Cagayan Province lies on the northeastern most part of Luzon mainland 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 Lallo, which became the seat of Cuidad 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 of 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 spelunkers’, trekkers’ and gamefishers’ 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 from Manila while local airline companies also provide short flights to Maconacon and Palanan in Isabela as well as in Basco, Batanes. Various bus companies from Manila and the Ilocos Region have lines to Cagayan Valley Region, while public utility jeepneys, buses, tricycles and calesas (horse-drawn carriage) 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. Its cave entrance is accessible by climbing the 184-cemented steps. After caving, try cruising the Pinacanauan River. It is conducive for kayaking, boating and swimming while the mountains on its sides are perfect for trekking and mountaineering. The daily phenomenon of the circadian flight of insect-eating bats from a bat cave occur at dusk enthralling visitors.
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 and with assistance from the Sierra Madre Outdoor Club (SMOC).
03. ODESSA- TUMBALI Cave System is acknowledged to be a true cave system, having multiple entrances and widespread plan shape. It could be the LONGEST CAVE in the country at 12.6kms. A relatively shallow-through river cave, it is excellent for wet sport caving. The cave is recommended for professionals and with assistance from the Sierra Madre Outdoor Club (SMOC).
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. The cave is a low-impact cave and needs the assistance of guides from SMOC and Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region 2 (DENR-R2).
05. The SAN CARLOS CAVE 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. The cave is recommended for professionals and with assistance from the Sierra Madre Outdoor Club (SMOC).
06. STA. ANA is 158 kilometers from Tuguegarao City. Sta. Ana caters to the participants of the Philippine Game Fishing Competition which is being staged yearly along Susay Rock and other parts of the Babuyan Channel. Also in Sta. Ana is the Cagayan Special Economic Zone Authority and Free Port (CEZAFP). Also in Sta. Ana is the PALAUI ISLAND which is home to the Cape Engano Lighthouse which dates back to the Spanish Regime and is the only existing lighthouse in the northeastern coast. It has been declared a National Cultural Treasure. Palaui Island has white sand and pebble beach, rich marine resources and almost raw, uncontaminated environs. It has been declared under coastal environment protection. The giant news network CNN has listed Palaui Island on No. 10 (the only Southeast Asian beach in the top 10) of its list of the best 100 beaches in the world.
07. WIDE EXPANSE OF BLACK FINE SAND BEACHES sprawling along the coastal towns of Sanchez Mira, Sta. Praxedes, Abulug, Ballesteros, Aparri, Buguey, Gonzaga, and Pamplona and the white sand beaches of Fuga and the Babuyan Group of Islands.
08. CLAVERIA beach offers a long stretch of black fine sand beach plus the Taggat Lagoon with rustic beauty featuring fishing boats. Stories of the Legend of the Lakay-Lakay, Baket-Baket and Ubing-ubing are interesting. Within the area is the Hatchery for High Value Species of Marine Products operated by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) which is open to the public for viewing and educational trips.
09. BASILICA MINORE OF OUR LADY OF PIAT (The Lady of the Visitation) is located 35 kilometers from Tuguegarao City. It was 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 Lallo. The image is famous in the country and abroad as the Black Mary making Piat the Pilgrimage Center in the Cagayan Valley Region.
10. 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.
11. SANTA MARIA BELL in San Jacinto de Polonia Church in Camalaniugan 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 33 rd International Eucharistic Congress. Camalaniugan town is 93.6 kilometers from TuguegaraoCity and about 20 kilometers from Aparri.
12. CAGAYAN RIVER is the Philippines’ mightiest watercourse – the longest at about 400 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.
13. MAGAPIT HANGING BRIDGE in Lallo town is 72 kilometers from Tuguegarao City. It is the first of its kind in Asia and serves as the gateway to the Ilocos Region through the Cagayan-Ilocos Norte inter- provincial highway. Lallo town is also home to the St. Dominic Spanish Colonial Church, the former seat of “Ciudad Nueva Segovia”. Ciudad Nueva Segovia is featured in the annals of Philippine History as one of the four oldest cities in the country.
14. 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. All roads lead to Iguig town during the Holy Week for their devotion. 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.
15. CARSUMCO or the Cagayan Robina Sugar Milling Corporation is located at Sto. Domingo, Piat which is 20 kilometers from Tuguegarao. Around it are thousands of hectares of sugarcane plantations.
16. FR. GERRY Z. FILIPPETTO, OFP MEMORIAL MUSEUM in Sta. Ana, Cagayan was established to honor the founder of the Franciscan Apostolic Sisters based in Sta. Ana, Cagayan. Religious articles, personal belongings as well as the history of the Franciscan Apostolic Sisters are displayed for viewing. Pope John Paul II has granted special privileges to the congregation of the Franciscan Apostolic Sisters for their apostolic and social work in the country and abroad.
17. 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 as well as accommodation facilities for nature-lovers. Sta.Praxedes is 194 kilometers from Tuguegarao City and is about 100 meters from the highway.
18. APARRI DELTA is an impressive expanse of land that is Aparriwhere one can see the Cagayan River meet with the Babuyan Channel. Walk into the jetty to find the estuary of Cagayan River. The jetty was once one of the oldest ports of call during the Spanish Galleon Trade in the country. Drop by and shop for marine products at the Aparri market.
19. CALAYAN ISLAND is a destination for nature and adventure lovers; its waters – the Babuyan Channel and Balintang Channel is home to dolphins and whales. Still in its rare untouched form, the island is best visited during summer for adventure and nature tripping, an island get-away with similar offerings like Batanes. The island is accessible by boat from Aparriusing the Eagle Ferry, contact 0939-921-6181.
20. ST. RAYMUND DE PEÑAFORT in the town of Rizal is a Natural 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 shows the early technology of that time while its retablo is a composite of parts from its earlier baroque altar pieces. Malaueg Church, now Rizal Church possesses the most character and its ruins the most enigmatic in the Province of Cagayan.
21. 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.
22. CAGAYAN MUSEUM AND HISTORICAL RESEARCH CENTER located at the Provincial Capitol Compound, is the first museum established in the country. It features several archaeological and religious artifacts vital to Philippine History. It also houses the exact replica of the oldest human remains found at Callao Cave Ecotourism Zone which makes Cagayan as the Cradle of the Filipino Civilization.