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  • Writer's pictureLeonora Lo-oy

Balangkoy Festival in Sta. Marcela, Apayao began with transformation of idle lands – Mayor Martinez

Updated: Jun 18, 2023

Sta. Marcela, Philippines – Every town and province in the Philippines has its own unique festival, and for Santa Marcela in Apayao, it is the ‘Balangkoy’ fest.

Balangkoy which means cassava has been the name of Santa Marcela’s festival for 19 years now and it is being celebrated alongside the municipality’s founding anniversary.

For this year, the festival runs June 15 – 17.

As explained by Mayor Evelyn Martinez, Santa Marcela was created as a municipality of Apayao on June 17, 1967 through Republic Act 4974. But how did the Balangkoy Festival begin, and how important is this festival to Sta. Marcela and the province of Apayao?

For more than three decades, the municipality only celebrated their founding anniversary. This was until the government particularly the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform noticed these idle lands in Santa Marcela and put it to good use in 2001.

Martinez recounted that they tried various crops in these lands but all attempts were futile. It was later found that only ‘balangkoy’ or cassava can be planted in those places.

“Gapu kadagiti panakausar iti dagdaga tayo nga haan tayon kuma masukay ngem pinadas tayo minulaan iti balangkoy ket nagbalin da,” she said.

The discovery led to the cultivation of said plant, which was later processed and brought revenue to the cultivators. With the help of DTI-Apayao and DOST-Apayao, many products were made from the said crop – one of which is the famous cassava cake that has been marketed all over the country.

In 2004, Santa Marcela was asked to identify their entry for the ‘one town, one product’ which led to the birth of the Balangkoy Festival.

What is the story of the famous Bacut Lake?

In her message, Mayor Martinez further explained that Bacut Lake, one of the tourist attractions in the municipality, actually started as a Small Water Impounding Project of the National Irrigation Administration which served around 80 hectares of rice fields from 1992-1994.

With its potential as a tourism destination, the government with the help of then Elias K. Bulut Sr., Governor Elias Bulut Jr., and Congresswoman Eleanor Bulut-Begtang developed the place by allotting a budget for facilities.

Different agencies and the people also contributed to the place by participating in tree planting activities on the lake in the past years.

“dagitoy iti rason nu apay nga ipan tayo dagiti programa tayo ditoy[Bacut Lake] tapnu makita tayo manen nga sangkamaymaysa, maipromote tayo daytoy tapnu ad-adu pay nga turista iti umay ditoy Bacut lake tayo,” she explained.

The mayor stressed that strengthening tourism in the municipality is another way of improving the economy.

“Isu nga dawatek kinyayo met nga salwadan tayo dagitoy nga kaykayu, awan iti agpukan, awan iti agpuur iti anya man iti kabangibang na kuma nga disso daytoy nga Bacut Lake tayo,” she appealed.


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