GENERAL SANTOS CITY – “Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to declare this year’s Tuna Festival the most successful in the three years that I am the city mayor.”
This was the statement of City Mayor Ronnel Rivera after a series of big events that took place during the 17th Tuna Festival celebration.
At the closing ceremony of the 17th Tuna Festival Sunday (September 6), Mayor Rivera expressed nothing more than gratitude to the people and organizations, especially the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), that made the celebration successful.
The PFDA, headed by Mario Malinao, was the co-organizer of the 17th Tuna Festival along with the city government.
Mayor Rivera also acknowledged the efforts of the Philippine National Police, Joint Task Force Gensan, and other public safety units in maintaining peace and order during the celebration.
This year’s Tuna Festival focused on giving tribute to the industry and people who made Gensan the Tuna Capital of the Philippines.
In a press conference held on August 12, Mayor Rivera and all of the organizers of the 17th Tuna Festival said they will bring more significance and identity to the festivity. They also said during that time that this year’s Tuna Fest would give focus on addressing the challenges that the tuna industry is currently facing.
Keeping their word, the 17th National Tuna Congress was held on September 3 – 4 at SM City of Gensan and aimed at addressing the issue of declining tuna catch on a global scale. Fishing stakeholders and concerned government agencies—both from here and abroad—were present in the congress.
During the congress, emphasis was placed on regional cooperation as the hope of the tuna industry. The congress was organized by the SOCSKSARGEN Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc..
In previous years, the Tuna Festival had only street-dancing competition and tuna float parade as its main highlights. Jane Gollon-Rivera, president of the Gensan Tourism Council (GTC), thought that those were not enough.
This year, the GTC led the first mass seafood grilling in Gensan called the Sugbahan sa Dalan on September 5. Some 120 grills were placed at Pioneer Avenue. Each of these was manned by a participating group or organization. The grilled fishes were all given free to the public.
More than 600 kilos of tuna and other variety of fishes were feasted on by residents and guests. Around 5,000 people came to Pioneer Avenue to join the activity.
GTC is also behind the successful setting of the Guinness World Record of General Santos City for the largest fish display achieved last year at General Santos City Fishport Complex.
Other major activities held during the 17th Tuna Festival were the Grand Fish Fest sa Fishport, Tuna Festival Skills Competition, and Bancarera of Bombo Radyo.
Before Mayor Rivera closed the 17th Tuna Festival, he asked every resident of the city to offer prayers for the eternal repose of the souls of the all the fishermen who went missing or died while fishing. A memorial marker had been made for them at Plaza Heneral Santos. It was unveiled on the first day of this year’s Tuna Fest.
“Well, we cannot celebrate without remembering them. Our fishermen are the true heroes of our tuna industry,” Mayor Rivera said. (Gensan CPIO/ Ian John Lagare)