KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato, Dec 9 (PIA) - Koronadal City's 120-foot Christmas tree has risen again, this time standing tall and strong.
On Sunday evening, the city government, led by Mayor Eliordo Ogena, switched on the tallest Christmas tree ever built in the city and the Garden of Lights at the city hall ground.
It is the second Christmas tree erected on the same place. The first Christmas tree collapsed in the afternoon of November 23-the same day it was declared complete- following a heavy rain and strong winds.
Speaking before thousands of spectators, Mayor Ogena said the Christmas tree at the center of the Garden of Lights is representative of the "caring, loving and resilient Koronadalenos."
"That Christmas tree is not an ordinary Christmas tree, not because it is taller than the city hall but because it symbolizes many things. It symbolizes our towering compassion, our towering dreams and aspirations," Ogena said.
The local chief executive referred to the resolve of the city government and the help of the public and several firms to restore the fallen Christmas tree.
"This is not about having the tallest Christmas tree in the history of this city. It is about showing that the spirit of kindness and camaraderie is felt more than enough to define the city," he said. "Let that star be our guiding light to define our destiny as a resilient community."
The Christmas tree, he added, also pays tribute to the indigenous people residents of the city. Blaans made 2,500 green, red and yellow lanterns that adorn the Christmas tree and the garden of lights as an income-generating project.
Visitors may witness a 20-minute Christmas lights-and-sounds show at the Garden of Lights starting at 7:00 p.m. with repeats at 8:00 p.m, 9:00 p.m. 10:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.
They may also visit the food stalls located around the city hall ground.
The city government was heavily criticized when the first Christmas tree toppled on November 23.
Councilor Edwin Abris, however, described the mishap as a "blessing in disguise" as it resulted in outpouring of support for the reconstruction of the Christmas tree.
"This makes our presentation for the people of Koronadal more meaningful and significant.
Mayor Ogena said that immediately after the incident, he received calls from volunteers who committed for the reinstallation a stronger Christmas tree that could withstand increment weather.
Among the establishments cited during the lighting ceremony were KCC Mall of Marbel, South Cotabato 1 Electric Cooperative, Southern Philippines Technical Institute, and Charles Yu Construction.
Besides designing a stonger Christmas tree structure, a number of these establishments also offered free use of their boom trucks to fast-track the reconstruction.
Mayor Ogena also cited the contributions of city government personnel, including job order employees who made sure that everything is ready for the opening date.
The garden of lights and giant Christmas tree lighting ceremony was originally scheduled on December 2. (DED/PIA XII)