PAMUHUAN Festival in Pinamungajan is one celebration that will be a subject of future debates, at least among the town’s residents and history buffs, as to whether it authentically represents the town’s origins.

If tradition is to be followed, ‘bunga’ is the root word of Pinamungajan, not “pamuo,” as the festival suggests. It’s “bunga” to the town’s old folks and thugs, fish vendors, the naughty barber across the church plaza, even the parish priest who has spent more than half of his life hearing the confessions of the town’s sinners.

It’s “bunga” to the natives.

But a debate on the matter at the moment is a spoiler, a damper to an otherwise festive celebration of being one town, one people. In this case, the town’s elite, not the ordinary folk, are the teachers of history. So, Pamuhuan it is, as of the moment.

Besides, Manny Pacquiao and his fans don’t care. When the country’s boxing icon visited the town yesterday and acknowledged his roots in Pinamungajan, the townsfolk cheered, rendering everything else about the celebration less significant.

“Makita ninyo sa akong nawong ang akong kalipay (you can see in my face how happy I am),” Pacquiao told the crowd gathered at the Pinamungajan Municipal Gym.

The municipality, poor since birth, finds in Pacquiao a new reason to feel proud of home and to reach out to reestablish familial roots. So the town council submitted a resolution honoring Paqcuiao for his contribution in making the town proud. They also unveiled a marker dedicated to Pacquiao. The marker carries the town’s origin as farming and fishing village.

In her speech, Pinamungajan Mayor Geraldine Yapha admitted having second thoughts about organizing a festival. But she assured the public: “This is not the best but the most that we can do.”

Pamuhuan, the organizers say, is a festival about the townsfolk’s bayanihan spirit, where neighbors work together during the harvest so they could bring home food enough for the family to survive yet another day.

The debates will take care of themselves.