Bansalan -- the home town of broadcaster Jay Sonza, singer Jojo Adlawan (of London's "Miss Saigon" fame), Serapion Metilla (the country's foresmost expert on bonsai) -- has finally taken off as one of the country's tourist destination.
Last September 16, Wow Bansalan was launched by the municipal government to make the town as one of the areas to be visited by tourists -- both local and international -- in the province.
"Today is just the beginning," said Mayor Edwin G. Reyes during the launching of Wow Bansalan, the town's ambitious program of making Bansalan as part of Davao's del Sur tourist attractions.
To fully support the program, Mayor Reyes appointed Geraldine E.
Batal, as the town tourism officer. She made the record as the very first person to hold the office since no one has been given such distinction since Bansalan became a town of its own fifty-five years ago.
The launching was part of the 55th Anniversary of Bansalan. The town was used to be a barangay of Santa Cruz. When Digos became a town, Bansalan was one of those areas included. Then in 1952, Bansalan was separated from Digos.
"Fifty-five years ago, we won our independence as municipal corporate community," Mayor Reyes said. "We cut our umbilical cord from our mother town, signifying a dream come. Out deep aspiration to be free from ignoble state of dependency was realized."
As part of the 55th Anniversary Celebration -- called Bansaulog (from the words Bansalan and "saulog," the local term for celebration) -- two back-to-back parades and contests were held.
On September 16, a parade was done, which culminated at the municipal hall. During the program, Salinta Monon -- touted to be the "last Bagobo weaver" and a National Manlilikha awardee -- was honored by the municipal government. "She's known in other parts of the country and even in other nations, but most of us don't know her," said Loreto A.
Valdez, who headed the municipal socio-cultural and historical council.
In the afternoon, the Drum and Xylophone Corps competition was held.
Winners in the elementary level were Bansalan Central Elementary School, first placer; Holy Cross of Bansalan College, second placer; and St. Therese School of Bansalan.
In the high school level, Nazareth High School got the top prize while Marber National High School settled for the second prize. Holy Cross of Bansalan College, a grand slam winner from 2004 to 2006, did a exhibition number.
The following day kicked off with another parade -- this time with street dancing. All thirteen entries (four from high school level and nine from elementary level) tried to show their best as participants rocked the street with their various forms and choreograph moves.
Fifty percent of the total for competition judging came from street dancing. The other fifty percent were tallied from the ground performance at the the University of Mindanao Bansalan College.
The winners in Category A (high school level) were: Marber National High School, first prize; Pedro Arches National High Schoo, second prize; and Nazareth High School, third prize. Holy Cross of Bansalan College was given a consolation prize.
In Category B (elementary level), the winners were: New Clarin Elementary School (also last year's top winner), first place; Dolo Elementary School, second place; and Bansalan Central Elementary School, third place. Consolation prizes were given to other participating schools: Villa-Doneza Central Elementary School, Kinuskusan Elementary School, Rizal Elementary School, Mabunga Elementary School, Marber Elementary School, and Mabuhay Elementary School.
"I never thought we have something like this," said Erlinda Hertel, who witnessed the street dancing. She came home all the way from Germany to attend the birthday of her mother.
Other nationalities who observed the celebration were Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, and Americans.