The countdown is on for the upcoming 4th cityhood anniversary celebrations of Sto. Tomas City, set to take place on the 7th day of September.
This year's anniversary carries the theme "Fourward Together, Stronger Fourever," perfectly encapsulating the four fruitful years since a significant majority of Tomasinos voted in favor of the city's attainment of cityhood.
As suggested by the theme, this year's anniversary promises to propel the city, often referred to as the gateway to the province of Batangas, to new heights under the leadership of Mayor Arth Jhun Aguilar Marasigan, who spearheaded the town's cityhood plan from its conceptualization to realization.
A seasoned lawyer and former municipal administrator, Mayor Marasigan's intimate knowledge of the city's journey to cityhood is unparalleled.
The highlight of this highly anticipated event is a three-day "Kadiwa" exhibition and food tasting featuring an array of "unconventional dishes."
This unique showcase kicks off on the second day following the commencement of the four-day celebration on Monday, September 4, 2023.
What sets these dishes apart is their departure from the usual fare seen at past cityhood and founding anniversaries.
Rather than competing in the familiar Bulalo cooking or the popular Lomi-tasting competitions, the spotlight is on introducing a novel culinary experience with a broader purpose.
These dishes are not merely culinary novelties; they hold the potential to bolster the nation's food security and provide a promising livelihood for local farmers.
For three consecutive days during the four-day cityhood anniversary celebrations, the spotlight will be on the "Tupa (Sheep) Food Exhibit."
The choice of this theme merits an explanation.
Firstly, it serves as a public introduction to the proper preparation and consumption of "lamb meat."
Secondly, it serves as a precursor to the planned establishment of a viable sheep farming industry within the city in the coming months.
Agricultural experts assert that sheep farming in the Philippines can be as lucrative as goat farming. With proper management, sheep farming can contribute significantly to food security, rural employment, and the national economy, as sheep can be utilized for their meat, wool, and hides.
Ms. Esther Meer-Cabral, the city's tourism chief, emphasized the reasoning behind incorporating the Tupa Food Exhibit into the cityhood anniversary festivities: "We've invited several chefs to present an assortment of lamb and sheep dishes to the public, ranging from lamb chop caldereta to abobong lamb chops and beyond."
Cabral further added that the primary aim of introducing the Tupa Food Exhibit for the first time in the city's history is to encourage people to explore alternative sources of meat beyond the conventional options available in the market.
After all, with delicate handling and preparation, lamb meat can serve as a flavorful and sustainable substitute for pork, chicken, or beef, which often experience price fluctuations.
"The Tupa Food Exhibit marks the initial step, an introduction of this product to the public," Cabral elaborated.
Tribute to Taxpayers
In addition to these culinary experiences, the city's anniversary celebration will include its customary motorcade within the city premises, a boodle fight at the Sierra Makiling Grounds in front of the public market on the first day, a fun run on the second day, the inauguration of Mayor AJAM Kadiwa, a Medical Mission, and the inaugural Ginoong Tomasino pageant.
The third day will feature a job fair and legal consultation, while the fourth and final day will commence with an 8 a.m. Thanksgiving Mass at the Annex Building of the city hall.
The day will continue with the observance of Taxpayers' Day and the unveiling of a monumental portrait of Mayor AJAM at the same venue.
The four-day celebrations will culminate with a fireworks display and an enchanting AJAM-themed evening event.
"As a long-term strategy, the introduction of viable sheep farming in the city will follow the Tupa Food Exhibit," Cabral revealed.
"Our city veterinary office is taking the lead in providing the necessary guidance and motivation to encourage local farmers to consider embracing sheep farming," she added.
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