Why not an Agusan River bamboo raft race festival?

By Blas Bernaldez

We have heard Surigao City is positioning itself as a water sports hub with its International Dragon Boat Festival. We are thrilled to hear that and celebrate their admirable quest. 

We cannot help asked what about our city of Butuan, considering we are the region’s prime urban center and blessed with colorful historic strides, creative possibilities and other potentials such as outdoor adventures to beef up tourism attraction.

This idea is unheard of but an Agusan River cruise on a “balsa” (bamboo raft) can be trail-blazing idea and outdoor sports activity ever held. Think about it, a bamboo raft race from Barangay Tungao to Magsaysay Bridge in the heart of the city. A team of five people composed of three men and two women manning the native raft navigating for a one-day competition. The champion will get the title “lord of Agusan River”.

Isn’t this most exciting for outdoor enthusiasts, young and old as well as daring adventurers? It is good to blaze new paths of activity and events rather than follow trends. Why not be imaginative and act on such imagination? This way we will “steal thunder” so to speak, for Butuan’s tourism image and attraction. After all, we need to be different and ascend to greater heights we aspired.

River cruise is part and parcel of every common Butuanon and Agusanon. In fact,  we have this term “upper Agusan“ and “lower Agusan” as invented by common people who traversed the river for economic and social purposes. Why not elevate this to a modern and carefree practice as outdoor sports attraction?

This event was done before by a group of young outdoor enthusiasts many years ago led by a lawyer and a scuba diving instructor now based abroad and joined by a journalist-artist and two government employees. When they privately told others, a group from Cagayan de Oro City headed by a regional tourism official begged to join them and it became a middle-sized group on two days and two nights expedition, from Esperanza town in Agusan del Sur to the Magsaysay Bridge.

It was a memorable first and last for the initiators but they believe it has so much potential both for adventure and tourism events even as a cause to celebrate environmental appreciation and preservation.

If local and regional tourism and community development stakeholders will look into this idea, then perhaps we can do something original and authentic Butuanon and Caraganon. It takes an imagination and will to come up with something new and out-of-the-box initiative.

Maybe Butuan can lead the way.

Photo courtesy of Ilocus Lens

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