Category Archives: LOCAL COLOR

Eco-tourism, fiestas and festivals

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Jagna’s delicious calamay levels up

For the past two years during the month of April, residents of Jagna take time off from their daily routine to pay homage to the calamaderas who have, since the mid-1800s, been making the famous delicacy calamay from glutinous rice, finely ground and mixed with coconut milk and brown sugar.

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The sticky dessert is a labor of love stirred by hand using large wooden spoons in giant woks over a low fire for about three to four hours until the mixture becomes sticky in consistency. It is then placed inside coconut shells, cooled off and sealed with a red ribbon in honor of Rev. Fr. Mariano Gutierrez de los Dolores, Parish priest of Jagna from 1825 until his death in 1855, who gifted the Jagnaanons with this cottage industry.

67 Although several families have been credited with continuing the legacy of making calamay in Jagna, Ching’s Calamay located in Can-upao is currently at the forefront of producing calamay the traditional way: by hand. Ching’s Calamay has so far created a new variant. Ube flavored and mixed with peanuts, it is distinguished by the purple ribbon around the coconut shell casing instead of the red.

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Under the progressive leadership of the incumbent Municipal Mayor Atty. Fortunato “Bic-bic” R. Abrenilla who is now on his last term, the Jagna Calamay Producers Cooperative, also located in Can-upao, was established with the support of several government agencies to upgrade calamay production in Jagna. Their facility makes use of mechanical mixers cutting production time in half, producing an even consistency in the flavor of calamay.

4Gian Carl Jubela

photo credit: Gian Carlo Jubela

For the 3rd Calamay Festival, the Festival Committee set up an area in the festival grounds where traditional Calamay production may be observed by tourists and visitors.

9 Booths showcasing Jagna’s other home-based food processing ventures include golden cookies, tableja from cacao, ubi powder, ginger  tea, corn coffee, banana chips, noodles, peanut-based delicacies, nata de coco and virgin coconut oil.

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On April 28, a motorcade of motorelas (autorickshaws) and three floats were held simultaneous with the food fair at the town plaza culminating in the awarding of prizes for best eco-friendly design.

10a A beauty pageant on the night of April 29 facilitated by Hon. Maricris V. Jamora, Vice Chairperson of the Jagna Municipal Tourism Development Council, yielded this year’s Miss Jagna Festival, Reyna Jane Amparado. She will represent Jagna in this year’s Miss Bohol pageant.

11 During a tete-a-tete with Mayor Abrenilla at the Municipal Hall during the festival, he disclosed that although Jagna’s major livelihood comes from agriculture, fishing, commerce and trade, he was pushing for tourism to take a larger segment of the market. He is proud that Jagna has ten unspoiled dive sites which could be an alternative to those found in Panglao.

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Drift Divers (https://www.facebook.com/DriftDivers/),  the only dive shop in town located at Paseo del Mar Resort (www.paseodelmarbohol.com), has been offering dive tours and dive lessons to tourists and divers in Jagna these past three years.

14Marky Sumargo

photo credit: Marco Sumargo @whatsupmarky 

15Edgar Allan Zeta Yap

photo credit: Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap

One of Jagna’s dive sites, the Cantagay Fish Sanctuary, has rare black corals at 30 meters (100 feet) deep. Poached as semi-precious gems, black corals are endangered tree-like corals with dark skeletons that thrive in deep waters.

16aA pioneer resort in Jagna, Delailah Rock Resort was renamed Jagna Rock Resort (https://www.facebook.com/Jagna-Rock-Resort-306216906405007/) by its new owners, Marjun & Melanie Precones. Marjun, a native of Jagna, is related to the original owner of the resort who sold it to relocate to the town proper for convenience. Melanie, who is German on her father’s side, met Marjun in one of her college classes in Tagbilaran City. They are recently married and are expecting their first baby.

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The resort is located on a promontory along the national highway and has a native-themed restaurant and some cottages for picknickers. A couple of rooms in the main house are made available to backpackers and divers.

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Instead of a beachfront, the bottom of the hill bordering the resort property has huge rocks and boulders which are naturally landscaped. Stone steps lead right into the sea which is six feet at its shallowest entry point. A small infinity pool around one corner is filled with saltwater during high tide.

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photo credit: Jagna Rock Resort

The resort has a couple of kayaks and plans are underway to offer dive tours and dive lessons in cooperation with Drift Divers.

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Jagna also has some important Heritage Houses such as the Villacastin Ancestral House. Villacastin was a former mayor of the municipality in 1968, then again in 1981 and 1988.

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St. Michael the Archangel Parish Church, one of the oldest churches in Bohol, was built in 1800 until 1821 by Rev. Fr. Blas Munos de la Merced, a pious Augustinian recollect missionary. It remains the center of all religious activities in Jagna until the present.

