Pasko Fiesta opens today

DCPO, TFD deploy maximum personnel

CITY Mayor Sara Duterte will lead officials and residents at Rizal Park at 5:30 p.m. today for the Dan-ag Davao, the lighting ceremony that signals the opening of Pasko Fiesta.

The giant Christmas lantern with a total of 2,300 bulbs, donated by the provincial government of Pampanga, displayed in front of San Pedro Church will also simultaneously be lighted.

Speaking to reporters after the wreath-laying ceremony at the monument of Andres Bonifacio at the Rotunda in yesterday’s observance of Bonifacio Day, Duterte said the city government is already prepared for the Pasko Fiesta celebration.

“It will be one month celebration for Davaoeños,” Duterte said as she enjoined residents to enjoy the festivity.

Maximum security

The Davao City Police Office (DCPO) and Task Force Davao (TFD) will also deploy starting today personnel to secure the areas where the various activities are set up.

“We already prepared more than the standard security plan,” said DCPO spokesperson, Sr. Insp. Maria Teresita Gaspan. “We will have a maximum deployment.”

Gaspan said they have not monitored any direct threat in the city but they can’t discount the possibility as President Rodrigo Duterte is living here.

“There is nothing to worry,” Gaspan said. “All our security forces are on alert.”

She said police and military personnel have intensified checkpoints.

“We are closely monitoring with the intelligence unit of the military,” she further said.

However, she is asking the public to be vigilance and always alert by reporting to the authorities any suspicious looking individual or groups in the community.

Col. Nolasco Mempin, TFD commander, said soldiers will be conducting foot patrol in areas frequented by residents during the activity.

Earlier, the Davao City Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC) will deploy about 28,000 security forces in the city for the celebration of Pasko Fiesta.

Shelter the Lumads

Mayor Duterte said the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) will be in charge of making sure there’s enough shelter for the Lumads who are going to the Poblacion District for the annual holiday pilgrimage.

The mayor directed that aid should be extended even to those Lumads coming from outside Davao City.

Since Monday, Lumads coming from nearby provinces have started arriving in the city, hoping to get gifts from local residents.

Last year, the CSSDO brought groceries, food, clothes, and even medical missions to the hinterlands so the Lumads won’t be going down to the Poblacion District and putting themselves in danger.

“They have convergence areas where they can go. They will celebrate there and we will also distribute there our Christmas gifts for them,” Duterte said.

In Buhangin, Lumads have started settling outside the CSSDO’s district office.

Buhangin District coordinator Norman Baloro said in an interview that residents near Buhangin have asked for the assistance of the city government as the settlement areas in the barangay do not have the necessary toilet facilities.

The IPs came from as far as Bukidnon, Surigao, and Zamboanga, Baloro said.

Baloro said that convergence areas will include gyms in Paquibato and Marilog. Commercial establishments have also donated goods to be distributed to the Lumads.

20 other events

Aside from today’s opening, 20 others activities are set in the festivity to be participated in by people from different walks.

Dec. 1 also marks the start of the month-long amusement rides and freebies for Davaoeños at Rizal Park.

Other events opening today include “Parol sa Barangay,” a parol display contests in barangays at the Marfori Botanical Garden (until Dec. 15); “Kahayag sa Davao,” a light up competition of establishments (until Dec. 22); “Pasko Fiesta Davao,” variety shows in 11 barangays (until Dec. 23); “Pasko Pahalipay sa Davao,” Santa Claus in Magsaysay Park and People’s Park with giveaways (until Dec. 25); and the month-long “Pasko Hulagway,” a photo contest.

Other activities include Pasko Fiesta para sa mga Lumad, which will run from Dec. 7 to 20; Kan-anan sa Tribo, a food market by the 11 tribes in Magsaysay Park that will run from Dec. 15 to 30; and Pasko Kumbira sa City Hall, Christmas fun for City Hall employees at Rizal Park on Dec. 15.

Other activities include 7th Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Year-end Party for the LGBT community at Azuela Cove, Lanang on Dec. 17; Siyam ka Kaadlawon (Simbang Gabi), early morning masses and native kakanin at San Pedro Cathedral on Dec. 16 to 24.

Dec. 16 also marks the start of Panayegon sa Davao, Christmas carols by various other groups in City Hall Drive, and also the Kaandabaw: Christmas food street in Palma Gil. There will also be a Lamdag Parada, a parade of lighted Christmas lanterns plus marching band competition at Central Business District on Dec. 22.

On the Dec. 23, there will also be Koro sa Pasko, which is a chorale competition, and Pasko Daba-Daba, a concert by various artists.

On the 25th there will be Misa Dabawenyo at 4 pm and Yugyugan sa Pasko Fiesta at 6 pm.

A battle of the bands event will also be conducted on Dec. 26. On Dec. 31 there will be a Torotot Festival at Rizal Park.

The city has allocated P17 million for the Pasko Fiesta.