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LANAO DEL NORTE, Philippines – Linamon, a small town in Lanao del Norte, is rising from the ashes more than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic brought its efforts to establish itself as the gateway to Lanao del Norte from Iligan City to a screeching halt.
“Now, it’s time to move on and start again,” said Linamon Mayor Randy Macapil as he officially reopened the town’s 63rd Hudyaka sa Lubi (coconut festival) on Monday, January 23.
The town festival marked a triumphant return to normalcy for Linamon, which had been left in a state of economic and social stagnation, feeling like a ghost town due to the pandemic.
The Hudyaka sa Lubi brought back joy and celebration to the town, which is known for its thriving coconut industry and delicious buko pies (coconut pies).
The festival, which featured traditional dances and colorful costumes, drew thousands of visitors from neighboring Iligan City and towns.
It also gave many poor town residents, whose livelihoods had been hurt by the strict health rules imposed due to the pandemic, the opportunity to earn even for just one day.
“I’m happy because we can sell more ice cream today,” said vendor Jessel Mae Ladion, a working criminology student.
Another vendor, Giovanni Darog, was in high spirits after he sold P3,000 worth of bottled mineral water during the festival.
He said he had never earned that much by selling bottled water since the effects of COVID-19 were felt in Lanao del Norte.
Linamon’s beach resorts, where he sells mineral water, had been closed during the first two years of the pandemic, and when they reopened, sales remained sluggish as fewer people visited the town’s beaches.
Ladion said Monday’s festival brought back memories of pre-pandemic Linamon, which she said was a busy and vibrant town.
“We hope that the old times are back for good so that we can increase our earnings. We have not been selling much since the schools were shut down because of this virus. There were no people on the roads,” she said.
Despite the local government’s scarce resources, Mayor Macapil said the town government spent a minimal amount on the festival – enough to bring people to the streets and watch the parade.
Eight of Linamon’s villages sent groups to take part in the Hudyaka sa Lubi’s group dance, street dancing contests, and festival queen contest, as they had done during prior to the pandemic. – Rappler.com