Essential Travel Guide
The Cagayan Valley
The Cagayan Valley is at the heart of the northernmost mainland Province on the Island of Luzon. The Province of Cagayan.
The 103km Cagayan Valley Road ( CVR ) from Tuguegarao to Aparri is our route for this trip, and although it has been blessed with many attractions both man-made and natural, the Cagayan Valley is still a relatively undiscovered region.
The CVR follows the eastern bank of the Cagayan River to Aparri and from the Magapit Suspension Bridge near Lal-lo southwards to Tuguegarao is part of the Pan Philippine Highway AH26 (which runs 3517km from Laoag in Ilocos Sur to Zamboanga in Mindanao )
There was a large Spanish population in Cagayan, who introduced Christianity into the region, which is why the province is dotted with many churches. It’s a good place for Pilgrimages and Visita Iglesia especially during Holy Week.
Along our Cagayan Valley route you will find beautiful Century Old Spanish churches, like San Antonio De Galicia Church, Iguig and St.Philomene Church, Alcala.
To satisfy your hunger Cagayan has some delicious local cuisine for your tastebuds to indulge on. Take time to sample local delicacies such as Pancit Batil Patong, Milk Candy, Cagayan Longganisa and Hopia Ibanag.
Tuguegarao the Provincial Capital, is a modern city with its own airport, restaurants, hotels to suit most budgets and shopping areas. The city serves as a good starting point for our trip North through the Cagayan Valley.
So let’s get out on the road, see what Tuguegarao can offer and then head up the CVR ( Cagayan Valley Road) to Aparri where the CVR ends at the Estuary of the Cagayan River at Kilometre Post 584.
St. Peter and St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral
Rizal Street, Tuguegarao
Also known as Tuguegarao Cathedral, this 18C Spanish Church is one of the largest found in the Cagayan Valley. Completed in 1768 It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao.
The Cathedrals red brick façade is decorated with red columns and stained glass windows. The impressive five storey Bell Tower stands just to the right of the main entrance.
Visit the Lighthouse Cooperative Ybanag Food Products
Corner Taft Street Centro 02, 39 Luna Street, Tuguegarao 3500
Open from 08.00 to 17.00
This is the place to start your Pasalubong shopping. Or if you are returning this way then leave it till your return. Add a bag or two of their Chicha-Rabao ( like chicharon but a lot tastier and made from Carabao Skin ) . Try the different flavours such as Garlic and Spicy.
Maybe buy a bag or two for your trip along the CVR.
Cagayan Museum and Historical Research Centre
The museum located in the Provincial Capitol Building Complex and documents the evolution of Cagayan Province from prehistoric times up to the present.
It was established in 1973 and one of its treasured exhibits is a replica of the Callao Metatarsal, discovered in the Callao Caves of Penablanca in 2007. It is the Earliest Human Fossil found in the Asia Pacific Region.
Before we leave Tuguegarao let’s eat the local dish called Pancit Batil Patong.
This is a dish of Miki noodles cooked in a big wok like utensil and layered with minced Carabao meat, bean sprouts, cabbage, carrots and cooked for 25 minutes. It is served sprinkled with crispy chicharon and topped with a fried egg (Patong).
A bowl of carabao bone soup (Batil) is also served, which I was told should be poured into the bottom of the bowl and eaten together with the Pancit and not as a separate soup.
Each customer is also given a bowl of chopped onions to mix with soy sauce, vinegar and chilli to create their own sauce which adds to the pansit’s flavour.
Tuguegarao to Iguig (18km)
How to get to Iguig
Take a Jeepney or van to Iguig from Don Domingo Terminal and alight at Brgy Atulu which is our first stop.
Iguig is roughly 517km north of Manila and the best time to visit is during Lent and summer.
Barangay Atulu, Iguig
The Barangay is known as the bricks and pottery centre of the Cagayan Valley.
Nearly every household is involved in the pottery industry which works under the Municipalities One Town, One Product programme.
Wander around the village paths and see for yourself how much work goes into making a simple clay pot or brick. Everywhere yougo someone is working clay intoone of the 75,000 products made here each month. The potters are also open to creating your own special product for you, whether it be a bird bath, flower pot or some kind of clay sculpture. Ask around.
