Panaad: A vow that lasts

THESE days, a marriage of 23 years and counting is a good reason to celebrate. In the same breath, a festival running for 23 years with no sign of let-up is a feat in itself.

Thus, congratulations are in order for the annual Panaad sa Negros Festival, now on its 23rd edition, for getting bigger and grander each year.

“Panaad” is the Hiligaynon word for “vow” or “promise.” The festival is a form of thanksgiving to the Lord for the bountiful harvests throughout the year, and for the good life that Negrenses enjoy. It is also commemoration of a vow in exchange for the good life.

The festival gathers all the 13 cities and 19 towns in a grand showcase of their respective festivals, products and produce, songs and dances, arts and crafts, and of course—beauties. It features various sports and cultural contests, trade fair and exhibits, concerts, garden shows, and pageants. Thus the Panaad Festival is also dubbed as “the festival of all festivals.”

Held every April, the first Panaad Festival was held at the Capitol Park and Lagoon in 1993. It was held there for the next three years, until it was transferred to the reclaimed area at the Bredco Port in 1997.

As the festival grew bigger each year, there was a need to transfer it to a bigger venue. The construction of the Panaad Stadium and Sports Complex in Barangay Mansilingan in 1998 paved the way for the establishment of the Panaad Park that has become the permanent home of the festival. The stadium and the park span 25 hectares.

This year’s Panaad Festival opened last Friday, April 15, and will run until April 22.

This year’s theme is “Panaad sa Negros: Showcasing our Island’s Sweet Surprises,” a take on the new tourism brand of the province, “Negros Occidental: Land of Sweet Surprises.”

Both underscore the combined tourism attractions of the newly created Negros Island Region - composed of the twin provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.

In fact, the Negros Oriental is joining the Panaad Festival by sending by sending its participants to the opening day motorcade, and display of its tourism attractions.

At the opening rites, the new tourism brand of Negros Occidental was also launched. The logo shows the festiveness and the diversity of Negros Occidental and its people. It is a simplification of the “unique spirit and history” of the province. The jumping human figure symbolizes the “celebratory and creative nature” of Negrenses.

Occupying a large part of Panaad Park are the 32 booths—each either a replica of the town or the city’s icons or best products. By visiting these 32 booths, it seems like you’ve gone around the whole province from San Carlos in the north to Hinobaan in the south in just a few hours.

As a festival, Panaad will surely continue to evolve through the years as a testament of the Negrenses’ love of the good life.

As thanksgiving celebration, Panaad is a lasting vow for a prayerful people who are always thankful for the blessings from the Almighty.
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