The provincial government on Thursday night launched “Banga sa Belen 2019” at the Carlos P. Garcia Park in Tagbilaran City as part of the over month-long “Kasadya! Pasko sa Bohol” festivities.
Governor Arthur Yap led the opening ceremony of the Belen-design contest which offers a P-350,000 cash reward for the first-place winner, with Fr. Val Pinlac blessing each of the 14 contingents’ entries.
The contest which will hold its final judging on December 15 is participated by the local government units of Tagbilaran City, Antequera, Baclayon, Bilar, Catigbian, Cortes, Dauis, Jagna, Loboc, Maribojoc, San Miguel, Sevilla, Sikatuna and Valencia.
Meanwhile, the first and second runners-up will be given P250,000 and P150,000, respectively.
According to Yap, the Belen contest and the entire Kasadya festivities were intended to showcase Bohol’s traditions and culture and further promote the province as a tourism destination.
“Naay dakong hagit na atong ipa ila-ila ang Bohol, ang atong kultura, atong literature, atong musika, mga balak, mga tradisyon sa mga bisita nato,” Yap said.
The festivities were also launched to help locals establish their identities as Boholanos and retrace their culture to serve as guide amid changing times widely driven by technological advancements.
“Kung matudluanan nato ang mga kabatan-onan na ‘this is who you are, this is your identity, you come from Bohol which is a very unique island with fantastic tradition, culture and history’…if we can teach our children to think that way, rooted ang ilang identity sa Bohol, dili nila makalimtan bisan pa og unsa ang mosud sa ilang paghuna-huna. They will never lose their way,” the governor said.
Yap hoped that Kasadya which was first launched this year under his first-term administration will be established as a yearly event.
For his part, Bishop Abet Uy of the Diocese of Tagbilaran who was among the event’s guest speakers congratulated the provincial government for the launching of the festivities.
He said that Pope Francis had recently sent out an apostolic letter telling clerics to urge the Catholic faithful to set up the belen or the Christmas crèche in their homes or in public places such as schools and parks.
“Ingon ang [Santo Papa] na ang belen is really important. It’s a very powerful tool for evangelization kay pinaagi niini mapahinumduman kitang mga taw sa dakong gugma sa Ginoo,” he added.
Kasadya! Pasko sa Bohol was launched on November 5 mainly featuring a 40-day Christmas bazaar opened as an avenue for local entrepreneurs to display their wares and for the province to promote local cuisine, culture and tradition.
The night market features local dishes, farm produce, processed food, arts, handicrafts, plants and ornamental items at CPG Park until December 15.