By Sarwell Meniano
ORMOC CITY, Leyte — Expect a more exciting 422nd fiesta celebration and 3rd Piña Festival in this city this month, drawing about a million visitors, said actor-turned-mayor Richard Gomez.
In a press briefing at Robinsons Place recently, Gomez said they have to level up the celebration to make people happy in this event that highlights the city’s prime crop — sweet pineapple.
Fresh from his landslide victory in the recent election, the re-elected mayor said he is happy to continue what he has begun since he became the city’s chief executive in 2016.
“I’m very thankful to all those who voted for us so we will be able to continue what we have started. There are a lot of people working together for our fiesta. Everyone involved wants the celebration to be more exciting,” Gomez told reporters.
Major fiesta events include the Parade of Lights on June 15, Piña Festival street dance and ritual showdown on June 23, Miss Ormoc pageant on June 28, and fiesta culminating concert on June 29. The fiesta food bazaar is open until June 30.
The Parade of Lights will feature a combination of luminescent vehicular floats and lighted costumes patterned after those of famous characters in children’s story books.
About 10 schools will compete in a colorful and lively street dance festival that pays homage to the city’s patron saints and the Queen Pineapple, the symbol of this city.
The Ormoc Queen Pineapple, said to be among the sweetest in the world, is produced in the city’s farmlands. Pineapple is Ormoc’s second top agricultural produce after sugarcane.
“The Piña Festival also seeks to promote, not only Ormoc’s very own sweet queen pineapple but also its people’s strong personality that overcomes challenges and obstacles they face, from personal problems to calamities and disasters,” Gomez said.
At least 500 hectares of local agricultural land, primarily owned by three well-known families, are devoted to pineapple. More than 100 tons of pineapple are produced every year from these plantations.
The most glamorous event is the beauty pageant known for its celebrity guests and show-stopping productions. The winner will represent Ormoc in the Miss World Philippines pageant.
About 20,000 spectators are expected to join the fiesta that will culminate in a concert to be held at the open-air city plaza with some of the country’s top entertainers on stage. This is a grand party to cap all fiesta-related festivities.
Around 30 stalls at the food bazaar target up to 3,000 diners every night. The bazaar is operated by budding entrepreneurs and popular restaurants in the city.
The city government is setting aside PHP22 million for the month-long festivities. Funds will be augmented by sponsors.
“The city spends money to make our people happy, increase economic activities, and ensure that businesses are alive,” he added.
Ormoc City is a first-class independent component city of Leyte province with a population of 215,031, making it the second most populous city in the province after Tacloban, the region’s capital. Ormoc is also the economic, cultural, commercial and transportation hub of western Leyte. (PNA)