Along the main road there are numerous stalls selling the products that are made here. You are bound to find something to take home like a Palayok (a clay cooking pot) or a Kalan (charcoal grill).
17C Spanish Well
As you approach the Church along the road on your right hand side you will see a 17th Century Spanish Well, built of limestone and bricks which was the Municipalities source of drinking water.
Spanish Brick Staircase
Once you arrive in the church car park, head over to the left side to see what remains of the Brick Staircase that once led down to the Cagayan River.
Looking at what remains of the brick steps, it’s easy to imagine the bustling scenes at the dock and how goods were loaded and unloaded onto the Spanish Galleons that were able to make it this far upriver.
This is also where visiting dignitaries landed during their travels up and down the Cagayan Valley.
San Antonio de Galicia Church (also known as St. James the Great Church)
The Church was built between 1765 and 1787. The brick and stone structure is supported on its back wall by some rare massive flying buttresses making it distinct from other Spanish period built churches.
A three storey bell tower stands just to the right with four bells dated 1846, Santo Domingo 1880 and two with no date.
Iguig is also an important Pilgrimage place. Many people come here during the Lenten Season and Easter to visit Calvary Hills, which is becoming known as the Mt. Calvary of the Far East.
Created in 1982 and set in 4 hectacres of rolling hills next to the Cagayan River and behind the Church, this religious site features the 14 Stations of the Cross.
Calvary Hills is now considered one of the major pilgrimage destinations in the country and is a popular Visita Iglesia destination during Holy Week.
Iguig to Alcala (26km)
Alcala grew out of a settlement named Fulay ( meaning Red in the Ibanag language, which referred to the colour of the soil) and received its “Town” status in 1789, changing its name to Alcala only in 1843.
During the Philippine Revolution, one of its leaders, Daniel Tirona, took refuge in the church.
Alcala is famous for two things – The widest church in the Philippines and Milk Candy
St. Philomene Church
St. Philomene Church is situated along Maharlika Highway, in the municipality of Alcala, Cagayan. It was built in 1881 by Fr. Casamiro Gonzalez and finished by Fr. Pedro Perez. It is a red brick Spanish era church and is the largest brick church in the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao and the widest church in the Philippines at 24 metres.
St. Philomene Church is the Cagayan Valley’s widest church and because of this can accommodate three aisles and four rows of pews.
The red brick church is set in a beautiful garden with views over the Cagayan River from the Belfry.
The church exterior is rather plain with a little decoration apart from its red brick columns and four niches with statues, and a window. There are two angels on both corners of the church.
A small bell tower is positioned between the church and a nearby school. Its three Bells are dated 1857, 1866 and 1918.
Teano, Alcala Milk Candy
The Teano family business has been in operation since 1930 and makes a kind of white chocolate (candy) from fresh carabao milk. If you are travelling with kids this is a must stopover point.
Contact Details 78 National Highway, Baculud, Alcala, Cagayan 3507 Tel – Cagayan Valley +63 917323 5682 Manila +63 27817 365
Alcala to Lal-lo ( 63km )
Lal-lo is 566km from Manila. Lal-lo is one of the first four cities in the Philippines ( the others being Manila 1571, Cebu 1565, and Naga 1575 )
Lal-lo was known as Nueva Segovia during the Spanish era and was the seat of the Diocese of Segovia until it moved to Vigan in Ilocos Sur in 1758 after which it reverted to its original name of Lal-lo.
In 1839 Lal-lo lost its title of Capital of Cagayan when the seat of power was transferred to Tuguegarao.
Lal-lo is slowly regaining its strategical importance with the opening of an International airport which will have links to other ASEAN countries as well as domestic flights.
Seguro Snack Hauz and Restaurant
A good place to stopover for Merienda and a view of the Magapit Suspension bridge is Seguro Snack Hauz at Gattaran.
There are some good views of the Suspension Bridge here so have your cameras ready.
