The Buglasan festival of festivals in Negros Oriental will reel off Friday, on the theme “Community Development Through Tourism”.

An ecumenical service will start the celebration 5 p.m. Friday at the provincial Capitol forecourt stage, followed by the awarding ceremony of this year’s Outstanding Oriental Negrenses, and the opening of fair booths of local government units.

One highlight is the selection of Miss Negros Oriental Tourism where 13 candidates will vie for the crown at the Freedom Park stage in Dumaguete City.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, the city-wide civic-military parade with a marching band competition will be held. A duo tenors concert, featuring Almar Pastidio and Manolito Saldivar, 5:30 p.m. at the Capitol forecourt stage will lead the series of entertainment shows, like the minus-one singing and duet competitions for the senior division, social dancing competition, also among senior citizens, and the ABS-CBN Kapamilya caravan at the Freedom Park.

Piapi Beach up to the Rizal Boulevard will be dotted with food stalls, fun and entertainment of various kinds to create a festive ambience. A rondalla competition in the junior division will be staged October 19, starting 8 p.m. at the Freedom Park stage, as well as the “kumparsa” and “balakbalitaw” competitions. These will be done parallel with the Sidlakang Negros Association of Tourism Officers Night at the SNV near the Provincial Agriculture Office.

On Oct. 20 starting at 8 p.m. there will be competitions for rap singing and hip-hop and pop dances at the Freedom Park, and showdown among schools and colleges in the province called “Pasikat”, at the Sidlakang Negros Village until Oct. 25.

Talents of GMA Kapuso Network, “Bet ng Bayan” regional finals, Regine Velasquez and Alden Richards will take center stage Oct. 21 at the Freedom Park; and folkdance and ballroom competitions Oct. 23, also at Freedom Park. Other contests are “Lutong Garbo”, children’s choir, bulilit minus-one and bulilit duet, Oct. 25.

Another highlight is the Buglasan Festival of Festivals showdown, 8 a.m. on October 24 at the Lamberto Macias Sports and Cultural Complex, street dancing at the major thoroughfares of Dumaguete, 2 p.m., and the Buglasan Festival King and Queen.

The 10-day festivities will be capped October 26 with the giving of awards to winners of the underwater photo contest “My Negros Oriental,” cleanest and greenest schools, freedom fair and heritage booth awards, and the two-part fireworks competition.

Twenty-three of the 25 cities and towns of Negros Oriental committed their participation in the events and competitions, Board Member Mariant Escano Villegas, co-director general of the Buglasan Festival, said.

Government and non-government organizations have pooled their resources and expertise as lead agencies responsible for the many events held simultaneously. “Each year of celebrating Buglasan is meant to be a new experience, both for our people and our visitors, and with the unified cooperation of many sectors, we are confident we will bring out the best,” Villegas said.

Around P3.5 million has been appropriated as subsidy by the provincial government, with about P100,000 given to each LGU joining the festival showdown, street dancing, and booths set up, Board Member Liland Bustamante Estacion said.

Dr. Nichol Elman, chair of the Negros Oriental Tourism Council, said that because of the expected influx of domestic and international visitors in Dumaguete during the week-long celebration, security measures have been instituted, including police visibility.*CG