The city government of Puerto Princesa is reviving its efforts to turn the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival into an event that is held on an international scale with the re-launching of the celebration yesterday in Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan.

Subaraw Biodiversity Festival was held for the first time in 2018 to commemorate the designation of Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) as one of the Seven Wonders of Nature, as a local festivity with the goal of expanding it to an international occasion. The event, along with other activities, was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was first observed as Puerto Princesa Underground River or PPUR Day on November 11, 2011, when the world-famous underground river was named one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.

The celebration is considered unique because it is the world’s only biodiversity festival.

Community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) sites and schools from the northwestern barangays of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) marched in a parade and competed in the best headdress and field demonstration competitions during the opening ceremony.

A two-day frisbee tournament was also held in Sabang Beach, as well as a surfing competition in Sitio Tagkawayan, Barangay Bacungan.

The week-long celebration will culminate on November 11 with a grand parade in the city center.

At the opening ceremony, Mayor Lucilo Bayron expressed confidence that, with the pandemic nearly over, the festival would be a success, and that the goal of making it an international occasion would be realized.

“Noong 2018 sinimulan nating i-convert ito, pinalitan yung dating pangalan, dati ang tawag natin ay PPUR Day celebration, at ngayon ay Subaraw Biodiversity Festival at pino-project nga natin na gawin itong international event. Then in 2019, may mga activity at contest na sinalihan ng taga-ibang lugar, kabilang ang Mindanao kaya masasabi natin na simula na mai-convert natin ito into national event,” Bayron said.

(In 2018, we started to change this. It used to be called the PPUR Day celebration, but now it’s called the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival, and we want to make it an international event. Then, in 2019, there were activities and contests that people from other places, like Mindanao, took part in. This is why we can say that we started to make it an international event.)

“Pero noong 2020 nagkaroon ng COVID-19 pandemic naapektuhan ang ekonomiya. Maraming establisimyento ang nagsara, maraming nawalan ng trabaho, at nawalan ng kita. Ngayong tapos na ang pandemya muli na naman tayong nagtipon at muli nating nilulunsad yung ating pangarap na gawing international event itong Subaraw Festival,” he added.

(However, in 2020, we had the COVID-19 pandemic, which had an impact on the economy. Many businesses closed, and many people lost their jobs and income. Now that the pandemic has passed, we are back and resuming our efforts to make Subaraw an international event.)

Bayron also stated that the upcoming Ironman 70.3 challenge, tourism will add boost to the recovery of the city’s tourism industry which was affected by the pandemic and typhoon Odette that hit the city in December last year.

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