Seguro Snack Hauz is Open from 06.00 till 20.30
Contact 0926 211 1226
Magapit Suspension Bridge
This Japanese built bridge is the only suspension bridge in Asia. It’s the first major bridge along the Pan Philippine Highway, from Laoag to Zamboanga, where it spans the Cagayan River. The Magapit Bridge is known as “ The Gateway to Ilocos “
St.Domingo de Guzman Parish Church – Lal-lo
The red brick church is very similar to the one in Alcala. It was built in 1581 by the Dominicans and is the only remaining Spanish structure left in Lal-lo.
There used to be three churches in Segovia but when the Diocese of Segovia moved to Vigan, the Cathedral and two other churches, Bagumbayan and Tocolona, were merged into one Parish. The church that remains in Lal-lo today is Bagumbayan Church as the Cathedral and Tocoloano Church were abandoned, fell into disrepair and were neglected.
In 2016 The Philippine Post Office printed 100,000 Commemorative Stamps of St. Dominic Church to celebrate the 435th Anniversary of the founding of the City.
Between the Church Entrance and the Cagayan River there’s and huge wooden cross, which was placed there by Dominican Missionaries more then 300 years ago. To help preserve it, the Cross has been encased in a glass frame.
Rizal Statue – In the Plaza opposite the Lal-lo Municipal Hall the statue of Jose Rizal once stood. All that remains (when I visited in February 2017) was the red brick pedestal. Rizal was toppled by Typhoon Lawin in October 2016.
I hope that they restore him to his rightful place soon.
Pasalubong – Puti’s Chilli Garlic is a very tasty chilli paste locally made. Ask around and hopefully you may find a jar of it.
Lal-lo to Camalaniugan ( 29km )
Camalaniguan was founded in 1596 by Ybanag and Illocano settlers. They built their houses along the banks of the Cagayan River and farmed the land.
Behind the church, about 100 metres away, there is an old Homo (brick kiln) where the bricks were made to construct many of the Spanish churches in the Cagayan Valley.
The Sancta Maria Bell
Camalaniugan’s claim to fame is an old bell. Also known as the Bell of Antiquity, the Sancta Maria Bell is the oldest bell in the Philippines and South East Asia.
Sancta Maria Bell forged in 1595 hangs in the bell tower of San Jacinto church in the town. There are three other bells in the tower – San Jacinto 1792, Nuestra Senora de Nieva Y Santa Barbara 1822 and Santiago Apostol 1879.
Camalaniugan to Aparri ( 12 km )
“A place perched just at the edge of heaven, where the river meets the sea” says the local tourism brochure.
Lyceum of Aparri
San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila Church is found within the Campus of the Lyceum of Aparri. It was completed in 2004 and inaugurated in 2006. There is a unique museum inside the school housing Ecclesiastical artifacts which is well worth a visit.
This kilometre post marks the end of the Cagayan Valley Road.
Pagasa Weather Station
Adjacent to the KM Post is the Pagasa Weather Station. One of three in the Philippines it helps monitor and track incoming typhoons. The other two weather stations are in Catanduanes and Guiuan, Samar.
We’ve reached the end of the Cagayan Valley Road. 584 km from Manila and 105 km from Tuguegarao where we started our Cagayan Valley road trip.
The Aparri Delta, is where after its 400km journey through the Cagayan Valley the Cagayan River crashes into the South China Sea.
We’ve followed its journey through the province from Tuguegarao to the sea. All that remains now is to Walk out along the sea wall to watch the fusion of fresh and salt waters and marvel at the wonders of nature.
How to Get to the Cagayan Valley
By Bus – Victory Liner takes 12 hours to Tuguegarao from its Kamias terminal on East Avenue, Kamias, Quezon City.
More information and bookings check Victoryliner.com
By Air – PAL and Cebu Pacific have daily flights to Tuguegarao. Flight duration is 1 hr 10 minutes.
Cagayan Valley Useful Contact Details
Seguro Snack Hauz is Open from 06.00 till 20.30
Contact 0926 211 1226
Facebook Seguro Snack Hauz
For further information about Lal-lo Tourism
Ms. Leizl C. Ouiocho, Culture, Arts & Tourism Person
Mobile 09261 140800
North Philippine Visitors Bureau Facebook Page
NLEX Lakbay Norte 6 Facebook Page
713 Rizal Avenue Extension Kalookan City Philippines