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Town promotes culture, history via Cagsawa Festival

By Connie Calipay

LEGAZPI CITY --- Officials and residents of the historical town of Cagsawa in Albay province are putting the spotlight on their hometown’s rich culture and history through the month-long celebration of Cagsawa Festival this February.

The festivity commemorates three major events in the town’s history: the 300th-year anniversary of the rebuilding and improvement of the Cagsawa Church in 1724, the 437th foundation of the church as Franciscan mission, and the 210th anniversary of the powerful eruption of Mayon Volcano in 1814 that buried the town and killed over a thousand people.

Cagsawa Church, which was originally built as a wooden structure in 1587 and known then as Cagsaua Church, was rebuilt as a concrete building made of rocks in 1724.

However, Mt. Mayon’s eruption on Feb. 1, 1814 destroyed it anew and its remnants became known as the Cagsawa Ruins, which is now a popular site for tourists wanting an unhampered view of the volcano.

OPENING RITES. Mayor Carlwyn Baldo gives his message during the opening of the month-long Cagsawa Festival at Cagsawa Ruins in Daraga, Albay on Thursday (Feb. 1, 2024). The festival commemorates three major events in the town’s history -- the 300th-year anniversary of the rebuilding of the Cagsawa Church, the 210th year anniversary of the deadly Mayon Volcano eruption in 1814, and the 437th foundation anniversary of the church as a Franciscan mission. (Photo by Connie Calipay)

During the opening ceremony of the celebration held at the Cagsawa Ruins on Thursday, Mayor Carlwyn Baldo said, “With the celebration of the Cagsawa Festival with a theme Daraga’s Legacy: 300 Years of Culture and History, we promote our culture and history, and we participate in preserving and transmitting our heritage. Bilang pagtaw honra sa historya nin mga Daragueno (To give honor to the history of Daragueno,) our event components focused on cultural presentations, historical exhibits, traditional arts and crafts, art contests, dangan dakul pang mga aktibidad (and many more activities).”

He said the commemoration events celebrate togetherness and shared heritage and culture between Daraga and Bicol.

Baldo said the Cagsawa Festival 2024 is “bigger and grander” as it will also highlight Daraga town as an ecotourism hub in the region. However, he did not divulge any plans or programs for the tourism industry.

For renowned historian Danilo Gerona, the festival is a constant reminder of the municipality’s ancient culture and colorful history.

“We are also celebrating its enduring presence, a rallying point for our collective pride not only as a Daragueños but also as Albayanos and as Bikolanos,” he said.

Department of Tourism-Bicol (DOT) Regional Director Herbie Aguas said the commemoration of three important historical events is important for the younger generation to learn about the town’s culture and history.

Meanwhile, the events lined up as part of the festival are street dance presentations, cultural performances, historical exhibits, and traditional arts and crafts shows and exhibits promoting local artists, artisans and performers, trade and culinary fairs and mountain bike race. (PNA)


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