By Elmer James Bandol
LIGAO CITY, 25March2014 (BicolToday.com) – Rainy weather yesterday failed to dampen the enthusiasms of participants in what prevailed, however, the “blossoming of sunflowers” amidst the four known regional festivals which added colors to the 13th founding anniversary of this city.
Sunflowers, abundantly grown here, came to a promising stage, budding into a yearly celebration, showcasing the beauty, not only of the flowers, but also the potentials of the place, and despite gloomy weather “Sunflowers Festival” was launched as a vehicle.
According to City Tourism Officer, Gina Binalimbing, the first bloom of “Sunflower Festival”, in time for the cityhood anniversary, was conceptualized to add color to the celebration. She said, well known festivals in Bicol, that were invited to join the parade and street shows are “Ibalong” of Legazpi City, “Penafrancia Boyadores” of Naga Citry, “Tinagba” of Iriga City and “Rodeo” of Masbate City.
“Six months, before launching of Sunflower Festival, were spent for preparations, search, training and practice of talents to perfect the presentation in bringing the message that our city has been part of the story of the five ancient Datus that brought gifts to the colonizers” Binalimbing told the crowd of spectators following the parade of festivals.
The display of colorful costumes, gaily dancing and other talents were witnessed by onlookers that lined-up the streets and crowded at the vicinity of Ligao City Hall.
When asked by BicolToday.com “why sunflower and not sampaguita?” Binalimbing said that this kind of plant is prevalent in Ligao as the local government wanted to preserve the specie and planning to explore the potentials. “More than a hectare of sunflowers has attracted local and foreign tourists in Kawa-kawa”, she added.
Sunflower, with scientific name Helianthus Annuus, according to Wikipedia is a tall annual plant native to the Americas. It possesses a large inflorescence (flowering head), and its name is derived from the flower’s shape and image, which is often used to capture the sun. The plant has a rough, hairy stem, broad, coarsely toothed, rough leaves, and circular flower heads.
From the Americas, sunflower seeds were brought to Europe in 16th century along with sunflower oil which became widespread cooking ingredient. Sunflower leaves were used as cattle feeds while the stem which contains fiber may be used in paper production, Wikipedia added.
Defining history, practicing the traditions & preserving culture of the people and the intention to let others know more of Ligao will be a continuous tourism program that would give benefits to the people was the main gist message of City Mayor Patty Gonzalez Alsua.
The activities ended almost 5:00 PM, and some well-meaning residents quoted in dialect: “From now on, sunflower, is Bulaklak ng Ligao!”. [BicolToday.com]