Quirino Forest Heartland of Cagayan


Quirino is a landlocked province in northern Luzon surrounded by Isabela, Aurora and Nueva Vizcaya. Separated from the province of Nueva Vizcaya in 1966, the mountainous province was named after the sixth President of the Philippines, Elpidio Quirino. With 80 percent of the province covered by highlands, Quirino is hemmed in by the Sierra Madre and Mamparang mountain ranges and carved by the mighty Cagayan River and its tributaries which run through verdant valleys and dramatic limestone canyons. Ilocano and Tagalog are spoken by the lowland migrant settlers, while the uplands are dominated by indigenous peoples such as the Bugkalot, Ifugao and Kankana-ey who speak their own tribal languages. The province is dubbed the “Forest Heartland of Cagayan”. An off-the-beaten-track destination geared towards eco-adventurers, the tourist attractions in the province include waterfalls, rock formations, river gorges, whitewater rapids and limestone caves. Besides the natural landmarks, the province aims to draw in outdoor sports enthusiasts with the annual motocross competition and a soon-to-rise wakeboard park at the Provincial Capitol grounds of Cabarroguis.

In Quirino, agriculture is the main industry in the province, with rice and corn as major crops. These supply the demand of neighboring provinces and the metropolis. It is the leading producer of banana in the Cagayan Valley region. Banana as well as banana chips are major products sold in Metro Manila and Pampanga. Small scale industries like furniture making, basketry, rattan craft, and dried flower production are prevalent. How to get there? By bus, there are 8-hour bus trips to Maddela from Manila on Transport Pro (GV Florida), Northern Luzon and Five Star. Alternatively, one can ride any bus bound for Isabela or Cagayan province, and alight at Cordon or Santiago City, where you can catch a van to Maddela. To reach to farthest town of Nagtipunan, one must transfer to a jeepney from Cabarroguis or Maddela. By air plane, Cebu Pacific Air has 55-minute flights four times weekly from Manila to Cauayan, 65 km away from Cabarroguis, Quirino. Cauayan Airport is 1 1/2 hours away from Cabarroguis by private vehicle. Where to stay. 1st option. Capitol Plaza Hotel in Cabarroguis is the nicest place to stay in the entire province for both business and leisure travelers. Located near the Provincial Capitol, the hotel has a restaurant, social hall, swimming pool and souvenir shop. Room rates start at PHP 500 for a double fan room and PHP 750 for a double A/C room. 2nd option. CFFQI Training Hall at Capitol Compound, Cabarroguis. Room rates start at PHP 100 per head. 3rd option. Abrasa MPC Hotel at Brgy. San Marcos, Cabarroguis. oom rates start at PHP 700 for a single A/C room. 4th option. Villa Caridad Hotel & Resort in Brgy. Villa Sur, Maddela. Room rates start at PHP 200 for a dorm bed, and PHP 1,000 for an apartelle room. 5th option. Saber Lodge at Brgy. San Leonardo, Aglipay. Rooms start at PHP 200 per head. 6th option. Disadeco Lodge in Diffun. Room rates start at PHP 75 per person. 7th option. Diffun Lodge in Diffun. Room rates start at PHP 200 for a double fan room. 8th option. Homestays are also available for those who want to experience living with the locals. Check out this list from the government website.

Getting around? Public vans, jeepneys and tricycles play the main road between Diffun and Nagtipunan. Accommodating up to 20 passengers, jeepneys may be hired to tour the province at a rate PHP 3,000 per day. Activities in Quirino? 1st activity. Drink in the majestic views atop Capitol Hills in the provincial capital of Cabarroguis. 2nd activity. Explore a 37-chambered cave system hidden in the forests of Aglipay. 3rd activity. Go boating or swimming at Governor’s Rapids in Maddela. 4th activity. Marvel at Bimmapor Rock Formation and go canoeing or river tubing down the Cagayan River at Siitan Gorge in Nagtipunan. 5th activity. Hike to numerous waterfalls like Maddela Falls, Nantugao Falls or Dinatay Falls. 6th activity. Try the Quirinian versions of Cagayan Valley’s famous noodle dishes, pancit cabagan and pancit batil patung. Do not miss the scrumptious pancit cabagan at MJ Snack & Pancit Cabagan Restaurant in Nagtipunan. 7th activity. Bring home pasalubong like tubikoy from Diffun – a combination of tupig (sticky rice log), bibingka (rice cake) and tikoy (moon cake); tilanggit (dried tilapia, the local take of Cebu’s famous danggit or dried rabbitfish); and black rice. 8th and last activity. Shop for export-quality “fossilized flowers”, a cottage industry introduced in the 1990s, which are decorative flowers made from dried and dyed leaves of the butterfly tree. For “fossilized flowers” and other native handicrafts, check out Melba Jolo of MMJ Fossilized & Handicraft at Purok 4, Brgy. Gamis, Saguday, Lucena Aguas of Alvin’s Floral Designs & Blooms at Brgy. San Marcos, Cabarroguis.

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