Sweet pineapples star in Ormoc festival
ORMOC CITY — Wearing pineapple headdresses made of styrofoam, actor-turned-mayor Richard Gomez and his legislator-wife Lucy danced in the street to the applause of spectators who came to celebrate the city’s first cultural festival in almost two decades.
It was one of the entertaining moments in the Piña Festival, featuring Ormoc’s prime farm product and export — sweet pineapples — on June 25 to kick off the city’s fiesta event four days later in honor of its patron saints, St. Peter and St. Paul.
“It’s part of promoting the city but more than that, Ormoc is really known for its tasty pineapples,” Gomez said.
At least 500 hectares of local agricultural land are devoted to pineapples. More than 100 tons of pineapples are produced every year, a substantial portion of which is shipped to Middle Eastern countries.
Excitement filled the air about 3 p.m. on June 25, when the sound system blared the festival music, “Piña,” an original composition with a samba beat of local talent Manny Panta.
Pineapples were sold at stalls along the 4-kilometer parade route from the City Hall grounds up to Ormoc City Central School (OCCS).
Eight contingents, composed of 200 dancers and performers each from different high schools and colleges, danced in the parade. They wore costumes and props in vibrant colors and pineapple designs.
Each rendered their own interpretation of “Piña” during their final performance on OCCS grounds that lasted till 9 p.m.
Before the winners were announced, Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez danced to the festival music with her mayor-husband and Vice Mayor Carmelo Leo Locsin Jr.
The delegation of STI College of Ormoc was declared champion and received a cash prize of P500,000.
Second was Western Leyte College of Ormoc City Inc., who got P400,000, and third, Eastern Visayas State University-Ormoc Campus, P300,000.
Cheery Mae Duterte of STI College of Ormoc was crowned festival queen and received P35,000.
Gomez said he was “proud and overwhelmed” by the turnout of spectators and the performances. “It turned out that we could really put up a festival as beautiful as this,” he said in Filipino.
Tourism Assistant Secretary Reynaldo Ching said the event succeeded in promoting the city’s pineapples and its fledgling tourism industry.
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