Bago City ushers in Christmas with eco-friendly celebration 

BACOLOD City – Giving importance to sustainable tourism development, the City Government of Bago is once again proving that the holiday season can be more meaningful if celebrated in an eco-friendly way.

On Monday evening, December 11, thousands of Bagonhons and visitors witnessed the switch on ceremony at the Bantayan Park, one of the city’s prime tourist destinations, that added excitement, color and meaning to the annual Adopt a Tree Christmas Program of the local government.

One of the main features of the activity was the parade of lights participated by the students of the city government-run Bago City College.

Dubbed “Sanaaw,” a Hiligaynon term which they used to connote “Festival of Lights,” about 2,000 lighted parol and other Christmas lanterns filled the city’s major streets moving radiantly towards the Bantayan Park.

Of the number, 50 parol designed by the students were illuminated using solar lights.

Mae Ann Furtos, senior tourism operations officer of Bago City, said this is part of the local government’s climate action to lessen the carbon footprint incurred by the residents.

Also, it forms part of the efforts to maintain the city as a green destination, Furtos said, recalling that Bago’s sustainable tourism practice had again made it to this year’s Top 100 Green Destinations, an international platform that acknowledges and celebrates the most inspirational initiatives for sustainable tourism development.

The other lanterns of different colors, meanwhile, were lit using the flashlight of the students’ mobile phones.

“Through this, students were able to save both time and resources,” she added.

Started in the early part of 2000s, the “Sanaaw” has now become a cherished tradition of the Bago City College in partnership with the city government.

After an eight-year hiatus due to some reasons including the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, the parade of lights was reintroduced in 2022 with a parol making workshop organized by the school’s Student Affairs Services Office.

This provided the students of different departments with a platform to also showcase their creativity and skills while bringing additional joy to their fellow Bagonhons during the holiday season.

But to make it more sustainable, Furtos said these solar lighted parol will be given to the beneficiaries of the city’s “Paskwa sang Pag-asa” project.

“These recipients are mostly families with no electricity at home. So, these Christma lanterns will give them the light that they need,” she said, adding that “hopefully, this will be lighted up as long as it lasts and that it could spur hope especially to our less fortunate fellow Bagonhons.”

The tourism officer said other Christmas decorations at the Bantayan Park were made of zero plastic and eco-friendly materials.

These are reusable and recycled decorations, like that of the two Christmas-inspired telephone booths at the park, that are not harmful to the environment.

“We also decorated our park with natural decorations like small ornamental plants that look like Evergreen trees and other greenery which somehow remind us of Christmas,” she added.

Other attractions in the city included the 9.2-meter high Christmas tree at the Bantayan Park, particularly at the skating rink area.

Food business owners also collaborated with the city government in decorating their respective establishments.

Another giant Christmas tree adorned the public plaza, surrounded by the trees decorated and lit up by various stakeholders from the public and private sectors under the city’s long-running Adopt a Tree program.

The sparkling city hall grounds is also a must-see attraction as it also gives a one-of-a-kind Christmas vibe to locals and other visitors.

“We are hoping that through this we are reminded of Jesus who is the light of Christmas,” Furtos said, adding that “this is also another way of thanksgiving for all the blessings the city has received this year.”

For his part, Acting Mayor Ramon Torres, who led the ceremony together with First Lady Jeanne Louise “Jarie” Yulo and their respective families, underscored that Christmas is for everybody.

Acting Mayor Torres said that such a Christmas celebration in the city has been done for more than 20 years already and that they still continue to make it very essential to the lives especially of the young Bagonhon children.

“(We are) hoping that this year’s Adopt a Tree and lights on ceremony could also usher in so many participants in the future. May the spirit and light of faith, hope and love continue to flicker in our hearts,” he added.

Moreover, 50 learners from different daycare and child development centers in the city received early Christmas gifts from the first lady and the Yulos of Bago during the program.

Christmas performances, including songs and dances, of students from various schools and other groups also added color and fun to the activity attended by the members of the city council, partners and stakeholders, among others.