TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- More than 20,000 visitors are expected in the 3rd Namunit Festival of Santa Teresita town, Cagayan this March.
Mayor Lolita Garcia said they were able to net 28,460 people from last year’s edition of their sixth ecotourism festival. Garcia added that this is a big difference from their first year which garnered 7,000 visitors.
“Since we started this festival, we were able to contribute to the arrival of tourists here in our municipality, hindi lang sa municipality but in the region, and this province especially,” Garcia said.
Launched in 2013, the town’s national ecotourism festival was renamed as “Namunit” in 2016, based on the old name of the area.
The festival previously showcased the town’s various local heritage such as the Laguna De Cagayan, its various caves now said to be 54 in total, migratory birds, and Bakong products.
This year, the northeastern town coastal town will feature its Namunit hills to promote it as a potential tourist destination.
Aside from this, the local government aims to show the hills’ role in their development as people, remind the public to love and preserve the environment.
Further, the festival aims to conserve and preserve Santa Teresita’s natural resources.
“Lahat po ng ating mga hills, plains and mountains [ay] talagang napakaganda po. Kaya kahit sino po yung gustong pumunta, puwede po namin silang i-tour,” Garcia said.
Cagayan Economic Zone Authority administrator lawyer Raul Lambino will attend the street dance showdown March 11.
Other invited guests are Senator Cynthia Villar, former Department of Tourism Regional Director Bless Diwa, and Department of Interior and Local Government Regional Director Jonathan Paul Leusen.
Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba and other provincial officers are expected for the “Gabi ng Pagkakaisa.”
‘We have to keep going’
Meanwhile, the mayor said they have to “keep going” and continue their efforts in making the festival bigger every year because they “have gone a long way.”
“Marami na kaming pinagdaanan, yet we are just starting. Kaya kami ayaw naming tumigil. Hindi puwedeng mag-slow down kami. We have to go more aggressive in the coming years. Dahil like po yung mga humahabol na other municipalities compared to us, we are just a small municipality, with a small budget, sila malalaki maraming pera eh kung mag slow down kami, baka pagdating ng panahon hindi na kami marinig,” Garcia said.
The mayor also expressed her belief that tourism is one way of helping boost a town’s economy.
“Talagang ang turismo ay isang daan sa pag-unlad ng isang bayan. Yung pagtaas ng local income, napakalaki ng impact ng festival [na ito],” Garcia said.
From an income of more than P2 million since the start of the festival in 2013, the youngest Cagayan town now boasts over P15 million of reported income in 2017, the mayor revealed.
“Nakita din po namin noon, tahimik yung pagnenegosyo lang dito pero ngayon talagang area ng food catering [at] restaurants, mas marami pa yata kami rito compared sa [ibang kalapit na bayan],” she said.
The mayor told media in a press briefing that the municipality has an organized the Santa Teresita Association of Receptionist and Tourist guides (START) group which is accredited by the tourism department.
Members of START have also undergone training, Garcia said.
Garcia said visitors can enjoy a variety of tourist packages which include a full-day hike, two days adventure, caving, trekking, kayaking, swimming, adventure or outdoor activities. Northernforum.net