The 10th edition of Nueva Ecija’s annual “Gatas ng Kalabaw (Carabao’s Milk) Festival” was showcased anew last August 10 as the province continues to prove its unofficial claim as the “Dairy Capital of the Philippines”.
With the San Jose City acting as host for the second time, this year’s celebration coincided with the City’s 47th charter anniversary with the theme “Sa Bagong Lungsod ng San Jose, ang Lahat ng Mamamayan ay May ‘K’ – Kalinga, Kalikasan, Kabuhayan, Kalusugan, Kaligtasan, at Kaalaman”.
In partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the annual “Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival” aims to promote carabao’s milk not only for its economic benefits but also for its important contribution to the health and nutrition of small-hold dairy farmers and their families as well as milk consumers in general.
The celebration, which was the most-attended so far with an estimated 2,000 people according to the event organizers, started with a parade. The participants, who donned in their cowboy/cowgirl attire, were officials from government agencies, local government units (LGUs), teachers in private and public schools, and dairy cooperatives from Guimba, Lupao, Aliaga, Llanera, San Jose City, Science City of Muñoz and Talavera towns.
“This year’s anniversary celebration showcases the upcoming activities and programs for the ‘new’ San Jose City in terms of health, shelter, environment, livelihood, security, and knowledge,” newly elected San Jose City Mayor Mario “Kokoy” Salvador said in his opening remarks during the program held at the city’s gymnasium.
Highlight of the celebration was the symbolic “tagay pugay (toast of salutation)”, a simultaneous milk toasting and drinking featuring schoolchildren and representatives from partner private institutions and government agencies. It underscored the significance of multi-sectoral efforts in the increased programs of the local dairy industry in Nueva Ecija.
Nueva Ecija is the National Impact Zone (NIZ) of the national Carabao Development Program (CDP) where all supports for a sustainable carabao-based enterprise are being modeled.
Also part of the celebration was the ceremonial slicing of the 115x183x3.5cm (LxWxH) kesong puti (white cottage cheese) prepared by PCC, which was eventually served with pan de sal as breakfast fare for the participants.
Other activities included were ecumenical service, trade fair, jobs fair, products launching of Eastern Primary Multi-Purpose Cooperative (EPMPC), oath-taking of 2016 “Little” City Officials, launching of “Search for Makakalikasang Barangay”, awarding of plaque of recognition to partner-institutions, and search for “Best cow-boy and cow-girl attire”.
PCC was recognized as one of the city’s development partners while EPMPC chairman Melchor Correa was adjudged for the “Best cow-boy attire” with a cash prize of Php5,000.
On the other hand, PCC Deputy Executive Director Dr. Felomino Mamuad encouraged everyone in his message to help uplift the dairy industry in the country by patronizing the products from carabao’s milk.
DTI Provincial Director Brigida Pili, meanwhile, made a pronouncement about the province’s possible declaration as the “Dairy Capital of the Philippines”.
“The dairy industry is a sustainable source of income for the farmers. It can help alleviate poverty in the country. However, in order to uplift small and medium enterprises such as dairying, we need to have and continue practicing these ‘Seven Ms’ – right mindset, mastery, mentoring, market-access, money, machines, and models of business,” she emphasized.
She likewise announced that EPMPC bagged the “Best Shared Service Facility” award (Provincial Level) under DTI.
“Why did we obtain this award? It is because of convergence, cooperation, and coordination with all the branches of national agencies, LGUs and other government agencies,” she said.
The yearly Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival is made possible through a technical working group participated by DTI, PCC, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Agriculture (DA) as well as the provincial and local government units. It will be hosted next year by Rizal town.