Sharing our Best with the World: Speech at the 49th Foundation Anniversary & 16th T’nalak Festival

Bongbong Marcos 16th T’nalak Festival 49th Foundation Anniversary Koronadal City speech

Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes, Vice-Governor Cecile Diel, other officials of the Provincial Government, as well as from the other local government units comprising the Province of South Cotabato, TIEZA CEO Mark Lapid, other esteemed guests, friends, visitors and tourists, and most of all, to all the people of the province of South Cotabato, especially from this lovely City of Koronadal, Maayong adlaw sa inyo nga tanan! (Good morning/day to all of you!)

Thank you for having invited me to the beautiful province of South Cotabato, especially here in its beautiful capital city of Koronadal!

I am sincerely honored and privileged to join the entire province in opening the celebrations of its 49th Foundation Anniversary and the 16th T’nalak Festival!

Please allow me to congratulate the Provincial Government for conceptualizing and organizing the festivities of the foundation anniversary and this year’s version of the T’nalak festival. Of course, equally deserved credit is also due to the creative directors, participants and volunteers who have lent and contributed their magnificent ideas, talents and skills to produce and execute this 2-week extravaganza of the province, which, I was informed, began on the 4th of July!

Most important of all, I congratulate the people of South Cotabato for their continued interest and participation in this event year in and year out, and without whom this grand and ambitious project certainly would never become successful, let alone even made possible!

Naga panginbulahan kami sa inyo nga tanan! (I congratulate everyone of you!)

On a personal note, my participation in this celebration of the South Cotabato community is indeed a much-welcome respite from the arduous legislative work that I am presently engaged in at the Senate, especially from this particularly painstaking task of improving this Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) proposal of Malacañang.

Hopefully, I can resume my tedious work in the Senate tomorrow feeling reinvigorated and refreshed not only by the memories of the colorful and energetic activities of the T’nalak Festival that I will bring home to Manila, but also by the comforting thought that the people of South Cotabato are all partying and having a good time here down under on this part of the archipelago!

May I just say that I am impressed with the wide range of activities that have been prepared by the Provincial Government for the people of South Cotabato in this year’s installment of the colorful T’nalak Festival.

The Province has lined up everything that is imaginable, and calculated not only to entertain, or to improve the people’s skills and capabilities, but also more importantly, enrich and deepen cultural identity and tradition, and foster a stronger bond and unity among the people of South Cotabato.

From song and dance competitions, sports activities, to cultural, religious and musical shows, to beauty pageants, even food, job and agri fairs, entrepreneurship and trade expos, not to mention an LGBT “Rise and Shine” and “Freedom Night Celebration”—the T’nalak Festival version 2015 has it all!

LGBT “freedom night celebration”! Now, this is one particular freedom that also needs to be paid equal special attention by Congress—and not only the BBL!

Sayang lamang at hindi ko napanood ang inyong LGBT “Rise and Shine” event, at maging ang LGBT “Freedom Night Celebration” bukas! Pati ang iba pang mga makulay at kagiliw-giliw na mga aktibidad na hinanda ng inyong pamahalaang lalawigan!

With a diverse range of activities in store, the people of South Cotabato should brace themselves for a sensory overload of what the province and its people can do and can showcase to the world!

And if we want to talk further about “sharing our best with the wider community and the world”, the province of South Cotabato proves that it is fully capable of doing so. With an aggressive marketing strategy, coupled by an equally aggressive and effective quad-media strategy, the province is fully equipped with the sure-fire ingredients in creating the enabling environment.

And, allow me to make special mention of this: the people of South Cotabato can be truly proud of the provincial government’s fully operational, updated and visually appealing website (www.southcotabato.gov.ph) that can blast to the general public relevant news and information about the province and important goings-on in the local government and in the communities. In fact, your official website was what precisely enabled me to be acquainted more about your province and your much-vaunted T’nalak Festival.

All these information accessed through my phone, and in the privacy of my home and in my office in the Senate—more than 700 nautical miles away in Metro Manila, Philippines, which, for everybody’s information, is still being pummelled as we speak by twin typhoons and the habagat for a week already!

Mabuti pa rito sa Koronadal City, maganda ang panahon!

