Inside Callao Cave

Situated in Peñablanca, Cagayan, Callao Cave is one of the province’s most  favorite tourist destination. It is now named as the Callao Eco Tourism Zone, where you pay a minimal fee for a guided tour inside the cave. Yes, our tour guide speaks English fluently and gives highly informative pieces about the cave. You can also enjoy a boat ride along the beautiful Pinacanauan River.

To see the beautiful rock formation of the cave, you need to climb approximately 200 steps to reach it. Don’t worry, there is a hiking trail complete with hand rails. And I promise you, the climb is all worth it, with the scenic view of the Pinacanauan River and the cool breeze at the mouth of the cave.

Yes, that’s our tour guide, a highly informative adventure indeed. 🙂

Below are the places where the remains of Callao man was found. The remains were said to antedate the Tabon cave man of Palawan. A marker was placed where the remains were found.

There is also a chapel inside the cave, and masses were often held inside. Please bear with our pictures and my editing for this one. A better picture can be taken from a better/high-powered DLSR 😉 This chapel is one of the province’s main tourist attraction and often appear on tourism flyers for the region.

Here are the beautiful rock formation inside the cave and the beautiful sunlight passing through.

Sadly, some rocks were “victimized” by some inconsiderate creatures. But farther down the cave, you will be rewarded by sights like these:

It’s a fun and educational hiking trip indeed. Look at me and my friends 🙂

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Visiting Piat

The town of Piat is Cagayan’s most popular pilgrimage site. It is the home of the Basilica Minore of Piat, the home of the iconic and miraculous Our Lady of Piat. The black  skinned image was brought by the Dominican priests from Macau. The image of the Blessed Mother is credited for many miracles ranging from saving Piat and its neighboring towns from famine and severe drought in the 17th century. Aside from this, devotees also attest to  being healed from sickness after praying to the Our Lady of Piat and there is the  miraculous intercession of the image saving the male population held hostage by Japanese army during World War II among many others.  For almost four centuries, the image of Our Lady of Piat continues to inspire its devotees through prayers and other spiritual activities, making it one of the most venerated image of the Blessed Mother in the Philippines.

The church was first built in 1623 and the current church was built in 1988. This brick façade church with its perpendicular buttresses and semi circular arched main entrance with its squared bell tower is also listed as one of the country’s most notable churches.

What is unique about this church is that you have to walk to the back of the church complex to enter the church. In front, you will be welcomed by an entrance arch.

The picture of the Our Lady of Piat is taken from piatbasilica.org. For one reason or the other, I cannot take a good picture of the altar during our visit. The image was placed at the center of the altar.

Along the vicinity of the church you can find small carinderias which offer delicious local cuisines like Igado, Dininding and Dinacdacan

I also fell in love with the town’s Pawa, a sweet delicacy of Piat. Too bad, I am busy eating it and I forgot to take a picture. Here’s a photo from Ivan Heneres’ blog. Pawa was highlighted by me in the pink square.

The Calvary Hill of Iguig

Approximately 16 km away from Tuguegarao City, the Calvary Hill of Iguig is a favorite pilgrimage site especially during Holy Week. It is set amidst a rolling hill overlooking the mighty Cagayan River. Life size replica of the fourteen station of the cross can be found on the 11 hectare terrain. The complex is also the home of the 18th century Church of Iguig (St. James Parish). The church and convent  were built between 1765-1787 by Dominican priest Father San Pedro. It is also listed as one of the country’s most notable churches, owe to it its concentric bricks and “unusual flying buttresses”

On Renovation 

This is what I am telling you about church renovations. I know, the parishioners and the parish priest mean well when they would like to renovate old historical structures like this church. Hopefully, the Catholic Church will take it upon them to consult Architects and Historians when they renovate the Church, after all, these churches serves as a testament to the country’s history.

Of flying buttresses

This brick stairways at the back of the Church. It used to be a path leading to the Cagayan River, which was a primary mode of transportation back in the days.  The flying buttresses can be seen from this side of the church. Below is the view of Cagayan River from the Hill.

Calvary Hill

The life-size Stations of the Cross are made of concrete and are approximately 30 meters apart. I am sad to inform you that during our visit, some of the statues are vandalized (presumably by the high school kids from the nearby school) and be careful of cow dung along the way.

St. Claire Monastery, Iguig

Karen brought us in the St. Clare Monastery right after the airport, it being a 10 minute drive from Tuguegarao City. The complex is a center for mediation and spiritual retreat. It is also a popular pilgrimage site in the province.

