Showing posts with label Cagayan Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cagayan Valley. Show all posts

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nueva Vizcaya: Citrus fruit overload! Perante, satsuma, poncan & pomelo

On the way back to Manila, I was glad to pass by Nueva Vizcaya because I would be able to buy my favorite local citrus fruits, particularly the perante. Nueva Vizcaya is know as the Citrus Capital of the Philippines. And somewhere in Bayombong, between the town propers of Bayombong and Bambang, are stalls that sell really sweet Nueva Vizcaya citrus fruits which includes perante, satsuma, vizcaya poncan and pomelo among other.s

Prices per kilo vary depending on variety, size and ripeness. I got a kilo of perante and satsuma for Php50 each and several kilos of vizcaya poncans at Php30 a kilo. The red chandler pomelos and sanwelocs are a bit more expensive but juicy nonetheless. Have you tried out citrus fruits from Nueva Vizcaya?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Quirino: Spelunking at the Aglipay Caves

Among the provinces of Cagayan Valley, Quirino must score the least when it comes to awareness among tourists and travelers. One main reason is it's bypassed by Maharlika Highway. But it has a lot of potential for ecotourism with its many caves, waterfalls and whitewater rapids. Add to the fact that roads to and around the province are in relatively good condition.

During my road trip, I got to enter the Aglipay Caves. Before proceeding to the caves, I stopped by the Quirino Capitol in Cabarroguis to ask for some information from the tourism office. I just wanted to make sure that road condition to Aglipay Caves was good. And it sure was good because they've paved the roads from the National Highway all the way to the cave entrances.

The Aglipay Caves are a few minutes past the town proper of Aglipay. There is a sign on the right that will point you towards the caves. At the park entrance, you'll have to pay Php20 per head as entrance fee. That also includes the guided tour inside. But it's up to you if you want to give the guides a tip. I suggest you do.

Unfortunately, they don't lend you any safety equipment such as helmets or head lamps. Although the guide has a lamp, you might want to bring your own. Note also that you'll be crawling through some narrow passage ways. So prepare to get wet and muddied.

There are eight caves with different difficulty levels. The usual tour passes through four of these caves, namely Caves 1, 8, 2 and 3. Cave 1 is quite straightforward. You exit through the back and walk about 15 minutes to get to the entrance of Cave 8.

Cave 8, 2 and 3 are connected to each other. But the entrance to Cave 2 from Cave 8 is so narrow, you'll have to crawl in to get to the other side. The Aglipay Caves don't have as much live formations as the caves in Cagayan. But it's still worth a visit. Going through the four caves takes about an hour.

Visiting the other caves will entail a steep climb from the entrances and exits. So it's reserved for those who are physically fit and have the composure to navigate the caves.

On the way back to Isabela, you'll pass by Nagbukel Cave. It's difficult to miss since it's a large limestone hill in the middle of a rice field. Unfortunately, I had to rush back to Manila for my early morning flight to Masbate. So I'll reserve entering that cave for another visit.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Isabela: Visita iglesia to Isabela's heritage churches (Tumauini, San Pablo, Gamu, Cauayan & Alicia)

Isabela has its own share of Spanish colonial churches. Before the province was created in 1856, the northern part from Tumauini was part of Cagayan, while the south was part of Nueva Vizcaya. And I personally noticed that the churches south of Tumauini have designs similar to those of Nueva Vizcaya.

Unfortunately, the interiors of most of these churches have been renovated and modernized. So only the facades are worth the visit. But at least the five churches still have their facades intact, reminding us of southern Cagayan Valley church architecture, since it looks like priests in Isabela were not really after preservation of the province's old churches, Ilagan included (only the belfry of the church remains).

In the northern part of Isabela, only the San Pablo Church ruins and Tumauini Church, a National Cultural Treasure and National Historical Landmark, are left. The Tumauini Church or San Matias Church is most known for its round wedding cake belfry. It's arguably the most exquisite example of brick architecture in the Philippines.

The San Pablo Church, constructed in 1709, is the only one of the extant Isabela churches that is not made of bricks. It has a very massive belfry reminiscent of those in Ilocos Norte (Paoay and Laoag). San Pablo used to be Cabagan Viejo, with Cabagan Nuevo retaining the name Cabagan. So the church is sometime referred to as the San Pablo de Cabagan Church.

