MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte, May 15 (PIA)  --  There will be a lot of “firsts” as this province celebrates her 54th founding anniversary on July 1 this year.
This was learned from three provincial heads of offices who handled various committees for the forthcoming festivities and the head of a non-government organization (NGO) who is a member of the screening committee on potential awardees for this year’s set of outstanding Southern Leytenos. 
The four were guests during the Action Center Kapihan sa PIA Cable TV program Wednesday.
Marina Gador, Provincial Agriculturist who chairs the Agri-Aqua Fair, said a “duma” or rootcrops festival will be held to showcase various eatable rootcrops grown in 18 towns and one city of the province, in order to promote these as cheap but nutritious food substitutes for rice, the basic staple.
A well-known TV personality for cooking has been planned to be invited to demonstrate preparation of rootcrops into various edible dishes and other easy recipes, Gador informed.
She added that because of these new twists in the annual holding of agri-aqua show, the opening was moved earlier, on June 23, the date of the opening salvo of activities, unlike in previous years where farmers’ booths per town were displayed only in two days until anniversary proper.
Norman Ordiz, Provincial Assessor who is in-charge of the eagerly awaited Miss Southern Leyte pageant, disclosed that this year’s talent search will be held on June 29 instead of the usual June 30, so the winners will have enough rest and will be well prepared to join the parade on July 1.
He said most of the 19 Mayors have already signified their interest to have their own candidates, a practice uninterrupted over the last five years, wherein all the 19 LGUs were duly represented.
He expected all candidates known by June 14, the start of the preparations.   As for the guest speaker and other guests, a committee he also handles, Ordiz said there was no mention yet for now.
Another kind of talent search, the “Bangga sa mga Halangdong Awit”, which will be featured for the first time, involves a solo and duet singing contest for all elected officials from the barangays to the municipalities, said Nedgar Garvez, Provincial Tourism Officer.
This will be done by Inter-Area Development (IAD) groupings, so with five IADS, there should be five finalists each for solo and duets, Garvez said, adding that the Pagmugna Festivals will also be held by IADs, no longer by individual LGUs, although those willing to present will be accommodated as well.
Still another kind of a first-time experience will be the selection of this year’s breed of outstanding Southern Leytenos, now called “Idol Mo, Nominado” (literally, “Nominate your Idol”).
Totch de la Cruz, provincial head of Plan International, an NGO, and a member of the Idol screening committee, said the selection field has been expanded to cover not just for professional achievers but for common, ordinary folks who inspired others by their works, made a difference in the lives of others, and made significant impact to the community.
Any Southern Letenos with such rare qualities will be honored, be he or she a vendor, potpot/motorcab driver, fishermen, farmer, barangay worker, and others who are unheard, de la Cruz said, adding that nomination forms are now distributed to barangays, municipalities, and even rural health units.
Deadline for the submission of nomination to the Provincial Planning Office will be on May 30, 2014, de la Cruz also said.  (mmp, PIA8-Southern Leyte)