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Vol. 2 No. 02 | The Official Newsletter of the 2nd National Ecotourism Festival, Sta. Teresita, Cagayan

March 1, 2014

‘Cultivate domestic tourism first’ By Benjie S. De Yro STA. TERESITA, Cagayan - Local Chief Executive Lolita C. Garcia has insisted that her town will focus its tourism attention first to the available local tourist arrivals before it will embark on a more ambitious clients, the foreigners. Unlike other tourism players in Northern Luzon, the lady Mayor stubbornly insisted that before tapping the foreign market, the locals should first be able to develop a culture of tourism and a high sense of awareness to prepare for any eventuality. “It will take time before this thing will sink into the psyche of our people. We are contented on what we’re doing right now. I think we’re on the right tourism track,” she said. The municipality surprised even itself when the Department of Tourism region 2 insisted that the 1st Ecotourism Festival last year should be of national scope as against the plan of having a provincial festival. “It became a national festival and was immediately included in the list of national festivals by the agency,” the Mayor said. Aside from its natural endowments of limestone formations, lakes, forests and fertile lands, Sta. Teresita offers a blend of Ilocano and other migratory cultures which page 3

Mayor Lolita C. Garcia negotiates a bamboo bridge to reach the waters of Bangalao Lake.

Foreign cavers cite changes

PARADE FOR NATURE. Mayor Lolita Garcia leads other local officials in the celebration the town’s natural heritage.

CENTRO, Sta. Teresita, Cagayan – Foreigners have expressed appreciation to the various improvements and innovations instituted by the local government unit here, a year after the 1st National Ecotourism Festival was launched. The group of Daniel, Betty and Charlie, all Americans who have been exploring caves the world over including those in the Philippines said “it was a joy to note that all suggestions made’ by the group have been followed and implemented by the local government unit. Earlier, Mayor Lolita Garcia has welcomed volunteers to the municipality who can provide the necessary technical and other forms of expertise if only to transform the town into an page 4 ecotourism zone.

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PIA Notebook By Benjie S. de Yro Visiting Journalist

Next Destination


s far as tourism is concern, there’s no turning back for the local government unit of Sta.

Teresita. Not after foreign spelunkers have calendared their second visit to the municipality which caves have enthralled and awed them last year and this year. Not after a massive promotions and publicity stunts was started during the first National Ecotourism Festival and resulted in an avalanche of inquiries from around the world. Ironically, the two successive festival of national scope were hosted by a very small municipality whose internal revenue allotment is so insignificant you now wonder how the town survives. The decision therefore of the local leadership to finally open one door of opportunity for all its tourism and cultural value is commendable. It was a wise move for a town who, since its foundation, had neglected the development of its own potential offerings like its natural wealth. Admittedly, even the locals were caught off-guard when the Sierra Madre Outdoor Club finally reported the existence of beautiful caves declared by noted foreign spelunkers as world class. Why, the Secretary of the Club revealed that there are still so many caves to be discovered and explored. It can therefore be a race with time. For once, the town has proven two things: it has world-class offerings and it is now ready to accept visitors. It is now just a matter of careful planning so as not to spoil the broth. Thus, for the last five to six days or so, the Cagayan forest surrounding the caves of various depths, length and height of Sta. Teresita, had played hosts to hundreds of local and foreign tourists whose thirst for eco-tourism adventure could not be easily quenched by the discovery, of new caves during the whole duration of the festival.

rial B Edito


Thelma M. Mercado Editor-In-Chief

Visiting Associate Editor Benjie S. De Yro, PIA-2

Graphic and Design Alvin delos Santos, PIA-2

Consultants Mayor Lolita C. Garcia Dir. Purita S. Licas, PIA-2 Bangalao is the official newsletter of the 2nd National Ecotourism Festival with editorial office at the Mayor’s Office Sta. Teresita Municipal Hall, Sta. Teresita, Cagayan For comments and suggestion pls. contact number 0927-748-7799, email adress

Tall Order?

