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WATCH: Grand opening parade of 2nd Namunit Festival

CAGAYAN,  Philippines- It was grand indeed as the Namunit Festival opens its leveled up festivities on Friday, February 24.

Thousands of revelers and tourists have lined up to witness the showcase of talents of Santa Teresita, a town from the northern part of Cagayan, northernmost of Luzon mainland.

Mayor Lolita Garcia said the opening day highlighted the usual grand parade around town, the soft launching of the Bakong (Hanguana Malayana) industry and a bonsai exhibit at the festival grounds in Barangay Luga.

‘This year, we focused on the economic and natural heritage importance of the Bakong plant which may become our tourism icon in the future,” she said.

This year’s edition of the festival approximates the highlight of the five-day event with the theme “Bakong Sa Lawa, Hatid ay Biyaya, Hiblang Pangkabuhayan, Ginhawa sa Pamayanan.”

Launched in 2013, the ecotourism festival has been focusing on specific tourism attractions on a yearly basis like the Laguna De Cagayan, caves, migratory birds along with Vannamae shrimps and other local products.

Sta. Teresita is officially the first municipality in Northern Luzon which focuses on environment as the centerpiece of its festivities, then tourism regional director Blessida Diwa, said.

Last year, the municipality decided to change the name of their festival into Namunit as suggested by festival experts while carrying ‘national ecotourism as its sub-name. The decision is to somehow provide a historical backbone to the festival, Namunit being the former name of Sta. Teresita and the biggest barangay, then, of Buguey.

Launched in 2013 with a measly allocation of only Ph500,000, the festival has earned tourism projects worth millions of pesos and livelihood opportunities for the 4th class municipality, particularly from the DPWH-DOT joint infrastructure projects. Other national agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Labor, among others likewise poured technical and cash assistance in trainings and workshops for the populace.

“We never expected the festival to grow this big. All we want, then, is to introduce our town into the tourism map of the province,” Garcia said.

This year, the town opened the festival to national media who earlier came during the press conference hosted by the Northern Forum on January 24.

Technical experts of various fields from the University of the Philippines- Los Banos are expected to arrive any time today to conduct initial observation tour on the town’s natural heritage particularly its caves, lake and the Bakong plant. –Northernforum.net

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