Cagsawa Festival

Cagsawa Festival is an annual celebration of Cagsawa Ruins, a National Cultural Treasure located in the village of Busay in the municipality of Daraga, Albay, Philippines every February.

It is a fest that puts into center stage the beautiful landscape and history of Cagsawa, its popular ruins often photographed with Mt. Mayon in the background. The yearly event takes place in the month of February, commemorating the volcanic eruption in 1814.

History of Cagsawa Festival

Cagsawa Festival was launched as an initiative of the provincial government of Albay and the local government of Daraga in 2012. Led by then Governor Joey Salceda, it was organized as one of several major festivals of Albay province every year (the other is Magayon Festival held during summertime).

The fest is meant to give tribute to the resilience of its people and the historic eruption of Mt. Mayon in the 19th century that laid waste to the lands, commemorating the way inhabitants have continued to thrive and their community to prosper.

National Cultural Treasure

It also puts into the spotlight and at the heart of its celebration is the picturesque Cagsawa Ruins and the panoramic vista of the plains at the foot of Mt. Mayon.

A popular tourist attraction in the Bicol region, Mt. Mayon is renowned in the country and internationally for its almost perfect conical, symmetrical shape. The volcano and its surrounding environment, including Cagsawa in Daraga, forms a protected area as declared by the national and local government units. In 1930, it was called Mayon Forest Reserve by virtue of Proclamation No. 341. By July 20, 1938, it was made into a national park through the issuance of Proclamation No. 292, becoming one of the first landmarks in the country that was made into a national park. And on November 21, 2000, its status was changed to a natural park through Proclamation No. 413 issued by Joseph Estrada.

On December 23, 2015, the National Museum of the Philippines conferred upon the Cagsawa Ruins as a National Cultural Treasure.

Cagsawa Ruins

Cagsawa Ruins are a remnant of what was once historically a Franciscan-built church complex. The first friars of the Alcantarine group of the Order of Friars Minor arrived and started their mission in the settlement in 1587. The church was erected by Fr. Pedro Bautista in 1591. However, it was not spared when Cagsawa was razed by the invading Dutch armed forces wanting to seize control of the colony from the Spaniards on July 25, 1639.

The first church made of stone was erected by Fr. Acacio de la Conception in 1675 and dedicated to the advocation of St. James the Greater. In 1724, it was leveled to the ground by Fr. Francisco Blanco to give way to a new, bigger church. He also built other edifices such as the convent, court house, store rooms, and the now famous belfry.

On the fateful day of February 1, 1814, Mayon Volcano erupted. According to records, the bells of the parish tolled to warn the townsfolk of the calamity. Two hundred people took shelter within the walls of the church, but they soon were trapped and died from the pyroclastic flow and lahar. The devastation buried Budiao, Camalig, Cagsawa, and Guinobatan in a layer of volcanic materials, rocks, and ash. It is estimated 1,200 people perished on that cataclysmic day.

What remained of the 18th-century, Baroque stone church were a part of the facade including an intact pediment and the adjoining bell tower. The facade however fell to rubble sometime in the 1930s, while the uppermost portion of the iconic pyramidal bell tower remains standing.

Cagsawa Festival Activities

Cagsawa Festival spans for a month. Its calendar of activities starts on February 1, a day marked with commemoration of the 1814 eruption through a celebration of the Holy Eucharist and an opening ceremony. Prayers are offered to those who perished from the disaster.

Other activities include parade, talent contests (dance, singing, music), beauty pageants such as the Search for Mutya & Ginoo ng Cagsawa, cultural presentations and programs, sports, concerts, culinary events, entertainment, competitions, and fairs.

How to reach Cagsawan Ruins

Cagsawan Ruins is a few kilometers away from the town proper of Daraga. The town can be reached at through Legazpi Airport, which is a dozen kilometers away.


Cagsawa Festival Summary

NameCagsawa Festival
CelebrationCulture, History
DateFebruary 1
Duration1 month
EstablishedFebruary 2012
FounderJoey S. Salceda
Historical eventEruption of Mt. Mayon Volcano in 1814
LocationBarangay Busay, Daraga, Albay
OrganizerLocal Government