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Participants say joining the annual feast is a “challenge”

PARTICIPANTS in this year’s Pista ‘Y Ang Cagueban, considered as the most attended Feast of the Forest in its history said they experienced “the ultimate challenge” of caring for nature.

City Information Alroben Goh told Bandillo, “We believe this is the best Cagueban ever in terms of attendance.” More or less 30,000 individuals from various local and national organizations participated in this year’s feast and planted about 100,000 seedlings.

Most of the participants had to ride the dump trucks, survived the “roller coaster ride” from the city proper to the planting site in Sitio Impapat, Bgy. Irawan, Puerto Princesa City.

“It was very exhausting, muddy, and sweaty because it was very crowded but it was a whole lot of fun,” says Froilan Hizon, a Psychology student from the Palawan State University.

“Every phase of it is a challenge for the participants. Starting from the ride going to Irawan, vast amount of effort is needed. Thank God I survived the ‘stampede’ getting on a truck (no one got seriously hurt, but there was one who fainted maybe because of exhaustion),” Hizon said.

“Going to the planting site was never easy. The journey was one hell of a ride. Every turn of the truck yields screams and yells of the passenger maybe due to either excitement or fear for dear life,” he added.

Arriving at Irawan presents another obstacle: the muddy terrain. One must either walk slowly so that mud would not get in his or her clothes or go bare foot in order for one to save his or her slippers from being broken and to save one’s self from humiliation if ever one slips, falls, and get a mud bath.

Manila-based performers and known artists such as Billy Crawford, Bianca King, and Joey Ayala, entertained the participants.

Former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada served as this year’s guest, who despite his age was earlier boasted to local media he can do better than the youth as his knees are made of steel. “Gawa sa bakal ang aking mga tuhod, kayang kaya ko pa,” Estrada said.

Erap’s allies Senator Ernesto Maceda, Actor Rez Cortez and Spokesperson Atty. Margaux Salcedo also joined the festival.

Gina Lopez, director of the ABS CBN Foundation and her colleagues also joined the event.
Roger Daquer, City Environment and Natural Resources Officer said about 100,000 seedlings were planted in the 10-hectare area.

The City ENRO said 70 to 80 percent of the seedlings planted in the past years have survived. Daquer said his team planned to check on the planted seedlings after the activity to make sure the seedlings are properly planted and ensure their survival.

By LOURDES ESCAROS-PAET, Bandillo ng Palawan


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