Just when I thought June would be a boring month, I got a random invite from someone I met at an event back in March, for an eight-hour road trip, so I joined in.
Eight hours bound to North-East of Luzon island lies the largest province in Luzon, second in the whole country, and the corn capital, the province of Isabela. Isabela is definitely not on top of my must-visit list hence I wanted to explore this province. So, what to do in Isabela? Let’s find out!
Visit Ruins, A Pilgrimage
One interesting activity, if not often, is church visitation, as this reflects the rich history of one's place during colonial and post colonial eras. And the province of Isabela has a lot of amusing churches like this one, The San Pablo de Cabagan Church Ruins. It's a church within a church. More on the blog soon.
San Pablo de CabAgan Church, San Pablo, Isabela
This church was built-in 1624, made of adobe with Roroco style architecture and has the tallest bell tower in the Cagayan region which has six layers. However, it got damaged both from man-made, during the World War II bombings and natural, strong earthquakes. Kept the faith, locals built another wall and entrance door behind the facade. Love the fact they kept the original facade as it is captivating.
San Pablo ruins even captured the interest of an American reporter, Dan Rivers of CNN and was featured in the Backstory.
San Matias Parish Church or Tumauini Church, Tumauini, Isabela
Tumauini Church is definitely an eye catcher with its cylindrical belfry tower, the only of its kind in the country. Withstood the bombings during the World War II and natural disasters, needed some repairs, thus gave it’s belfry a white wash.
Tumauini Church was declared a National Historical Landmark on 24th of February 1989.
St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Echague, Isabela
Although nowadays, you won’t see any trace of the old church, yet the original church bells from the 1800s are still intact and displayed outside the church. These bells and the Yogads, the ingenious tribe in Echague, have some rich folklore behind them.
We probably have a gazillion versions of pancit or stir fried noodles, all over the country and Pancit Cabagan is Isabela´s bet.
Josie’s Panciteria and Restaurant has been serving Isabela’s best Pancit Cabagan for 37 years and counting. And what makes this pancit one of its kind? Let´s start off with fresh hand-made miki noodles and thinner compared to Pancit Batil Patung of Tuguegarao City.
Perfect pit stop, whether for snack or lunch or dinner.
Explore the great outdoors, Man-made and Natural
Magat Dam is a multi-purpose dam, hydro-electric power plant, flood control and irrigation system. Though it´s main purpose is to supply water for around 85,000 hectares of agricultural lands in Region 2.
It is also one of the largest dams in the country and located at the boundaries of Alfonso Lista, Ifugao and Ramon, Isabela. Locals go here to jog, run, bike and or just enjoy the view.
There are cottages, but this area is prohibited. According to the security guard, the administration decided to ban tourists to use these cottages, due to uncleanliness.
Being the second largest province, Isabela has more interesting spots to check out. These were the only ones we were able to visit during our stay. Yet as if setting foot in Isabela wasn´t that challenging, I would definitely go back to visit the other natural attractions like Dibulo Falls in Dinapigue, or the coastlines of Maconacon, Divilacan and Palanan. Or more foodie trips, and munch more on corns, being the corn capital of the country.
Going back to Isabela would mean, roughly 8 to 10 hours of bus ride from either Cubao, Quezon City or Sampaloc, Manila to any town of, Santiago, Cordon, Roxas and Ilagan, Isabela. Or fly to Cauayan, Isabela via Cebu Pacific, as they fly once a day, daily. (If I´m not mistaken.) Now, going in between towns means taking passenger jeepneys or commuter vans which would take hours given the province´s massive land area.
I guess, See you again Isabela?