SAN Jose City, Nueva Ecija -- Make way for this city, the first to be acclaimed as Nueva Ecija’s “Christmas Capital” among the 32 local government units in the province.
For the third consecutive year since 2016, it was indeed an early and merry Christmas for thousands of local residents as City Mayor Mario “Kokoy” Salvador, his family, along with other city officials and invited guests on Saturday night, led the ceremonial lighting of a giant Christmas tree and thousands of lights and lanterns which the mayor said symbolizes unity, hope and prosperity among his constituents.
“Layon nito na makita natin ang ikagaganda ng ating lungsod at ang mai-dudulot na liwanag ng ilaw na iyan sa atin na tayong lahat ay magsama-sama, magkasundo at magkaisa para sa tagumpay ng lungsod ng San Jose,” said Salvador, who led the switching-on event at 7:55 p.m. at the city social circle fronting the city hall building here.
Salvador said the Christmas lighting activity, dubbed “Liwanag ng Pasko sa Bagong San Jose” which he started after assuming office in 2016, helped the city government earn the sole distinction of being adjudged by the provincial government with the concurrence of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as the “Christmas Capital of Nueva Ecija” among the local government units in the province.
He said the installation of these Christmas tree and lights and other Yuletide decors was a yearly-affair started by his wife Veronica about 10 years ago at their family residence in Bgy. Tulat and when he became mayor, he said he decided to build it at the city hall premises for all walks of life to see.
The event was also marked by the blessing of the Belen (tableau representing the Nativity scene) by Most Rev. Bishop Roberto C. Mallari, of the Diocese of San Jose, as witnessed by the Salvador couple and their children, Nicky, Ali, Rocky and Mars, among others.
Also witnessing the rites were Atty. Jose Maria Ceasar San Pedro, the newly-appointed provincial tourism officer, and Cabanatuan Vice Mayor Emmanuel Anthony “Doc Anthony” Umali.
Others present during the occasion were Vice Mayor Glenda Filemon-Macadangdang and city Councilors Gloria Munar, Victoria Adawag, Wilfredo Munsayac, Trixie Salvador, Jenny Salvador, Atty. Jose Filemon, Atty. Ronald Lee Hortizuela, Niño Laureta and Roy Andres.
City tourism officer Darmo Escuadro said this “Christmas Capital of Nueva Ecija” feat by the city government showed it was no fluke because it also earlier bagged the fourth place award in the Best Tourism-Oriented LGU (city category) during the holding of 2018 Pearl Awards of the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines-Department of Tourism that was participated in by 45 entries nationwide in Cagayan De Oro City on Oct. 5 this year.
Aside from the Christmas tree and lightings adorning the city hall facade, trellises and trees within the compound, Escuardo said similar Christmas lights and decorations were also put up on both lanes of the highways -- a three-kilometer stretch from Bgy. Abar 1st, passing to Bgys. Rafael Rueda and F. E. Marcos until Bgy. Malasin, including the facade of the San Jose City Public Market and the covered court along Rizal Street of the public market.
“Malaki ang impact nito sa tourist arrivals natin sa lungsod, dadami ang dadayo sa San Jose City,” said Escuadro.