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How ‘Namunit’ festival brings development to Cagayan’s youngest town

The town of Santa Teresita is only 60 years old, the youngest and one of the smallest towns in Cagayan province.

Founded in 1963, Santa Teresita is a prime agri-industrial and ecotourism destination in the North, blessed with natural spots. 

The town is the former Barangay Namunit of Buguey town where it took its annual Namunit Ecotourism Festival name. The festival features the town’s tourism potential and local enterprises. It promotes environmental awareness and protection within the community.

The ecotourism festival aims to further introduce Santa Teresita as the Caving Capital of the North following the discovery of 54 caves within the municipality's jurisdiction. Six of these are open to the public – the Tabaco Cave, Bangalau Cave, Karkarato Cave, Maquera Cave, and Marciano Cave. 

Other than the caves and natural spots, the town also aims to be recognized as the Vannamei Capital of the North. Vannamei is a white-leg shrimp variety produced by Dataj Aquafarm. It is now being exported abroad. 

While the local government spends millions for the annual celebration, Mayor Rodrigo de Gracia said through the town's promotional activities during the festivals, lots of opportunities come in for the development of the town.

“Through the festival, Santa Teresita's tourism destinations and products were promoted and known around the globe. It also calls for collaborations with various concerned agencies that are instrumental to the development and promotion of our tourism sites and products," the mayor said.

The Bangalau Lake, one of the tourist spots in Santa Teresita, Cagayan. (Photo courtesy of LGU Santa Teresita)
Mayor Rodrigo De Gracia presents the development projects, which are gains from the tourism promotions of the Local Government of Santa Teresita during the Namunit Ecotourism Festival recently. (Photo by PIA)

As proof, he said, through the multi-million Tourism Road Infrastructure Project of the Department of Tourism, accessibility roads to the destinations were already concreted and improved. 

De Gracia also said they take every opportunity to lobby with lawmakers and other officials for funding support to establish facilities and amenities that will develop more competitive and attractive destinations.

Aside from this, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)  has been assisting the local government in rehabilitating the Banggalao Lake (Laguna de Cagayan) through the Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa program of the government. The Bangalao Lake is the habitat of the “bakong" plant, which is also a potential source of raw materials for handicrafts and fiber for fabric. 

The Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Trade and Industry also assisted the local government in developing the bakong leaves into products that have high commercial value like home decor, furniture, and clothing. 

In 2015, the town was able to acquire P250,000 worth of fiber-extracting machines to process Bangalao leaves into fiber. With this, the community folk are now gaining from the production of various home decor and handicraft products, and clothing, including uniquely designed Filipiniana attires. 

“Today, the lake serves as a must-see destination for tourists where they can experience nature tripping with boating and birdwatching activities,” De Gracia said. 

BFAR also stocks fingerlings of different indigenous fish species in the lake to enhance fish productivity in the area. Fishing can also be a potential additional fun tourism activity on the lake.

Elementary and High School students of Santa Teresita, Cagayan showcase their talents during the street dancing competition as part of the Namunit Ecotourism festival recently. (Photo by PIA) 

The chief executive also said the tourism industry in the town is already advancing and more opportunities are expected to come in following the declaration of the town as insurgency-cleared, inviting more investors and tourists to the place. 

Mayor De Gracia is very thankful for the support of various government agencies as well as other organizations that have been extending support to the quest of the humble town to promote its potential and gain from what it can offer. (OTB/GVB/PIA Region 2) 

About the Author

Oliver Baccay

Information Officer IV

Region 2

  • Assistant Regional Director, Philippine Information Agency Region 2
  • Graduate of Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication 
  • Graduate of Master of Arts in Education, major in English
  • Graduate of Doctor in Public Administration

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