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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Cagsawa Festival: An eruption of culture and adventure

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Mayon Volcano’s eruption on Feb. 1, 1814 was the most destructive, killing over 1,200 persons and leveling the poblacion of Cagsawa, then a town in the town in Albay province.

The Cagsawa Ruins, where only the church belfry stands, is what remains of the Spanish-era town whose population relocated to higher and safer grounds in a place now known as Daraga in which Cagsawa remains as a barangay.

Since then, the perfect-coned volcano would erupt every decade or so, though of smaller magnitude.

OFF-ROAD.  Take the off the beaten path near the foot of Mayon Volcano riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATV).

Joey Salceda, then governor of Albay, now a congressman representing the second district of Albay in which Daraga is part of, launched a cultural festival in 2012 to mark the 198th anniversary of the tragedy.

Called Cagsawa Festival, the event puts to the fore Daraga’s history, heritage and everything in between in a month-long province-wide observance.

The festivity showcases a wide array of entertainment shows, musical tilts, sports tournaments, socio-civic activities, pageants, culinary activities, and special interest events.

Cagsawa Trail Run is one of Cagsawa Festival’s extreme sports events

The town is at the core of Albay’s culinary tourism program with the presence of home-grown restaurants, like Balay Cena Una, Alvi’s Café, Balay Bicol, Casa Lorenzo Food and Culture, and First Colonial Grill. The latter is home of sili ice cream, an award winning trademark Bicol dessert.

Salceda, a resident of Daraga, said this year’s festival highlights the rapid urbanization of the first-class municipality while it aspires for cityhood.

 First Colonial Grill’s famous Sili Ice Cream

Now on its sixth year, the main attraction in the celebration is the cultural presentation and street dance competition on Feb. 21 participated in by contingents from the town’s various barangays and nearby municipalities. The cultural event depicts the events surrounding the 1814 eruption.

Bicol region’s iconic image and top tourist attraction, the Cagsawa Ruins was declared by the National Museum in 2016 as a National Cultural Treasure (NCT), the country’s highest designation for a cultural property.

Street dance performance during Cagsawa Festival

Two noteworthy extreme sports events will also be held and these are the Endurocross and the Trail Run, a motorcycle race and half marathon, which cut through Mayon’s rugged and challenging lava trail where the old Cagsawa village used to stand.

Another exciting adventure around the area is driving the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) on the beaten path near the foot of Mayon.

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