The Municipality of Pagsanjan, one of the country’s first tourist hotspots, marks another milestone as it celebrates its 350th foundation day through the weeklong Lagaslas Bangkero Festival on Dec. 6-12.
Themed “Sa Panahong Lumipas, Pagsanjan Lalong Tumikas”, the event-filled fest is a tribute to the bangkeros or boatmen who skillfully navigate and shoot the rapids all the way to the picture-perfect falls.
According to Pagsanjan mayor Maita Javier-Ejercito, the festival will showcase the town’s road to progress over the years to due to its good governance program tourism promotional efforts.
Merry-making kicks off with the unveiling of the commemorative marker of the Spanish-era Royal Arch by the National Historical Commission, which was built in 1878 to memorialize Pagsanjan’s glory years as Laguna’s provincial capital from 1688 to 1872. The site is believed to be the place where the town’s patroness, Our Lady of Guadalupe, appeared and drove away the pirates who are about to raid the town in the late 1800s.
The celebration coincides with the town’s patronal fiesta which converge at the Diocesan Shrine of the Our Lady of Guadalupe whose first church was founded in 1687. In its Chapel of the Tilma is enshrined the stone where the Virgin Maryis believed to have appeared in Mexico. is believed to have appeared in Mexico.
Ejercito noted that this year’s observance is special with the Seal of Good Local Governance received by Pagsanjan from the Department of the Interior and Local Government for its stewardship and sound fiscal management.
Spicing up the festivities are street dancing contest, a Korean Traditional Folklore Group show, Chef War which will put the spotlight on upcoming home-grown chefs, the Ginoong Bangkero pageant for boatmen, and the Lakan at Binibining Pagsanjan with celebrity judges.
Other fringe events are drum and lyre competition, a hiphop modern dance and singing contests, a photography tilt, Christmas-related activities, and screenings of award-winning movies of former Laguna governor ER Ejercito.
In between the events, guests can “shoot the rapids” on the way to the fabled Pagsanjan Falls, also known as Magdapio Falls, which is among the must-do countryside adventure trips for tourists.
The town also takes pride in its well-preserved ancestral stone houses, as well as its vibrant culinary scene with its cozy home-grown themed restaurants which draws foodies from various parts of Laguna.
A new attraction is the San Isidro Hill Religious Eco-Tourism Park which will become the newest tourist hotspot with its soothing panorama of Laguna De Bay sunset. Set to be completed next year, this municipal facility can be reached through a 292-step landscaped staircase, and will have a giant statue of the Our Lady of Guadalupe, prayer garden, public park, and a multi-purpose hall.
Pagsanjan was declared by the Laguna’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan as the province’s “tourist capital” more than a decade ago because of the volume of visitors who do the rapids tours.