Lanao del Norte is a a short ferry ride from Ozamiz City. From the Ozamiz Port, it's a 20-minute ferry ride to Mukas Port in Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte. The ferries across Panguil Bay cut land travel by several hours.
I was met by a colleague, Lanao del Norte Board Member Alexander Ali, who took me for a ride around the province. Our first stop was the Lanao del Norte Provincial Capitol in Tubod where a small museum on the province, its culture and attractions was set-up.
From there, we rushed to Iligan City to catch the Maria Cristina Falls. The flow of water is usually at 30 percent on ordinary days. But at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, the Maria Cristina Power Plant opens the water gates for five minutes to allow the falls to go on full-blast for the tourists. Unfortunately for us, Lake Lanao was experiencing a water shortage. So the scheduled full-blast did not push through that day.
They opened the NPC Nature Park just two weeks before my visit. So I got to try their brand-new zip-line. Unlike the usual single or double drop zip-lines, the one in Maria Cristina had four segments. You had to climb up a hill to get to the jump-off point. The first two segments were above land over a canopy of trees. While the last two segments were over the river.
The NPC Nature Park charges Php30 for entrance and Php200 for the zip-line. Other attractions in the park include an orchidarium and crocodile farm. If you plan to fly by air to visit Iligan, the Cagayan de Oro Airport would be closer.
After Maria Cristina Falls, we had lunch at Gloria's Ihaw-Ihaw for some lechon manok. The name is no surprise since it's located right in front of the Macapagal-Macaraeg Heritage House.
I walked over to the Macapagal-Macaraeg Heritage House after lunch to take some photos. In the yard is a sculpture depicting the young Gloria Macapagal on a swing, with her father President Diosdado Macapagal.
From Iligan, we drove through Baloi which is quite popular for its dodol, a toffee-like candy made with coconut milk, panocha (unrefined sugar or jaggery) and rice flour. Baloi is a relatively peaceful town (it's home to the Philippine Science High School in Northern Mindanao) and the local government plans to construct a Maranao heritage village soon to showcase the Maranao culture.