by Martin Louise Tungol and Quinzhy Jimenez
The annual Anilag Festival is not happening this year, as Laguna Governor Ramil Hernandez declared the festival cancelled until further notice amid the public health scare due to COVID-19. This, after the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) released on Feb. 13 a notice of cancellation to all public gatherings, as a precautionary measure the coronavirus.
Given such development, the Laguna Tourism, Culture, Arts and Trade Office (LTCATO) fears that the government stands to lose the opportunity this year to market and promote Laguna’s products and culture. Supervising Tourism Operations Officer Regina Austria said in an interview that the Anilag is a major activity in promoting tourism and trade, and the postponement impacts not just on the province but on the locals as well.
“Ang aming Anilag Festival is a major activity in promoting Laguna tourism and trade. ‘Yung sanang magiging income ng mga traders, mawawala din. At syempre ‘yung opportunity ng mga talented Lagunense, may mga prizes yan, ‘di na nila maachieve,” Austria said.
Festival participants were unhappy because of the cancellation. Battle of the Bands contestant John Ernest Tobias said that the cancellation of the festival due to COVID-19 was unnecessary and only wasted the efforts invested by the participants.
“Kasi, kahit icancel mo ‘yung Anilag, ‘yung COVID-19, ‘di mo naman mapipigilan ‘yun. Public hysteria nalang ang COVID-19. Sayang ‘yung nanalo na sa auditions, tsaka yung budget nila,” Tobias said.
However, resident vendors remain complacent to their status, despite the cancellation of the festival.
“Araw-araw naman, nandito kami, tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang hanap-buhay. ‘Di ko na iniisip ang NCOV. Malayo naman tayo sa ibang bansa. Bahala na kung magkasakit,” a resident vendor said.
ON RESCHEDULING THE FESTIVAL
While the DILG has released on Feb. 17 a joint memorandum together with the Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of Tourism (DOT), declaring that it is safe to proceed with public events and gatherings, the provincial government has yet to set a meeting about rescheduling the Anilag Festival 2020.
Austria said that the event will possibly be rescheduled in May or June and asks that the participants patiently wait for further announcements. “Kung irereset nya, siguro irereset niya sa buwan na ‘di maapektuhan ang ibang bayan, kasi marami ring fiesta ang ibang bayan,” she said.
The Laguna Tourism, Culture, Arts, and Trade Office can be reached through their hotline: 501-8212.