“Closing time, time for you to go out: go out into the world. Closing time, turn the lights up over every boy and every girl. Closing time: one last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer. Closing time, you don't have to go home but you can't stay here...” the culminating rock anthem by our generation’s Semisonic band echoes today.

JUST like all good things, there is a time to begin and a time to end. A time to commence, and a time to close. Today, the 2018 edition of La Trinidad’s Strawberry Festival culminates with an awarding and closing program, a music jam and concert, and a community bonfire.

The newest addition to the closing activities we saw from 2015 (when I was employed) up to this year is the community bonfire. Since fire draws people together since the ancient times, fire should start the dialogues we need to internalize what we have done so far for the festival.

What should we consider? What should we modify? Add? Eliminate? An elder proposed that sports activities and other non-agricultural activities shall be excluded in the celebrations to focus on the “real essence” of the celebration which should be “Strawberry-related”.

A group also wished that the celebration should be privatized since employees cannot do all the work requirements with the needed focus. A community leader suggests a revamp of the Strawberry Festival Ordinance of 2011.

Dr. Danilo Padua, a columnist in one of Cordillera’s local paper supported said proposal and wrote the following observations: “The mentioned Municipal Ordinance there governs the conduct of the strawberry festival. The major activities for the festival are specifically cited there. It likewise states the composition of the executive committee that will plan for the event. If you care to know it, this is the composition of the committee: mayor, as chairman and two co-chairmen; the vice mayor, the SB chairman, committee on tourism special events. All councilors are members, together with the chairman of the municipal tourism council. The municipal tourism officer serves as the secretary.”

“With such composition, it is clear to see that important sectors such as the business sector are not even represented. What I am saying is that, bright ideas coming from non-political members are not properly included in the equation. This is a reason why improvements to the festival are long in coming. Maybe the ordinance could be amended to include an inclusive membership of the executive committee. It may exclude the mayor, and only a few councilors should be members. Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) itself and the mayor should just serve as consultants.”

Since we have to listen to public scrutiny as public servants, I brought said concerns to our legislators concerned especially to Councilor Roderick Awingan, the principal author of the ordinance. He, of course, welcomed said suggestions and vowed to work on policies related to the same.

The Committees for the Strawberry Festival will have a post festival meeting next week to assess and consider improvements in the holding of the Festival.

Definitely, our celebrations need a lot of work...but we are getting there. I promise. This Strawberry Festival may not be perfect...but it is still meaningful. Thank you very much to the community and the committees who are the real heroes during the festivities!