PUBLISHED | True North, Six of the Best Things to Do and See in Cagayan | Lakad Pilipinas

My story and photographs about Cagayan recently appeared on the second issue of My Charter. The magazine is the official inflight publication for Royal Air Charter Service Inc., a Philippine air carrier since 2002 that provides non-scheduled airline and cargo services from Clark-Macau, Cebu-Macau, Laoag-Yichang, and Kalibo-Macau.

The article, titled True North, Six of the Best Things to Do and See in Cagayan features places from the Cagayan Valley Region. The cover spread features an expansive view of Sibang Cove in Calayan, while the following pages discuss about Palaui Island, Calayan Island, the Callao Cave in Penablanca, Iguig pottery, the colonial churches of Cagayan Valley, Tuguegarao’s pancit batil patong, and Anguib Beach.

This is my first cover story and I actually had fun writing it. Having visited Cagayan Valley a few times, it has since become one of my favorite regions in the country—from its rugged northern island of Calayan, to my all-time favorite noodle dish in the Philippines, the pancit batil patong.

Below is the original unedited article I wrote.

 

FINDING YOUR TRUE NORTH
TEN THINGS THAT WOULD MAKE YOU FALL FOR CAGAYAN PROVINCE


On the uppermost tip of Luzon Island, an hour away by plane or about twelve hours by land from Manila, lies a province most travelers seem to have forgotten to include on their bucket list—Cagayan Province. Off the popular tourist radar except for its capital city, Tuguegarao, and Palaui Island, the province has more to offer for the intrepid traveler. Extending from the borders of Ilocos Norte, Apayao, Kalinga, and Isabela, the Province of Cagayan promises of unparalleled beach destinations, unique culture, and scrumptious cuisine that would definitely kindle the wanderlust in you.

 

1. REFLECT AT THE CALLAO CAVE IN PENABLANCA

Explore seven out of the nine massive chambers of Callao Cave in the town of Peñablanca. Getting there requires a quick and serene cruise aboard a long wooden boat, wending your way up 184 steps, to be exact, to the mouth of the first chamber. It is the most famous of the seven since this is where a chapel is set up, complete with pews and a natural retablo formed by stalagmites and stalactites.

The cave chambers rise up to a soaring height of 118 feet, some of which have natural skylights that filter in sunrays, dramatically illuminating the rock formations along the walls and floors of the halls.

The best time to go is during the summer, when the cave floor is at its driest, as it gets really slippery during the wet months.

Getting There: From Tuguegarao City, charter a tricycle that would take you to and from the Callao Cave jump off. Rate is at around PHP600.00, good up to four persons.

 

2. HOP AROUND PALAUI ISLAND IN SANTA ANA

Sail aboard an outrigger boat from the port of San Vicente and visit the beaches fringing the island of Palaui in Santa Ana. Palaui has a few beaches tucked along its shoreline, the most famous of which are Anguib Beach, a two-kilometer stretch of white sandy beach lined with agoho and talisay trees, and Mapurao Beach, located closer to the port, with a few resorts catering for those who can’t do tents at the former.

Right after, head over to the Cape Engaño Lighthouse at the western side of the island. Marvel at the rock formations you’d pass along the way before doing the half an hour trek up a hill where the old Spanish farola has been standing since 1892. The view from the climb is riveting, with green rolling hills dotted by herds of carabaos, all framed by dizzying steep hills plunging down the Philippine Sea.

Getting There: The Sta. Ana Motorize Boat Association organizes boat tours around Palaui Island with rates at PHP500.00 to PHP3,500.00 per boat, maximum of eight persons. Contact Number: (0915) 467-0964, (0920) 281-7878.

 

3. SHOP FOR CLAY POTS IN IGUIG

Ready your wallet as you pass the town of Iguig where the main livelihood is molding clay into potteries. Unlike most towns with the same industry, the folks here do it on a massive scale—almost every household are kneading, mashing, and shaping clay into earthen products. Their techniques are unusual, instead of using a traditional potter’s wheel, they pat and mold the loam in shape by hand and wooden tools, making a somewhat imperfect shape that adds to the charm of the final products.

Getting There: Take a Victory Liner Bus from the Tuguegarao terminal bound for Iguig and alight at Barangay Atulu.

 

4. HAVE A SELFIE AT THE END OF THE MAHARLIKA HIGHWAY IN APARRI

Whip out your camera and pose away at the Cagayan Valley Road terminus of the Pan-Philippine Highway, more popularly known as the Maharlika Highway, at Barangay San Antonio in Aparri. The highway, the longest in the Philippines, spans 3,517 kilometer long and runs across the entire country. Its southern terminus starts all the way from Zamboanga City and ends at Laoag City.

