“Laguna, ng ito ay marating ko; Parang bang ako’y nagbago, kakaibang damdamin.”
When local folk rock star Sampaguita sang this 1980s hit, she captured in song the natural allure of the province which has made it a top tourist draw south of the metropolis.
This rustic charm came to life once more as the province celebrated its colorful culture and crafts in the La Laguna Festival of Life on April 20-29.
“Laguna takes pride in its natural wonders such as the iconic Pagsanjan Falls, mystic Mt. Makiling, the scenic Laguna Lake, San Pablo City’s seven lakes, enchanting waterfalls, hot and cold spring resorts, as well as historic spots such as postcard-perfect Spanish-era churches, welcome arches and ancestral homes,” says Gov. Jeorge “E.R. Ejercito” Estregan Jr.
The centerpiece of the celebration was the trade fair at the Provincial Capitol Complex, which displayed local crafts, food products and souvenirs, such as hand-embroidered barongs of Lumban, the footwear of Liliw, wooden sculptures and papier maches from Paete, native decor items from Luisiana, Cavinti, Famy and Mabitac.
Featured were farm produce from Kalayaan, Magdalena and Rizal, dairy products from Alaminos, sweet pineapples from Calauan, sweet delicacies from Pagsanjan and Pangil, puto from Biñan, buko pie, uraro, and espasol from Los Baños, Bay and Calamba, balut from Victoria, kesong puti from Sta. Cruz, and processed food from Pila, Sta. Rosa and Cabuyao, among others.
A street dance competition also featured the various colorful municipal festivals of the province representing the local crafts and traditions. Bagging the top three awards were the Lumban, Cavinti and Sta. Rosa City which interpreted the theme, "Buhayin ang Lawa ng Laguna".
“The festival is a celebration of life itself because of Laguna’s God-given attributes and the character of its people,” the award-winning actor-politician said.
Ejercito said Laguna has successfully combined modern living and rural ambience, and the festivity will showcase why the province has been named as among the best places to live and invest.
The bustling province is host to residential villages, golf courses, emerging business districts, industrial enclaves and first-rate tourist establishments, and has preserved its rustic allure on the towns around Laguna de Bay, the country’s biggest lake.
Other activities included a short film festival, talent shows, a beauty pageant, sporting events, and the Governor’s Night with the showbiz stars as guest entertainers.
Indigenous gown and barong creations of promising couturiers also took center stage in a grand sagala and designers’ competition.
The festival concluded with the Land Float and Fluvial Float Parades, where gaily-adorned floats showcased the tourism pride of Laguna’s 26 towns and 4 cities.
Because of its rich cultural nature, La Laguna Festival was named as among the country’s top tourism events for 2011 by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines.