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Friday, September 20, 2019

Pacete: Pagatpat Festival 2016

THIS could be one of a kind. This is the festival of the mangrove that features the collective efforts of the mangrove seedling planters, the guardians of the coastal areas, the fishermen and thousands of volunteers who persevered to work and see that mangrove seedlings become tall trees.

Pagatpat is just one of the species that grow very well in the mangrove rehabilitation area in Barangay Balaring, Silay City being assisted by Ikaw-Ako (Japan-Philippines Partnership for Environmental Protection).

Alongside with pagatpat, we also plant “bungalon, “bakhaw,” and “alipata.” Pagatpat Festival tells us the story on how volunteerism works effectively. The project involves the management of Ikaw-Ako and the Silay City Government through Silay Tourism Office in partnership with Balaring Mangrove Planters’ Association.

The theme of the celebration is “Balaring Palangga Ko; Patahumon Paagi sa Turismo” (We care for Balaring; we make it beautiful for tourism). Our 50-hectare mangrove rehabilitation area is in Balaring (4.5 kilometers away from the highway). The fiesta held on Aug. 20, 2016 is about the commitment of environmentalists to preserve and conserve the gift of Mother Nature. Our invitation states, “Let’s help our Mother Earth” by planting mangrove with Japanese volunteers.

Festivities include tourist road beautification contest. The villagers have made their place attractive and clean by planting flowers, ornamental plants, and medicinal herbs. This would complement Balaring as the Seafood Capital of Silay. Barangay Balaring has shoreline restaurants that sell the best produce of Guimaras Strait and other “lutong- bahay” that Silaynons love to serve for decades. Events started at one o’clock in the afternoon.

“Zumba de Pagatpat” would attract those who love physical fitness and those who desire to trim their tummies. This was held at Balaring Covered Court. This was followed by games participated in by Japanese visitors, villagers, students, and environmentalists. Visitors from all walks of life found time to know each other through singing, dancing and telling stories.

Mari Kurata, the festival manager, with Ikaw-Ako chairman Leo Canson facilitated a raffle draw with organic rice as door prices for lucky participants. Tickets were issued to those who joined. Registration fee includes mangrove seedlings, free entrance at Balaring Eco-Park, certificate of participation, and snacks after mangrove planting.

The event was held also in cooperation with Nichiban Incorporated and Sakuragaoka High School student volunteers with the assistance of Barangay Balaring Council under village chief Remy Roldan and Christina Diamante of Balaring Mangrove Planters’ Association. The festival is an advocacy that would remind young and old that we have only one planet. Earth is sick because we made her sick. We are the cure by becoming environment-friendly mammals.

Our project in Balaring started in 1996 under the leadership of Prof. Yorihisa Goto of Nihon Fukushi University. He even invited Leo Canson and I to talk in the International Conference on Environment sponsored by his department in that university. The groups of Japanese are coming over to Barangay Balaring every year to monitor the growth and development of the adopted area.

Our collective efforts paid off when we won a national award in tourism sponsored by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines, the “Atop Award of Excellence.” Since then (1996), Ikaw-Ako keeps on sending Japanese volunteers to work with Silay Tourism Division starting from Nori Suzumura up to Mari Kurata. We have expanded our linkage to other LGUs and provinces… Victorias, Ilog, Kabankalan, and Ubay in the island of Bohol.

The project sites in Silay are in Balaring, Patag, Lantad, Sitio Sibato, and Sitio Lantawan. We are into mangrove rehabilitation, organic farming, upland watershed rehabilitation, hog raising, free-range chicken raising, and entrepreneurship (restaurant and study for strawberry farming). This NGO has donated a health center in Lantawan and facilitated the distribution of donated clothes from Japan to farmer members.

This is Pagatpat Festival. It has gone a long way by touching hearts and the lives of the people in the borderline of our society. Join us or be a sponsor. For more information, contact (034) 495-0231. Email ikawako.assist@gmail.com. Be a part of us. Be an earth lover. We also thank the support of Mayor Golez, Councilor Solo Locsin, and Provincial Tourism Office Christine Mansinares.

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