MABALACAT CITY – Mayor Crisostomo Garbo shared the upcoming Balacat Festival and other huge projects of the local government under his administration during the pilot episode of “MCG Cares” via UFM105.5 last Feb. 02, 2023.
In an interview by radio broadcaster Jay Pelayo IV with DJ Amir and DJ Rad, the mayor opened up about the real reason behind the changes in the city’s annual festival. From the longtime-running Caragan Festival, Mabalacat City will now celebrate “Balacat Festival” which encompasses the origin of the city’s name.
Balacat (Ziziphus talanai) is a tall tree with a thorny trunk that is indigenous in the Philippines and Central Luzon. The city was called Mabalacat, which translates to “full of Balacat”, by its first residents, since it was initially abundant with Balacat trees.
The festival aims to pay homage to the rich culture, heritage, traditions and history of the city, and let the Mabalaquenians, especially the youth, appreciate their roots and great stories of the past, according to the local chief executive.
Garbo also clarified in the live interview that the Caragan will not be taken away and will still be a huge part of the Balacat Festival to pay tribute to the city’s first Chieftain, Aring Caragan (King Caragan), and the indigenous People of the city, the Aetas.
“Nariyan pa rin po ang Caragan pero this time it will be part of Balacat Festival,” he furthered.
Another change in the annual celebration is the inclusivity of all its 27 barangays, where each will be given a space to put up their own trade fair to be headed by the barangay councils.
In addition to this, the Miss Mabalacat beauty pageant now includes candidates from all the barangays of the city. According to Garbo, this promotes a sense of belonging to all the Mabalaquenians who are rooting for the candidate of their respective barangay.
“In 32 years of my political career, wala po akong nakitang history ng Mabalacat na isang beauty contest na sumali lahat ng mga barangays, so this is the first time at masayang-masaya ako when we introduced them dahil nakikita ko yung kasiyahan at pakikiisa ng bawat barangay at mamamayan ng syudad ng Mabalacat” Garbo said.
The city mayor also discussed the big projects of the local government including the construction of its New City Hall in Barangay Mabiga, groundbreaking ceremony of which is set to be part of the 1st Balacat Festival.
Garbo also took the chance to correct the misconception of the people that the new city hall building will be constructed on the location of the former Christmas Village and now main venue of Balacat Festival activities.
“Hindi po doon sa tabi ng San Rafael Church mismo, kung saan natin inilagay ang Christmas Village itatayo ang ating bagong city hall, kundi sa isang bakanteng lote sa may tabi ng Herencia Subdivision,” the mayor said.
A state-of-the-art Command Center will also be put up beside the city’s fire station at San Rafael Village in Barangay Mabiga, the mayor added. This will serve as the eyes of the local government on all corners of its jurisdiction as high-end CCTV cameras that can penetrate even the tinted vehicles will be put up all over the city.
With this, Garbo ensures that the Mabalaquenians will have a more secure and safe city to live in. He also assured to put up high caliber equipment to avoid issues and concerns on the quality of surveillance images/videos in the future.
The city mayor also discussed the Health and Wellness Center project of the Mabalacat LGU, which will be located at the Mawaque Resettlement Area. This will serve as a community hospital which will provide free laboratory tests and other preemptive medical procedures as well as basic treatments of illnesses of Mabalaquenian patients.
In line with this, Garbo also coordinated with the Pampanga provincial government, through Vice Governor Lilia “Nanay” Pineda, to have the Mabalacat City District Hospital reestablished and renovated.
“Kasama ng aking anak, si Board Member Winwin [Garbo], tinignan namin kung ano pa ang pwede nating maitulong doon at nakita nga namin na may mga consultation room doon at pwede tayong gumawa ng ward na kung may kailangang maoperahan sa ating mga kababayan ay doon na lang. Sa gayon ay mas makakatipid tayo at may tamang coordination with the Provincial government of Pampanga,” he said.
Garbo also added that the LGU will designate consultation days with its partner medical specialists in the district hospital to help more Mabalaquenians.
The local chief also thanked the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council), headed by vice mayor Gerald Guttrie Aquino for their unwavering support to his projects and programs.
“Lahat naman po ng aking iminumungkahi ay para sa ikabubuti ng ating mga kababayan kaya ako ay nagpapasalamat sa ating SP at Vice Mayor sa kanilang walang sawang suporta at pakikipagtulungan sa atin,” he said.
He as well encouraged all Mabalaquenians to monitor their local government, cooperate by being good and responsible citizens and pray for their leaders to better serve their constituents.
“Hindi po namin hinihiling na bayaran nyo kami dahil ito po ang mandato namin, trabaho namin to serve you with all our hearts. Ang amin lang, pagdasal nyo po kami to give us strength to serve you better at ngayon po na ipinagdiriwang natin ang ating kapistahan, sana ay magkaisa at magmahalan po tayong lahat,” he added.
Garbo also commended the MCG Cares radio program for giving a platform to the local government’s programs to be aired, which can inform the people of the current projects and services of the city as well as inspire other local governments to adapt its best practices.
MCG Cares airs every Thursdays from 9-10 AM and can be streamed live on Mabalacat City News FB page.