Sunflowers bloom in Ligao
Once a farming town, Ligao in Albay province launched its first “Sunflower” Festival to commemorate 13 years of cityhood.
Mayor Patricia Gonzales Alsua said the weeklong event depicted religious, cultural and economic transformation of the urban center from a second-class town to a component city. “This city is proud of its rich cultural heritage and good social values where truly great things happen,” she said.
The festival is a new addition to the major festivals being observed in Albay, such as the Daragang Magayon, Ibalong Festival in Legazpi City, and Tabak Festival in Tabaco City.
Seven towns and cities in Bicol joined the street-dance presentations on March 24, the culminating event. Among the contingents were the Guinobatan Longaniza, Penasan of Daet, Rodeo Masbateño of Masbate City, Ibalong of Legazpi, Peñafrancia Voyadores of Naga City, Tinagba of Iriga City and the Sunflower dance group of Ligao.
They danced their way through a 3-kilometer stretch from Barangay Tuburan to City Hall, in choreographed routines accompanied by ethnic, jazz and modern rhythms.
Alsua said the Ligao performers portrayed how the city evolved “from the legendary roots of the five ancient datus who inhabited this land, to the gifts of the Spanish colonizers—the gift of faith, up to the present when we as Ligaoeños take pride in being named Bicol’s Sunflower City.”
Rodeo Masbateño performers in cowboy vests did a barn dance, while the Daet “Penasan” displayed a float adorned with the native fruit “Pineapple.” Naga’s contingent paraded a boat-shaped float along with the “voyadores” and a replica of the Virgin of Peñafrancia, Bicol’s patroness.
Albay Rep. Fernando Gonzales said Ligao had been tagged the Sunflower City of Bicol because of the abundance of the flowers in some 20 hectares of land.
Quoting a research study, Gonzales said sunflowers were considered oil seeds used for cooking oil, meals and confectionery products. The byproducts can be used as ingredients in livestock feed rations.
Sunflower seed oil is one of the healthiest vegetable oils for cooking because it contains linoleic oil, high oleic and mid oleic. Compared to soybean, sunflower meal contains 50-percent oil and about 20-percent protein, the study said.
Demand for sunflower oil has increased as food processors searched for sources of transfat-free vegetable oil. Food manufacturers abroad have switched to sunflower oil, Gonzales said.