Laguna festival casualty of rivalry
LOS BAÑOS, Laguna—What’s in a festival name?
The annual festival of Laguna province opened on Monday with the usual Mass and parade, but many noticed how it was called by a new yet familiar name, “Anilag” or “Ani ng Laguna” (harvests of Laguna) Festival.
The provincial government, led by Gov. Ramil Hernandez, changed the name this year from “La Laguna” to “Anilag.” From hereon, the major festival staged in the capital town of Sta. Cruz will be called Anilag, as decreed by a provincial board resolution issued in November 2015.
In a brief post on his Facebook page, Hernandez said Anilag was not new and was used during the administrations of former Governors Joey Lina and Teresita Lazaro.
“It was renamed La Laguna by the next governor,” he said. Although he did not name the official, he was referring to former Gov. Jeorge “ER” Ejercito, who started La Laguna during his term. Ejercito also moved the weeklong festival from March to April.
Ejercito was elected governor in 2010 and in 2013. But his second term was cut short when he was unseated in May 2014 after the Commission on Elections disqualified him for campaign overspending.
His ouster paved the way for Hernandez, then vice governor, to take over his position.
Ejercito, a member of the United Nationalist Alliance, and Hernandez of the Nacionalista Party are facing off in the May elections.
Chris Sanji, provincial information officer, said Hernandez’s move should not be seen as politicking.
“Those with wild imagination could say politics had something to do with it. But if it had, he (Hernandez) should have just named [the festival] something else that is close to his name [for recall],” Sanji said.
Hernandez said festival names should be consistent, “even if leaders change.”
Anilag features Laguna’s products through events and competitions, such as embroidered products from Lumban town and the ice and vegetable carving done by skilled carvers of Paete town.
The provincial government also introduced this year a search for the most beautiful “abuela” (grandmother).
The festival runs until March 5.
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