During the Araw ng Biñan celebration from February 2 to 4, Biñanenses and tourists alike shared in jubilance the events that highlighted the success of the city government's efforts to promote culture-based development.
"Ang gusto ng lungsod ng Biñan ay hindi iwanan ang kanyang nakaraan. Buhay ang nakaraan sa ating lungsod, at kapag iniwan natin ang ating nakaraan, magiging katulad na rin tayo ng ibang mga lungsod sa ating bansa: moderno, pero wala nang sariling karakter."
These words, uttered by Biñan City Mayor Arman Dimaguila during the 14th Cityhood Anniversary Dinner last February 2, encapsulated not only the theme of this year's celebration of the Araw ng Biñan (“Buhay ang nakaraan, sumasalamin sa hinaharap”) but also the main long-term goal of the city government: promoting its rich culture and history as a vehicle for continued socio-economic progress.
The three-day celebration of the Araw ng Biñan commemorates three important events in the city's history: February 2, the anniversary of its cityhood; February 3, "Liberation Day," when the town of Biñan was liberated from Japanese troops during World War II; and February 4, the date of the town's founding during the Spanish colonial period.
It should be recalled that according to Biñan City Culture, History, Arts and Tourism Office (BCHATO) head BJ Borja, this year's Araw ng Biñan aims to underscore the importance of looking back into the city's past as a way of preparing for the future.
"Ang celebration po ng Araw ng Biñan is anchored on paano po natin maitatatak sa mga kaisipan ng bawat Biñanense ang halaga ng pagtanaw sa ating mga historical milestone dito sa lungsod," Borja explained.
The past is also the future
This year, as the country finally emerged from the shadows of the Covid-19 pandemic, Biñan residents and tourists alike celebrated with a vengeance as jam-packed cultural events highlighted the success of the city government's efforts to promote “culture-based development” in the city.
Almost all of the activities spearheaded by the city government under its "Big Three" leaders - Mayor Arman Dimaguila, Vice Mayor Gel Alonte, and Representative Len Alonte – revealed the relentless push of the LGU to rekindle interest in history and culture, especially among the youth.
These include a ceremony honoring the city’s veterans on Liberation Day, February 3, as well as a free screening of the 2023 Metro Manila Film Festival entry “GomBurZa,” sponsored by the office of Representative Len Alonte.
"Kailangan nating siguruhin na kung anuman ang aral na ibinigay sa atin ng ating kasaysayan, ito ay kailangang maisalin sa ating mga kabataan para hindi mawala ang ating pagkakakilanlan," was how the city mayor himself put it during the commemoration of Liberation Day.
Focus on education, too
Another important aspect of this year's "Araw ng Biñan" is the emphasis on the importance of education to uplift the lives of the Biñanense youth.
This was evidenced not only by the inauguration of the new Polytechnic University of the Philippines - Biñan Campus' College of Information Technology and Engineering in Barangay Canlalay, but also the fact that it was the city’s libraries, librarians and researchers who were honored by the city government during the 14th Cityhood Anniversary Dinner at the Alberto Mansion on February 2.
At the dinner, Borja also turned over to the LGU the 10-Year City Cultural Heritage Management and Development Plan that was crafted in cooperation with the University of Santo Tomas (UST). City officials acknowledged the role of these librarians who rekindled in the Biñanense youth interest and passion in their history and culture.
"'Boring' man sa paningin ng ibang tao ang trabaho ng ating mga librarian, sinisigurado ko po na balang araw, kayo po ang magiging guardians na magsisiguro na ang ginagawa po natin ngayon [na pagpepreserba sa ating pamanang kultural] ay mamanahin ng mga anak at apo natin," Dimaguila stressed during the event.
"At makikita ninyo na kayang yumaman ng ating lungsod sa pagpapalago ng kanyang kultura na ipinamana sa atin," he added.
And the city government remains committed to further improving Biñan’s education sector through infrastructure projects and improvement of its facilities, as city officials bared during a press conference held on that day.
“In particular, pinangunahan po ng ating Sangguniang Panglungsod ang acquisition of lands for the construction of schools, recreation centers, playgrounds and daycare centers and multipurpose buildings in our city,” Vice Mayor and Sangguniang Panglungsod chairperson Gel Alonte pointed out.
“Sinusuguan na po natin, kasama ang council, para makapag-acquire tayo ng properties para mapabilis ang pagtatayo ng mga paaralan dito sa ating lungsod, dahil talagang top priority po ni Mayor Dimaguila at Congresswoman Len Alonte ang edukasyon,” he added.
For Biñan City’s officials and residents alike, the success of this year’s “Araw ng Biñan” is the culmination of the string of awards and recognition given to the LGU during the previous year.
These include the Seal of Good Local Governance Award (SGLG) and the Nutrition Honor Award from the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Gawad Kalasag award from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), and the Manila Bayanihan Awards and Incentives for the LGU's contributions to the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
It is also worth mentioning that under Borja’s leadership, the BCHATO also received the ATOP-DOT Pearl Awards from the Department of Tourism for "Best Tourism-Oriented Local Government Unit" and "Best Program for Culture and the Arts,” largely due to its efforts for culture-based development (including the Araw ng Biñan festivities).
But more than simply celebrating its rich history and heritage or hailing the recognitions the city government has received, the Araw ng Biñan also showed not only to Biñanenses but other Filipinos as well that through the nurturing of a “unique” cultural identity, city officials can rally and unite people from all walks of life towards a common goal.
"Ikinagagalak ko ang ating pakikiisa dahil ito ay nagpapakita ng sama-sama nating pagtugon sa pagbangon sa mga hamon ng ating komunidad,” was how Representative Len Alonte put it in her official message for the Araw ng Biñan.
“Malayo na po ang nararating ng ating lungsod, at malayo pa rin po tayo sa ating pangarap na maging 'highly urbanized city' ang lungsod ng Biñan. Ngunit makakaasa po kayo na patuloy po tayong magpupursigi upang lalo pa nating maabot ang ating minimithing pagbangon at pag-unlad.”
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