The belfry of Cagsawa Church.
DARAGA, Albay: The province of Albay is readying at least 50 tourist-oriented activities to mark the 199th anniversary of the February 1814 cataclysmic Mayon Volcano eruption that destroyed the town of Cagsawa, leaving only a baroque church that eventually ran to ruins over the years.
Today, only the belfry of the Cagsawa Church remains standing, but it has become a favorite destination for both Filipino and foreign tourists because its panoramic view of the nearly perfect cone-shaped Mayon Volcano.
Albay province and the town of Daraga have teamed up for the month-long festival that will focus on the site of the ruins, just 11 eleven kilometers away from the crater of Mayon Volcano.
Now in its second edition, the Cagsawa Festival ushers in Albay’s year-long series of festival celebrations.
Albay Gov Joey Salceda and Daraga Mayor Gerry Jaucian forged a partnership last year that gave birth to the month-long Cagsawa Festival, making it one of the province’s most significant festivals with the Daragang Magayon, Karangahan sa Pasko, Ibalong, Tabak and Pulang Angui.
Tragic as the 1814 Mayon Volcano eruption was, Salceda noted, the cataclysm also helped demonstrate the resiliency of Albayanos and the province is now a United Nations global model in disaster risk reduction, after rising from the ashes of 1814 and similar disasters.
The Cagsawa Church was built in 1724 by Franciscan friars in the small town of Cagsaua, the forerunner of what is now Daraga town, where the survivors of the 1814 disaster fled and settled down.
Next month’s festival includes at least 50 activities, mostly outside the confines of the protected Cagsawa Ruins Park and Resort. It will offer tourists new adventures including a traditional healers (herbolario) convention, trail run, cross country bike race, a chicken eating contest, and an on-the-spot Pamaypay-(fan) making competition, handcrafts being one of Daraga town’s main products.
One other major festival event is a one-of-a-kind journey into the culinary world of the famous hot chili, known locally as lada. The journey goes beyond the limits of the traditionally known ‘Bicol Express’ cuisine.
Aside from the Cagsawa Festival, Albay has three other major festivals held annually - Magayon, its oldest which spotlights on Mayon and everything beautiful in the province; Culinaria which celebrates Albay’s native and new cuisines; and Karangahan Festival: Green Christmas, that features an environment friendly and safe celebration of the holidays.
In addition, Albay’s 15 towns and three component cities also celebrate their own festivals spread throughout the whole year. – Manila Standard Today