While at it, have a stroll along the boulevard and watch local fisher folks throw nets into the sea to catch fresh bounties along the northern edge of the Philippine Sea.

Getting There: Board a Victory Liner Bus from the Tuguegarao terminal bound for Aparri.

 

5. EXPLORE THE VIRGIN BEACHES OF CALAYAN ISLAND

Brave the seven-hour ride across the turbulent waters of the Babuyan Channel and be rewarded with the virgin beaches of Calayan Island. The first one that would greet you would be the Port Beach, it doesn’t look that promising at first glance, but dive below its waters and you’d be surprised by its rich marine life and forest-like underwater foliage. Hop on a boat or hike inland to access Sibang Cove, a kilometer stretch of white sandy beach, bordered by a towering rock face. Nearby is the iconic Nagudungan hills, a sheer cliff that drops hundreds of feet down the sea. Go further and visit the boulder beach leading to Bataraw Falls.

Getting There: Ride a lampitaw boat from Taggat Lagoon in Claveria. Fare is about PHP500.00 per person per way.

 

6. CHASE WATERFALLS AT CALAYAN ISLAND

After having your fill of beaches, don your trekking sandals and head over to Caanawan and Bataraw Falls. For the latter, you’d have to navigate a boulder-filled creek before arriving on a clearing where the cool cascade awaits. For the more daring traveler, charter a boat to Lusok Cave where the sea makes up the cavern floor. Off one side of the cave, right on its mouth, gushes Malangsi Falls, a unique waterfall that drives down straight to the sea.

Getting There: Boat tours can be arranged via the San Jose Inn & Mini Grocery at J. Madella St., Poblacion. You can contact Conie Agudera at 0921-5349231.

 

7. CHURCH HOP IN CAGAYAN PROVINCE

Put on your Sunday’s best and visit the Spanish colonial churches of the province. The Spanish conquestadors set foot in Cagayan in 1581 and has built numerous graceful cathedrals around the valley. From the Basilica Minore de Nuestra Señora de Piat in Piat, the towering red bricked Cathedral of Tuguegarao, the massive San Antonio de Galicia Church in Iguig, the graceful Santo Domingo de Guzman Church in Lal-lo, and the Santa Filomena Church in Alcala—that last one holds the title for being the widest church in the whole of the Philippines. As a bonus, check out the Santa Maria Bell at Camalaniugan Church for the oldest catholic bell in South East Asia.

 

8. FEAST ON PANCIT BATIL PATONG IN TUGUEGARAO CITY

Roam the streets of Tuguegarao and find the best pancit batil patong in town. The noodle dish—a mix of flavorful local miki, crunchy chopped veggies, savory carabeef meat and liver, topped with poached egg and crispy pork carajay, and served with a bowl of egg drop soup—is uniquely Cagayan. You can’t find this dish anywhere else in the Philippines! As sides, locals usually chop their own red onions, mix it with soy sauce and calamansi. It’s all part of the experience!

Getting There: Jomar’s Special Pancit Batil Patung offers one of the best noodles in town. Address is at Luna Street, Centro 6 near the cathedral. Contact Number: (0905) 361-1617. Open Hours: 6:30 am to 8:00 pm.

 

9. TRAVERSE THE BUNTUN BRIDGE IN TUGUEGARAO CITY

Cross the border of Tuguegarao City and the town of Solana on foot across the Buntun Bridge, the second longest bridge in the Philippines and the longest one for river bridges. The 1.3 kilometer steel truss bridge spans the mighty Cagayan River and is a popular spot for viewing the setting sun.

Getting There: Hail any tricycle from Tuguegarao City and ask to be dropped before the bridge. Fare is about PHP10.00 per person per way.

 

10. SPLASH AROUND CLAVERIA

Put on your sunscreen and prepare to explore the waterscapes of Claveria. The town has a few waterfalls up its sleeves—the twin cascades of Macatel Falls, Mabnang Falls, and Portabaga Falls. The latter is located right inside a resort and is quite easy to access—absolutely no trekking needed.

The coastal waters are pretty wild in this area, but still, you can enjoy the sceneries it offers. During the mornings, watch as groups of fishermen haul massive nets at the Claveria Beach along Belado Avenue, and during the afternoons, check out Taggat Lagoon and climb the jagged rock formations along its shoreline.

Getting There: Hail a tricycle and charter a full day tricycle tour four around PHP400.00 pesos for the whole vehicle.

 






Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Monday, December 3, 2018

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