JUDGING from the various events held during the fiesta activities last week, the celebration of the feast of Saint Augustine has been considered a huge success.
These events that made up the “Higalaay” festival might have been costly, but the head of the fiesta committee said it didn’t cost the city government a single cent.
Eileen San Juan, fiesta committee chair, said Monday the only counterpart that city hall contributed in the festivities was the manpower.
The city fiesta’s core activities, San Juan said, were all shouldered with sponsorship from business entities, both national and local.
She put the estimate corporate contributions at around P2.5 million in cash, not counting those in kind like food and other items.
“We wanted to preserve the coffers of the city for other projects. For the festival, we were covered with sponsorship,” San Juan said, adding that the committee got a good response from the sponsors.
What was notable, she said, was that the sponsorships did not just focus on the events handled by the city government, but also the activities ran by private organizations.
“The sponsorships did not just really focus on the activities the city handled, we also supported the other activities that were privately-run,” she said.
Among those events San Juan was referring to were the “Kumbira” culinary show and competition, organized by Cagayan de Oro Hotel and Restaurant Association (Cohara) and the Mindanao Fashion Summit, put together by local fashion designers.
‘Live All Out’
One of those sponsors, Smart Communications Inc., did not just contribute financially but also did its part in making sure that more people were enticed in checking out what the city had to offer including the events during the fiesta by holding a mobile photography contest.
In a statement, Judee Dizon-Chaves, Smart Communications Public Affairs Senior Officer, said they organized the Smart mobile photography contest to promote the city and the fiesta activities, adding that they’re planning on holding the same competition next year.
Also tagged “Live All Out,” the contest was aimed at urging the people to use their creativity in taking photos using their phones featuring the places, things and activities that they love about Cagayan de Oro.
San Juan said the organizers of this year’s fiesta activities were not deterred by threats circulating at that time as the city’s law enforcers were there to keep the city’s peace and order.
The biggest challenge the fiesta committee needs to address, she said, is to “upgrade” the carnival street dancing, launched this year, and the civic-military parade, by coming up with some standards for the participating drum and bugle bands from the city’s different schools.
“There’s a lot of balancing you have to do,” San Juan said, referring to the fiesta-related issues that should be ironed out.
“That is why I’m putting together a meeting to evaluate what needs to be improved. The organizing committee can really learn from this,” she added.
She said there are a lot of elements that could be added in the next city fiesta that are anchored on the Higalaay theme.
“We’re very happy with this brand (Higalaay) of the festival because it’s open, dili siya restricted to a certain activity or concept. Daghan ang atong mahuna-hunaan (we can come up with a lot of things) along that line,” San Juan said, adding that the organizers want to “engage the creativeness of the people.”
As compared to 2013’s festivities, San Juan said this year’s celebration has seen more improvements and more participation, considering that last year’s fiesta was marred by the bombing incident on July 26, 2013, a few weeks before the city feted St. Augustine, its patron saint.
This year, though, “everybody was enthusiastic to participate” and even the people thronged to watch the various events.
“We’re happy the turnout was really good,” she said.
San Juan said that they will try their best to bring in more visitors next year.
“We are hoping we can really launch a better festival next year, and more involvement from the stakeholders. And of course, more support from our sponsors,” she added.