ABOUT 23 kilometers from Sagay City proper, passing through a rugged terrain, a sweet-smelling community looms. Colonia Divina, which means divine colony, is an upland village blessed with abundant marang trees.
Colonia Divina first earned popularity in the 1990's when one of its residents, then 10-year-old Rhona Mahilum, was awarded the presidential citation for her acts of heroism. She saved her five siblings from the fire that gutted down their house made from indigenous materials.
With the hope to make Colonia Divina popular again, this time, by promoting its agritourism potentials, the Barangay Council through the support of the provincial government of Negros Occidental staged the 1st Marang Yagangyang Festival on Thursday, September 1.
Themed “Marang Padamuon, Colonia Divina Pauswagon,” the inaugural festival gathered city and barangay officials, residents, and domestic tourists for a showcase of the barangay’s main commodity, the marang.
Marang or artocarpus odoratissimus, a tropical fruit known for its sweet odor and taste, is abundant in the barangay with an area of 3,000 hectares and inhabited by more than 600 households.
More than 100, 000 Marang trees are growing in the barangay with a land area of 3,000 hectares, covering 645 households. It is now being poised as the country’s Marang capital.
Most of these fruit trees are being intercropped with other crops like sugarcane, rice, banana, pineapple, and root crops.
Abundant every August and September, Marang production least three tons per day during its season, and sells each fruit for only P1 to P5 per piece at the city proper and neighboring cities like Escalante, Sagay and even in Bacolod and Iloilo.
“We are staging the festival to create awareness to the Negrenses, especially the government, that there is a community with abundant supply of Marang fruits but needs assistance especially in terms of transporting the products to the markets,” said village chairman Johnny Buhayan.
The festival, graced by Sagaynons Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and son Mayor Alfredo Marañon III, was highlighted by a trade fair at the barangay’s covered court.
Fifteen puroks as well as farmers associations and schools through their respective booths showcased plentiful Marang fruits and wide variety of by-products like Marang ensaymada, pie, jam, ice cream, baye-baye, polvoron, coffee, chocolates, among others.
For only P100, guests were able to satisfy their cravings for the fruit through an eat-all-you-can activity, plus additional two pieces of Marang to bring home.
“The fruit serves as alternative source of livelihood for the residents especially during lean months,” Buhayan said. “We hope to have more interventions from different agencies and groups so that we can further develop our products.”
Meanwhile, during the activity, Marañon led the turnover of 10 units of water pumps to the residents.
“This is part of our initiative of providing potable water to the community,” Marañon said, adding that the provincial government is planning to tap a six-kilometer upstream water system in order to reach more sitios.