Not a powerful earthquake or even a destructive wind can stop this city from having a unique Christmas celebration.
The city government made the point as it formally unveiled and lighted on Sunday night its 120-foot Christmas tree, considered as the tallest in Region 12 (Soccsksargen).
The lighting of the giant Christmas tree was delayed for nearly a week after the initial structure was toppled by strong winds last November 23.
City Mayor Eliordo Ogena said they endeavored to rebuild the Christmas tree to show everyone the city’s resiliency amid the recent calamities and other setbacks that hit the area.
“That Christmas tree is not an ordinary Christmas tree, not because it’s taller than the city hall. It symbolizes many things, it symbolizes our towering dreams and aspirations,” Ogena said during the lighting ceremony.
The city was among the areas in Mindanao that were affected by the three strong earthquakes — the strongest measuring magnitude 6.6 — on Oct. 16, 29, and 31.
The tremors left a person dead and over a hundred hospitalized due to panic and millions worth of damaged structures.
After scrapping the initial schedule, the mayor said they enlisted volunteers to rebuild the Christmas tree from scratch.
He said some private individuals and a local construction firm eventually responded to the call and helped put up a sturdier structure and in “spreading hope and joy this holiday season.”
The towering Christmas tree, which brightened up the entire city hall grounds, is the centerpiece of the city government’s Yuletide showcase.
Hundreds of residents crowded the site on Sunday night to witness its lighting, which coincided with the celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Ogena said the city government spent at least PHP350,000 for the installation of the giant Christmas tree, which features at least 2,500 colorful star lanterns.
The lanterns and other decorations were made by residents of a Blaan tribal community in the city. (PNA)