Lanao del Norte

Lanao del Norte town with dark past builds wharf as symbol of hope

Merlyn Manos

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Lanao del Norte town with dark past builds wharf as symbol of hope

SYMBOL OF HOPE. Kauswagan's Fisherman's Wharf in Lanao del Norte stands as a symbol of hope and transformation in the town with a dark past.

Kauswagan Municipal Tourism Office

Kauswagan town is known for a dark chapter in the country’s history – the Estrada administration’s 'all-out war' against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2000

LANAO DEL NORTE, Philippines – In the small coastal town of Kauswagan in Lanao del Norte, history was made as the doors to its new landmark opened to the public on Saturday, February 4.

The Fisherman’s Wharf, a two-hectare development in the village of Kawit Oriental that cost the municipal government some P20 million, represents more than just a place for fishermen to dock their boats. 

Local officials said it is also a beacon of hope for the community, a place of recreation and celebration, and a symbol of the town’s transformation.

Kauswagan town is known for a dark chapter in the country’s history. It was the launching pad of the Estrada administration’s “all-out war” against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2000, and it is also where rebels carried out a massacre of many town residents, particularly in the village of Kawit.

“Kauswagan’s Fisherman’s Wharf is not just a landmark, it’s a symbol of the town’s resilience, perseverance, and success,” said Mayor Rommel Arnado.

There, visitors are met with a stunning boardwalk, perfect for strolling and taking in the beauty of the surrounding waters. They can enjoy delicious food and drink from the park’s many vendors, or take a spin on the amusement park’s thrilling rides. 

Arnado said it is also a place for laughter, and excitement, where memories can be made.

He said the Fisherman’s Wharf could bring the community together, boost the local economy, and put Kauswagan on the map.

As the town prepares to host the 6th Organic Asia Congress this June, Arnado said the Fisherman’s Wharf will be a show window of the town’s growth and potential.

The town government is currently building a convention center that could be used even for international gatherings such as the one scheduled this June.

Barangay Kawit Oriental chairman Herbert Ledria said the Fisherman’s Wharf was once just a dream for his village and the town.

The wharf has become a significant improvement for the town, which was once plagued by poverty, hunger, and violence

The poverty rate in the town was 79.08% in 2010, but the rate dropped to 9.1% as of November 2019, and officials attributed this to the government’s Arms-to-Farms program.

The program, which aims to turn former rebels into farmers and fishermen, has been the driving force behind Kauswagan’s transformation into a hunger-free town with a thriving organic farming industry, said Arnado.

The program, he said, also gave organic rice, corn, and vegetable farming in Kauswagan a boost.

Liva Mae Reyes Balagon, who had left Kauswagan in 2005, returned to her hometown after more than 17 years and opened a grocery store in the municipality which she said has been transformed, and greatly improved.

“We’re certainly glad to be back in the province. Before, it lacked progress and was plagued by issues of peace and order,” she said.

Based on the Kauswagan experience, Arnado said, bringing food to the poor family’s table would solve much of the peace and order problem.
“There was only one prevalent problem, and it was not related to ideology, culture, or religion. The main concern was hunger,” he said. –

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