MAASIN CITY (PIA) -- For two years in a row, the province of Southern Leyte has marked its founding anniversary in a low-key manner, with only heads of national and provincial agencies, and a few fellows from the private sector, attending the 61st celebration July 1.

Present as usual were top provincial leaders led by Gov. Damian Mercado, his elder brother Rep. Roger Mercado, his nephew City Mayor Nacional Mercado, Southern Leyte State University President Prose Ivy Yepes, Macrohon Mayor Allan Aroy, along with other city officials.

Mayors in other municipalities conducted their own flag-raising ceremony 7 o’clock in the morning to synchronize with the flag-raising at the capitol, their way of joining the celebration.

The lesser number of warm bodies joining the Holy Mass and commemorative program in the parking lot across the capitol building was in accordance with health protocol on social distancing.

Days preceding the celebration, in the month of June, there was a surge in confirmed Covid positive cases, although the trend was going down over the last week.

This year’s theme, “Hiniusang aksyon sa kasulbaran sa pandemya alang sa probinsiya” (United action for the solution of the pandemic in the province), reflected both a sober mood and a call to act together and keep going, to carry the fight for the defeat of the virus.

Last year, the first time Covid-19 spoiled the party with initially rising confirmed positive cases here and there, there was a slightly bigger crowd, with provincial employees allowed to join the Holy Mass and short program.

The presence of Angel Enriquez, regional executive director of the Department of Agriculture, in this year’s celebration somehow lifted the spirits of everyone, as she shared highly rated statistics on the performance of the province in spite of the pandemic.

In terms of rice production, the province surpassed the region’s average yield of 3.5 metric tons for having a yield of 4.27 metric tons per hectare, Enriquez said.

Another good vibe was the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the province to be the pilot implementation among the provinces in the region for the Province-led Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Services (PAFES) program. (LDL/MMP/PIA-8/Southern Leyte)