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Basilan celebrates Pakaradjaan

By Ayunan Gunting, Contributor

Basilan, the largest island in the Sulu archipelago, marks its establishment with the annual Pakaradjaan. Pakaradjaan is a Tausug and Yakan term for “merry-making” or special event. Although it is traditionally celebrated from March 1 to 7 this year, the provincial government extended the duration to two weeks.
Governor Jim Salliman Hataman will kick off Pakaradjaan with a press conference on February 21 at the Garden Orchid Hotel.
“The festival is not only a cultural expression of our people. We want to show that the province is happy and free from fear,” Hataman explained.
He underscored that Basilan is giving importance to culture and sports as part of the province’s development.
“In the past, the local government focused on the security campaign. Today we don’t have to worry. We want to celebrate our anniversary by promoting the diversity of Basilan’s culture,” he added.
The festival opens on February 26 with a ceremony, a trade fair and a presentation of the Muse of Pagkarajaan at the grandstand. The Governor’s Tennis Cup will be held at Isabela.
There will be a groundbreaking ceremony of the provincial government board’s project and a medical mission (February 27). Then, the Basilan Circumferential Road Caravan starts at the Maluso Terminal (February 28), followed by another medical mission in Tuburan (March 1), a series of sporting events in men’s volleyball tournament at the Capitol Ground, shooting, bowling tournament at the D’ Biel’s bowling center (March 1), and darts tournament, followed by a Himig ng Basilno at the grandstand (March 2).
Intelligence and artistry will be challenged in Tagisan ng Talino and a poster-making contest (March 3). On the same day, a badminton tournament will be held at gymnasium and a variety show, Barangay Night at the ampitheater.
A fun run will span from Begang to the grandstand on March 4. Devotees will be inspired by the Qu-Ran Memorization Contest at the ampitheater. The indigenous culture will be celebrated in “Tara na sa Basilan” at the grandstand.
A regatta on the port, kite flying and the coronation of the Muse of Pakarajaan will take place on March 5. The festival also has a social cause with a feeding program for children under five years old in three municipalities on March 6. An evening program with surprise numbers will be held at the ampitheater in the event. The festivities will climax with cultural program at the Assembly Place of the Maluso Terminal and a Basilan Night at the gymnasium on March 7.
Basilan was under the Zamboanga province in the 20th century. After the war, it became a separate city under law. In 1973, President Ferdinand Marcus issued a presidential decree to make it a province.
For so long, the province has been hogging the headlines due to skirmishes with the Abu Sayyaf. In 2011, the provincial government organized the Pakaradjaan to honor Basilan’s Foundation Day. President Benigno Aquino declared March 7 as a special holiday to commemorate the event.
The fiesta aims to promote the province as a destination. The province hopes that the festivities will help change negative perceptions about the peace and order situation there.
“Our vision is simple—to make Basilan a prime destination and pamper our visitors with our hospitality. We want to allay fears about security issues and, hopefully, level up our celebration every year,” said Hataman.

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