Enough of child´s play and touristy stuff, and let´s brave the great outdoors of Echague, Isabela.
After roughly about, 8 hours on the road we reached Echague, Isabela at around 5:30 am. We mainly stayed at a hostel, also houses the Tourism Office of the town, in an old NIA compound next to its Municipal Hall. The town was founded in 1752 and named after Rafael de Echague y Bermingham, the Spanish Governor General that time. Thus before that, it was called, Camarag, which was a name of a tree that was abundant in the place.
Echague is also the home of the Yogad tribe, got to meet them during the Tilamsikan Festival. However, didn’t really get to know much about one of the smallest minority ethnic group in the country during the said event.
And like the town’s name, Yogad got their name from the Spaniards. According to folklore, Yogads were migrants from south of Philippines and ended up settling in the region. Then during the Spanish occupation, they could not be outwitted. So these Spaniards decided to give them entitlement asalta sociedadwhich coined their ethnic group name as YOGAD.
Echague offers the great outdoors as their main attraction. Well, up coming attractions. And these could potentially be ecotourist sites. We were able to visit Madadamian Falls, their coveted 18 waterfalls.
Going there meant, boarding at the back of an elf truck. Considering roads to the barangay Madadamian were mostly rough. Then we reached the starting point, the Barangay Captain’s house, where he even prepared breakfast for us.
I really had no idea on what’s waiting for us in Madadamian. We were about to brave the great outdoors, literally. That meant, coursing through hectares and hectares of corn, banana, pineapples fields. Steep and muddy hills. And lots of river crossings. Which I wasn’t prepared for because I wasn’t wearing the right foot gear, was only wearing a sneaker type footwear. Also, I am not a legit hiker. I hike but, not that often I´m a guilty acrophobic.
So, this natural attraction may not be for sightseeing type tourists and would greatly appeal to the outdoor enthusiast. The terrain is definitely not suitable for beginners
Locals are claiming there are 18 waterfalls throughout the terrain, but some of these would be classified as cascades and not waterfalls.
One of the two main waterfalls is Mada Falls. Eighteen meter waterfall with a small pool of water at the bottom. However, we were not able to go to Damian Falls. Base on folklore, Mada and Damian were the only inhabitants in the area then called Villa Dim, fell in love with each other and stayed there. Thus, named the barangay, Madadamian.
After traversing the waterfalls, we went to what they call centro, an overlooking spot. Wherein you can see the town and fields. Then en route to the Captain´s house. Madadamian circuit was roughly 7 kilometers and took us about 3-4 hrs.
All in all, Madadamian is undisturbed greenery with potential as an outdoor attraction. Still untouched, we even had a snake scare, not just one but two. Still, nature lovers couldn´t just go there and hike as they need proper coordination with the local community.
My Take away
I love to visit the outskirts, as they are not too crowded with tourists. However, it also has its cons. And in Echague, its pretty evident. There´s a lot to work on, infrastructure wise, logistics wise and safety wise.
Accommodation and lodging would be challenging due to lack of infrastructures around town. Though as per Mr. Louie Simbe, Municipal Tourism Officer, there are homestays available. Residents have also undergone training for tour guiding and homestay operations.
Altogether, Echague’s coping up to accommodate potential tourists. And I’ve said before that I´d love to see more of their own culture, perhaps showcase Yogad culture. They do now, in fact, Yogad legend earned the town several awards at the recent festival.
For more info and guidance:
MUNICIPAL CULTURAL and TOURISM OFFICE
NIA BUilding, Municipal Ground
Provincial Road, San Fabian, Echague, Isabela
Contact number: (078)305-5159
Note: My visit was part of a press trip sponsored by the Department of Tourism of the Municipality of Echague, Isabela. No money involved. This post may contain affiliate link/s, meaning, I might earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them. Thank you for supporting (and for fueling) this site.