Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron waters a tree with effective microorganism extended (EME) solution.

Despite overcast weather, festivities continued Saturday morning at the 6th Balayong Tree Planting and Nurturing Festival at the people’s park in Barangay Sta. Monica.

“You are a part of Balayong People’s Park history,” said Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron during the opening program of the 6th Balayong Tree Planting and Nurturing Festival, held at Balayong People’s Park on July 29, 2023.

The annual event is held to check on the progress of the balayong trees planted along the park, as well as celebrate the culture and environmental consciousness of Puerto Princesa City.

“Noong 2017 magsisimula tayo, ito ay shrubs, mga hagonoy at grasslands. Ang tanging facility dito ay ang ating Sports Complex,” Bayron said.

“Ngunit ang higit sa lahat sana ay tingnan natin yung malalaki na balayong trees sa ngayon, simula nung tinanim natin,” he said.

He emphasized that the success of the Balayong Park is due to the collaboration of residents in the city in planting and nurturing the trees since the first seedlings planted during 2017.

Architect Emilyn Kristia J. Parangue, the manager in-charge of Balayong People’s Park reported that the area now boasts a total of 1,119 local and endemic trees, with 558 being nurtured and 30 new balayong trees to be planted at the City Arboretum.

“141 na puno ang namulaklak during the months of February to April 2023,” adds Parangue. She stated that Balayong park had 182,865 visitors from January-June this year alone, the highest month of foot traffic being in March during the Balayong festival, with a total of 40,887 visitors.

“Talagang nakakamit natin yung aim ng ating park bilang isang social interaction area, na nakakapagpabuti ng mental health, mental wellness, at siyempre nakakatulong ito sa ating economic sector,” she said.

Alexander E. Mancio, the DENR-OIC of CENRO Puerto Princesa, said the Balayong Park is an indication of the city’s economic progress.

“Balayong Park is one of the indicators of the progressive economy of Puerto Princesa City, with the presence of facilities that local residents and tourists can enjoy,” he said.

The program, hosted by Ronnie Rex D. Ruta of the City Information Office, started with a Zumba dance. Banwa Dance & Arts, along with Batang Palaweno DT led the opening production in dance costumes of pink flowers. The rest of the event had musical performances from Konek Tibo, Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron’s Free Workshop as headed by Hajime “Loy” N. Tarre and Dr. Concepto Rainerio B. Magay; and Lino Cabrera with his wife Kate, the former whose original composition “Balayong” is the official theme song of Balayong People’s Park.

Unveiled the same day at one of the park’s open air amphitheatres was the mural Kulturang Princesa, which features symbols and iconic features of Puerto Princesa City and Palawan such as the Underground River, endemic animals such as the balintong and the Palawan hornbill, the woven baskets and wooden masks made by indigenous tribes, along with structures such as the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral and the tree-lined lane found in Balayong People’s Park.

The mural is a collaboration between the Palawan Artists Collective, Artists Society of Palawan, United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) – Palawan Chapter, UAP-Student Auxiliary and UAP-Graduate Auxiliary in partnership with Boysen Paint.

Architect Kristine Joanne Tombucon, president of the UAP – Palawan Chapter, thanked their partners and to the City Government for the chance to showcase the artistic talents of the local artists in Puerto Princesa.

“This collaborative artwork, the Kulturang Princesa mural, is a powerful reminder of the strength of our community and the greatness that comes when working together. This mural is a testament to the beauty of our culture and the beauty it fosters among us.” she said.

Rhys Bryan Bayot from Palawan Artists Collective, one of the initiators of the project, said that the idea for the mural took into account the local culture.

“Medyo mahirap po sa una kasi [ito ay] una po nating mural project, pero awa sa Diyos po ay nalagpasan din,” he said, citing the challenge of painting for two weeks in an open area amidst heavy rains.

As to the plans of local Palaweño artists, Jonathan Benitez, president of the Palawan Artists Collective, mentioned that there might be more public art projects with the city government in the future.

“Tuloy-tuloy na ito, kasi nag-open up na yung city,” he said.

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