Basilan, the largest island in Sulu Archipelago, marks its establishment with the Pakaradjaan, an annual festival of sports, culture, and community service.
“Pakaradjaan” is a Tausug and Yakan term for merry-making or special event. Although it is traditionally celebrated from March 1 to 7, the provincial government has extended it to two weeks for this year.
Gov. Jim Salliman Hataman will kick off Pakaradjaan with a press conference on Feb. 21 at the Garden Orchid Hotel.
The festival itself opens February 26 with a ceremony, a trade fair, and a presentation of the Muse of Pakaradjaan at the grandstand. The Governor’s Tennis Cup will then be held at Isabela.
There will be a groundbreaking ceremony of the provincial government board’s project and a medical mission on February 27. Then there are the Basilan Circumferential Road Caravan, which starts at the Maluso Terminal (February 28), and another medical mission in Tuburan (March 1).
The weekend starts with a job fair and a series of sporting events. There will be a men’s volleyball tournament at the Capitol Ground, shooting, and a bowling tournament at the D’ Biel’s bowling center on March 1. The darts tournament will be followed by a Himig ng Basileño at the grandstand the following day. Intelligence and artistry will be showcased in Tagisan ng Talino and a poster making contest on March 3. Also on Sunday, a badminton tournament will be held at gymnasium, with the Barangay Night variety show held at the amphitheater.
The week begins with a full day of events (March 4). A fun run will span from Begang to the grandstand. Devotees will be inspired by the Qu-Ran Memorization Contest at the ampitheater. The indigenous culture will be celebrated in “Tara Na Sa Basilan” at the grandstand.
A regatta on the port, kite flying, and the coronation of the Muse of Pakaradjaan will take place on March 5. The festival also has a social cause with a feeding program for children under five years old in three municipalities (March 6). An evening program with surprise numbers will be held at the ampitheater.
Finally, the festivities will climax with a cultural program at the Assembly Place of the Maluso Terminal and a Basilan Night held at the gymnasium (March 7).
Basilan was under the Zamboanga province in the 20th century. After the war, it became a separate city under law. In 1973, then President Ferdinand Marcus issued a presidential decree to make it a province to dampen the fighting between government and Muslim groups. For so long, the province was hogging the headlines due to skirmishes with the Abu Sayaff.
In 2011, the provincial government organized the Pakaradjaan to honor Basilan’s Foundation Day. President Benigno Aquino declared March 7 as a special holiday to commemorate the event. The fiesta aims to promote the province as a friendly destination.