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Monday, March 9, 2015

Basilan celebrates 41st founding anniversary

By Rene V. Carbayas

ISABELA CITY, Basilan – The Province of Basilan celebrated its 41st founding anniversary Saturday (March 7), literally with a “bang.”

A display and demonstration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) field artillery capabilities have created quite a stir and cheers to the spectators at the foundation day activity when the army launched a blank firing of its 105 canon artillery. This also caused some panic and tension among residents who were not present at the program. Some windowpanes at the Provincial Capitol were shattered by the impact of canon’s ejection.

The display of military’s capability in Basilan drew mixed reactions from the public and even in the social media. Some found it unnecessary, as it seemed to have sent a wrong signal of depicting Basilan as a war-torn area. Others were just amazed by the military’s capability in protecting the civilians from terrorists.

“The celebration this year is explosive,” a spectator commented as he likened the army’s display of firepower to the explosive display of culture and diversity in Basilan and that Basileños are also ‘explosive’ in the desire to attain a lasting peace in Basilan.

“Many cultures, one Basilan” was the main slogan of the month-long celebration with the theme “Diverse tribes in harmony, moving forward with one goal” showcasing the different cultures and tribes in Basilan from Feb 26 to March 5.

Each municipality and city displayed an array of culture depicting local traditions, beliefs, and practices of particular tribes assigned to them, such as Chavacano and Chinese (Isabela City); Bisaya, Ilonggo, Ilocano, and Tagalog (Lamitan City); Tausugs (Maluso and Tabuanlasa); Sama Bangingi (Lantawan); Bajau (Hji Muhtamad); Yakans (Sumisip, Tipo-Tipo, Ungkaya Pukan, and Al-Barka); Maguindanao (Tuburan); Maranao (Mohamad Ajul); and Iranun (Akbar).

A Trade and Tourism Expo 2015 on Feb 26 opened the celebration. The provincial tourism office said the expo would last until the end of March. Visitors can still see the display of goods, products, and indigenous hand-woven Yakan textiles at the Provincial Capitol lobby.

Simultaneous mangrove and tree planting activity was also done last Feb. 27 at Tairan, Lantawan.

In her anniversary message, Governor Jum J. Akbar proudly presented her last year’s accomplishments that contributed to the improvement of local governance and services. Its employees have received their salary increase based on Salaries Standardization Law 4.

The provincial government was also recognized for its up-to-date payment and/or remittances to PhilHealth and GSIS.

The governor has also received a plaque of recognition from PhilHealth Basilan as one of the top 10 remitting institutions in Basilan.

“At this year’s celebration it is but fitting to remember and cherish the contributions that each Basileno and institution have given to where we are now, especially we want to focus on the positive things that we have shared as one people,” Akbar said.

In his message read by DILG-ARMM Secretary Junni Ilimin, ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv S. Hataman took pride of his roots as Basileno, bringing it along whenever he makes representations in various occasions and events in government, local and abroad.

“Nararamdaman na natin ngayon ang pagbabago at kaunlaran ng Basilan (We are already witnessing the changes and progress of Basilan) through the leadership of our very own Governor Akbar,” Hataman said.

He stressed that in spite of the diversity of peoples, faith, and culture in the province, “the people’s unity and cooperation is forever crucial to a progressive society.” He also called on the leaders to be faithful to their mandate and duty to exercise good governance, thereby encourage public’s participation in community development and peace building.

Moreover, he encouraged the public to participate in the establishment of the Bangsamoro government and continue to work and aspire for peace amidst the recent challenges of the Mamasapano incident, which derailed the ongoing peace process of the government with the Moro Islamic Liberation front (MILF).