By Vince Jacob A. Visaya, The Manila Times News Correspondent/Luzonwide News Correspondent Publishing General Manager-Editor

TUGUEGARAO CITY: Historical sites identified with this city and Cagayan Province, as well as its popular food and handicraft, were featured in the 20 best painted and decorated calesa, or the horse-drawn carriage, at the Pavvurulun Afi Festival’s event on Friday, August 5.

Calesa drivers or kutsero painted and decorated their units with images identifying the culture, tradition, and heritage of Cagayan and Tuguegarao. The event allowed them to dress up their carriages as tourist attractions and secondary transport in this city.

Tuguegarao is a third-class component city with 166,334 people in the 2020 census. The festival represents unity and fire, which symbolize peace and progress, feast organizer Evangeline Calubaquib said.

Calesa operator Fidel Catulin won the contest and claimed the P10,000 prize. Tirso Paddayuman and Marlon Langcay took second and third places with P7,000 and P5,000 prizes, respectively. Seventeen other operators received a consolation prize of P2,000 each.

Ecstatic with his victory, Catulin said he would spend the money for his family’s basic needs and his children’s school supplies. Catulin said he barely spent a peso in painting and decorating his calesa as the paint materials and items were donated by local leaders and sponsors.

City Mayor Maila Ting-Que said the calesa has been a primary mode of public and private transportation during the Spanish times, but it survives until today because of its tourist attractions.

Tuguegarao was founded on May 9, 1604, as a “mission-pueblo” with the new vicar Fray Tomas Villa, O.P., initiating the construction of a temporary church housing Saints Peter and Paul as patron saints. In the 1720s, Father Antonio Lobato, O.P., developed a layout of the street network together with the construction of the cathedral.

In 1839, the provincial capital was transferred to Tuguegarao from Lal-lo as the Cagayan-Manila road network was opened.

In 1975, Tuguegarao was declared as the capital and seat of the regional government of Cagayan Valley and its skyline has improved in the 1980s and 1990s. It is now the major urban center and primary growth center in northeastern Luzon, the regional center of Cagayan Valley and also its regional institutional and administrative center. One of the fastest emerging cities in the country, the city is a convergence area for the provinces of Cagayan, Kalinga, Apayao and northern Isabela.