By the time this copy reaches you, the last game has been played, the winners have been awarded and the various caves and Bangalao lake have welcomed a number of visitors, local and foreign, into their fold. Of course the conduct of the festival leaves so much to be desired, Sta. Teresita, being a new player in the industry. It can only give what it has as it can only do what it can, no more, no less. This attitude could be an asset, meaning the local government unit was able to play its tourism strings well. Another point that should be emphasized is the ability of the LGU to identify and fully utilized civil society groups and individuals who are more than willing to extend the much needed technical assistance. @@@ To initially eye the people of Sta. Teresita as audience for a festival of national scope is very significant. Of course, the LGU should be ambitious as this is supposed to be a big event. Yet, it underplayed its capacity and emerged a winner. The Mayor wanted to initially create tourism awareness to the very same people who will become stakeholders of the industry in the future. Comparatively, there are LGUs who embarked on tourism as an industry without lifting a finger on how prepared is the community. The results can be dangerous as the people can suffer from cultural shock and other psychological undertones. Some can take advantage of the tourists particularly the colored ones. Contrary to our belief, the Filipino tourist can spend more on a trip than, say Americans or British who are silently tightwads. So why always pick on the foreigners? @@@ The call has always been there particularly during the initial years of global warming concerns. Truth is, we always point an accusing finger to anybody but us in matters of environment protection and conservation. Here in Sta. Teresita, the Mayor’s call was loud and clear: help the LGU in the protection, conservation and preservation of the town’s natural heritage like its caves, lakes, rivers, the mountains and its vast crop farms. “Let’s cooperate as a people and let’s join each other’s hands in the care of our environment,” the lady Mayor has said time and again. @@@ Of course there are plans to reset the schedule to a later date to cater to people during summer. That’s another nice move. Personally, I don’t think there would be any problem considering the flexibility of the Cagayano spirit and our penchant for sudden change. See you next year.

Message of the Mayor Lolita C. Garcia during the opening ceremonies of the 2nd National Ecotourism Festival 2014

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To some, our aim and vision is too high. Before, others say we can’t do it…we are not yet ready for tourism…we don’t have facilities yet kaya bakit ka mag national event? Kung ano ano pa ang sinasabi o napapansin at hindi talaga maiintindihan kung ano ba ang festival na ito.

tayo nag practice.. The presence of visitors coming from very far municipalities and countries I believe help complete our practice.

But for me, alam kong ako ‘y nasa tamang daan, na ito ay tama. The main objective of course is to raise awareness and to advocate the protection and preservation of our natural resources.

Maybe, next year, on our 3rd National Ecotourism festival, puwede na nating ibuka ang ating mga pakpak, pwede na tayong mag- practice lumipad. Meaning, puwede na tayong mang- imbita sa neighboring regions like region 1at suyurin natin ang buong region 2. . . Siguro itong 1st and 2nd natin marami na tayong napag aralan at natutunan at maybe, handa na tayong tumanggap ng volume ng visitors on our 3rd celebration. . . I just hope and pray for that. Who knows, five years or six years from now . . maybe Sta. Teresita will be soaring high in ecotourism… Sta. Teresita will lead all roads to ecotourism destinations.

There is a need to instill in the minds of everyone that we should act now to preserve nature. Kailan pa ba tayo gagalaw sa nalalapit nang pagkagunaw at pagkasira ng ating mundo? We just want to do our share. We just want to help and act sa lahat ng pananawagan ng ibat- ibang sector to help preserve and protect our environment. We should protect and preserve iyong natitira pang magaganda and help repair the damaged environment. Actually, the truth is, second lang naman itong tourism dito. We want to do our share in preserving our natural resources, at the same time, bring out tourism na rin and let the world know, that here in sta. Teresita, tayo ay makalikasan at marami tayong maipagmamalaking magagandang likas yaman. So, itong pag celebrate natin ng ecotourism, nagsisimula pa lamang talaga tayo, dahil we need to learn the mechanics of tourism. Marami tayong dapat mapag- aralan at dapat matutunan tungkol dito. For everyone’s information,di naman talaga tayo nang imbita ng taga malalayong bayan to join us here now. Dito lang muna tayo sa local, sa neighboring municipalities dahil kinakailangan muna nating i- master kung paano mag entertain ng mga turista, paano natin ipakita ang kung anong mayroon tayo dito sa sta. Teresita. . .Para lang

So to all our guests and participants, WELCOME TO STA. TERESITA and to those who came for the 2nd time, WELCOME BACK. To Theresians, you like our town, you like our people and you like us all. So keep on coming back here as we enjoy seeing you here too, specially daniel, betty, charlie, gerry, and everyone. .. Let me take this opportunity to thank everyone for all the efforts you shared in the preparation of this activity. . I really appreciate all your help and efforts. Word of thanks is not enough specially to the SMOC, the DTI group, the Philippine Information Agency, the UI and SI, the lgu employees, the DepEd and most specially the barangay officials of this proud town. Thank you very much.

