A Smiling Land of Beauty
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Cagayan Province lies on the northeastmost part of Luzon occupying the lower basin of the Cagayan River. It is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the west by the Cordilleras, on the south by the province of Isabela and on the north by the Babuyan Channel. It is well traversed by many rivers, with Abulug and Cagayan Rivers as the largest. The province comprises an aggregate land area of 9,003 square kilometers, which constitutes three percent of the total land area of the country and is the second largest province in the region.
The Spanish Friars notably the Dominicans, brought Western culture to Cagayan. According to Fr. Francisco Rojano, the great chronicler of the province, Cagayan got its name from the Ilocano word “karayan” or river referring to the Rio Grande de Cagayan. The early Spanish settlers also called it “Rio Ibanag”. The river runs from south in Quirino to the north bisecting the whole valley.
In June 29, 1583, Don Juan de Salcedo traced the northern coastline of Luzon and set foot on the Massi, Tular and Aparri areas. The Spanish Friars soon established mission post in Camalaniugan and Lal-lo, which became the seat of Nueva Segovia established on August 14, 1595. The Spanish influence can still be seen in the massive churches and other buildings that the Spaniards built for the spiritual and social welfare of the people.
With the Treaty of Paris signed in 1898, ending the war between Spain and the United States, America took over the Philippines and enriched the culture notably in agriculture and education and also in public works and communications. Commerce and trade flourished with the construction of roads and bridges linking the various towns of the province.
The Japanese forces occupied Cagayan from December 1941 to July 1945, until the Philippines got its independence in 1946.
Cagayan today is the Regional Seat. Tuguegarao City, the capital, is the seat of commerce and trade and center for learning. The province has the largest marine fishing grounds and 73 percent of the region’s potential fishpond area.
Known as the spelunker’s, trekker’s and gamefisher’s paradise rolled in one, Cagayan provides a never-ending adventure. The province is now being promoted as an adventure and eco-tourism destination. Both foreign and local tourists continue to explore its caves, engage in game fishing expeditions, trek its mighty mountains and retreat to its centuries old churches.
Travel to the province is a never-ending adventure. Daily flights are provided by Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines. Various bus companies with lines to Cagayan Valley Region leave Manila everyday while public utility jeepneys, buses, tricycles and calesas are the common mode of transportation for short leisurely trips.
01. The seven-chambered CALLAO Cave boasts of massive limestone formations, skylights and a chapel. It is accessible by climbing the 184-cemented steps provided to reach the cave entrance. After caving, try the Pinacanauan River conducive for kayaking, boating and swimming while the mountains are perfect for trekking and mountaineering. Daily circadian flight of bats from bat cave occur at dusk.
02. The JACKPOT Cave is currently the SECOND DEEPEST cave in the country with a surveyed depth of about 115.0 meters and a surveyed length of 355.0 meters. The cave is recommended for professionals.
03. ODESSA- TUMBALI Cave System is acknowledged to be a true cave system, having multiple entrance and widespread plan shape. It could be the LONGEST CAVE in the country at 12.6kms. A relatively shallow-through river cave, it provides for excellent wet sport caving.
04. SIERRA CAVE has two entrances; one for tourists and another one for acknowledged cavers. The biggest challenge is crawling through a very low and narrow opening called “Celica’s Passage”. Attractions include flowstones, columns and draperies.
05. SAN CARLOS CAVES is probably the toughest cave the Philippines could offer, When inside the cave, spelunkers will learn the art of cave crawling. A chamber called “ice Cream Parlor” contains cluster of white stalagmites that resemble scooped ice cream. The “John the Baptist” chamber is a sump that one has to take a deep breath and swim to the other side of the chamber. Sharp and rough stones could scratch skin and tear clothing. San Carlos requires a lot of swimming because more than half the cave is covered by cold running subterranean river.
06. STA. ANA and the PALAUI ISLAND is 158 kilometers from Tuguegarao City. It is the Philippine Sailfish Capital famous worldwide for its abundant marine life. The Cape Engano Lighthouse in Palaui Island dates back to the Spanish Regime and is the only existing lighthouse in the northeastern coast with white sand beach, rich marine resources and uncontaminated environs. It has been declared under coastal environment protection. Also in Sta. Ana is the Cagayan Special Economic Zone Authority and Free Port and the white sand beaches of Angib.
