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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
photo credit: Marco Sumargo @whatsupmarky
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.
A 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
El Mar Bar and Restaurant (https://www.facebook.com/El-Mar-Bar-and-Restaurant-1624205607806820/),
Green Hut (https://www.facebook.com/greenhutpensionandrestobar/), and
Alejawan Grill ‘n Chill (https://www.facebook.com/Alejawan-Grill-n-Chill-1284409098319030/).
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!