Mayor Lolita C. garcia

“ Congratulations to the 2nd National Ecotourism Festival. Mabuhay ang Sta. Teresita. - Director Blessida G. Diwa, Department of Tourism Region 2

Cultivate domestic

...from page 1

has enrich the town as early as the 1920s. She expressed hope that the recently concluded 2nd National Ecotourism Festival become a venue

of learning and discoveries not only to the visitors but likewise to the people of Sta. Teresita. “Without the support of all sectors in our community and elsewhere, we

could not have done this alone,” she said during the closing ceremonies held at the activity area in Barangay Luga.

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Fun run attracks local runners

Mayor Lolita Garcia leads the Takbo para sa Inang Kalikasan (fun run).

More than a hundred runners for the three-categories attended a fun run organized by the local government unit of Sta. Teresita as part of its 2nd National Ecotourism Festival. The three categories included the 3K, 5K and the 10K. The runners ran the following fun run routes: 10K-

Highway Bangalao to Villa and back Bangalao, 5K- Bangalao to Masi and back Bangalao, 3K – Bangalao to Luga National High and back to Bangalao. Bangalao Supplement tried to reach the coordinators of the said event for names of winners for inclusion in this news but failed.

Events and Winners Inter-barangay Folk Dance Ist – Simpatuyo 2nd – Masi 3rd – Mission

Carabao Fashion Show – Barangay Villa Carabao Fun Race – Barangay Mission

Quiz Bee Alexander Sebastian – Luga National High School Rod Amocen Tiboc – Simpatuyo Elementary School

Bangkarera Single – Barangay Simbaluca Tandem - Barangay Simbaluca

Kadang-kadang Male – Lorman Rita , Barangay Villa Female – Ofelia Pasante, Barangay Simbaluca

Volleyball Women winner – Gonzaga Ladies Figther Volleyball Men winner – Gonzaga Spikers Basketball- Champion - Team MB

Foreign cavers ...from page 1 Daniel Veelick was surprised that the LGU came up with an initial pricing for cavers and equipment for spelunkers, a thing which was absent last year. He noted that even the roads and other pathways leading to the caves have improved a lot. “We’re happy to note that even the expertise of the guiding team is very noticeable now, “he said.

Blood Sport called “Pallut” The story goes that an old man tried to bring a hen inside a cockfighting arena. The guard stopped them at the gate and says,” only roosters are allowed to enter.” Looking at the guard and then at the hen, the old man explained, “Please allow us. Her husband is scheduled for a fight. She’s here to give moral support.” Cockfighting or “Pallut” among the Ilocanos is an extremely popular blood sport in the country and involved two roosters fighting it out to the end, either dead or critically injured. Like the rest of cockfighters, Cagayanos also bred their own birds to fight which are conditioned for increased stamina and strength. Because of the nature of the sport, it has never been one of the favorites among animal welfare groups in the world. In fact, cockfighting is illegal in countries like the United States, Australia and much of Europe. Speaking about penchant of Pinoys on cockfighting, it seem like a Philippine fiesta or a festival is never complete unless a cockfighting event is conducted. But the bird has always been regarded as an admirable animal even before the coming of Christ. Did you know that the ancient Syrians worshipped the fighting cock as a deity? The ‘pallut’ cock was a subject of religious worship and both ancient Greeks and Romans associated the fighting-cock with the gods Apollo, Mercury and Mars. If you are in Borneo during the time of Magellan, you cannot eat bird meat and in Sumatra, the gamecock was worshipped. ‘Pallut’ goes back to classical times. Most experts agree that the sport originated in Southeast Asia. Such belief may serve the Filipinos well because in Cagayan alone, there are numerous buildings marked “sports arena” in almost every municipality.