Trip to Tuguegarao

Almost a year ago my friends and I promptly plan for a trip in Tuguegarao when my good friend Brenda saw an airfare discount sale. Brenda immediately booked the flight and I, without further ado made my usual round of poking around all over the internet to find places to visit for our two days stay. Thanks to ever helpful guidebook, I checked it out for some ideas on where to start and thankfully, we were able to see the places I have listed (except for the San Jacinto Church and St. Paul University, both in Tuguegarao, we were not able to take pictures of the these places, but we were able to see it en route to the downtown proper).

I beg your indulgence with my photographs as they were taken from my Jurassic mobile phone with 2mp at that. All pictures were taken (and enhanced) by me, except for some which were taken from Brenda or Beth’s phone. Join me and my friends as we travel Tuguegarao City and the nearby towns of Iguig, Callao and Piat.

We were welcome by this wonderful sign at the Tuguegarao Airport.

I was pleasantly surprised when I was informed by the ever helpful Department of Tourism staff in the airport that the relatively small airport caters to Chinese tourists coming from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau via direct flights who visit the city and Batanes up north. Yes, there are chartered planes going to Batanes.

Our flight is a mere 45 minutes trip from Manila. By land you can take Victory Liner and travel time is approximately 8-10 hours. And from the airport, you can hail a cab or ride a cool tricycle like this one.

There are several bed and breakfast type accommodation in the area and our group was fortunate enough to be housed in the Dep Ed Regional Teacher’s House in Tuguegarao. We’re supposed to stay in the COA house (Thanks to Kuya Radi), but the place was booked, so we transferred to the nearby Teacher’s House. Our friend Karen (born and raised in Tuguegarao) served as our tour guide. Yes, the benefits of having good friends from all over the Philippines.

As always, I am fascinated by old churches and here it goes:

St. Peter Cathedral

St. Peter Cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao, it was built during the mid 18th century by Dominican priest Father Antonio Lobato and was destroyed during World War II.  The red brick Cathedral stood at the center of the town near commercial establishments. With its beautiful facade, it is considered as the City and the Region’s must see place. It was even sited as one of the Philippines’ notable churches.

Like other old churches, it needs renovation and I hope with all my heart that most of its original facade can be retained. This is simply because, the charm and the history of these old buildings lies with its old elegance.

San Jacinto Church

Also known as the Ermita de San Jacinto de Cauili, this beautiful church was built under the direction of Dominican priest Father dela Magdalena in ht late 16th century. It was rebuilt during the 18th and 19th century. It was the headquarters of the rebels during the revolution.

Cagayan Museum

Our group also visited the Cagayan Museum. It is located inside the complex of the Provincial Capitol. It holds a good collection of artifacts, antiques, ethnographic works of the people of Cagayan.

People’s Bakery and Grocery

This establishment will actually bake cakes and goodies for you for a fee. But their specialty is baked nuts. Just buy fresh nuts from the market and bring it here and they will oven roast/bake it for you. You can actually taste the freshness and sweetness of the nuts, having been baked with water and salt.

Pancit Batil Patung

A trip to Tuguegarao should be completed by this wonderful delight, their very own Pancit Batil Patung.

This delightful treat is such a comfort food, with its delicious noodles and meat cuts from pork and carabeef and it secret seasoning. Cabbage, carrots, string beans and onion were tossed, topped with poached egg (patung)  and sprinkled with egg and chicharon bits. It is served with soup with a saucer of chopped onions, soy sauce, spiced vinegar and calamansi. We ate this delicious pancit at ECL Panciteria.

Pasalubong

This chicharon is made from carabao skin and surprisingly, it is not fatty and salty. Another good pasalubong are pastillas and other pastries made from carabao milk. Their longganisa is also worth a space in your pasalubong bag. Tuguegarao’s longganisa is less “garlicky” in taste compared with the Vigan type.

Walking with Friends

Sometimes, you just have to walk with your friends with faith in your heart.

I took this picture with five of  my friends in St. Paul’s Cathedral in Tuguegarao when we go on a semi-spiritual journey last February 23-25, 2011. It formed a special bond between us and it was an adventure like no other. More Tuguegarao pictures this week (yes, I am crossing my fingers to post the places we’ve visited on our short stay up north.) Please bear with my pictures because they were taken using my camera phone. (Yeah, I was not able to bring the digital camera, long story. *wink*)