Showing posts with label Penablanca. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Penablanca. Show all posts

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 Peñablanca 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, August 18, 2009

Cagayan: Callao Cave, Pinacanauan River and Iguig Calvary Hills

Cagayan is known for its many caves, Callao Cave being the most popular. Many of the caves can be found in the town of Penablanca, which is just a short drive from Tuguegarao City. From the entrance of the Callao Eco-Tourism Zone, it's just a few dozen steps up to Callao Cave

Callao is most known for the natural cathedral in one of its chambers that was converted into a chapel by the locals. The cave actually has seven chambers which you can explore, several with natural openings on top from which the sunlight illuminates the chambers.

Another attraction of the area is the Pinacanauan River which is perfect for a boat trip. There are boats for hire below Callao Cave. There's an area a few minutes by boat from Callao where you can have a picnic. Which is what we did.

And we came prepared with meats and fish to grill. Just make sure, if you do plan to barbeque in the area, to clean up after and not leave any trash. After relaxing a bit and taking a cat nap, we went back to the jump-off point. And just in the nick of time since the moment we got in our vehicle, it started to rain really hard.

An attraction during sundown is the gargantuan flight of bats which leaves the various caves in the area. I was told that the place used to have a several eagles which would feast on the bats as they flew out. That was a regular sight before. But for some reason, when a military camp was constructed and located in the area, the eagles suddenly disappeared. I hope they didn't have a tinola feast!

Anyway, before going back to Tuguegarao, the group decided to visit one of the Marian images which was housed in the Iguig Chuch as part of the Marian Voyage of Peace. Of course, the major attration of the town is the Iguig Calvary Hills, life-size tableaus from the Stations of the Cross scattered behind the centuires-old church building. Notice the flying buttressess behind the church, a good example of earthquake Baroque architecture.

After resting a bit, I decided to try out the local Pancit Batil-Patung for merienda. For dinner, we were served Pancit Cabagan.

Part 1: Marian Voyage of Peace in Tuguegarao, Cagayan
Part 3: Basilica of Our Lady of Piat in Piat, Cagayan

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Speaking engagement in Tuguegarao City

I'm in Tuguegarao City to speak at the 2nd Regional Youth Leadership Congress in St. Paul University. I took an Air Philippines flight which was two hours delayed! When I got here, we rushed to the Callao Caves to watch the bats fly out but since it was raining, they didn't. Maybe next time.

The congress was today. I slept early last night and also slept the entire morning since I wasn't feeling well. For the sights in Cagayan, just check out my older Cagayan entries. For this trip, I just visited the Ermita of San Jacinto which is in front of the campus.

Now I'm just waiting for my bus ride back to Manila. I could have opted for a plane but there is no flight which would allow me to make it to my flight to Cotabato tomorrow. This Tuguegarao to Cotabato journey would be my personal record for the farthest distance traveled in the Philippines in a 24-hour period.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Isabela & Cagayan: Nature at its finest in Cagayan Valley

Finally, I've reached the last two provinces of northeastern Luzon Island! Yes, we visited Cagayan and Isabela today. Just like the Ilocos trip in July last year, I joined the Arch 17 class of Prof. Jojo Mata for the semestral study tour organized by the UP College of Architecture HTC Lab.

We left UP at 10 p.m yesterday and arrived in Cauayan, Isabela at 6 a.m. just in time for breakfast at the Jambalaya Grill. After a hearty breakfast, we went to the Magat Dam in Ramon. Although I was surprised to see a sign along the road a few meters from the dam that we were in Alfonso Lista, Ifugao.

It was a massive structure which reminded me of the Marcosian-era of the Philippines, the last time when the Philippine government thought big. If there was one thing I would hand to Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda, they left their legacies in architectural monuments such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines and massive infrastructure projects such as the Magat Dam. No other president after them left monumental legacies not including of course Ramos' white elephant known as Expo Filipino.

From the Magat Dam, we went straight to our hotel in Tuguegarao City in Cagayan to freshen up, get some rest and have lunch. After lunch, we went to the Tuguegarao Cathedral, a heritage horror which Jojo calls a "good example of a bad example!"

Imagine, they demolished the old brick convento right beside the church and replaced it with this horrible commercial structure and multi-purpose hall which is still under construction at this moment. Now you see why we can't entrust heritage decisions to some bishops because they themselves are at times the culprits.

That also happened in Lingayen, Pangasinan just recently. Instead of demolishing these centuries-old conventos and replacing them with horrible new buildings, the bishops could have contacted the NCCA or a conservation architect to consult them on how to do adaptive reuse of the conventos, meaning tranforming the interior of the conventos in order for them to serve the purpose intended for new buildings. In that manner, heritage is preserved and the bishops get the income they want.

Yes, the bottomline was income for the bishops since commercial stalls replaced the old conventos when the said stalls could have been integrated properly with the old conventos had they consulted. Notice also the water tank on top of the demolished part of the convento. You can really see how some priests and bishops treat our national heritage.

Tuguegarao is actually an urban planning disaster having transformed itself into another nondescript Philippine city without character. Not much of its heritage is left since Church and State seemed to have formed a perfect tandem in eradicating its rich past. Add to the fact that the roads are literally congested with tricycles. Yes people! After Cabanatuan, Tuguegarao follows with the most number of tricycle franchises issued. Driving in the city streets is a nightmare since the drivers treat the roads as if they were theirs.

We then visited a horno, an oven for baking bricks, in some forgotten corner of the city. I guess the city government has no plans of caring for the site since it's already hidden in a rundown residential area right beside a basketball court which is obviously more important to the people than this relic of the past.

But these depressing episodes would soon be forgotten as we crossed into the next town Peñablanca to visit the Peñablanca Protected Landscapes and Seascapes, in particular, the famous Callao Caves. The image of the caves is so popular owing to the little chapel inside a large cavern which receives sunlight from a natural opening above. Finally, I get to visit the famous caves. But the signature ray of sunlight wasn't there since it enters the cave only at a particular time of the day.

Getting up to the caves can be exhausting thanks to the 183 steps you have to climb to get to the top! But you will be rewarded with surreal rock formations that are very easy to explore.

After the caves, we went down to the banks of the Pinacanauan River for a boat trip that offered us spectacular views of limestone cliffs covered with lush forests. Indeed, this was a reminder that the Philippines had a lot to offer and if we let all of this go by neglecting our natural heritage, it's the next generation of Filipinos that would suffer.

I really hope illegal logging in this part of the country, particularly Cagayan and Isabela, is stopped. But we all know why it still goes on. If politicians in the area can't curb illegal logging, it's either they are weak and don't have the political will, or more plausible is that they are earning from it as well!

We went back to Tuguegarao to get our long-needed rest and for dinner of course. The next day's itinerary was mostly church heritage. I'm quite excited since I rarely visit the Cagayan Valley owing to its distance from Manila. Last time I visited was in 2002 during a conference in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. As part of the conference we visited the church in Dupax del Sur which is a national cultural treasure.

It looks like I'm close to completing the provinces of Luzon Island soon. With my visits to Isabela and Cagayan today, that leaves seven namely Quirino, Kalinga, Apayao, Abra, Aurora, Camarines Norte, and Sorsogon; plus of course six island provinces of Luzon which are Batanes, Occidental Mindoro, Romblon, Marinduque, Masbate and Catanduanes which I hope to visit in the near future. Hehe!
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