Veelick revealed that compared to last year, the ordinary Sta. Teresita farmer now volunteered information on caves within their area. “That really will help the locality a lot,” he added. He said the caves of Sta. Teresita should be seen by all residents and all interested individuals as the caves belong to everybody.

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Environment protection tops festival agenda By Eloisa M. Mabborang Preservation and protection of the environment remained the top concern of the local government unit of Sta. Teresita, Cagayan in the national ecotourism festival it hosted the last two years. “Tourism is simply the vehicle we used to create awareness towards that purpose and we hope to succeed in it, “Mayor Lolita C. Garcia said. Majority of the activities and events included in this year’s 2nd National Ecotourism festival, February 24 – March 1 have been geared toward environment protection and addressed to the younger generation of the municipality. Even the ordinary street dancing competition was asked to focus its theme on nature and measures that should be undertaken towards the concern. An estimated five thousand individuals attended daily all the scheduled pro-environment activities and events, majority of them likewise

The tour guides with their magnificient caves during the grand parade.

visited caves which have been opened since last year by the local government unit. “We are particularly careful of the way visitors take care of what we have. We’re doing this for our children’s future,” Garcia said.

Mayor Lolita Garcia presents the delegates of the basket ball friendship games.

As of this report, new caves have been discovered for all types of spelunkers. Those interested will only have to contact numbers as the cavers are prohibited from going inside the caves without the guides.

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Diwata Candidates pose with Mayor Lolit Garcia at the entrance of Laguna de Cagayan ( Bangalao Lake)

Candidates for Diwata ng Kalikasan 2014. from left Gladys Anzano - Baggao NASSM Annex, Minette Soliven - Sta Teresita NHS, Jerika Nicole Puyaoan - St Francis Academy, Aimee Belen - Luga NHS, Kate Chelse Jara - Gonzaga NHS

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Candidates in their Diwata attire.

Kate Chelse Jara is crowned Miss Diwata ng Kalikasan 2014.

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bangkarera tandem

Carabao Fashion Show

Souvenirs token made by the Sta. Teresita National High School

Cultural Night

Board Member Romeo Garcia leads the cutting of the ribbon of the DTI Booth.

Participating schools in a street dance grand showdown.

Sta. Teresita National High School

Dawa Festival, Gonzaga National High School

Luga National High School

Agtas Festival, Baggao National Agricultural School Sta. Margarita Annex

Saint Francis Academy

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10 - Banggalao “The caves are wonderful! Walking along the footbridge is enjoyable. What a wonderful sight around the center of the lake. The caves are amazing with the different formation of stalactites and stalagmites. These natural creations are loveable and great. It’s so exciting and so beautiful, we shall return,” statement of Daniel, Betty and Charley, visiting Southern Californian cavers when interviewed by Jane S.Lucas, Chair, Sta. Teresita Local Tourism Council

Cave swiflet chicks, Maquera Cave

Ari Zero Cave

Looking Back, Moving Forward, Looking Ahead By Jane S. Lucas Chair, Sta.Teresita Local Tourism Council The past couple of months were physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting for each of us. Meetings, brainstorming, sessions, trainings, changes in the schedule of activities, following-up on resource persons, distribution of invitations, and others. Finally, the day has come. As early as seven o’clock of Monday, February 20, 2014, guests, tourists both local and foreign, students, teachers, people from all walks of life, eagerly flocked to the streets of the town proper to another witness another milestone in Sta. Teresita. Registrants for the various activities numbered 406 as of the second day, February 25 including 3 foreigners from Southern California, two from Balincaguin Conservancy of Pangasinan and quite extraordinarily, there were two registrants in “spirit” having sent their registration fees, as a show of support for the festival.

Resurgence of Sinangraban Cave System, Brgy. Luga.

Her egg sac, Tabaco Cave, Brgy. Luga.

Banggalao newsletter, March 1, 2014  

Bangalao is the official newsletter of the 2nd National Ecotourism Festival with editorial office at the Mayor’s Office Sta. Teresita Munici...

Banggalao newsletter, March 1, 2014  

Bangalao is the official newsletter of the 2nd National Ecotourism Festival with editorial office at the Mayor’s Office Sta. Teresita Munici...