Local Indian community honors notable Filipino-Indians, 3 Bacoleños

Merlinda A. Pedrosa

SOME notable Filipino-Indians and three other Bacoleños were recognized by the Indian community in Bacolod City during the Grand Diwali Festival Ball at the SMX Convention Center Friday night.

Filipino-Indian businessmen who were recognized included Haresh Nandwani, Sikh Temple secretary Prem Singh Rai, Punjabi Khalsa Diwan president Malkit Singh, Mona Buxani, Davinder Singh, Shelpa Amardnani, and Namaste publisher Namrata Chugani.

Festival coordinator Haresh Chugani said three Bacoleños businessmen – Benjamin Lopue Jr., the late Dr. Hector Torre, and the late Ricardo Yanson – were also recognized for being accommodating to the Indian community.

He said they started the festival in 2013 and there are more than 100 Filipino-Indian families in Bacolod.

The City Government allocated P1.2 million for the 5th Diwali Festival with theme “Unity in Diversity.”

The festival was celebrated from November 8 to 12.

Mayor Evelio Leonardia also assured the Indian community that the city government will continue to support them.

“Knowing that many of them are in business, we are doing our best to make the city as business-friendly as possible,” he said.

Leonardia, along with Councilors Em Ang, Cindy Rojas, Bartolome Orola, and Wilson Gamboa were also given a token of appreciation for the success of the festival as well as Tourism Officer Ma. Elma Gerasmo and Executive Assistant Benjie Torre.

Ang said the Diwali Festival like the BacoLaodiat Festival is also gaining a lot of support and popularity.

Ang, chairperson of City Council committee on tourism, said Bacolod is one of the very few cities in the Philippines that has a Diwali Festival celebrated every year.

She said it is already institutionalized in the city and it is now a regular annual affair and they hope to draw more and attract other visitors outside Bacolod.

Diwali, which is a festival of lights, is the biggest festival in India.

Ang said Diwali Festival helps a lot in terms of creating awareness and promoting tradition of the Filipino-Indian.

She said the local Indian community also contributed on the improvement of the city's economy since most of them were businessmen.

Rojas said the Diwali symbolizes the victory of life over darkness, good over evil, and hope over despair.

“We are thankful to the local Indian-community for organizing the festival for us to be aware and to be part of this beautiful celebration. The people of Bacolod will get to experience and see the beautiful culture of India,” she said.