Food establishments in Jagna which accommodated the media guests during the 3rd Calamay Festival include:

11230655_1737611763132870_6675157845103555381_n El Mar Bar and Restaurant (https://www.facebook.com/El-Mar-Bar-and-Restaurant-1624205607806820/),

12088331_1105758232768504_8598013969709357213_n Green Hut (https://www.facebook.com/greenhutpensionandrestobar/), and

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Alejawan Grill ‘n Chill (https://www.facebook.com/Alejawan-Grill-n-Chill-1284409098319030/).

22 Sincere gratitude to the Bohol Tourism Office, Jagna Municipal Mayor Atty. Fortunato Abrenilla, Kag. Maricris Jamora, Dean Onesimo Oclarit and staff who facilitated the media coverage of the 3rd Jagna Calamay Festival, the calamaderas and the Jagnaanons for sharing their legacy. Jagna calamay kalami!

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Sandugo Festival 2014 (Header)

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix rising

Banner photo source: Iking Dalusong

Every July, the province of Bohol comes alive with merry-making and riotous street dancing as they celebrate the blood compact between Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Boholano Chieftain Datu Sikatuna featuring unique Boholano dance movements – a blend of “kuradang”, “nilambay” and “kuracha”.

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix Rising

The blood compact is an indigenous ritual of friendship and brotherhood in which two drops of blood extracted from two wounded breasts are mixed in a cup of wine. They then drink the wine simultaneously. In the vernacular, this is called Sandugo (isang dugo) or One Blood, One Compact.

The blood compact that took place in March 16, 1565 celebrates the kinship between two people of different nationalities, religious beliefs, and cultures and is considered as the Philippine’s first international treaty, reason enough to celebrate.

This year, the Sandugo Festival takes on a whole different meaning as the entire province looks heavenward in thanksgiving for being able to rise above the disaster brought on by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake which claimed some lives, destroyed some old heritage sites and set back Bohol’s tourism industry a year ago.

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix Rising

In an interview with national media on the morning of the festival, Bohol Governor Edgar M. Chatto, Chairperson of this year’s festivities, was both candid and hopeful that the “temporary” setback has given Bohol the breathing space it needed to re-assess its situation before reclaiming its position as a top tourist destination in the country.

Prior to the earthquake, an emergency response team aptly christened “T.A.R.S.I.E.R. 117” (Telephone and Radio System Integrated Emergency Response) similar to Emergency 911 was already in place, as trained by resource persons from the New York Police Department, this according to the governor.

“Just imagine if this was not the case, I would have been alone in assessing the damage as everyone, including provincial and city government personnel were busy attending to their own families. It would have been equally disastrous not to have the right information. We wouldn’t have known the extent of the damage but because TARSIER was already in place, everyone did their part, information started coming in and we knew by the afternoon that we had a disaster. We were able to send food to the municipalities that were greatly affected by the evening because we had timely information and were able to respond quickly.”

He said that for heritage sites (churches) that could no longer be retro-fitted, new churches will be built and the ruins converted as extant reminders of the earthquake.

Governor Chatto considers the earthquake as a temporary setback as it has given the province new geological and geo-science wonders to add on to Bohol’s tour packages. He cited as examples the 3 out of 1,268 chocolate hills spread over the municipalities of Carmen, Sagbayan and Batuan that were damaged and literally cut in half. This has given geologists and scientists a chance to study the inner structure of the hills. In another municipality, a section of land had been raised above sea level, the site now being considered as the ideal location to build a geological museum similar to the one constructed in Kobe, Japan which also experienced an earthquake of similar magnitude.

Unlike the previous years when the Sandugo Foundation, an NGO, oversaw the festivities, this year’s celebration brought together the Provincial Tourism Council, the Provincial Government of Bohol, and the City Government of Tagbilaran. This year also saw an increase in participating contingents in the street dancing, from only six in 2013 to a full dozen. Even the Governor was game enough to don a costume and ride on a float!

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix Rising

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix Rising

Photo sources: Mr. Bing Luspo and Mr. Reno Flores/Bohol Provincial Tourism Office

This year’s grand champion is the Bohol Island State University (BISU) contingent, 1st Runner Up  being the Balilihan town contingent and 2nd Runner Up the Holy Name University (HNU) contingent.

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix Rising

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix Rising

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix Rising

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix Rising

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix Rising

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix Rising

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix Rising

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix Rising

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This coverage was made possible as a part of USAID’s Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) project which seeks to increase competitiveness of economic growth areas including Bohol, in partnership with the Department of Tourism and the Province of Bohol.  

Budget Accommodations in Bohol

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix Rising

Sandugo Festival 2014: Phoenix Rising

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