BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia has ordered the City Permits and Licensing Office not to issue any business permit or license to operate any activity or event in line with the Bacolaodiat Festival 2021, that has been cancelled due to the ongoing Covid pandemic.
In his Executive Order Number 4, series of 2021, Lenardia mandated that any permit or license that had already been issued is deemed revoked or cancelled, which means, no activities related to the festival will be permitted.
The traditional parade, exhibits, roadshows in the streets and other public places, concerts, and sporting events are not allowed, Leonardia said.
Markets, food, plant wares, industrial, commercial and apparel fairs as well as dance, singing, beauty, costume, and pyrotechnics contests are also barred in the city, the mayor added.
Leonardia warned that anybody who violates the mandate will face administrative, civil, and criminal charges under applicable laws, ordinances or penal codes.
“It was with mixed feelings that I issued the EO suspending the public celebration of the Bacolaodiat Festival,” he said. “When I founded this Bacolod version of the Chinese New Year in 2006, it was meant to honor and manifest the assimilation of the Chinese culture due to the enriching presence of the Fil-Chinese community in our beloved city.”
Leonardia added the festival was also conceptualized to become a major tourist attraction and, through the years, “we saw how our people embraced and supported this annual event, making it grow by leaps and bounds beyond our initial expectations.”
“It was in 2005 during the wake for my beloved mother, the late Ester Ramos Leonardia, when Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas visited our family that the idea to create a Chinese New Year festival for Bacolod was born. So, on a personal note, I dedicate my work for Bacolaodiat to honor the memory of my loving Nanay,” the mayor said.
“As we commemorate Bacolaodiat this year, we salute our long-time festival chairman, the late Leonito “Diotay” Lopue, for his major contributions to make this tourism and cultural gem what it is today.
“This should have been another big chance to celebrate and enjoy the gains and the rise of our city. But times are telling us that, in the light of the pandemic, we must put the health and safety of our people above any other considerations….we must suspend celebrations as they may prejudice our health and safety,” Leonardia said.
The members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Bacolod will also no longer issue activity permits and licenses for the Bacolaodiat. Odette Ong-Gomez, chair of the Bacolaodiat Festival, said Wednesday that in consonance with the muted festivals nationwide because of the pandemic, they will forego the annual revelry this year.*