Tuesday, 6 June 2017

PHILIPPINES: New Tourism Destination In Cagayan

A new tourism destination, which combines a scenic river, amazing natural attractions, varied flora and fauna, an interesting agricultural community and a colorful festival, is beginning to draw a lot of visitors in Cagayan province.

Casagan, an agricultural village first inhabited by Aetas in Santa Ana, Cagayan is now known for its bountiful rice fields and beautiful Tangatan River where villagers use a wooden boat called takuli to transport passengers and their agricultural products from the farm to the market.

The river, a source of income and food for Casagan residents, offers a variety of fish and edible shells.

A version of the story goes that the name of the village originated from the Aeta word casagan which means “a place to meet together”. Aetas were the first inhabitants in the barangay and used to build their huts along the riverbank.

Clearing in the area began with the arrival of settlers from other areas who were drawn by fertile soil and nearby thick forest where narra, ipil and lawan grew. Casagan, thus, became an agricultural barangay and is now one of the rice producers in Santa Ana.

After its success with Palaui Island’s community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) program, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) recognized and identified Casagan as its next area for CBST development.

Ceza, in coordination with Casagan’s barangay unit and the Department of Tourism, officially launched Casagan as a new tourism destination in Cagayan Valley on May 14, 2016, in time for its annual colorful festival. Barangay Casagan celebrates a festival in honor of San Isidro Labrador in May.

To promote Casagan as a destination, Ceza launched a tourism development program, dubbed “Casagan-all-you-can”, which sends a message of invitation to everyone. It has opened varied activities and interesting sites in the village.

Casagan’s geography makes it an exciting destination for river-cruising.

A cruise to the river offers a unique natural setting that is composed of varied flora and fauna, such as the mangroves and trees, that grow along the river banks, the different species that include wild birds that migrate to the area during specific seasons and the fireflies that shine after sunset and before sunrise.

The view is made even more spectacular with the surrounding fields and mountains, as the boat reaches the end of the river and the start of the sea.

As one takes a cruise along the river, the sight of the man-made hanging bridge adds a spectacle to the fascinating story of Casagan.

The river cruise also leads to one of the area’s gem—the La Mesa Falls. It is a natural waterfalls that is ideal for picnic, swimming and simply just nature-watching.

The elevated rock formation of the waterfalls makes it a potential rappelling area. The elevated area can be reached 6.81 kilometers from Parada-Batu entrance and 5.92 kilometers from Tangatan entrance.

Adding more spice to the Casagan experience is the use of takuli in the form of a wooden kayak boat. Riding a takuli does not only offer a unique experience but also shares a part of the local culture and tradition.

The Casagan experience also introduces the salamangka, or cannonball, which is a fruit from a mangrove plant found along Tangatan River.

Each salamangka fruit, which usually comes out during the summer season, bears a minimum of eight and a maximum of 19 distinctive seeds that, when detached, can make an interesting puzzle, thus the name. The fruit is dried and hardened to make a puzzle out of its seeds.

A major attraction is the Takuli Festival, which will be held on May 12 to 14, 2017. The festival will include a thanksgiving Mass, a rice field parade and pluvial parade with Saint Isidore the Laborer, traditional takuli racing, wet- shirt relay contest, Search for Ms. Takuli 2017, salamanca puzzle contest, family sack race relay, piglet hunting, carabao racing and barangay party.

The Takuli Festival 2017 is a joint effort of Barangay Casagan, the local community and Ceza.