SEVENTY-ONE years after American forces landed in Talisay, this year’s anniversary celebration passed with more controversy than fanfare.
The City let the day end without a reenactment.
Allies of Talisay City Mayor Johnny de los Reyes blamed members of the City Council for failing to pass the 2016 annual budget, which included an appropriation for the landing anniversary activities.
But Talisay City Vice Mayor Romeo Villarante, the council’s presiding officer, denied that the City Council was responsible for the lack of funds for the yearly event, saying that the mayor is known to be “ill-prepared” when it comes to activities involving the city.
Starting at 6 a.m. yesterday, the opening ceremonies were attended by Mayor delos Reyes, City Councilors Valeriano Ylanan and Dennis Basillote, Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, military officials and representatives from the United States and Japan.
After the ceremonial wreath-laying at Liberation Park in Barangay Poblacion, the ceremony ended just before 8 a.m.
There was no opening mass, no civic-military parade, and no reenactment of the landing, a key event in the liberation of Cebu in those dying days of World War 2.
Some veterans and their children complained not only about the short program but the lack of logistical support such as food and water for their guests.
One veteran, who asked not to be named in this report, told Sun.Star Cebu that the City Government gave veterans like him less honor in organizing such a “flimsy” ceremony.
“Kung dili sila ka misa o ka reenactment kay tungod Sabado Santo, pwede ra man unta nila gibalhin sa laing adlaw para makaharos sila sa ilang preparasyon (If they did not want a mass or a reenactment because it’s Black Saturday, they could have moved the celebration to another date),” the veteran said.
Thelma Navarro Alcontin, 55, whose late husband was a war veteran, said she was disappointed with what she saw yesterday.
Alcontin, who was accompanied by veterans and their spouses, said that they were further disappointed when only a few of them were given food and water by the City Government.
“Halos niabot ug more than 200 ang nagpalista namo, dayun 30 ra ang nahatagan ug pagkaon (More than 200 of us signed up to attend the event, but only about 30 were served food),” Alcontin added.
Some City officials refused to blame themselves for what happened.
Ylanan, vice chairman of the City Tourism Commission, accused the Talisay City Council of ruining the yearly commemoration by failing to pass the annual budget.
He said that he and the mayor had to use their own money to acquire some things for the program.
He said that the City Council has only set aside P1 million for socio-cultural activities in 2016, with much of it going to the activities during the annual fiesta.
Ylanan lamented that during the time of former city mayor Socrates Fernandez, the City appropriated around P3 million for socio-cultural activities.
But Vice Mayor Villarante, in a separate interview, said that the City Government has enough funds to use for the annual activity. He criticized de los Reyes and the mayor’s allies for failing to prepare on time.
“Wala lang gyud mangandam ang mayor sama sa ilang gibuhat sa Sinulog participation (The mayor failed to prepare, which is also what happened during the Sinulog),” Villarante added.