I was supposed to pass by San Pablo and Tumauini during my road trip. But a flooded bridge forced me to take the Roxas route. Unfortunately, Isabela was still recovering from the typhoon several weeks back. So I proceeded directly to Gamu. It was my first time to visit the churches of southern Isabela. And the Gamu Church was my first stop. The Gamu Church or Sta. Rosa de Lima Church was completed in 1734.

Although not a heritage church, the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Visitation in Brgy. Guibang, Gamu is a popular pilgrimage site because of the image of Our Lady of Guibang. It's actually along the National Highway. So if you have time to stopover, you might as well do.

I spent the night in Cauayan City. But I made sure first to pass by the Cauayan Church or Nuestra Senora del Pilar Church before it got really dark. The facade of the Cauayan Church, built in 1825, is still intact. But the rest of the church, including the belfry, had been destroyed by war and earthquake and replaced by modern structures.

The next morning, I visited the Alicia Church or the Nuestra Senora de Atocha Church. Just like San Pablo, this used to be old town center of Angadanan or Angadanan Viejo. But with the change of name, it was Angadanan Nuevo which retained the name Angadanan. The present church was built in 1849.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Batanes: Old stone houses of Itbud and Centro in Uyugan, Batanes

Uyugan is said to be the town with the most number of intact stone houses in Batan Island, particularly in Itbud and Centro (Kayvaluganan and Kayuganan). Most tours just drive through Uyugan and Itbud. It's actually the first time I got to walk around the town proper and Itbud.

The quaint Uyugan Church is relatively intact, but it's quite small compared to the churches of the neighboring towns.

They were changing the cogon on the roof of one of the stone houses while we were there. There are two roof types in Batanes stone houses. The maytuab type of cogon roof has four sides. While the sinadumparan style has only two sides.

We moved on to Itbud which is another barangay of Uyugan. On the way to Itbud, we passed by the ruins of Songsong, a barangay that was devastated by a tsunami in the 1953. Although most of the village is in ruins, many of the residents are starting to come back. The house where they shot the movie Batanes is actually in Songsong.

Itbud is the most intact barangay in Batan Island. Except for the church which the priest demolished just a few years back to build a bigger church (they replaced it with a horrible hollow-block structure), the barangay still has a lot of old stone houses. Unfortunately, the houses will not be picture perfect until the May elections are over since there are campaign posters everywhere.

But we did enjoy strolling around the village. At least some of the houses didn't have posters or tarpaulins. Our last stop was Imnajbu, the last barangay of Uyugan. Beside the barangay chapel is a wooden cross which marks the site of the first Catholic Mass in Batanes. There are also some noteworthy stone houses. Which is why no doubt, Uyugan is the last bastion of Batanes architecture on Batan Island.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Batanes: SEAIR flight to Basco, Batanes

I'm back in Batanes! We took the second SEAIR flight this morning. They have daily flights plus twice daily flights for certain days of the week. Skies here are overcast, not as sunny as I expected. But the result is very pleasant weather, a welcome relief from the heat of Manila!

We'll be going around Batan Island this afternoon. Anyway, for inquiries and reservations on SEAIR flights, call (02) 8490100 or book online at Join SEAIR Facebook Fan Page for updates on promos.

But if you still want to join our next Ultimate Batanes tour (the next April tour is already fully-booked), we have one last run from May 28 to 31, 2010. Just send an e-mail to Slots are running out so book now!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Batanes: Batanes food adventure!

Batanes food is quite unique, it would be a shame if you did not try out the local cuisine. At every Ultimate Philippines tour to Batanes, we make sure everyone gets immersed in the local flavors of Batanes.

For starters, there's (1) humet or seaweed soup, (2) supas or turmeric rice, (3) chipuhu or breadfruit, (4) tamiduk or Ivatan salad which includes steamed pako or fiddlehead fern, eggplant, string beans, chopped tomatoes, and minced onions, (5) pinasu wakay or roasted kamote, (6) vunes or dried gabi, (7) wakay or boiled yam and (8) amay or mashed kamote and taro.

Then for the main course, there's (9) payi or lobster, (10) arayu, dorado or mahi-mahi, (11) tatus or coconut crab, (12) lataven a among or kinilaw na isda, (13) lunies or Ivatan adobo made with liempo, and (14) uvud balls made with pork, flying fish and banana trunk.

For dessert, there's (15) bukayo, (16) ducay salad, (17) glorified gabi and (18) rawut or millet.

As part of the tour, we arrange buffet lunches and picnics by the beach, and cocktails and sunset dinners at picturesque attractions Batanes.

