Wednesday, April 22, 2015

ISABELA: Queen Province of the Philippines

After spending the night at Tuguegarao City, I made a trip to the adjacent province, Isabela. At the riverside van terminal, I waited for an hour before we go.

My first stop is the old town of San Pablo. Formerly known as San Pablo de Cabagan or Cabagan Viejo (Old Cabagan), it was once an important town of evangelization in Northern Isabela, until the transfer to the new site. Famous landmarks of the town are the ruins of the tallest church in Cagayan valley, and the Casa Real

Based on stories, the town was abandoned forcefully as evidenced by broken stones in the churchyard. However, some townsfolk chose to live in the ruined town up to this day.

Cabagan Nuevo or simply Cabagan is just few kilometers from the old town. The progressive town is known for delectable pancit, and their spacious park is home to one of the largest carousels in the Philippines.

Next town is Tumauini with a busy marketplace along the highway. The hidden gem is tucked in plaza, a few walk from the highway. There, you can see the white lofty belltower that looks like a cake. Indeed, it complements with the most artistic brick church ever made.

Down south is the capital city of Isabela, Ilagan City. At Bonifacio Park where the road going to Centro (city center) forks, visitors and passers-by will be greeted by the world’s largest butaka or Ibanag armchair. Riding a jeepney to this park will bring you to Centro, where the former cathedral of the Diocese of Ilagan and the city hall are located.

Since Ilagan city is the provincial capital of Isabela, my trip won’t be complete without visiting the capitol. As I alighted at the highway, I noticed a lady statue standing high above the sculpture of mythical creatures and people. Taking a closer look, I found out that she was the representation of Queen Isabela of Spain, the namesake of the province. At the tiles surrounding the statues, there etched the history of the province, and the stories of Ibanag, Gaddang and other indigenous tribes pertaining to mythical creatures and local legends. I was amazed by the capitol complex, the largest I’ve visited so far. There, you can see a lake and a huge amphitheater facing the capitol building.

The town of Gamu was out of the way, meaning I had to take a jeepney at a mall In Ilagan, then taking a jeepney bound to Roxas. There, our jeepney crossed the Cagayan river and I walked my way to the heritage church. The town hall is just across the Gamu church.

Hopping again on a van at highway led me to Cauayan City named after bamboo. From the highway, I walked toward the city center where the city hall and the heritage church are located.

There are times where vans are not available, so I resorted into riding an ordinary bus jampacked! That is, I sat on the floor beside the bus driver, just to get to my destination.

Alicia or Angadanan Viejo is where you can visit the pilgrimage church of Our Lady of Atocha, known to bring miracles. The town hall is at a nearby public market, a few walks from the highway junction.

My last stop is the independent Santiago City. At Mabini circle, I rode on a traysi going to the city hall. The entrance was guarded but I managed to take some pics outside the perimeter. Then I rode again on a tricycle going to the city church, I heard a mass and finally took a dinner at Robinsons Place Santiago.

What I didn’t mind was the bus going back to Manila! Though I managed to ride a tricyle going to Victory Liner Terminal in Santiago City, I forgot to buy a ticket in advance. I didn’t lose hope and as a chance passenger, I waited for two hours in line to have a seat. I got a seat but at the aisle sitting on a kiddie chair. 

Imagine the feeling of sitting between the sleeping passengers on their seats. I felt envious and this was the consequence for not booking in advance. I let it pass thru sleeping. What was important was that I came back to Manila the next morning safe and sound. What an unforgettable solo trip experience! J

More details of my Isabela trip here:

Visita Iglesia in Isabela

ISABELA: Food trip and pasalubong

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