By Tara Yap
ILOILO CITY — In marking its 28th founding anniversary Friday, the island province of Guimaras hopes to maintain its status as the only province in the Western Visayas region not to have a single case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“In a way, this is a thanksgiving. We remain to be the only province in the region that is free from COVID-19. Let us keep it that way,” said Governor Samuel Gumarin.
Not one of the 105 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Western Visayas was physically recorded in Guimaras. But one of its repatriated overseas Filipino worker (OFW) did test positive after arriving in Iloilo City.
Speaking to an online audience, Gumarin said Friday it marked the first time the Guimaras’ annual celebration of becoming was cancelled due to community measures against COVID-19.
Guimaras was once a sub-province of Iloilo, and it became a full-pledged province in May 22, 1992 with the enactment of Republic Act No. 11118.
This year also marked the first time that the annual Manggahan Festival, which celebrates the bounty of the province’s sweet mangoes, was also cancelled.
In his online talk, Gumarin admitted that the people in in the province’s five towns were hit by another added socio-economic burden.
Guimarasnons were still reeling from the impact caused by the August 2019 sea mishap when 31 people died after three wooden passenger boats capsized along the body of water separating Guimaras and Iloilo.
“We are struggling, but we are here to stay,” Gumarin expressed.
Gumarin, a medical doctor by profession, urged Guimarasnons to stay home if they do not have important transactions to lower the risk of getting infected as economic activities are gradually opening up.