Benguet marks 118th anniversary, 13th Adivay Festival

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The 13th Adivay Festival opened here on Monday, coinciding with the 118th foundation anniversary of the province, for which various simple activities have been lined-up.

“Our celebration of Adivay will continue. The festival is already an institution,” Governor Crescencio Pacalso said during the special edition of “Kapihan” at the provincial capitol.

The Adivay Festival was first staged in 2005. “Adivay” is an Ibaloi term that means “coming together”. The celebration is a gathering of Benguet’s 13 towns in this provincial capital, with focus on the culture and products of the municipalities.

Pacalso said the festival and anniversary celebration will be toned-down this year to show sympathy to calamity victims in the different municipalities of the province, particularly in Itogon, where over 80 people died in a landslide at the height of Typhoon “Ompong” last September.

“The festival is one way of meeting our brother and sisters from the 13 municipalities and to share with them the blessings that the province has to be thankful for,” the governor said.

This year’s celebration carries the theme, “Benguet Culture – Unity, Industry, Prosperity: Managing Adversaries with Excellence thru Enhanced Indigenous Resilience”. It will feature the rich history, traditions, arts, music, culture, sports and trades and industries of the province from November 5 to December 9.

Topping the activities are Small-Scale Mining and Land Congress, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Summit, Agro-Tourism Fair, and Environmental Forum.

For the first time, the First Aid Safety Olympics will be held for elementary and high school students representing the 14 school districts of the province. The activity aims to enhance the students’ capability in giving first aid assistance.

Pacalso said the small-scale mining congress will focus on explaining to the pocket miners the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) stoppage order on the conduct of any activities related to illegal small-scale mining.

“Their lack of information on the matter has affected their livelihood and countless were dislocated,” he said, pointing out that the “order” is only “temporary”.

The governor also said laws pertaining to “Minahang Bayan” (community mining) will also be tackled as he expressed optimism that the industry will recover.

In addressing the challenges of time and the economic difficulties the locals are encountering, he urged small-scale miners to look for alternative livelihood such as by engaging in agriculture, specifically organic farming.

Provincial Administrator, lawyer Noel Ngolob, also expressed hope that “overlapping” laws will be addressed during the land congress.

He added that the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) will be discussed and proposed for adoption by local government units (LGUs) in their annual development plans.

Moreover, environmental programs on managing the water quality of the rivers, waste management and clean air programs will also be presented.

Provincial Agriculturist Lolita Bentres said the agro-tourism fair will showcase different products from the different municipalities of Benguet. It will also serve as a meeting point of both products and buyers and seek to link the producers to potential markets.

A Farmer’s Event will also be staged to help farmers become more efficient.

In marking its foundation day, the province will honor its outstanding men and women for their leadership and achievements.

To foster friendship and cultural ties, a signing of Sisterhood Agreement with Ha Giang Province of Vietnam will also highlight the festivities.

The ties will open the gates for the two provinces to have exchanges in the fields of culture, agriculture, tourism and investment as well as other business opportunities that will promote the products of both areas and strengthen their relationship.