The northern part of the Philippines has always been a mystery to me. As an islander from the southern part of the country, Luzon in my mind was either a bustling city or a wide open space of mountains or vast fields which generate a huge percent of the country’s agricultural produce.
For many years, I have frequented the metropolis and the concrete jungles of Manila, Makati and Taguig, and it was a breath of fresh air as I was able to finally see for myself the delights, wonders and sights of Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) and Kalinga of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
Philippine Airlines is slowly creating this connection between the regions in order for tourists, travellers, business minded individuals and families to be able to explore more of the country’s wonders. From Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental, we were able to fly direct to Clark International Airport and connect to Cauayan Airport in the province of Isabela.
Travellers can also opt to fly in through Tuguegegaro Airport which is in the capital city of the province of Cagayan. With these options, the Filipino with a heart to explore can satisfy their vagabond spirit.
For 5 days, the Department of Tourism of Region 2 were kind and hospitable enough to give me and representatives from the different regions of the country to a very informative and eye opening tour. With 300 “panciterias “, the city of Tuguegarao was a sumptuous gastronomic experience. And although it is the hottest city in the country, it offers one of the most chilling cave adventures you can possibly have. Callao cave which is located in the municipality of Peñablanca , is a 7 chamber limestone cave which highlights a chapel in its first cave. Below this natural wonder is Pinacanauan river which is best explored on a wooden boat while marvelling the rock formations, bat cave and inviting bath areas.
In a short portion of the trip, we were able to reach Tabuk City in CAR’s, (Cordillera Administrative Region) Kalinga province. The landscape was sublime, with clouds whirling across the mountain tops and the cold atmosphere; I was intrigued to come back someday to explore its majesty.
The Patiking Eco Village is a venue for swimming, a special brewed coffee, bonfire and sightseeing. It is owned by the Inanong Tribe’s Froilan Pullan Albert, who gave us a short tour of his home-stay and a historical lesson on their people’s rich culture. Also nearby the area is a couple which is making waves in the national scene because of their exquisite coffee. Mr. Camilo Degay and his wife for the past 8 years have been creating exceptional coffee which is processed in their own household.
Region 2 is a unique character in its own, Gonzaga’s Matara beach further up north is a secret getaway for the beach hungry individuals. With a white sand beach and promising dive spots, it will be quite fascinating to witness the development of a place with promising potential.
The region boasts and can be best describe according to their tourism products in the sense of farm, faith and for me formidable people. Their resiliency to promote, protect and to preserve their natural and manmade wonders are beyond me. Churches such as the Tuguegarao Cathedral, San Matias Parish Church and Our Lady of Piat are structures that give testament to the dedication of these people.
I would very much like to thank Region 2 Department of Tourism Director Virgilio M. Maguigad and Philippine Airlines Senior Account Executive Mr. Herman Garganera for the chance to have been part of a once in a lifetime experience. Lastly, to the tourism staff of DOT region 2, Ms. Khemille Zerine Alterado of CAR and the Mayors, head of offices and the LGUs of the different areas we went to,Thank you for your hospitality and your kindness. Lastly, I would like to thank Regional Director of Department of Tourism Region 10 May Salvaña Unchuan and Sir Gabriel Ariel Estrada for giving me the chance to be able to explore more of our country. Mabuhay!