It is a great honor to be a part of the T’nalak Festival this year. And I thank Governor Daisy for the invitation. The last time I met with Gov. Daisy was during the penultimate BBL hearing in the Senate last month, wherein she firmly put on record the position and the concerns of the province of South Cotabato on the BBL, all of which are sound and well-taken.

You may be well aware of some of the strong criticisms I have made about the BBL as transmitted to Congress by the Malacañang. I have publicly questioned the fact that the Malacañang version of the BBL did not have substantial consultations with very important stakeholders.

In the case of your beloved province of South Cotabato, what happened was actually the reverse. Sumobra naman yata sa consultations! In fact, according the Gov. Daisy, there were forty-eight (48) consultations previously held involving your province. However, the big problem was that the BBL negotiators did not listen at all and did not factor in the points and suggestions conveyed to them by your leaders.

Hence, It rendered nugatory the numerous consultations held, and led to the same dismal result. Ganun din, para ring walang anumang konsultasyong ginawa! Ipinahayag na nga ng lalawigan ng South Cotabato ang kanyang mga posisyon at saloobin, ngunit hindi pa rin ito pinakinggan ng Malacañang!

The utter and complete disregard of the parochial concerns of the province of South Cotabato—consistently and repeatedly made known to the negotiators but to no avail—confirms the presence of the exact same defect in the BBL for which it is perceived by the general public as being doomed for failure: the lack of substantial consultations.

After self-educating myself about the idea and philosophy behind the T’nalak Festival—again, courtesy of the South Cotabato official website—I could not help but draw interesting parallels from it and relate them to what we are presently doing in Congress involving the BBL. And these interesting reflections about your T’nalak Festival all serve to help me better appreciate and make better sense of the very tedious work that I am doing in the Senate now.

The first one is the idea of UNITY IN DIVERSITY. The geometry, the shapes and colors of the T’nalak weaving are themselves rich with meaning and symbolism. They represent various qualities, interests and sectors, but ultimately yield a single, solid and unified whole. Collectively, they define the unique personality of the province of South Cotabato.

Your history has convincingly shown that the differences among the geographical origins of the people of South Cotabato do not have to pose as a hindrance to the development and progress of the province.

The unity amid the ethnically diverse people of South Cotabato is beautifully etched in cultural tradition, and creatively expressed in the grand parade and dance showdown of the Madal B’laan, the Kadsagayan a Lalan, and the Kasadyahan sa Kadalanan, each representing the distinct constituents of the “tri-people” of South Cotabato.

This unity in diversity is further captured by the fact that we have all pledged allegiance to the Republic and are collectively bound as a nation and a community under one flag, which is so meaningfully expressed by our foremost singing of the national anthem, and then of the hymns of South Cotabato and Koronadal City, respectively, this morning.

In the BBL, we are precisely doing a delicate balancing act. As we go through this process, we have to mutually recognize and respect the collective interests, dreams and aspirations not only of the people of the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao, but also of the entire Filipino and our beloved country.

The second parallel is the idea of a painful and difficult process of trials and challenges, as a necessary and prerequisite step towards achieving a desired result.

Before attaining perfection as a finished aesthetic creation, the T’nalak weaving cloth is first not only “subjected to a heating and beating process”, but also undergoes a contemplative “process of self-evaluation and critical analysis by the weaver”.

In essence, this is also what we—not just your legislators and public servants, but the entire Filipino nation as well—are undergoing in this whole BBL saga.

Talagang napakahirap po na proseso itong pinagdadaanan natin ngayon bilang isang bansa. Ibanabalanse natin ang mga kagustuhan at mga hinaing ng mga nagsusulong ng BBL, at ang interes at kapakanan din ng ating buong bansa. Paano natin ito gagawin sa isang maayos at mapayapang paraan, habang sinisiguro na naisasaalang-alang natin ang kapakanan ng lahat ng ating mga kababayan—habang tinitiyak din na hindi tayo magwawatak-watak bilang isang bansa?

How did you do it here in your Province of South Cotabato? What is the secret? We too in your national government can derive wisdom from your collective experience drawn from your half-century of history as an independent province, even stretching back to the days of Cotabato and the olden days of “Kuta Wato” or “Kota Batu”.

