Ganassi-The bucolic, beautiful town of Lanao Del Sur

Lake Lanao in Lanao de Sur has a scenic coastline that is sure to take your breath away. Several towns line the coast and most of them are fourth class municipalities. Due to their geographic location, the atmosphere is always serene and bucolic. Residents live a laid-back lifestyle, and the climate is often comfortably cool.

Ganassi Lanao Del Sur
Come to Ganassi for a respite from the rat-race.

But it’s this town called Ganassi that stands out. Its location is dramatic – ensconced on hilly terrain, it offers a panoramic view of the lake. Furthermore, it’s in a cove which makes the town’s surroundings look much more picturesque. Like the other towns along the lake, Ganassi is so tranquil, it’s a haven for those who wish to get away from the city, and other crowded tourist destinations.

Ganassi Mayor Al -Rashid Macapodi wants other Filipinos to experience the life he and his fellow townsfolk have been enjoying in their hometown. He wants to show how peaceful his town is; and despite the modern conveniences that can now be had, it remains faithful to old traditions.

Ganassi Lanao Del SurMayor Macapodi is only 43 but he is cognizant of the importance of preserving the Meranao heritage, which is the dominant culture of Ganassi.  He makes sure that on important Muslim holidays, stunning traditional costumes are worn, old recipes are used to prepare the dishes of Meranao, and the “Kakulintang” of the Meranaos are practiced for every youth of Ganassi and for local tourists to learn and benefit from. Meranao dishes must always be served for the feasts, popularly known as Paganao Meranaw, which means warm welcome and hospitality in our own way.Ganassi Lanao Del Sur

“We in Ganassi adhere to the Meranao culture, but we also follow a few traditions of our own and in a way, we’ve blended these with our culture. Ganassi Lanao Del SurThis includes the way we present our food during a special feast. We use Tabaks  — large brass trays that are unique, and made in Tugaya.  The dishes are all traditional Meranaw food and can also be found only here in Lanao del Sur,” he said.
The Mayor wants the youth of Ganassi to continue the traditions. To make them proud and aware of their heritage, major town events would always showcase these old customs. He wants other Filipinos as well who like to travel to experience the town’s colorful heritage.
Although the town has no hotel yet, there are many transient homes available for trekkers and nature lovers. It’s easy to get to Ganassi; the biggest city that is close to it  is Cagayan de Oro. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Airways have several flights from Manila to Cagayan de Oro. It takes just a two-hour drive from Cagayan de Oro to Ganassi. The road trip is scenic and the highways are immaculately smooth. Mayor Macapodi has also made sure that the access road to his town are well paved, thus assuring a comfortable ride all throughout.
While the Mayor may be steeped in tradition, he’s also open to activities that are  relatively newer. Being a coastal town, he wants Ganassi to be Lanao del Sur’s water sports haven to attract more tourists. In 2016, the town hosted a dragon boat festival, which attracted teams from all over the country.
“Ganassi is ideal for all kinds of water sports because we’re located in a cove. In fact, we’re the only coastal town along Lake Lanao that is located in a cove”  – Ganassi Mayor Al -Rashid Macapodi.
The festival was so successful that he wants to make the dragon boat event an annual activity in Ganassi. “The participants enjoyed the event and they said they liked being in our town . They loved the cove setting, the cool climate, and they also had the chance to experience our Meranao culture. Ganassi Lanao Del SurThey want to return for another festival and we’re organizing another so we can invite them back and have more dragon boat teams participating,” he said.
Those who aren’t much into water sports would not be left out. The town offers a lot for others to explore. Trekkers can tour  the verdant hills and be amazed by the majestic 360-degree view of the lake. This isn’t unlike the scenery that tourists enjoy in Batanes.
The mayor assures that his town is safe for trekkers and backpackers. It’s  so quiet and everyone in town is sure to make guests feel welcome, and visitors will enjoy their unique brand of hospitality.
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