The Apuao Pequeña beach
THE fishing folkways of Mercedes town in CamNorte took center stage as it recently celebrated the bounty of the ocean in the 15th Kadagatan Festival in observance of its 64th Founding Day.
Situated at Bicol’s Pacific seaboard, the town is among the country’s richest fishing grounds which yield fresh catch of various fish species and aquatic resources caught only from the lush waters of San Miguel Bay.
The festival’s highlight is the street dance parade and competition which depicted the town’s coastal way of life in colorful costumes and aquatic-inspired floats.
Mercedes mayor Alex Pajarillo said that the festivity showcased the town’s fishery heritage, the lifeblood of the town, as well as its emerging tourism industry because of its idyllic Siete Pecados island chain.
Scattered off the mainland, the archipelago is composed of Apuao Grande, Apuao Pequeña, Caringo, Canton, Canimog, Malasugui, and Quinapaguian which are noted for their unspoiled white sand beaches, crystalline waters and marine sanctuaries.
The islands are also ideal for camping, team-building events and other close-to-nature activities with their raw states. Only Apuao Grande has modest lodging facilities among the seven islands.
He said that because of the natural allure of Siete Pecados, the municipal government introduced the annual 15km-Pacific Kayak Surfing Challenge to jumpstart ecotourism and community-based enterprises based on kayaking tours.
Pajarillo added that there are regular kayak surfing lessons at Baybay Beach because of its challenging waves. It shares the same coastline as the famed Bagasbas Beach in neighboring town which is part of the country’s surfing circuit.
Adding spice to the Festival were watersports activities such as paraw regatta and skimboarding competition.
Another emerging attraction is Colasi Falls, which is tucked inside rainforests, known for its 70-foot tall drop and enchanting cascades.
Meanwhile, CamNorte governor Edgar Tallado said that Mercedes’ natural wonders will strengthen the positioning of the province as a sports adventure and ecotourism destination.
He said that one of the provincial government’s major thrusts is to promote adventure, cultural and nature-based tourism.
Mercedes used to form part of the coastal villages of capital town of Daet and was carved out as an independent municipality in 1948 and was named after Doña Mercedes, a prominent townsfolk. - Malaya