By Nel Benjamin Magdaleno
As part of its 406th founding anniversary celebration, the Municipality of Los Baños held the 20th Bañamos Festival led by the Los Baños Tourism Office (LBTO) on September 13-17, 2021, with the theme Ikaw, Ako, Sama-Sama Laban sa Pandemya.
Due to safety protocols, this year’s festival was commemorated online, as in the last one in 2020. Despite the limitations, the celebration retained its festive spirit through a series of activities.
A thanksgiving mass was observed on September 17. It was followed by a recognition of the Municipality’s Top 10 Taxpayers. Among them were Robinsons Supermarket Corp., Sanford Marketing Corp., Puregold Price Club Inc., Laguna Water District Aquatech Resources Corp., Mercury Drug Corp. (Plaza Agapita), Mercury Drug Corp. (National Highway), Los Baños Doctors Hospital Medical Center Inc., Healthserv Los Baños Medical Center, and Grand Union Supermarket Inc. Optr.
Several agencies were also named for their invaluable aid to the Municipality’s programs during the pandemic. These included the Boy Scout of the Philippines – Mt. Makiling Los Baños, Girls Scout of the Philippines Laguna Council, Department of Science and Technology Region IV-A, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture, and the University of the Philippines Los Baños.
From the Los Baños Tourism Office and Municipal Government of Los Baños Facebook pages
On the same day, the Municipality virtually announced the winners of LBirit, its annual singing competition. After a month of pre-recorded audition and screening, the following finalists bagged the awards: Jethro De Asis (LBirit Star Champion, Brgy. San Antonio), Jessa Salazar (1st Runner Up, Brgy. Mayondon), Ricky Mendoza (2nd Runner Up, Brgy. Bayog), and John Carlo Guba (People’s Choice Award, Brgy. San Antonio).
De Asis—a back-to-back champion— is a 20-year-old college student taking up his degree in hospitality management at the Laguna State Polytechnic University – Los Baños.
“Sumali ako ng LBirit para i-defend ‘yung korona ko noong nakaraang season at gusto ko pang maipakita na may mapapatunayan pa ako,” he said.
According to him, the pandemic prevented him from practicing and joining gigs and singing contests, which are his usual sources of income. He chose his final song, Bulag, Pipi at Bingi by Freddie Aguilar, to give attention to the needs and concerns of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in his community.
Meanwhile, the LBTO also organized a daily online quiz and a video-making contest, which aimed to highlight the Municipality’s history and culture.
In his public address, Mayor Antonio L. Kalaw said that the Bañamos Festival during the time of pandemic symbolized the Municipality’s cooperation and compassion, which were embodied by local initiatives during the pandemic, such as community pantries, donations, and good governance.
“Bawat isa sa atin, may katungkulan o simpleng mamamayan, ay may kakayahang magbigay sa ating bayan kahit sa simpleng pamamaraan,” he said.
He thanked the Los Bañenses who joined the virtual celebration. He also commended the residents and organizations who continuously help the Municipality in its fight against COVID-19.
“Tayo ay patuloy na magtutulungan at magsasama-sama para sa ating bayan,” he said.