Who says Santa Ana, Cagayan is only known for its pristine beaches and beautiful resorts?
Not until the ‘Buwacag Falls’ in Barangay Santa Clara in this town was formally opened to the public yesterday, April 11, an eco-tourism site assisted by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and the Local Government of Santa Ana.
In a ceremony held at the area yesterday, CEZA Deputy Administrator for Operations PCSupt Agrimero A. Cruz, said the development of the 50-hectare eco-tourism site which include the Buwacag Falls is a product of the convergence of the CEZA, national government agencies such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Tourism (DOT), the local government unit of Santa Ana, and the residents of the said barangay.
“If there is strong unity, there is longevity. Nagkakaisa po tayo kaya mayroon po tayong naumpisahan pero mas maganda po na dapat ma-sustain natin ang ating ginagawa at mapaipagtuloy natin ito upang umunlad ang barangay Santa Clara,” he said.
“Ang dream po ni Secretary Raul Lambino ay ang pag-unlad ng buong Pilipinas at hindi lamang Northern Luzon,” the CEZA official added.
Buwacag Eco-Tourism Association (BETA)
The Buwacag Eco-Tourism Association (BETA) is the organization that manages the Buwacag Eco-Tourism Site. It has now at least 20 active members with 14 accredited tour guides who undergo intensive training last March facilitated by the municipal tourism office. Its members are from barangay Santa Clara.
During the ceremony, the officers took their oath of office administered by Mayor Darwin Tobias.
Jesus Dalipe Jr,. BETA president extended his gratitude to the officials of CEZA and LGU for the support to their organization.
The BETA president hopes that just like the Palaui Environmental Protectors Association (PEPA), also a CEZA-assisted organization, their organization will soon be a recipient of the prestigious ASEAN Tourism Awards.
“Dapat agtitinnulung tayo para mas mapapintas ken maalagaan atoy Buwacag (We must always help each other in the development and preservation of the Buwacag ), he said.
For his part, Tobias has emphasized that in the development of eco-tourism site such as the Buwacag, the credit should always be given to the people who worked hard for it and not the politicians.
“Mamati nak nga subla-subliyan tu ti tattao atoy nga lugar. Isun tu met rugi ti panagprogreso ti lugar yu kaya dapat protektaran tayu atoy ( I believe that when people keep coming back at Buwacag, it is the start of the progress of barangay Santa Clara. As residents of this barangay, let us help one another to protect this eco-tourism site),” Tobias said.
It was in 1921, when two Negritos namely Maplit Ortega and his close friend, Manolo Tugawen discovered and named the falls. The two Negritos were then the elders and leaders of their tribe. “Buwacag” means the thunder sound of flowing water from a high level stream falling over a cliff like step in a bedrock.
What it has to offer?
For a very minimal municipal fee of PhP20, tourists can enjoy the beauty of the eco-tourism site. The main attraction of the eco-tourism site is the Buwacag Falls. In order to experience the breathtaking view of the pristine waterfalls, one has to endure a 30-minute climb to reach the mother falls, which according to the tour guides, the only reachable area of the falls.
The site is 17.3 kilometers away from the town hall and 16.7 kilometers from the town’s public market. It is very accessible since the road going to and from the area is now almost 100 percent concrete.
To observe the falls’ carrying capacity, tourists are only allowed to stay for a maximum of three hours in the falls area. Also, the BETA is strictly implementing the ‘No Tour Guide, No Hiking and Swimming’ policy. A tour guide fee of PhP300 is pegged to a number of four tourists.
Tourists may also relax in cottages located near the foot of the falls. Cooking is allowed only at designated areas. Tourists are also advised to bring their cooking implements and utensils because using of firewood is strictly prohibited in the area.