Saturday, May 24, 2014

Finding What is Hot in Cagayan Valley

Cagayan Valley River as viewed from Calvary Hills
I entered Callao Caves five years ago. I was amazed of the wonders of nature. I was somewhat afraid of enchanted places especially the boating we did in order to see millions of bats coming out from top of the cave. I am again back in Cagayan - to explore more and know more about it.

Cagayan Provincial Capitol
In my short stay in Tugegarao amid the sizzling hot temperature, I cannot simply leave without sneaking to nearby tourist sites. Although, my stay was never enough; I am glad that I can go back again to explore for more.

Cagayan, caving capital of the Philippines
Cagayan Valley is known for the Cagayan Valley River. It is the largest river basin the the Philippines. The river is so visible from the plane, it is very long and stretches from one province to another.

First provincial museum in the Philippines
The province of Cagayan is known as the caving capital of the Philippines. Visitors and locals who drop by the Provincial Capitol is greeted by two mini-caves in front of the tourism office. The tourism office also houses the first provincial museum in the Philippines, Cagayan Museum. Established in August 15, 1973; the museum houses an extensive collection of fossils, artifacts and ethnographic items. Tourists can visit the museum for free or may have group schedules on weekends upon request. Phone: (078) 846-7337. 

What is so significant about the caves and the museum is that Cagayan is the location of the excavation for the Philippines' oldest human bones. Until now, the bones are still in the possession of the archaeologist, as I learned from my recent visit. Hopefully I can see them one day in a government museum.

St. Peter Cathedral
Scientific, historical and religious - that's my description of Cagayan. Whenever I visit a Philippine city, I always look for the old churches. Provinces may not all have caves like that in Cagayan but surely they have old churches. 

The Tugegarao Cathedral forms part of the rich Spanish history of the country. It is the longest church in Cagayan Valley measuring 1,850 sqm in length. Dominican priests arrived in Cagayan Valley in 1600s and started their mission in Tugegarao on May 9, 1604. The church was built from 1761 to 1767 as the largest church in Cagayan. The diocese was founded by Pope Pio X in April 10, 1910. The church got destroyed during the Liberation Period in 1945 but the parishioners helped to rebuild the church. Nowadays, the church, which is St. Peter Cathedral, is under renovation. It is not yet to late to share for its restoration.

Calvary Hills in Iguig
In the nearby town of Iguig is the famed Calvary Hills. It is a site for Lenten season religious activities. With an area of 11 hectares, it makes home to the more-than-life-statues of the Stations of the Cross depicting the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. A signage says about the Jubilee Cross Chapel: "enshrined, authenticated true relic of the cross of Christ." In the hill is the Iguig Church. With the town of Iguig founded on December 28, 1607; the church and the convent were built from 1765 to 1787. Calvary Hills remain as a real landmark in Iguig, Cagayan.

Next time, I will be glad to be back to explore the north more - visit more of its churches and ruins, see more caves and hopefully, the islands. What made my mobility easier is the price of tricycle rental. Special trips range from 20 pesos to 60 pesos within Tugegarao City. Drivers reply with "you're welcome" and are more tourist-friendly than those I have encountered in one city in southern Philippines. It was just fine as I enjoyed the fun of enduring literal heat in the north.

With references from the Provincial Tourism Office of Cagayan and National Historical Institute

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