Of course we have some Filipino comfort food too. But rest assured, you'll be getting an authentic Ivatan food experience on every Ultimate Philippine food tour. Our first tour to Batanes for the year ended today. We're all flying back to Manila tomorrow. There are five more tours for this year. So book now!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cagayan: Visita iglesia in Cagayan

Aside from spelunking and other adventure activities, Cagayan also has several centuries-old churches. On our first day, we had breakfast right beside the Tuguegarao Cathedral.

After breakfast, we proceeded to the Basilica Minore de Piat which is about an hour away from Tuguegarao. It's a popular pilgrimage destination with the miraculous image of Our Lady of Piat enshrined in the church. For more on the basilica, read Basilica of Our Lady of Piat in Piat, Cagayan.

The next day, we made the long trip from Tuguegarao to Laoag. Along the way, we stopped over at the churches of Iguig, Alcala, Lal-lo, Camalaniugan and Pamplona.

Iguig Church, while the facade has already been renovated, is relatively intact inside. But more importantly, right beside the church is the Iguig Calvary Hills which has life-size tableau of the Stations of the Cross.

Alcala Church, dedicated to Saint Philomene, is the widest church in the Cagayan Valley. The town is also known for its carabao milk candies.

Lal-lo was once known as the Ciudad de Nueva Segovia before it was transferred to Vigan. Thus, the Lal-lo Church was the once the cathedral and seat of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia.

Camalaniugan Church has the oldest Catholic bell in the Far East which was created in 1595. Sadly, the old church was burned some yeas back and I find it sad that the priest chose to flatten the ruins and build a totally new church. Talk about appreciation for heritage! Behind the church, right by the river, are ruins of an even older church.

Close to Ilocos Norte, was the last church stop, the Pamplona Church.

The old Malaueg Church in Rizal, Cagayan is a National Cultural Treasure. But it's really hard to get to. I personally have not seen it myself. But I hope to visit it when I can.

There are also some interesting church ruins in the towns of Gattaran, Sanchez Mira and the island of Fuga.

Thanks to Bikoy for the photos!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cagayan: Sierra Cave spelunking and kayaking in the Pinacanauan River

Cagayan is positioning itself as the Caving Capital of the Philippines. And it has great spelunking options for beginners and serious cave enthusiasts.

The most popular of course are the caves in the PeƱablanca Protected Landscapes and Seascapes, particularly Callao Cave. But a better-preserved and less-visited cave also within the Callao Ecotourism Zone is nearby Sierra Cave. It's a 20-meter steep climb to get to the entrance. But navigating inside is manageable.

The crystal and limestone formations inside are still continuously forming. Which is why they take extra care in protecting the cave by limiting people inside. In fact, they only take in a maximum of twelve people at a time.

It's cool near the entrance. But as you get deeper inside the cave, it gets really warm. I really enjoyed the spectacular formations and observing the animal life inside the cave. It's a surprise how they survive in such harsh conditions since we experienced it even just for a few seconds. We turned off all our lights and kept quiet for a few seconds just to find out the feeling of silence in total darkness.

Anyway, since we had cameras, we decided to exit through the entrance. There's a popular exit but this entails crawling in the mud.

After lunch on the opposite side of the banks, we took a boat further upstream for kayaking activities. Sadly, no thanks to our weird weather, it started to drizzle. And when in drizzles or rains in the Pinacanauan River area, it means the bats won't come out.

So we decided to proceed back to our bus rather than wait in vain for the circadian flight of bats. Another unfortunate incident was I lost all my Sierra Cave photos when my memory card crashed. So thanks to Bikoy for these photos!

Adventures and Expeditions Philippines, Inc.
Anton Carag
(078) 8441298 / (0917) 5327480

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

North Philippines: Best pizza restaurants north of Metro Manila

Pizza is one of my personal favorites. Those who know me should know this fact very well. So I'm compiling a list of my favorite pizza places outside Metro Manila beginning with North Philippines.

Clark Freeport & Angeles City

C' Italian Dining (1210 Don Juico Avenue, Angeles City; +63 45 8924059) is known for the panizza. C' Italian Dining had already been serving these sumptuous pizzas rolled with arugula and alfalfa long before Yellow Cab came out with Dear Darla. And there's no way you can compare the taste! The C' panizza is the best!

