Quirino is one of those provinces in Luzon that’s still off the tourist radar. Formerly part of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino became a separate province in 1966. While most provinces in the Philippines are known for something concrete, Quirino’s identity has yet to be formed. It was this air of mystery for an “off-the-beaten path” destination that made me more eager to visit the province.
Thanks to the invitation of the Provincial Government of Quirino, I got to “Discover the Undiscovered” with fellow travel bloggers Mica, Ferdz, Christian, Edgar, Izah, Marky, Sinjin, Eric, and Atty. Julius. The province is still raw and rugged in terms of facilities, but has a lot to offer in terms of natural attractions and eco-adventures. Nature-tripping and camping, caving, spelunking, trekking, rafting and outdoor sports are just a few of the activities that you can do here.
Group photo at Nagtipunan courtesy of Lakad Pilipinas
WHERE EXACTLY IS QUIRINO:
Quirino is a land-locked province bordered by Isabela in the North, Aurora on the East/Southeast. The Sierra Madre mountain range provides a natural barrier on the eastern and southern border of the province and the Mamparang Range on the western part. Right now, it’s only accessible by land from Isabela, but roads are currently being built that will link it to other provinces.
HOW TO GET THERE:
There is no airport in Quirino Province. The nearest airport is located in Cauayan, Isabela, which is about 1.5 -2 hours away by land. Several Bus lines (Five Star & Northern Luzon Bus Line) ply the Manila-Quirino route daily while NA Liner and KMS ordinary / aircon ply the Baguio-Quirino route daily. Aircon buses also ply the Manila-Santiago (Isabela route). From the Santiago terminal, you can take a van or jeepney to the different towns: Diffun, Cabarroguis, Aglipay and Madela, from where you can transfer to Nagtipunan.
If you’re in a big group, rugged vehicles like jeepneys are the best way to access the mountainous areas that are the jump off points for tourist sights. The rugged roads and dirt tracks in mountainous areas are actually great for Motocross riders and mountain bIkers. There are no private motorcycle or bicycle rentals available yet in Quirino, but some groups are planning to offer this in the near future to cater to tourists.
Toploading a jeep in Quirino. Photo courtesy of Eazy Traveler
WHERE TO GO / WHAT TO DO IN QUIRINO:
In Cabarroguis town proper, you can visit the Quirino Provincial Capitol overlooking the Capitol Sports Complex and the Governor’s Cottage, a venue for meetings of officials.
There’s currently a wakeboarding park and hotel being constructed in town. Expected completion is March 2015.
The Motocross Mountain was established in a tree plantation area of the provincial government overlooking the town of Cabarroguis to provide a wider racetrack for motocross racers. Mountain bikers can also test their mettle on the rolling dirt roads here.
The Motocross Cup held every June, in celebration of the Governor’s birthday, draws in thousands of motocross enthusiasts from around the country.
Framed photo from Motocross Event by Eric Manlapaz
Boating at Governor’s Rapids
Governor’s Rapids, a tributary of the mighty Cagayan River, is famous for its limestone formations. According to locals, there’s a waterfall inside a cave that you can only reach by riding a boat here. (Note: We weren’t able to go boating because of the bad weather the day we visited.)
Photo courtesy of Ironwulf
A 37-chamber cave system ideal for spelunking, with 8 chambers developed for caving for enthusiasts of different levels of ability.
Visit the Countryside
About 80 percent of the total land area of Quirino is covered by mountains and highlands. We got to enjoy a great view of the countryside while toploading on a jeepney on our way to Nagtipunan.
Bimmapor is a rock formation that resembles a ship’s stern about to sink located along the Cagayan River bank in Nagtipunan. The area is the jump-off point for boating, swimming and picnics.
The town of Nagtipunan, where the Cagayan River cuts across, is ideal for camping and eco-tourism activities including rock climbing, trekking, swimming, boating, rafting, excursions and fishing, among others.
Boating in Nagtipunan. Photo courtesy of Eazy Traveler
Aside from boating, the area is being eyed for river tubing adventures. The local tourism is still coming up with the package rates and logistics for river tubing here with local boatmen. We really enjoyed being guinea pigs to test out the river tubing route, which passes through whirlpool-like rapids and veers towards cliffs
Photo before river tubing courtesy of Ironwulf
One of the best scenic spots in Quirino is Landingan Viewpoint in Nagtipunan. This elevated spot looks over towering hills and the Cagayan River that cuts through the valley. A view deck will be constructed here in 2015.
