City Mayor Lucilo Bayron marks the formal opening of the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival by hitting the festival's gong on Wednesday night. | PN photo

The city government has encouraged the youth to carry on with the annual celebration of the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival with the goal of making it an international calendar event.

“Itong festival na ito ay mamanahin niyong mga kabataan, dahil pagdating ng oras, kayo na ang magmamanage nito. Kailangan alam niyo ang istorya, kaya talaga natin gawin ito na international event, provided samahan tayo ng mga mamamayan ng lungsod ng Puerto Princesa, ng mga businessmen, at iba’t ibang organisasyon sa lungsod,” city mayor Lucilo Bayron said during the official opening of the festival on Wednesday.

(The next generation will take over this festival, and when that time comes, you will be in charge of it. Because of this, you should know the story. We can make this an international event if the people of Puerto Princesa, businesspeople, and other groups join us.)

This year’s Subaraw is a budget-friendly face-to-face comeback, according to the city government and Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) Festival Partners Foundation, which are the organizers.

On November 6, it was soft-launched in Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan.

The first Subaraw Biodiversity Festival was held in 2018 to commemorate the designation of Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) as one of the Seven Wonders of Nature. It was supposed to be an international event in 2020, but it was hampered by the pandemic, according to Bayron.

“Sa tingin namin, kayang gawin itong [international] dahil ang ating festival na ito ay hindi based sa religion. Itong sa atin, dahil biodiversity ang pinag-uusapan, yamang-buhay hindi lang sa lupa kung hindi sa karagatan, marine and terrestrial biodiversity. Lahat ng sekta, lahat ng relihiyon, pwedeng sumali sa festival na ito,” he said.

(We believe we can make this festival international because it is not religious in nature. Ours is about celebrating biodiversity, both marine and terrestrial. This festival is open to all sectors and religions.)

Previously, PPUR stated that some major events in this year’s celebration would be canceled due to financial constraints.

According to City Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) Atty. Carlo Gomez, the bird race was also affected by this.

It is an annual activity started in 2015 and joined by local and international bird photographers. 

“Mga prominent people ang pumupunta dito for birding and bird photography. Ang assessment every bird race ay 40 teams times three ang nagpaparticipate, sa computation namin ay city government is earning around Php8-10 million including accommodations, van rental, and all. And after, ay bumabalik sila,” he said.

(Those who come here to join are prominent birders and photographers. According to our calculations, the city government will earn around Php8-10 million, including accommodations, van rental, and other expenses, for each bird race. After this, they also return later.)

Instead of the usual float and street dancing competition, the organizers will hold a headdress and costume contest as well as an inter-barangay Zumba dance competition on November 11.

Also on the same day, there will be no band concert or pyro-musical show. Instead, local artists and the awarding of Gawad Kalikasan will be highlighted.

Bayron hopes to bring the IronMan 70.3 event back to Puerto Princesa City in 2023 if it goes well this year. He also said that the roughly 1,221 triathletes who will take part in this year’s event have kept the city’s hotels full.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.