) Festival 2022, as he underscored that the annual celebration is also a reminder to the people of their duties and responsibilities in the world, earth and planet that they live in.

Yulo, along with other local officials, led the opening rites of the three-day activity dubbed “Halad kay Kang-laon (An offer to Kanlaon)” held at the city’s Bantayan Park yesterday, August 9.

Themed “Pagbangon sang Kumunidad, Nasandig sa Pag-amlig sang Dunang Manggad (The community’s recovery lies on the conservation of natural resources),” this year’s festivity is hosted by the City Government of Bago.

“There’s is no other planet that we know where we can transfer. Scientists may be looking for that planet but for now this is our home, earth is our home so it is only right that we should treat it correctly so that we, too, will see more generations of human beings living and thriving on earth,” Yulo said.

The mayor pointed out the need for the people to change their ways, bad ways, in order to allow the earth and everything living in it to thrive again.

“It is us, through our ways, the ways that we can change like over fishing, over logging and emission of carbon which is harming our environment so that we can also thrive like the animals in this world,” he said in his welcome message.

As he rallied fellow government officials, residents and other stakeholders to continue working together for the environment, Yulo emphasized that “we are very much affected, whether we like it or not, so we have to make a contribution and hopefully reverse our strategies.”

Aside from Bago City, the festival also gathers five other Mount Kanlaon Natural Park member-local government units (LGUs) including La Carlota City, La Castellana, San Carlos City and Murcia in Negros Occidental, and Canlaon City in Negros Oriental.

Yulo was joined by La Castellana Mayor Rhummyla Nicor-Mangilumutan at the opening rites, along with tourism officers and representatives of the participating localities as well as other stakeholders and partners.

Aside from the “symbolic patik” to mark the opening of the festival, they also opened the Trade Fair Agri-Booth that showcases a wide variety of products, mostly agricultural, of the six participating cities and municipalities.

“Mount Kanlaon Natural Park Festival is not just about a mountain or volcano, it is about taking care of our earth, our natural resources,” Yulo said, adding that “natural resources are very crucial to the balance of our ecosystem.”

The annual activity in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), among other stakeholders, is aimed at promoting ecotourism at the natural park.

For Dennis Pinosa, who is the Protected Area Superintendent of Mount Kanlaon Natural Park, the celebration is also to commemorate the birth of RA 9154 or the Mount Kanlaon Law enacted on August 11, 2001.

Purposely, Pinosa said, the law declaring the 2,435-hectare portion as a protected area was also passed to protect, conserve and develop the remaining natural resources as well as the history, culture and arts within the natural park.

“Our intention is to enhance biodiversity, value and strengthen its life support system and improve the quality of life of the communities,” he said, adding that “our target is really the community thereby bringing economic, social, cultural and ecological sustainability to them.”

Forming part of the activity at the opening day was the press presentation of the Diwata kag Suta sang Kanlaon 2022 at the Bago City Community Center.

The 10 candidates presented their respective advocacies, all mainly geared towards environment protection and conservation, as well as insights on how to address various issues and concerns confronting the environment.

They are Miguel Buenafe and Queenie Edessa Amarante (Bago City); Luie Gee Jagorin and Janella Marie Avelino (La Carlota City); Marlo Arconila and Ijie Feb Tenerife (La Castellana); Joshua Cabalhin and Johanna Marie Santiago (Murcia); and Vhon Cedrick Alipar and Sheinedy Guzon (Canlaon City).

The coronation night of this year's pageant will be held at the Manuel Y. Torres Memorial Coliseum and Cultural Center (MYTMCC) today, August 10.

Other activities yesterday were Earth Concert and Fellowship Night at the Bantayan Park.

For the second day, there will be a Mountain Bike (MTB) Challenge from Bantayan Park to Barangay Ilijan; Tree Growing Activity at Barangay Ilijan; Super-sized Canvas Painting and Body Painting Contest at the Buenos Aires Mountain Resort in Barangay Ilijan; and Creative Dance Contest at the MYTMCC.

Part of the event on the third day is the half day farm tour activity at the Buenos Aires Mountain Resort Hilltop Garden, Lunao Coffee Farm and Chris Fadriga Cacao Nursery.

Capping the festivity are the closing ceremonies, street dance and festival dance presentation, also at the Bantayan Park.*