Puerto Princesa, Palawan, June 8, 2003 (Star) True to the call of unity and cooperation among all sectors in the country’s last ecological frontier, Palaweños will once again converge for their annual Baragatan Festival to usher in the 101th anniversary of the founding of the Palawan civil government.

As in previous Baragatan fests, this year’s celebration will once again witness the convergence and cooperation of the public and private sectors, working together to give meaning and substance to the festival theme Ating Pagkakaisa, Tagumpay ng Lalawigan.

The week-long festival will begin on June 17 and culminate on June 23, the actual anniversary day.

The Palawan civil government was established on June 23, 1902 with Major John Brown as the first appointed governor.

Provincial Resolution No. 154 was subsequently passed on May 12, 1988, adopting the event on June 23, 1902 as the basis for the Foundation Day of the province.

In 1997, then Gov. Salvador Socrates issued Executive Order No. 02 adopting June 23 of every year as the Foundation Day commemoration.

Gov. Joel Reyes is rallying all of his constituents in the 23 municipalities, the component city of Puerto Princesa and the 431 barangays all over the archipelagic province to support and actively participate in the Baragatan Festival.

"We have started preparations for this year’s festivities and we have lined up daily and week-long events which will be an opportunity for the local government units to showcase their agricultural produce, ecotourism destinations as well as their music, songs and dances," Reyes said.

He said Baragatan 2003 is not just an ordinary festival of songs, dances and parades.

"We look at Baragatan as an opportunity for Palaweños and non-Palaweños, even for the local and foreign tourists, business and trade sectors, to rediscover our province that is known for its environment and unique ecology," he said.

Reyes added: "There’s more to Palawan than our pristine environment. We have products that can be marketed in the domestic and international markets. We also have a rich cultural heritage which would interest our researchers, writers and art connoisseurs."

He said Palawan’s role in the national economy will be showcased in an exhibit on the Camago-Malampaya deep water gas to power project "which is within the territorial waters of our province."

For its part, Shell Philippines Exploration will be putting up an interactive exhibit on the Camago-Malampaya project, the single biggest investment in the country today.

Reyes said Smart Communications is set to inaugurate its terrestrial microwave facility during the Baragatan 2003. The facility will upgrade telecommunications linkages between Palawan and the rest of the country and the world.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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