Basilan celebrates Pakaradjaan Festival Print
Thursday, 08 March 2018 13:39

By Richard Falcatan

Basilan province erupted with fun and revelry as it celebrated yesterday its 44th Founding Anniversary dubbed as the Pakaradjaan Festival.

The celebration, which started last Tuesday, culminated yesterday, with the theme “Sowing seeds of Peace: Celebrating Life, Culture and Prosperity.”

The celebration also signals Basilan’s transition from being an area known for being a hotbed for lawless violence to an emerging economic and tourism hub in the region.

The theme mirrors the current provincial government’s collective efforts of laying the foundation of Basilan’s sustainable future.

The Guest of Honor during the program was Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza, who urged the Basilenos to work towards fostering a culture of peace and non-violence in the island province.

“Ikinagagalak kong makita kung paano ninyo bigyang halaga ang inyong mayamang kultura at tradition,” he said.

“Madalas naipipinta ang Basilan bilang isang lugar na puro gulo. Pero isa itong matibay na ebidensya na ang kapayapaan ay namamayagpag dito sa inyong lugar, sa inyong mga bahay, at sa inyong mga puso,” he added.

“Huwag tayong panghinaan ng loob sa ating mga naririnig na hindi maganda tungkol sa Basilan. Bagkus gawin natin itong inspirasyon na ipakita sa kanila na tayo ay para sa kapayapaan,” he emphasized.

Basilan has long been a hotbed of Moro rebels, waging political settlement against the government.

The presence of terror groups such as Abu Sayyaf has added another challenge to the local government as it tries to address the years of armed conflict brought about by the Moro rebellion.

“I would also want to thank you for the positive reception you have showed for the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL),” Dureza said referring to the proposed law that seeks to provide a genuine political power to the Moro people in the Muslim region.

“Ang mga nakaraang public consultations o hearing ay napaka-importante po sa pagbubuo ng isang batas. Dahil galing din dapat sa taong bayan ang input o ang nilalaman ng isang batas. Ang batas na ito, ang BBL ay para din ho sa inyong mayapa at masaganang kinabukasan,” he said.

Earlier,  both houses of Congress went to island provinces of Basilan,  Sulu,  and Tawi-tawi for public consultations of the BBL. The legislators aims to pass the bill at the latter part of the month.

The BBL is one of the cornerstone policies of the Duterte administration to address the legitimate grievances of the Moro people in Mindanao.

“Saludo din po ako sa mga nagkukusang ipalaganap ang impormasyon tungkol sa BBL sa inyong mga komunidad. Mahalaga na maiparating at maipatindi ang mabuting hangad nito sa ating mga kababayan,” he said.

“Ang BBL din ho ay malaking tulong sa pagtigil ng violent extremism. Mawawalan ng dahilan ang mga recruiter na magparami ng kanilang miyembro lalo ang mga kabataan dahil nasa BBL na ang solusyon para sa deka-dekadang gulo, kahirapan, hinanakit ng Bangsamoro.”

“Ang BBL din po ang magbibigay daan upang ang inyong lugar ay maging tourism hub ng Mindanao, kasama ang mga karatig isla. Mas mabibigyan kayo ng pagkakataon upang ipromote ang inyong produkto, mga tradisyon, at lugar. Talaga namang napakaganda ng beach ninyo dito, isa dito ang Malamawi White Beach,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the week-long celebration will feature various events to commemorate the province’s founding anniversary.

Among the activities featured are a kite-flying contest, an exhibition of cultural products, arts and other cultural shows.

Promoting Basilan as tourist destination is one of the objectives of the week-long Pakaradjaan, which  is a Tausug and Yakan term for merry-making or special event.

It said the festival aims at showcasing the better and positive side of Basilan, the largest island in Sulu Archipelago. (Richard Falcatan)