07. WIDE EXPANSE OF BLACK FINE SAND BEACHES sprawling along the coastal towns of Sanchez Mira, Sta. Praxedes, Claveria, Abulug, Ballesteros, Aparri, Buguey, Gonzaga, and Pamplona and the white sand beaches of Fuga and the Babuyan Group of Islands.
08. BASILICA MINORE OF OUR LADY OF PIAT (The Lady of the Visitation) is located 33 kilometers from Tuguegarao City. Originally called the Lady of the Holy Rosary, perhaps because the devotees of the Rosary, the Dominican Friars, supposedly brought it from Macao to the Philippines in 1604. This more than four-centuries old image was first enshrined in Nueva Segovia now called Lal-lo. The image is famous in the country and abroad as the Black Mary making Piat the Pilgrimage center in the Northeast.
09. ST. PHILOMENE CHURCH in Alcala is the widest brick church in the province. Located along the Maharlika Highway, it stands as a mute witness to the several regimes that have enriched the province’s cultural heritage. Alcala town is also famous for its carabao milk candy.
10. SANTA MARIA BELL in San Jacinto de Polonia Church is said to be the oldest bell in the Far East. Forged in 1595, it was brought to Manila in February 1937 as part of the attractions during the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress. Camalaniugan town is 93.6 kilometers from Tuguegarao city.
11. CAGAYAN RIVER is the Philippine’s mightiest watercourse - the longest at 301 kilometers and widest river in the country. Three major tributaries – Ilagan River, Magat River and Chico River meet other streams and flow to the Cagayan River. The famous “lurung” fish abound in the river during the rainy season when the river is murky and the fishes swim upstream from the delta at Aparri to spawn. It empties at the Aparri estuary.
12. MAGAPIT SUSPENSION BRIDGE is 72 kilometers from Tuguegarao City. It is one of the first hanging bridges in Asia linking the first and second districts of Cagayan towards the Ilocos Region via the scenic Patapat Road and the Ilocos Norte-Cagayan inter-provincial highway.
13. ST. JAMES PARISH CHURCH and the IGUIG CALVARY HILLS is 16 kilometers from Tuguegarao City. In the eleven hectare rolling hills are the larger-than –life size concrete 14 Stations of the Cross depicting Jesus Christ’s suffering before His death on Mount Calvary. The place also features a three centuries old well, a Dominican convent ruin and the scenic view of the Cagayan River a setting of which resembles that of the River Jordan.
14. CARSUMCO or the Cagayan Robina Sugar Milling Corporation is located at Sto. Domingo, Piat that is 20 kilometers from Tuguegarao. Around it are thousands of hectares of sugarcane plantations.
15. FR. GERRY Z. FILIPPETTO, OFP MEMORIAL MUSEUM in Sta. Ana, Cagayan was established to honor the founder of the Franciscan Apostolic Sisters found in Sta. Ana, Cagayan. Religious articles and personal belongings are displayed for viewing.
16. PORTABAGA FALLS in Sta. Praxedes is one of the tallest falls in Cagayan. Approximately 15 meters in height, it has manmade pools and picnic huts for excursionists. Sta. Praxedes is194 kilometers from Tuguegarao City and is about 100 meters from the highway.
17. APARRI DELTA is an impressive expanse of land that is Aparri where one can see the Cagayan River meet with the China Sea. Walk into the jetty to find the estuary of Cagayan River.
18. CALAYAN ISLANDS is a destination for nature and adventure lovers; its waters - the Babuyan Channel is home to dolphins and whales. Still in its rare untouched form, the islands are best visited during summer for adventure and nature tripping, an island get-away with similar offerings like Batanes. The islands are accessible by boat from San Vicente Port in Sta. Ana.
19. ST. RAYMUND DE PENAFORT in the town of Rizal is a National Cultural Treasure under the Diocese of Tuguegarao. Built in the 1600's, the church was built in the foothills of the Cordilleras. The rough stonework belies the early technology of that time while its retablo is a composite of parts from earlier baroque altar pieces. Malaueg, is now Rizal Church possess the most character and its ruins the most enigmatic in the Province of Cagayan.
20. ST. CLAIRE MONASTERY in Iguig located about 200 meters from the Maharlika Highway immediately outside Tuguegarao City. It is a contemplative community of Poor Claire sisters from Cabuyao, Laguna established in 1991 and is open to the public.