Your province and your people too had its share of trials and tribulations. But look at South Cotabato now. Along with its constituent LGUs, South Cotabato prides itself as a good model of efficient and transparent local government leadership and autonomy, worthy of emulation by other LGUs, having been recently honored with seals of good financial housekeeping and good local governance.

South Cotabato is living proof that there can be UNITY among the people in spite of DIVERSITY, and even after trying times of extreme DIFFICULTY. But most importantly, there can be genuine PROSPERITY!

And that is my fervent wish for our entire country: that we as a people and as a nation finally attain a higher level of maturity, and understand the importance of UNITY—UNITY despite our DIVERSITY, and despite the fact that the road towards achieving it is paved with DIFFICULTY. Hopefully, this can ultimately secure for us and for our children genuine PROSPERITY on a national scale!

So we thank the leadership of the province of South Cotabato for continuing to entrench and for perpetuating this beautiful and most important cultural tradition. And I too personally thank you for allowing me to become part of this year’s festivities and get to know more about your province and its people. Rest assured, I will bring home important lessons and profound wisdom from this event, which I can use and apply to my work as your elected Senator of the Republic. Thank you, thank you for your continued support and your trust and confidence in me.

We all know fully well that the national government acts as a big brother for our local governments, obliged to lay a strong foundation and pave a smooth path to allow our local governments to reach their developmental goals and the dreams and aspirations of its people.

Rest assured that we in Congress and in the national government, most especially myself, are always finding ways to improve the potential and capabilities of our local governments. A bigger slice of the pie—a bigger IRA for our LGUs—is certainly a big step towards that direction. This is my pet project in the Senate, which I also have been continuously working on.

Sa larangan ng turismo, sana maging tuloy-tuloy ang tulong at suporta na binibigay ng ating Department of Tourism, lalo na ang TIEZA, upang tiyakin na magiging ganap na top-drawer tourist attraction ang South Cotabato.

Because of the concerns raised by Gov. Daisy at the said hearing last June, we are strengthening the capabilities and the coordination between our police and our military, especially here in Mindanao, to ensure that our homes, our streets and our communities are always peaceful, orderly, and conducive to healthy economic life.

Mas masaya nga naman ang ating mga street parties and iba pang mga T’nalak activities kung siguradong mapayapa at ligtas ang ating mga lansangan at mga komunidad!

Despite our differences, I believe that we only have one common desire for ourselves, our families and our communities: ang magkaroon ng MAGANDANG BUHAY—

Maayo kag mapag-un nga trabaho kag negosyo (A good and productive employment or business);

Maayo nga edukasyon para sa aton kabataan (good education for our children);

Wala untat nga supply sang kuryente (Continuous and uninterrupted supply of electricity);

Barato nga presyo sang mga balaklon: pagkaon, gasolina, tubig kag kuryente (Affordable prices of our basic needs: food, gasoline, water and electricity);

Mabaskug nga agrikultura, industriya kag ekonomeya sang aton bansa (a strong and abundant agriculture, industry and economy of our country).

Makusug kag makatarungan nga kapulisan kag militar (an effective and dependable police and military);

Ina tanan mapasaaton kung kita tanan mag bululigay para sa aton buas damlag sang aton bansa! (All of these will be ours if we will only unite and help each other towards a better future for our country!)

May you, the people of South Cotabato, never stop weaving dreams of higher and better things for your province, for your own lives, your families, and your communities. Indeed, you are here, in the Land of the Dreamweavers!

Hindi ko na po patatagalin pa. Please join me in formally opening the 2015 T’nalak Festivities, and let us show and share to the entire nation and to the world our very best!

Congratulations on the 49th founding anniversary of your province!

Here’s to a strong and promising year for the province of South Cotabato, as it charges forward to the golden milestone of its legal existence next year brimming with success!

Tani mag-enjoy kamo tanan!

Tani magkita-kita kita nga tanan sa madason nga mga adlaw! (I hope to see all of you again soon!)

Mabuhay ang lalawigan ng South Cotabato!

Madamo nga salamat kag maayong adlaw sa inyo nga tanan!

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