This year’s celebration of the “Araw ng Biñan” reflects the push of the city government under Mayor Walfredo “Arman” Dimaguila, Jr. to (re)instill the traditional values that had carried the city through its rich history and towards a bright future for Biñanenses.
Celebrating the past, preparing for the future.
That has been the main focus of the city government of Biñan in Laguna under the baton of Mayor Walfredo “Arman” Dimaguila, Jr. during its past celebrations of “Araw ng Biñan.”
The three-day celebration, scheduled on February 2 to 4, marks three important dates in Biñan City’s history: February 2, 2010, when the municipality of Biñan was converted into a component city by virtue of Republic Act 9740; February 3, 1945, when Biñan was liberated from the Japanese occupying forces during World War II, and February 4, 1747, the official date of Biñan’s foundation day.
And this year’s observance will be an extra-memorable one for Biñanenses as in-person revelries will finally be held after two years of restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, which, in a sense, another “liberation” and a cause for celebration.
“Ang theme natin for this year ay ‘Buhay ang Nakaraan, Sumasalubong sa Hinaharap.’ Ito ay dahil gusto nating ipakita sa ating mga kababayan that the past can co-exist with the present, and if you know the present, alam mo na kung saan ka pupunta sa hinaharap,’” BJ Borja, head of the Biñan City Culture, History, Arts and Tourism Office (BCHATO), told OpinYon Laguna.
This ties in with the recent efforts of the Biñan City LGU under Dimaguila, which aims to revitalize the city’s cultural and historical heritage as part of its efforts to boost its tourism sector.
“Ayaw ko mang gamitin ang term, pero nakikita ko that we are reaping the fruits of your labor. Kasi, parang ito ang itinanim natin – heritage conservation and culture-based governance,” Borja added.
And what the city government meant by the “fruits of labor” is not just the awards received by the city government for its heritage conservation projects, particularly the Gawad Pook Award it received in November 2022 for its “Balik-Biñan Project: Tourism Development through Heritage Conservation” program.
For Borja, this meant an increased awareness and pride among Biñanenses of their rich heritage, which encouraged them to become active contributors to the city’s progress.
“Gusto naming bigyan ng tribute ang mga mamamayan ng Biñan, kasi hindi lang naman dahil sa magaling ang LGU natin kaya tayo maunlad, kundi dahil magaling ang mga mamamayan, disiplinado ang mga mamamayan. This is the celebration of the City of Biñan for its people – yung mga activities na inihain ng pamahalaang lungsod, will make the people of Biñan realize na nakaka-proud pala na maging Biñanense,” he stressed.
Renovation of Plaza Rizal
This year’s highlight of the “Araw ng Biñan,” Borja added, is the launching of the renovated Plaza Rizal at Barangay Poblacion on February 2.
Last year, the plaza and its surroundings underwent an extensive rehabilitation, which involved demolishing the old covered court in front of the Rizal monument, as well as the rehabilitation not only of the Los Maduros Bandstand – a stage that was built during the 1950’s and declared a local heritage site in 2017 – but also of the old Spanish-style buildings surrounding the plaza.
For Borja, revitalizing the Plaza Rizal – long a silent witness to Biñan’s rich history – is an endemic part of reviving the city’s cultural heritage for future generation.
“Ang Plaza Rizal ang maituturing nating liwasang-bayan ng Biñan City, dahil matagal na itong tagpuan ng mga mamamayan ng Biñan,” Borja explained. “Gusto naming ipakita ang Biñan City as an alternative tourist destination, pero more than that, nais naming ipakita na ang mga mamamayan ang pinakadahilan ng mga achievement na nakamit ng ating bayan.”
As part of efforts to make the Biñan City Plaza “more inclusive,” the city government has also recently implemented a “no-car zone” around the perimeter of the plaza.
“Kaya namin naisipang ipagbawal dumaan ang mga sasakyan malapit sa plaza, ay dahil gusto naming ma-experience ng ating mga kababayan na maglakad, na talagang ma-enjoy nila ang experience ng pumapasyal sila sa plaza,” Borja stressed.
Books Bridge Past And Present
Another notable highlight of this year’s celebration of this year’s Araw ng Biñan is the “Parangal sa mga Natatanging Aklatan at Katiwala ng mga Aklatan,” which aims to highlight the vital role of libraries in bridging the gap between the past and the future.
Borja said the award aims to reward the city’s librarians and encourage Biñanenses to utilize the resources offered to them, especially in today’s digital world where physical libraries are slowly on the decline.
“Naisip ko kasi na napaka-marginalized na ang sektor ng mga aklatan dito sa Biñan City. Dapat ay repository of knowledge ang mga ito, pero nakalulungkot na sa tingin ng ilang mga kabataan ngayon ay hindi na uso ang library dahil mayroon naman tayong Internet,” the BCHATO head pointed out.
For him, libraries are another important means to impart to younger Biñanenses the value of their history and culture.
“Sa ginagawa nating ito, sana ay mapalakas natin ang sektor nila, at the same time magkaroon ng ‘values regeneration’ sa ating mga kababayan. At the same time, I hope na magkaroon rin ng public programs ang mga library para ma-entice yung mga tao na bumalik sa kanila,” he added.
This year’s “Araw ng Biñan” reflects the aspirations of the city government under Mayor Dimaguila to pursue its goals of “culture-based” governance.
As he explained to OpinYon Laguna, Dimaguila believes that preserving the city’s identity is the key for the continuation of the values that made Biñan City a powerhouse city in the province of Laguna.
“Hindi lang naman kasi yung building ang pine-preserve natin kundi pati yung way of life natin bilang Biñanense,” he enthused. “Gusto kong makita na kaya palang umunlad ang isang bayan and at the same time ay hindi nakakalimutan ang kanyang pinanggalingan.”
Biñan City Representative Len Alonte has also recently filed House Bill 6808, declaring the "Biñan Heritage District" as a national historical-cultural heritage zone.
"Ang panukalang batas na ito ay hindi lamang magpapakilala sa ating minamahal na Lungsod bilang isang trade and commerce town, maipakikilala din nito ang mahahalagang kontribusyon ng ating bayan sa kamalayan at pag-unlad ng pambansang kasaysayan, kalinangan, sining at mga pamana," Rep. Alonte explained.
Vice Mayor Gel Alonte, on the other hand, has also pledged to support the local government’s heritage conservation measures at the Sangguniang Panglungsod.
"Ipupush po natin ang ating city councilors na talagang mabigyan natin ng diin at bigyan ng importansya itong cultural at, historical [heritage] dito satin sa Biñan City at paigtingin po natin ang mga ito para lalong ma-boost ang ating lungsod,” he said.