This year’s commemoration is unique because the situation so requires,” said the 79-year-old Governor who sat beside his predecessor and better-half, Provincial Administrator Sol Matugas at the presidential table.

Having in mind the strict implementation of health and safety protocols, Gov. Matugas admitted that ‘the provincial government limited its invitation and religiously observed the tenets of new normal for the safety of one and all.’

Flanked by his political minions, subordinates and underlings, Gov. Francisco ‘Gob Lalo’ Matugas successfully capped the 120th birthday of One Surigao last May 15 at the Provincial Convention Center.”

“Our province was known as Distrito de Surigao during the Spanish Occupation. By virtue of Philippine Commission Act 127, One Surigao officially become a province,” said Gov. Matugas who recognized the presence of his only begotten son and namesake, Cong. Bingo Matugas.

This year’s theme, according to the Matugas clan patriarch, ‘reflects our journey as a people.’

“Last year, the world was taken aback due to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In one way or the other, we become separated but we remain to be steadfast in our common goal which is to safeguard our beloved fellow Surigaonons,” said the veteran Governor.

Gov. Matugas said that ‘the battle continues as the province has already breached the mark of over 100 active cases which is very alarming just as we are able to start the resuscitation of our economy and the opening of our tourism industry.’

“We schedule limited surfing competition among locals… This is now the start of economic revival in our province,” said the elder Matugas.

Some 10,000 Surigaonons, according to the re-assuring Governor, have already been inoculated with Sinovac and Astrazenica vaccines. “We may be in a difficult situation now but in each obstacle lies an opportunity ,” said Gov. Matugas.

His wife, maintained the resolute Governor, worked diligently through the implementation of her reform policies like engendering convergence efforts with line agencies

“Just as we had overcome the past obstacles together, so shall we overcome the difficulties of this pandemic to a new and better normal, hand in hand,” said Gov. Matugas.

Meanwhile, Vice Gov. Eddie ‘Geed’ Gokiangkee, Jr. spoke about the glorious past of One Surigao.”

Who knows? Someday, in the coming years, there will be another province within One Surigao,” said Gokiangkee.

Instilling the pride of place, Gokiangkee highlighted the Surigaonon identity and the rekindling of fervent patriotism.

“In this trying times, in the face of the pandemic, we remain true to our ideals. Let us celebrate our deep sense of love and respect to survive the worst of times,” said Gokiangkee.

Fernando Almeda, Jr, President, of the Surigaonon Heritage Studies and Research Center was the keynote speaker of the red-letter event.”

“A new beginning is unfolding because history is a never-ending struggle. We have a lot to learn from our past. We can only ignore it at the peril of our province,” said Almeda.

Almeda added that ‘the moral lesson which can be derived from history is the fact that our oneness is indivisible and deeply rooted to our inherent cultural tradition.’

“We have one manifest destiny to seek and fulfill. Our long history is written by the blood, sweat and tears of our founding fathers,” said Almeda.

CTTO by: JUN PARADA