The best sellers are Don Carmelo: spicy chorizo, anchovies, thyme and pecorino cheese; Kristina: bacon, ham, caramelized onion, sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms; and Saint Jacques: scallop flakes, shrimp, sun dried tomatoes and chili flakes.

Historic Camalig Restaurant (292 Sto. Rosario Street, Angeles City; +63 45 3225641 or 8881077) is the home of Armando's Pizza. My personal favorite is Doy's Kapampangan: longganisa, ebun buru (salted duck egg), onion & pickle relish. Their newest offering is Marco's 3-Way: sun-dried tomatoes & kesong puti plus a choice of either tuyo, tinapa or chicken adobo. Then there's Mexican Medley: shredded chicken breast (sauteed in hot pepper & pizza sauce), fresh tomato & spring onion. Another personal favorite is the classic Armando's Best: same toppings as All The Way, but with extra peperoni, double ground beef, double green pepper, double mushroom & extra Canadian bacon.

Didi's Pizza (MacArthur Highway, Balibago, Angeles City; + 63 45 8921184) serves a very Filipino-flavored pizza if you know what I mean. My personal favorite is the Combination: mushroom, salami, pepperoni, green pepper and onions.

Salvatore's Ristorante (300 Fields Avenue, Balibago, Angeles City; +63 45 8920484) serves good Italian pizza as well. Their best seller is Italian De Luxe: salami, pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushroom, green bell pepper, onion, black olives. While the toppings of Italian De Luxe are mixed together, another flavor called Combination has Vegetarian on one side, and Meat Lovers on the other half.

Sub-Delicious (298 Fields Avenue, Balibago, Angeles City; +63 45 8921999 or 8926667) serves pizzas as large as 28-inches. Flavors include Super Meaty: pepperoni, sausage and hamburger; and Pizza Italiano: pepperoni, ham, and salami.

Subic Bay Freeport & Olongapo City

Xtremely Expresso (1 Dewey Avenue cor. Sta. Rita Street, Subic Bay Freeport; +63 047 2523681) serves the 22-inch Big Ben: pepperoni, sausage, bacon, beef, garlic, onion, peppers, mushrooms, black olives and two kinds of cheese. Other pizzas include Spanish Sardines, Chicken Pesto, Chicken & Peanut, Corned Beef, and Spicy Salmon.

Sam's Pizza (44 Magsaysay Avenue, Olongapo City; +63 47 2223686) is an Olongapo institution. Their best-seller is Sam's Special: pepperoni, Philippine sausage, mushrooms, green pepper, onion, bacon, Italian sausage and cheese. I remember having Chicken Teriyaki before but they no longer have it.

La Union

Olives Restaurant (Thunderbird Resort, Poro Point, La Union; +63 72 8887777) serves delicious wood-fired pizzas. Their best seller is Four Cheese: goat, parmesan, feta and mozzarella cheese. My personal favorite is Quattro Stagioni: kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, parma ham, fresh mushrooms. Also try the Spicy Sausage, Roasted Peppers, Mozarrella & Oregano Pizza or the Smoked Salmon & Mushroom Pizza: smoked salmon, fresh mushrooms, tomato sprinkled with oregano and cheese.

Ilocos Norte

Herencia Cafe (MacArthur Street, Bgy. 14, Sangladan, Paoay; +63 77 6140214) serves the famous Pinakbet Pizza: sitaw (string beans), ampalaya (bitter gourd), okra, talong (egg plant), patani (lima beans), kamatis (tomaotes), sili (chili), and labanos (radish). They also serve Bagnet Pizza: bagnet, onions, and basil; and Dinuguan Pizza: dinuguan, crispy pork, and chili.

Saramsam Restaurant (N. Corpuz Building, Rizal cor. Hizon Streets, Barangay 7-A, Laoag City; +63 77 7715825) also serves Ilocano-inspired pizzas. Their specialty is Poque-Poque Pizza which is topped with poque-poque, an Ilocano eggplant dish: eggplant, tomatoes, onions ang egg. They also have the Dinardaraan Pizza: dinuguan topped with green chili peppers; Longaniza Pizza topped with the local Laoag longaniza; and the Carbonara Pizza topped with Currimao oysters.


Casa Napoli (Abad Street, Brgy. Kaychanarianan, Basco; +63 927 7583370) serves pizzas with mozzarella cheese all the way in Batanes. Nothing really fancy about the pizzas but being in Basco, it's a novelty.

I'm sure there are more such as those in Baguio City, so please list them down by commenting below. I'll try to visit them when I can and add to this list.
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