Quriino has many other natural attractions including waterfalls that we were not able to visit including Mactol Falls in San Pugo, Nagtipunan; Bisangal Falls in Maddela and Jose Ancheta Falls in Barangay Jose Ancheta in Maddela.
WHERE TO STAY:
Capitol Plaza Hotel & Restaurant in Cabarroguis, the capital of Quirino, offers comfortable rooms for business and leisure travelers. It’s the largest hotel in the province, has a decent restaurant and large swimming pool, making it popular for local events.
Capitol Plaza Hotel & Restaurant. Cabarroguis, Quirino. CP: 0915-3523963 / 09152677981.
- Sabers Lodge. San Leonardo, Aglipay, Quirino. Cl: 0916-5444140
- Villa Caridad Hotel & Restaurant. Villa Sur, Maddela, Quirino. Cp: 0917-574-3322/0915-791-6636
- MPC Abrasa Hotel. Gundaway, Cabarrogquis, Quirino
WHAT / WHERE TO EAT:
There aren’t a lot of big restaurants in Quirino, but there are several eateries serving specialties of the Cagayan Valley region including Isabela’s Pancit Cabagan and Tuguegarao’s Pancit Batil Patung.
Ilokano cuisine seems very popular, including dishes like dinakdakan (an appetizer made of grilled pig’s parts blended with pig’s brain or mayonnaise) and igado (a meat dish made from strips of meat and other internal organs such as kidney, heart, and intestine).
Cheers! Photo by Edwin Antonio
One of the more unique food finds was Royal Tubikoy, a combination of tupig, bibibgka and tikoy. The native delicacy made of glutinous rice, coconut pulp, milk, sugar, cheese and shortening is produced by RNB Bukohan and Eatery, Aurora West, Diffun, Quirino. Contact no: 0926-5384956.
The local tourism of Quirino is planning to hold a Food Festival in early 2015 to identify more unique and local food specialties from the different towns.
WHAT TO BUY:
Fossilized flowers are Quirino’s one-town-one-product. While they look ilke dried flowers, fossilized flowers are actually made of alibangbang or butterfly leaves that have been dried, bleached and dyed. You can buy this in the Quirino Pasalubong Center right next to Capitol Plaza Hotel. There’s also a larger showroom and factory in town, where you can buy flowers in bulk.
Other products that you can take home for souvenirs include wood carvings, indigenous handcrafted baskets and bags. Food items of interest include mountain rice, Tilanggit (tilapiang danggit), banana chips, polvoron, sampaloc candy, veggie kropek, veggie noodles, and native cakes.
USEFUL INFO & TRIVIA:
Every December, the Paskuhan sa Quirino is held in Cabarroguis, where you can enjoy perya theme park rides, and buy different products of each town, in the booths and simple trade fairs.
Quirino has two seasons: wet & dry. According to tourism officials, the best time to visit is during the summer months. However, some activities, like caving, river rafting and trekking to waterfalls can be enjoyed all year around, even during the rainy season.
- Quirino’s main festival is the Panagdadapun Festival held every September 8-10. The fiesta, which was first celebrated in 1999, showcases the province’s unique culture, convergence of people, and colorful history.
- The Aquero Patronal Festival is celebrated every February 14th at the Nuestra Senora de Lourdes Parish, municipality of Aglipay.
- Each town has their own respective festival as well.
- Feb. 23-25: Penenkakasisit – Nagtipunan
- April 7-9: Pagay-Pagay – Saguday
- June 12-15: Pangsasalog – Maddela
- June 19-21: Ginnamulan – Cabarroguis
- July 2-4: Rammadayaw – Diffun
- July 23-25: Panagsalukag – Aglipay
DISCOVER THE UNDISCOVERED
Special thanks to the Provincial Government of Quirino and Binary Digital Communications for making this #DiscovertheUndiscovered trip to Quirino possible. Shout-out to Mica of Senyorita for inviting me to join the trip!
- Facebook: Quirino Province
- Twitter: @QuirinoProvince
- Instagram: @QuirinoProvince
- Website: http://quirinoprovince.org/