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Newly-renovated Negros Oriental Freedom Park to be unveiled on Buglasan Opening Day

The renovated Freedom Park in Dumaguete City. It features more landscaped areas for a greener aesthetic. (KAT/PIA7-Negros Oriental)

DUMAGUETE CITY (PIA) --  The newly-renovated Freedom Park in front of the Negros Oriental Capitol will be formally opened to the public on October 14, 2023, in time for the start of the province’s annual Buglasan Festival.

Buglasan Festival Director Glynda Descuatan said this will be part of the lineup of activities for the opening salvo of the nine-day festivity dubbed “Festival of Festivals” in the province, which showcases the rich culture and heritage of NegOrenses.

Other activities on the same day include a civic-military parade around the major streets of Dumaguete City that will end at the Freedom Park, the opening of the 24 Buglasan LGU Booths beside the park, and the Buglasan Fashion Show at the Freedom Park Stage featuring the candidates of Miss Negros Oriental, Hari ng Negros, and Gandang NegOrense pageants.

Governor Manuel “Chaco” L. Sagarbarria, in his first State of the Province Address (SOPA) on September 8, 2023, said the improvement of the amenities inside the Freedom Park is part of his vision for a modernized and more attractive government center at the Capitol Area. 

“This is only the first chapter of our road to progress. The best is yet to come,” Sagarbarria said in his SOPA.

This will also be part of the tourist attractions in the city.

Over the past years, cultural and heritage events organized by the provincial government have been held at the Freedom Park. 

On July 31, the Provincial Tourism Office launched its Tourism Roadshow here with various artist groups staging cultural performances. 

The Freedom Park is located in the Capitol Area of Dumaguete City, in between the Negros Oriental High School and the Negros Oriental State University (NORSU).

It faces the Dumaguete North Road in the east, where a bust statue of Ninoy Aquino have also been erected.

On the west side of the park is a decades-old fountain facing the Capitol and the Legislative Building of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, along with two statues of a carabao and a farmer. 

On the right side is the Freedom Park Stage, where special events and public concerts are held.

An artist's perspective of the renovation of the Freedom Park, which was shown during Gov. Manuel "Chaco" Sagarbarria's first State of the Province Address on September 8, 2023. (Screenshot courtesy of Provincial Government of Negros Oriental FB Page)
Landscaping and upgrading of park amenities 

Members of the media were shown a glimpse of the new design of Freedom Park during a press conference for the upcoming Buglasan Festival on September 21, 2023. 

The new design incorporates more landscaped portions with ornamental plants, an outdoor fountain floor facing the Capitol Building, a re-painted and re-designed stage for cultural events and shows, modernized comfort rooms, ample parking spaces for vehicles, more lamp posts, additional benches, and a brick pathway for the people.

Prior to its renovation, the Freedom Park had wide green lawns on its left and right side, which served as a rest area for joggers and play area for students and children.

There was also a central pathway at the center leading to the fountain.

Minor improvements in the park started last year. 

The Freedom Park Stage undergoing renovations in time for the Buglasan Festival opening. (KAT/PIA7-Negros Oriental)
Buglasan Booth Contest

Another attraction in the Freedom Park specifically for the Buglasan Festival is the opening of LGU booths. 

Every year, participating LGUs in the Buglasan Festival Booth Competition build their booths around Freedom Park to showcase their artistry in architecture.

Some booths are patterned after the Bahay Kubo design, while others are based on their local tourist attractions.

In previous festivals, the municipality of Mabinay’s booth showcased the design of Bulwang Caves, one of its tourist spots, to give festival goers a glimpse of the spelunking experience in the town.

Other LGUs, such as Canlaon City, Siaton, and Tayasan, decorated their booths with their local produce to highlight their primary agricultural products during the festival.

Aside from recreating their top tourist attractions or elevating the Bahay Kubo design, the LGU booths also provide a platform to showcase the products of each town.

In Valencia, Municipal Public Information Officer Desiderio Tilos said they will be displaying Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) products in their booth.

“Since coconut trees grow everywhere in Valencia, locals here have developed products derived from coconut, one of which is the virgin coconut oil. This product made here is also of export quality,” Tilos said.

Every year, Guihulngan City’s booth also featured different woven products ranging from mats, baskets, bags, and personalized items since there are weavers and weaving associations in the city.

Some LGUs, such as Ayungon, also serve delicacies in their booth, such as grilled dalupapa or giant squid. 

Bindoy Information Officer Mary Anne Lado said they plan to sell during the Buglasan their delicacy “palagkit," a baked rice cake similar to “biko” but topped with latik, a residue of coconut milk. 

Bayawan City sold “baye-baye," a dessert made of glutinous rice, sugar, and coconut.

This year, 24 LGUs are participating in the Buglasan LGU Booths.

At the end of the festival, the most creative and beautiful booth will receive a prize from the provincial government.

Participating LGUs are Amlan, Bindoy, Sibulan, Jimalalud, Siaton, Tanjay City, La libertad, Dauin, Bais City, Canlaon City, Zamboanguita, Vallehermoso, Basay, Mabinay, Vallehermoso, Pamplona, Bayawan City, Ayungon, San Jose, Guihulngan City, Tayasan, Dumaguete City, Valencia, and Sta. Catalina.

The Mabinay LGU Booth starting to take shape beside the Freedom Park, Dumaguete City. (KAT/PIA7 Negros Oriental)
Provincial Fiesta

The Buglasan Festival is Negros Oriental’s annual provincial fiesta. 

It is seen as one of the grandest celebrations as towns and cities in the province gather in Dumaguete City to celebrate together and compete against each other in different events during the month of October.

Most activities of the Buglasan Festival take place at the Freedom Park, such as cultural performances, fashion shows, and competitions to showcase the NegOrense artistry, heritage, and culture.

According to the Buglasan Festival website, the name of the festival was taken from the old name of Negros island, Buglas Insulis, which was penned by Diego Lopez Povedano, who drew the first relatively detailed map of Negros island in 1572.

Negros Oriental Tourism Board Executive Director Woodrow Maquiling Jr. said this year’s festival of festivals in the province will be more meaningful and grandiose as it unifies all LGUs.

“The governor saw it fit to give his call to action for unity through the Buglasan Festival, as culture and arts is one of the development tools,” Maquiling said.

He added that Sagarbarria’s administration emphasizes tourism as one of the economic drivers in the province. (RAL/PIA7-Negros Oriental)

2023 Buglasan Festival Director Glynda Descuatan (2nd from left) announcing the events for the opening day of the Buglasan Festival in a press conference held on September 21, 2023 at the Negros Oriental Convention Center, Dumaguete City. (RAL/PIA7 Negros Oriental)

About the Author

Roi Anthoni Lomotan


Region 7

Roi Anthoni Lomotan is an Information Officer at Philippine Information Agency (PIA) - 7. He is currently based in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. His job at PIA includes covering general beat assignments and other important events in the province.

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