By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – Some 495 policemen will be deployed to secure this year’s Bacolaodiat Festival here.
Police Captain Joel Portos, deputy for the city operations management unit of the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), said the security personnel includes intelligence operatives, convoy security, and those assigned to police assistance desks (PADs).
Portos said the full deployment of policemen will be on February 8, in preparation for the highlights of the festival from February 9 to 11.
The BCPO will activate its city joint operations center (CJOC) on February 8 for harmonized security monitoring. “All the security preparations are already in place,” he added.
Aside from the uniformed personnel, Portos said that they will also tap force multipliers to augment the police in ensuring peace and order in festival sites.
Despite the limited number of force multipliers, Portos said that they are a big help to the city police force in terms of traffic management and crowd control. “Sa mga siksikan na lugar, dako ila ma bulig against petty crimes,” he added.
This year, the festival celebrates the Year of the Wood Dragon and will make a grand return to the streets of Lacson and North Capitol Road.
In a press briefing at the lobby of the Bacolod City Government Center (BCGC) yesterday, Oddette Ong-Gomez of the Bacolaodiat Inc., said the festival will open at SM City Bacolod on February 4 to mark the start of the Chinese New Year.
On February 6 and 7, there will be a table tennis tournament at the Ayala Malls Capitol Central, while the Dragon Lantern Making Contest will be held on February 8 at the Upper East Megaworld.
The Bacolaodiat Street Dance Competition, featuring six official contingents dancing along 13th to 5th Lacson Streets, will kick off the highlight of the festival on February 9. The participants are the Jojaju, Ugyon Dance Troupe, Luminaries, The Next Power Generation, CHMSU Alijisanon, and Breaxers.
Prizes at stake are P100,000 for the champion, P80,000 for the first runner-up, P60,000 for the second runner-up, and three consolation prizes at P15,000 each.
Other prizes include Best in Costume – P20,000, Best in Lantern – P20,000, and Netizen’s Choice Award – P10,000.
This will be followed by the opening of the Chopsticks Alley and the Imperial Village, offering a diverse array of Asian cuisines and showcasing intricate Chinese arts and crafts, including calligraphy and interactive booths.
The annual evening cultural show, titled “A Night in the Middle Kingdom” will showcase performances from various sectors, including different Chinese schools in the city.
The FGS Yuan Thong Temple will conduct Dharma prayers and host the traditional Hitting of the Bell at midnight, marking the beginning of the Year of the Wood Dragon.
On February 10, the conferment ceremony, designating Lucio Co as the adopted son and honorary mayor of Bacolod City, will take place at the Bacolod City Government Center with the local officials. Co is the chairman of Cosco Capital Inc., Puregold, and S&R Membership Shopping.
Meanwhile, Ayala Malls Capitol Central will play host to the Dragon Fantasy Costume Contest, adding a touch of fantasy to the festival’s offerings with eight participants. GMA will also feature various celebrities and entertainers for the GMA Kapuso night.
On the evening of February 10, the Bacolaodiat Lantern Dance Competition will take place along three vibrant stages along Lacson Street: North Capitol Road, 6th Street, and 13th Lacson Street.
A lunar music festival will cap the night while a grand fireworks display will light up the sky with “A Symphony of Lights and Sparks.” Cosplay enthusiasts will showcase their creative prowess during the Chinese Cosplay Invasion on February 11, where an array of costumes will be on display at SM City Bacolod.
This will be followed by performances from the San Carlos City Chamber Orchestra and Vocal Ensemble, bringing the festival to a close.
Gomez said that there will be no signal jamming throughout the duration of the festival. She noted that the strengthened police visibility of the BCPO will discourage and deter crimes, ensuring a peaceful celebration of the occasion.
The local government here has allocated a P5 million budget for the staging of this year’s Bacolaodiat Festival.
The Bacolod Traffic Authority Office (BTAO) will implement a temporary road closure for the festival.
Jose Antonio Robello, BTAO deputy officer-in-charge, said the road closures cover the North Capitol Road and portion of Aguinaldo Street from February 5 to 12, starting at 12:01 a.m. to 2 p.m.
On February 7, roads from 5th to 15th Lacson Streets will also be closed at 12:01 a.m., and 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on February 8, for ingress only.
From February 9 to 11, the roads from 5th to 15th Lacson Streets will still be closed from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.
On February 12, the same streets will still be closed for egress from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Robello said that persons with businesses and houses on Lacson Streets who will be affected by the road closure will be given a car pass provided by the festival organizer to give them access.
With these road closures, he said that two routes of public utility jeepneys (PUJs) will be affected – Bata-Libertad, and Northbound Terminal-Libertad.
On the other hand, unidentified persons reportedly stole some lanterns and electrical wires to be used for the festival recently along Lacson Streets.
Festival chairman John Stephen Sy said that perpetrators have been arrested by the police and the stolen lanterns and wires were recovered.
Gomez thanked the bystanders for helping the organizers recover the stolen items.
Councilor Jason Villarosa, chairman of the Committee on Tourism, said that the city is planning to give recognition to the bystanders for their good deed in line with Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez’s program which values good samaritans.
Meanwhile, Villarosa invited Bacolodnons and visitors to come, witness, and enjoy Bacolaodiat Festival 2024. “This is one of our major yearly events in the city,” he said.