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Leaders urge unity, thank OFWs on Vizcaya Day

07 November 2017

 By Vir B. Lumicao

Nueva Vizcaya’s sons and daughters working in Hong Kong replicated on Oct 22 their province’s colorful celebration of ethnic solidarity with pageantry and calls for unity by local government leaders who came over for the festival.

The whole-day “Nueva Vizcaya Day Ammungan Festival 2017 Hong Kong” was organized by the United Nueva Vizcayanos, an alliance of OFW associations from about two dozen ethnic groups in the 15 towns that make up the province.

Governor Carlos Padilla, who led a delegation of provincial and town officials at the festival, expressed his gratitude to the contributions the estimated 3,000 Vizcayanos working in Hong Kong have made to the province through their remittances.

 Vice Gov. Epifanio Lambert Galima (in grey barong), led the guests in the afternoon portion of the "Nueva Vizcaya Ammungan Festival 2017" on Chater Road on Oct 22. With him are (from left) Quezon xx xx Binwag, his wife Mayor Dolores Binwag, Mrs. Perla Galima, and Lourdes D. Lowings, chairwoman of United Nueva Vizcayanos HK.
He told about 500 people who gathered on Chater Road for the festivities that the Nueva Vizcaya OFWs in the SAR and other parts of the globe are the main drivers of the province’s economic progress.

He said everyone would benefit from that progress by safeguarding and strengthening ethnic unity to promote economic growth.

Vice Governor Epifanio Lambert Galima acknowledged the valuable contributions of OFWs in the SAR to the provincial economy as he stressed the need for them to unite. 

“Your province owes you a lot of gratitude because of the money that you send home. Look at the progress in the countryside due to your contributions. It is very heartwarming to see businesses flourishing and big houses rising because of you OFWs,” he said.

Padilla, Galima and Board Member Roland Carub led the provincial and municipal officials who graced this year’s gathering.

A Mangyan dance is performed by the Luzon Alliance troupe in the tribal dance competition.
In an interview with The SUN, Galima said OFWs account for a significant part of the money that flows into the province.

“Children go through to college because of money the OFW parents send home. If the parents are not here, their children won’t be able to go to school,” he said.

In return, the provincial government has lined up livelihood assistance as well as vocational and technical programs that returning OFWs can avail themselves of to help them reintegrate into the economy, Galima said.

Among these programs is financial aid to start up small businesses, such as rice trading business for small operators in upland villages that do not produce rice, he said.

“We provide them capital to buy rice wholesale, which they retail in their localities so that the villagers will have rice to eat. The people welcome the business, as it saves them the trouble of going to faraway town centers to buy rice,” the vice governor said.

The United Nueva Vizcayanos HK also provides livelihood training to OFWs from the province, its chairwoman Lourdes Dacanay Lowings told The SUN. These include handicrafts, such as making flowers and beads, macramé bags and other products.

The Ammungan, the Gaddang word for “gathering,” is the organization’s Hong Kong version of the grand festival in the province that brings together people from the various ethnic groups in Nueva Vizcaya, the gateway to the Cagayan Valley.

Cultural presentations included folk dances staged by OFWs from various tribes and regions, an ethnic tribal dance contest, a costume competition and a singing contest.

The celebration began with a parade led by contestants in the Search for Saniata ti Nueva Vizcaya 2017 dressed in costumes made of corn husks, rice straws, tiger grass and other natural materials.

The festivities ended with the proclamation of winners in the twin beauty pageants, Saniata ti Nueva Vizcaya and the Search for Sassy Look International 2017.

Nueva Vizcaya was formerly a part of Isabela, but was spun off into a separate province by Spanish Governor-General Luis Lardizabal on May 24, 1839. On April 10, 1841,  Queen Isabella II issued a royal decree approving Lardizabal’s order.

The province had a 452,000 population in 2015, the fastest-growing in the region with an average annual growth rate of 1.36% in 2010-2015 period.

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