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.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Giant Lantern Festival 2010: Mangan Tamu! The Ultimate Pampanga Food and Heritage Tour (Christmas Edition)

It's Christmas once again and it's time for another Giant Lantern Festival. Join Ultimate Philippines Tours as we journey to the central heartland and immerse ourselves in things Kapampangan on December 18, 2010!

From buro to Baroque, it will be a fun-filled day as we poke around and get intimate with the very best of Pampanga's cultural offerings. Gawk at the jewel-box of a church in Betis while wading through the lahar-buried town of Bacolor.

We'll stuff ourselves silly with a pre-Christmas Kapampangan noche buena fare by one of the country's best known Kapampangan chefs! And to it cap it off, get a front row view of the most dazzling display of Kapmpangan artistry the Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern Festival) of San Fernando! It's a tour with nothing but Kapampangan cool!

9:00 a.m. ETD Metro Manila
10:30 a.m. Bacolor Church - We stop by this historic town which was almost wiped out by volcanic mud flows. We visit the half-buried San Guilliermo Church
11:30 a.m. Betis Church - Admire the beautiful interior of the province's most treasured Barouqe structure, the 17th century Santiago Apostol Church, a National Cultural Treasure.
1:00 p.m. Bale Dutung in Angeles City - Indulge in a Kapampangan feast as we learn cooking secrets with chef, artist and writer, Claude Tayag.
4:00 p.m. Depart for Giant Lantern Festival
5:00 p.m. Pasalubong Shopping
6:00 p.m. Robinsons Starmills Pampanga - You are free to check out and shop for bargains at Pampanga's biggest outlet mall while waiting for the festival to start.
7:00 p.m. Giant Lantern Festival - Be dazzled by the giant Christmas lanterns of San Fernando as they dance in an interplay of music and lighting artistry!
9:00 p.m. ETD San Fernando
10:30 p.m. ETA Metro Manila

The tour fee is Php4,500 per person inclusive of all meals and transportation. For bookings and inquiries, e-mail us at or call (0917) 3291622. For more details, check out the Ultimate Pampanga Christmas Edition event page on Facebook.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kalinga: Chico Dam & Chico River

Kalinga is most popular for whitewater rafting. I'll do that one of these days. But unfortunately, for this trip, I could only go sightseeing. From Tuguegarao, I drove to Tabuk which was about an hour and thirty minutes away.

On the way to the Kalinga Provincial Capitol, there is a souvenir store that sells traditional Kalinga cloth and other cultural items. Nothing much to see in in downtown Tabuk. But if you drive further down the road, you'll see the Chico Dam and a nice view of the Chico River.

Kalinga also has some rice terraces including the Tinglayan, Lubo and Mangali Rice Terraces which I hope to visit in the future. It also played a role in our nation's history since President Emilio Aguinaldo passed by the province en route to Palanan, Isabela. I just not sure if the areas that served as his headquarters are well-maintained and worth visiting particularly Aguinaldo Hill.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Apayao: Ruins of old Pudtol Church

Apayao does not have that many attractions. But I was told its has old church ruins. And one of them is in the Pudtol Church in the town of Pudtol, which you can access via the northern part of Cagayan. So from Ilocos Norte, I drove to Cagayan, then to Apayao.

Pudtol is about 20 kilometers from the junction of the National Highway. It was just a quick visit. So after taking photos, I drove back to Cagayan en route to Kalinga.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Abra: Tayum Church, Bangued Cathedral & the Gabriela Silang Monument

Abra was the first province on my recent 1800-kilometer around North Philippines. I left Manila the previous evening and arrived in Abra just in time for sunrise. The roads were in relatively good condition and the views of the mountains, rice fields and the Abra River were picturesque.

Welcoming the visitor is a tunnel that was cut through a mountain. Above the tunnel entrance is the seal of Abra. Right beside the tunnel is a monument of Gabriela Silang. But I decided to stop on the way back since it was still a bit dark.

My first stop for the day was the Tayum Church, a National Cutlural Treasure. Tayum is about 10 minutes away from Bangued. Mass was still ongoing when I arrived.

According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Tayum Church or Church of Santa Catalina de Alejandria was built in the 19th century by the secular clergy among the Christianized Tinguians. Notice also the convento which is actually across the church.

From Tayum, I motored back to Bangued to visit the Bangued Cathedral. On the way, I was pleased to see some ancestral houses still standing. Many of these houses are made of brick, both first and second floors.

The Bangued Cathedral is also relatively preserved. Right beside it is its old convento which is now a school. But there is another church worth visiting and this is the Bangued Cemetery Chapel. Unfortunately, it was locked. So I wasn't able to see the interior.

On the way back down to Ilocos Sur, I stopped by the Gabriela Silang Monument in San Quintin. As we all know, Gabriela Silang was an insurgent leader who led the Ilocano freedom movement after the assassination of her husband Diego Silang on May 28, 1763. She was captured and executed by the Spanish on September 29, 1763.
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