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Basilan residents embark on 'Tennun' festival to attract investors

John Unson - Philstar.com
Basilan residents embark on 'Tennun' festival to attract investors
Clad in traditional attire made of Tennun fabric, Yakan children perform a number during the Feb. 27, 2024's launching of the Tennun Pakaradjaan 2024 Festival.
Photo courtesy of Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY— Residents of the now markedly peaceful Basilan are optimistic that their weeklong Tennun Pakaradjaan 2024 Festival launched on Tuesday will attract investors from outside to venture into capital-intensive projects in the province.

Basilan and two other island provinces, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, are touted as the new investment hubs in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The Tennun Pakaradjaan 2024 Festival, highlighting the Yakan handwoven Tennun fabric that islanders value as centuries-old icon of their identity as a community, is part of the commemoration of the 50th founding anniversary of the creation of Basilan province that started as Basilan City about three decades prior.

“There is no question about Basilan being labelled now as one of the new investment hubs in the Bangsamoro region. Indeed, it is,” Mohammad Omar Pasigan, chairman of the Bangsamoro Board of Investments, or BBOI, told reporters on Thursday.

President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. created Basilan province in 1974 via a presidential order, then covering only seven municipalities, Isabela, Lantawan, Maluso, Sumisip, Lamitan Tipo-Tipo and Tuburan. It now has 11 towns and two cities, Isabela and Lamitan, as a component-province of BARMM.

Provincial and municipal officials led by Gov. Hadjiman Hataman Salliman, Brig. Gen. Alvin Luzon of the Army’s 101st Infantry Brigade and Col. Carlos  Madronio led Tuesday’s launching of the Tennun festival.

The festival showcases how residents of Basilan patronize the Tennun cloth that experts weave using wooden hand looms and how the local government units and local business blocs are sustaining the industry via essential technical and fiscal interventions.

The seven-day event’s symbolic start was capped off with a caravan of more than a hundred vehicles, carrying political, religious and traditional leaders and representatives from the Yakan, Sama and Tausug communities, that motored through the Basilan circumferential highway, straddling through barangays that were once bastions of the Abu Sayyaf group, now “peace zones,” where former terrorists are thriving as farmers and fishermen.

Reports obtained on Wednesday from the Bangsamoro trade and investment ministry, the BBOI, the business groups in Basilan and its mayor's league indicates that the province had generated P1.6 billion worth of investments in the past seven five years, apart from the expansion of the businesses of local traders during the period.

In separate Viber messages on Thursday, Lt. Gen. Roy Galido, commander of the Philippine Army, and the regional director of the Bangsamoro police, Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza, said they will help assure interested investors that it is safe now to pour in capital inputs for viable agricultural and industrial projects in Basilan.

Nobleza said that more than 400 members of the Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan surrendered in batches to different police and Amy units in Basilan since late 2016, achieved through the joint efforts of the Provincial Peace and Order Council, the League of Mayors and Muslim and Christian religious leaders in the province and units of the 101st Infantry Brigade and the provincial police.

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