One of the most obscure of the 81 provinces in the Philippines, 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.
How to Get There
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.
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
- 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, Tel. +63 9153523963 or +63 9152677981. Noted: This hotel hosted our entire stay in Quirino during the media tour.
- CFFQI Training Hall at Capitol Compound, Cabarroguis. Room rates start at PHP 100 per head, Tel. +63 9163815114
- Abrasa MPC Hotel at Brgy. San Marcos, Cabarroguis. Room rates start at PHP 700 for a single A/C room, Tel. +63 78 6925069 or +63 9166802644
- 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, Tel. +63 9175743322
- Saber Lodge at Brgy. San Leonardo, Aglipay. Rooms start at PHP 200 per head, Tel. +63 9272368593
- Disadeco Lodge in Diffun. Room rates start at PHP 75 per person, Tel. +63 9174129311
- Diffun Lodge in Diffun. Room rates start at PHP 200 for a double fan room, Tel. +63 9174401555
- Homestays are also available for those who want to experience living with the locals. Check out this list from the government website.
Public vans, jeepneys and tricycles ply 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. For local tour guides, contact Orlan Baliton, Tel. +63 9359141007 or Ian Nicolas, Tel. +63 9177336720.
What to Do
- Drink in the majestic views atop Capitol Hills in the provincial capital of Cabarroguis
- Explore a 37-chambered cave system hidden in the forests of Aglipay
- Go boating or swimming at Governor’s Rapids in Maddela
- Marvel at Bimmapor Rock Formation and go canoeing or river tubing down the Cagayan River at Siitan Gorge in Nagtipunan.
- Hike to numerous waterfalls like Maddela Falls, Nantugao Falls or Dinatay Falls.
- 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, Tel. +63 9493422150!
- 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.
- 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, Tel. +63 9274730720; or Lucena Aguas of Alvin’s Floral Designs & Blooms at Brgy. San Marcos, Cabarroguis, Tel. +63 9173634656, +63 9176002507 or +63 9172572170, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog post was made possible through #DiscoverTheUndiscovered, a travel blogger tour of Quirino province sponsored by Tourism Board of the Philippines and the Province of Quirino, held from December 12 to 15, 2014. Among the travel bloggers invited were Ferdz of Ironwulf, Christian of Lakad Pilipinas, Julius of Lakwatserong Tsinelas, Marky of Nomadic Experiences, Mica of Senyorita, Kara of Traveling Up, Izah of Tripadora, Sinjin of Libotero and Eric of Byahilo.