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Ably conquering the Covid-19 pandemic, the city of Biñan opened its gates to its biggest, barangay-based, face-to-face, cultural and productivity festival after two years of online only celebrations.
A beaming Dr. Bryan Jayson T. Borja, head of the Biñan City Culture, History, Arts and Tourism Office (BCHATO), underscored the importance of the much-awaited 12th Puto Latik Festival of the city held for nine days from May 15 to May 23.
“This is the first time we are holding the festival live after Covid-19. We look back at our history and culture, giving importance to our local history and local heritage. We give thanks to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) for being our partner in our 6th Cultural Summit, one of the highlights of the Puto Latik Festival,” Borja said.
The festival was made possible every year through the sustained support and patronage of Biñan City officials led by Mayor Walfredo “Arman” R. Dimaguila Jr., Vice-Mayor Angelo B. Alonte, and Rep. Marlyn “Len” B. Alonte-Naguiat.
Borja, a recipient of the Most Outstanding Tourism Officer of the Philippines Award during the 2019 Pearl Awards of the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines-Department of Tourism (ATOP-DOT), said that Biñan’s Cultural Summit this year was headlined by Prof. Felipe de Leon, Jr., former NCCA chairperson and foremost expert on Philippine culture and history.
With the theme, “Pamanang Lokal: Binhi ng Kulturang Pilipino,” the May 18 summit saw the participation of teachers from some 14 high schools in Biñan City and various non-governmental organizations.
During the summit’s “Usapang Kultura” lecture, De Leon praised the City of Biñan for the conduct of the festival. “Tama yang ginagawa ninyo na [You are right in doing it] one town, one product. The Biñan Puto Latik Festival is a productivity festival which promotes industry and trade.”
He added that festivals like this must be sustained and should involve the grassroots. “When a festival is rooted in culture and people understand what it is for, that festival will not die because the people themselves will value and support it. Also, it is important for a festival to have many events,” Felipe said in the vernacular.
It seems the advice of the former NCCA chairperson was followed to the letter by Biñan City’s culture gurus.
At Plaza Rizal Park, hundreds of devotees braved the rain, as they faithfully observed the karakol, a religious dance procession in honor of the Nuestra Señora Dela Paz y Buenviaje, the Queen of Biñan. The traditional parade ended at the Diocesan Shrine of Biñan’s patron saint San Isidro Labrador, which was celebrating its 385th Feast Day.
The procession formally signaled last May 15 the start of the multi-awarded Puto Latik Festival. Prior to the pandemic, the festival was already a two-year Pearl awardee (2018 and 2019), recognized as one of the five Outstanding Tourism Events in the country by the ATOP-DOT.
Opening day was punctuated by choice residents from various barangays entering fun competitions and participating in colorful parades. Their competitive styles garnered shrieks of excitement and avid support from friends, relatives, and supporters.
First on the mark was the drum beating competition, followed by the costume parade and competition, and culminating in the exciting inter-barangay street dance competition.
Brgy. Canlalay lorded it over in the Puto Latik Costume Parade and Competition, followed by Brgy. Dela Paz (1st runner-up), and Brgy. Poblacion (2nd runner-up).
The much anticipated Puto Latik Inter-Barangay Street Dance Contest was won by Brgy. Mamplasan, with Brgy. Dela Paz as 1st runner-up and Brgy. Langkiwa as 2nd runner-up.
“It was so heartening to see the lively performances of the various barangays. They really miss attending these festivities and the action,” Mayor Dimaguila said.
On May 16, some 26 candidates for the Mister and Miss Biñan displayed their best walks and talents at the Pre-Pageant competition held at the Southwoods Mall.
The coronation night was held on May 21 and Clayton Kyle Belan of Brgy. San Antonio and Allyza Fleur Magistrado from Brgy. San Francisco were crowned Mister and Miss Biñan respectively.
Named 1st runner-up were Armando Reyes of Brgy. Timbao and Gracieday Bonagua of Brgy. Dela Paz while Yuan Carlos Raflores of Brgy. Platero and Noon Elzeiber from Brgy. Loma were named 2nd runners-up.
Judges for the pageant included Laguna tourism officers, city department heads, veteran stage director Dr. Alexander Cortez, fashion icon Avel Bacudio and reigning Binibining Pilipinas International Ms. Hannah Arnold.
The city likewise held its coronation night for Miss Biñan Gay Queen last May 19. Joan Zapata of Brgy. Dela Paz was crowned Queen after registering an average score of 93 percent, compared to her rivals. The new Biñan Gay Queen took home a cash prize and a 100 percent scholarship at Trimex Colleges, among other prizes.
Ara Villanueva, also from Brgy. Dela Paz, was named 1st runner-up, while Ian Reyes of Brgy. San Antonio was named 2nd runner-up. The crowns of both pageants were made by Jezerel Sto. Domingo of Biñan.
CITY OF LIFE AWARDS
Last May 20, the Puto Latik Festival organizers gave out the City of Life Awards 2022 for the outstanding companies and barangays in the City of Biñan.
The winners include: Most functional barangay councils for the protection of children (BCPC) 2021—Brgy. Sto Domingo and Brgy Tubigan (tied for 1st place), Brgy. Zapote (2nd), Brgy. San Vicente (3rd); Outstanding barangays for Lupong Tagapamayapa—Brgy. San Vicente (1st), Brgy. Mamplasan (2nd), Brgy. Sto. Domingo (3rd); Seal of Good Local Governance for Barangays 2021—Brgy. San Vicente; Top performing Barangay in Biñan City in the area of initiatives and development in Culture, History, Arts, and Tourism—Brgy. San Vicente;
Outstanding tourism establishments in Biñan City—Splash Island, Mahalina Inn, and Marina Traveller’s Hotel, Inc.; Top 3 Most Business-Friendly barangays—Brgy. Poblacion (1st), Brgy. San Antonio (2nd), Brgy. San Francisco (3rd); Top 3 barangays with most increase in number of registered businesses—Brgy. Bungahan (1st), Brgy. Soro-Soro (2nd), Brgy. Poblacion (3rd);
Top 10 Business Tax Payer for 2021—Isuzu Philippines Corporation (1st), Inabata Phils. Inc. (2nd), Atlas Copco Phils. Inc. (3rd), Nagase Phils. International Services Corp. (4th), Gardenia Bakeries (Philippines) Inc. (5th), Elematec Philippines Inc. (6th), Kodo (Philippines) Inc. (7th), Amherst Laboratories, Inc. (8th), Toyota Boshoku Philippines Corp. (9th), and Cummins Sales and Service Philippines, Inc. (10th).
Dimaguila said that the billions of pesos collected from business establishments in the city have made the local government self-sufficient, enabling it to provide more quality services for its people.
“You are not just taxpayers,” Dimaguila said, “you are stakeholders and partners of the city government. Thank you very much.”
At the closing of the Puto Latik Festival this May 23, Biñan residents and visitors will be treated to the Puto Biñan 2.0: Puto Biñan Cook-off Challenge.
To be held at the Sentrong Pangkultura ng Biñan, participants of this cook-off will be challenged to come up with unique Puto Biñan flavors and varieties. This event is in partnership with Biñan’s iconic Puto Brand “Nila’s Puto.” Popular chef RV Manabat, a native of Biñan, will serve as judge.
“It will be interesting to see what new flavors will be coming out from this cook-off. We were able to have a cook-off last year and I am sure that everyone here in Biñan is eager to sample these delectable delicacies,” Dimaguila said.
A Thanksgiving Mass in honor of San Isidro Labrador, an Employees Day for the City government of Biñan, and a Grand Santacruzan will cap off the nine-day festival.