Coming from a 12-hr overnight travel from Manila, the bus halted to its final stop at their terminal near Tanza Junction. It was mid morning when I traversed the length of the Diversion Road towards the junction where it intersects Balzain Highway. The tourism slogan “WOW Tuguegarao” greeted me as I crossed the highway for a fast food brekky. I smiled and got a little excited, thinking of what the city could show me. It’s my first time to step foot in the province of Cagayan and I could not wait to explore its capital city.
I do not have a proper itinerary for this visit to the regional and institutional center of the Cagayan Valley Region. I decided to just explore Tuguegarao on foot and try to appreciate everything it has to offer for tourists and travelers.
I get off from a bus at the corner near the public market of Bayombong and went straight to a tricycle that was heading to the town plaza. The midday sun was intense. The 10-peso ride took me to this old church.
Even up to this day, the province of Quirino is not on the list of must-visit places by the weekend warriors and the local tourists. Quirino is not found on the same path leading to terminal points of Tuguegarao or of Sta. Ana in Cagayan. Progress has yet to be felt in this laid-back province consisting of 6 municipalities and a population of less than 200,000.
Most often, people would ask what’s there to see and visit in Quirino. It is not as popular as its neighboring provinces like Isabela and Cagayan or even Nueva Vizcaya to its south. It is relatively young, having formed as a sub-province in 1966 from the forested portion of Nueva Vizcaya and eventually became a province 6 years after.
In the island of Luzon, a province was named after a Spanish royalty, Isabella II. This province is part of the Cagayan Valley Region (Region II) and is the biggest province in the island, 2nd biggest province after Palawan. As to why they chose the queen’s name as the name of their province, it may not be too clear. Isabela was formed in 1856 when the queen was only 25 years old.
Queen Isabella II
Unlike Queen Isabella’s reign, the history of the province is not a bit troubled at all. Some towns from Cagayan and Nueva Vizcaya were taken to form the province of Isabela. During the revolt against Spain, Isabela did not have a significant part except on the time when Emilio Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans in the town of Palanan.
If the sites in North Batan are amazingly beautiful, South Batan is equally breath-taking. The island is both a natural and cultural jewel.
South Batan Tour includes visits to old Ivatan stone houses, a couple of old Spanish churches, viewing decks for natural sights, a vast green pasture and undulating hills, a shelter port and an honesty coffee shop.
According to a travel book, travelling to Sabtang from Basco increases the feeling that you’ve left the Philippines. And according to what we had experienced, and no matter how hard it was to reach the island, Sabtang is really worth the visit.
The Sabtang Island Tour is a one whole afternoon of travel and tell. It is a visit to a jewel of equal, if not more, importance as Batan Island because of its relatively intact Ivatan culture, extremely amazing sceneries, well-preserved heritage sites. Sabtang Island is a charming destination.
The call time was 6am. We made sure to have our breakfast taken early. The van left Basco and took us to the town of Ivana, at its port where a falowa was waiting for us. The weather was fine, but the waters gave hint that the trip may not be that smooth and calm. Our tour guide mentioned that the waves from the previous days were very rough that the falowas were not allowed to leave port for Sabtang. We were lucky that we picked a Thursday for the Sabtang Island Tour.
Our tour of the northern section of Batan Island started with a lunch at a nearby restaurant. The tour van brought us to Octagon Bed and Dine Lodge which is just a few meters from where we’re staying (Marfel’s Lodge – Annex). The restaurant is an eight-sided hall adorned with wood carvings, some depicting the Ivatan way of life. The restaurant has a viewing deck which offers a great view of the Basco Jetty, the lighthouse at Naidi Hills, and the town proper. It also offers a perfect view of the the Batanes sunset.
Octagon Restaurant serve popular Filipino dishes. It is open to serve breakfast and dinner as well.
This northernmost group of islands of The Philippines. Batanes is a traveller’s dream destination. It is a beautiful place, eager for tourists’ attention. The 3 big islands are inhabited and can be visited for the most part of the year unless there is a weather disturbance or less calm seas that would prompt the coast guard to disallow falowa trips.
Plan this trip months and months before your travel dates. Batanes is roughly 661km north of Manila or 162km north of Luzon. Batanes is often visited by typhoon since it is located on a typhoon belt. Although it has a tropical rainforest climate, the province receives plenty of rain throughout the year. The month of August is the wettest while April is the driest month. The coldest months are from December to February while the hottest months are from April to October.
BATANES. It is high up there, the farthest from the equator among the islands that form the Philippine archipelago. Batanes is the country’s northernmost island group and is one of the many destinations that most of us dream of visiting at least once in our lifetime. The Batanes island group may be considered remote and less accessible compared to other places in the country but its natural beauty more than compensates its distance from the capital.
Travellers can visit the three big islands of Batanes: Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat. Of the three, Itbayat is the largest but is less visited. The provincial capital, Basco is on Batan Island where most of the hotels and travel lodges are located. Travel tour operators and guides are mostly based in Basco. There are commercial flights to Basco from Manila and Tuguegarao (Cagayan).