Kauswagan: from town where Erap declared his 2000 “all-out war” to tourist destination

KAUSWAGAN,Lanao del Norte (MindaNews / 24 April)  — This coastal town where President Joseph Estrada launched his “all-out war” against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 2000 has transformed over the years into a tourist destination and is now accepting visitors after two years of COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. 

Mayor Rommel Arnado welcomed visitors to the 74th Charter Day and 21st Hugyaw sa Kadagatan Festival on Saturday, April 23, to celebrate the feast of San Vicente Ferrer. 

Arnado said the Hugyaw sa Kadagatan Festival which includes dancing on decorated bamboo rafts started on April 24, 2001, a year after the “all-out war” declaration by Estrada, and became an annual tourist attraction until 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. 

One of the entries in the Hugyaw sa Kadagatan Festival in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte on 23 April 2022. MindaNews photo by RICHEL V. UMEL

“Kauswagan does not only showcase  its produce from organic farming initiatives  but also as a thanksgiving for abundant harvest from the sea through Hugyaw sa Kadagatan Festival” which can be viewed from what is referred to here as “the longest boardwalk,” the mayor said. 

“We strongly  implement the sustainable  environment  protection, health and security measures in Kauswagan for safe and healthy environment. Those persons who will be caught violating the environment like smoking in public places, throwing garbage elsewhere will be penalized and banned from entering public places like the longest board walk,” he said. 

And the best bamboo raft is the entry of Libertad in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte. MindaNews photo by RICHEL V> UMEL

The coastal village of Libertad cluster No. 5 bagged the major award as Best in Street Dancing (PhP 70,000), Best in Sea Dancing (PhP 100,000) and Best in Gakit  (bamboo raft) competition (Php 150,000) with the total cash award amounting to PhP 320,000. Libertad also received three championship trophies.

Those who attended the festival were instructed to observe health protocols such as wearing a face mask. 

An entry during the Hugyaw sa Kadagatan Festival in Kauswagan town in Lanao del Norte. MindaNews photo by RICHEL V. UMEL

“With  collective efforts and cooperation of the residents, with the support from national, regional and  provincial  government Kauswagan achieved its herd immunity while the province still at the Alert Level 2 status.”

The mayor said Kauswagan has achieved herd immunity and zero COVID-19 infections due to the cooperation of residents and support from the provincial, regional and national governments. Residents were also encouraged to get booster vaccination. (Richel V. Umel / MindaNews)