Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Ambitious Cagayan Valley Roadtrip (Isabela Stop)

It's approximately 589.6 km from Manila to Cagayan Valley and less than 9 hours travel time which is really a long journey but it didn't stop us from going! I have lots of plans in my mind which persuaded me to go on with this trip. We don't have any itinerary nor bookings on any hotels, we just got in the car and drove! I have viewed many photos of Cagayan North and it seems like it is a wonderful place to take photographs. It is a spine breaking journey but just think about the green fields, lush forests, red churches, rolling hills, valleys and plateus!

We spent the first day travelling, we only stop to eat or take pictures and decided not to go directly to Tuguegarao and instead spend the night in Isabela. I haven't seen much of this province but I've heard of it when I was still young and it sounds interesting. Isabela province by the way, is a part of Cagayan Valley Region with its capital Ilagan City and is the second largest province next to Palawan (no wonder travelling here took too much). It was initially called Isabela de Luzon to differentiate from other places in the Philippines bearing the name of Isabela. The new province was named in honor of Queen Isabella II of Spain.

You are already in Isabela when you see this mountain bearing its name! It is pretty obvious that they are rich in mountains.

As we went around we passed by a big reclining chair displayed in a park in Ilagan City and we found out that it's called "butaka" and the world's biggest according to the Guinness Book of World Records at 11 feet high and weighing 2,368 kilos! Wow! 

Isabela province is also famous for old churches, unfortunately I only saw two of them but it is awe-inspiring to be close to them and touch the old bricks and wondered about how resourceful people were way back then.

Who would miss taking a photograph of this beautiful brick church in Tumauini? All the while I thought Tumauini is in Bicol but I was misinformed.  Notice the cylindrical leaning tower, and its wedding cake like design of the church, being up close to it made me feel like I am a winner! The Saint Mathias Parish was completed in 1783 and the bell tower is the only one of its kind in the country...for sure.

 Another church in Isabela in the old town of San Pablo is the San Pablo church which was completed in 1624 and has the tallest bell tower in the province. The facade and the other half of this church were the remaining structures left after the Japanese bombings during WWII. The other half was restored and mass is still heard. The smell of the ruins blends well with the scent of the grassy front yard which is being maintained by cattle that mows the lawn willfully!

Another must-see in Isabela is the Magat Hydro Electric Power Plant. Why? Because I always hear about  Magat Dam on TV especially during the typhoon season and I must see how useful this structure is. I also found out that there are also picnic areas in this place where families can spend the weekend or holidays together without spending much because the park is for free. 

Well it's getting late and we have to find a place to stay for the night, my eyes are tired but how can sleep with the view of the prairies?

I find Isabela an interesting place to visit, they don't have too much beaches but they are very rich in forestland and history and I vouch on that the province of Isabela is the richest in Cagayan Valley. It is also the Top 10 Richest Province in the Philippines last 2011, being the only province of Northern Luzon to be included in the list. How about that?

We stayed at Grace Hills in Santiago City, they have rooms good for 2 persons at 600 pesos. The room is clean as well as with the bed sheets and air-conditioned. 

Grace Hills is located at 241 Camacan Street, Centro East, Santiago City
Mobile No. 09057021464

Thank you for reading.