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TALAKUDONG FESTIVAL COMES OUT OF SLUMBER; TACURONG CELEBRATES FOR 9 DAYS

For two years the streets were silent. Septembers came and went, but no throngs of people on the sidelines to cheer on a parade. With the pandemic on the minds of everyone, you'd have to ask, "Will our culture ever take center stage again?"
 
Finally, 2022 broke in with a little ray of hope, and on September 18, the all too familiar drumbeat and a chorus of "Mainabyanon Tacurong!" thundered across downtown. Talakudong Festival is finally awake and is here to stay, God-willing.
 
With a theme "Kulturang Tacurongnon, Ululupod naton nga Itib-ong!", Talakudong Festival 2022 started as early as September 10 because after all, Talakudong was never just a one-day affair. To make up for its absence, the festivities began with an opening salvo and then it was non-stop cultural display and competition there on out.
 
First in the line up was the Mindanao-wide Indak Kudong Cultural Dance Contest. Dance troupes from all over the island performed awe-inspiring choreographies showing the rich tales and legends of the different tribes of Mindanao. Tribu Mandaya of Davao City brought home the championship worth P120,000.
 
The youth’s contemporary way of expression, the hiphop life, was also given importance through the Talakudong National Open Street Jam on September 11. Participants came all the way from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Bulacan City’s KNB ULTRA brought home P100,000 as first prize.
But of course, Tacurong City’s youth get their very own, exclusive dance competition. Homegrown dance crews got to show off their hip hop skills in the Get Down in Talakudong Dance Competition. NEWBREEDS brought home the gold with P30,000 in cash prize.
 
As if those happy hysterics from the crowd were not enough, the festival invited celebrity heartthrobs for good measure. At 6pm that day, the city gymnasium filled rather early to witness a fun basketball game between the celebrity guests and the city government’s team. No less than City Mayor Joseph George L. Lechonsito himself led the games to the delight of the crowd. The said Celebrity Basketball was sponsored by Congresswoman Bai Rihan Sakaluran and Governor Datu Pax Ali Mangudadatu.
 
On September 12, the Talakudong Folk Dance Competition was held and participated by the different elementary, high school, and college institutions in the city. Notre Dame of Tacurong College - Grade School Department and Notre Dame College won in the elementary and high school/college categories, respectively.
 
Tacurong youth's overflowing talent does not stop with dance. To showcase their singing prowess, a Kantahan ng Kabataan was held on the night of September 12. For the Children category, Princess Lxyz Luceño brought home the gold with her powerful rendition of a standard repertoire. Meanwhile, Gaizel de Pedro’s modern rendition of a classic rock won her the championship in the Youth Category.
 
Tacurong City’s LGBTQ+ community is always part of the program. Makasining Lahi’s Amazing Queen 2022 pageant searched for the most beautiful, the smartest, and the best advocate for the group’s rights, responsibilities, and aspirations. Ms. Chesca Marie Montes was crowned Amazing Queen this year.
 
Talakudong is also the time when Tacurong City crowns its new Mutya. On September 16, beauty, grace, and intellect reigned supreme as 14 candidates vied for the crown. But through all the showcases and tests, Ms. Julianna Beatriz D. Trajeco rose to the top to be the Mutya ng Lungsod ng Tacurong 2022.
 
The entire 9-day Talakudong festivities saw more wins and presented more awards all throughout. The barangays competed for the Search for the Cleanest and Greenest Barangay where Brgy. Rajah Muda won first place; the top business, individual, and real property taxpayers of the city were also recognized; the Most Functional Barangay Violence Against Women (VAW) Desk was also given recognition by the city government through the City Social Welfare and Development Office; and the city’s barangay officials got the chance to show off their talent in music and entertainment through the Talentadong Barangay Officials.
 
The City Veterinary Services Office also organized their annual Tacurong Pets’ Day on September 16 where the city’s furry friends and their pet parents were given prizes and free food and vitamins.
 
Every day, the festival-goers were treated to an array of choices at the Talakludong Food, Trade, and Garden Fairs. Every night was a party, too, as bands from all over Mindanao serenaded the crowd with live music.
 
Finally, on September 18, the streets came alive again with magnificent colors of Talakudong and the drumbeats of the Talakudong song.
 
And while the participants lack the usual tribes composed of the different schools in the city, dozens of sectors, groups, and organizations showed up with their own vibrantly-designed 'kudongs' to lend support to the Indak Indak sa Dalan and Float Parade Competition.
Tribu Pisik took home the grand prize for the Indak Indak sa Dalan while the Sultan Kudarat Water District took home the gold for having the most beautiful float in the parade.
 
Sen. Francis Tolentino and Gov. Pax Ali Mangudadatu graced the Talakudong Program. The former also joined Mayor Lechonsito, together with Mayor Eliordo Ogena of Koronadal City, and Mayor Ferdinand Agduma of Lambayong in the ribbon-cutting and blessing of the People’s Dialysis Center and the new Executive Building.
 
For his part, Mayor Lechonsito emphasized in his speech to the Talakudong crowd the importance of unity, not only for our city's culture, but for its governance emanating from both the executive and legislative arms of the city government.
 
"Our festival theme calls for UNITY. It’s already an abused word but if we demonstrate it and live by it, it is an essential ingredient for good governance. Kami nga inyo mga opisyales diri sa syudad sang Tacurong, indi magka-partido, pero pag-abot sa pangginobyerno kag paghatag sang serbisyo sa inyo, ululupod kami. Ang pagpakita kag pagpabatyag sang unity dapat mag-umpisa sa amon nga mga lideres ninyo," the mayor said. It's safe to say that in the City of Tacurong, unity is alive through its people and its elected leaders.
 
If the two-year hiatus showed us anything, it is that the Talakudong spirit was never gone. Whether in lockdown or in a festival, Tacurongnons are genuinely capable of celebrating their culture and the spirit of Tacurong, both in silence and in cheerful dances. (YMR, LGU-Info)
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