Water Forms

CamNorte's River Culture

Camarines Norte

Renzelle Ann Palma
Renzelle Ann Palma | Jun 27, 2013

For the townsfolk of Labo, Camarines Norte, the river not only does these things, it also reflects their identity as a community.

Labo River, the longest in the province, links the lush forests of Mt. Labo National Park and the Pacific Ocean.

So, when municipal officials decided to create a festival to encapsulate their humble beginnings, the hands-down theme was the famed meandering body of water—Busig-on River, originating from the root words “Busig” which means water and “on” meaning plenty.

Based on a contemporary epic titled “Ang Epiko ni Busig-on” written by Municipal Information Officer Dr. Carlos Galvez, the festival is about the legends on Busig-on River or the present-day Labo River, which generates huge volumes of water.

“The Busig-on Festival hopes to enrich people’s awareness on the local culture, history, and art. We also envision it to spark the town’s tourism industry,” says Labo Mayor Dindo Pardo.

The event, which coincided with the town’s 212th founding anniversary, featured a street dance tilt retracing the origins of the riverine village which evolved into one of the biggest towns of the Spanish-era Ambos Camarines province.

Legend has it that in the olden days, Busig-on and Princess Maraya who came from two warring tribes fell in love with each other. They later got married, which eventually sealed that led the friendship between the said tribes.

They bore a son named Tarik-Kuduok who became the leader of the two tribes when Busig-on and Maraya died. During a famine, he invoked the spirit of Busig-on to help him guide their people.

Not long after, at the exact spot where Busig-on was buried, a water spring came into being and became the source of a large and generous river teeming with the riches of the water. The river was called Busog-on for its abundant water and aquatic resources and has, since then, become the main source of food.

Busig-on River, as it is now called, is the main tributary of Labo River and still offers to this day its banak and palos which have become the town’s most-sought after fish variety.

In addition to the picturesque mountains and rivers, the town also takes pride in Maligaya Falls which is widely-sought by tourists because of its rejuvenating waters, and Cadig Cave which will surely delight spelunkers.

An emerging watering hole is Malatap Falls which is located just a few hundred meters away from the Maharlika Highway.

He said that Labo is also the cradle of the exquisite craft of pineapple fiber cloth weaving whose finished products find their way around the world’s fashion show runways.

The town also takes pride in its municipal museum which contains centuries-old excavated implements and antique materials sourced from locals.

A noted son of the town is the famed revolutionary General Justo Lukban who fought against Spain and later the United States at the turn of the century, and later became mayor of Manila under the American Civil Government.

Pardo concluded that Busig-On Festival is a reminder that a mighty river runs through Labo’s historic soil, and that its people are being taken to task to sustain it for the generations to come.

Article written by and used with permission from Mr. Bernard Supetran Photos from Mr. Bernard Supetran

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