In northern Cagayan, you can bet your bottom dollar; include your shrinking peso, too.
On hindsight, there is no reason why the entire coastal municipalities of Cagayan will fail to take its own cut from the tourism cake of the Philippines. Why, Northern Cagayan offers almost everything; history, archaeology, culture and the arts, experience of a lifetime and picture-perfect scenery the modern day traveler will be too weak to refused.
Consider what awaits you from Sta. Praxedes in the northwest to the farthest northeast town of Santa Ana. Consider, too, the lone island municipality of Calayan, then a part of the Batanes group of islands farther up north.
Calayan, the ultimate backpackers paradise
Only recently, the mystery that is Calayan is slowly being revealed like a Chinese box; its lure continues to intrigue and amaze backpackers all over the world. To see the world’s latest bird species, the Calayan Rail (Garillanus Calayanensis) in its natural habitat, up there in the deep jungles of Calayan main island, can be the ultimate challenge.
Yes, the remnants of the various glorious dynasties of China can still be unearthed in its soil. Calayan is the living testament that the Chinese people have always been a friendly neighbor to us and that Cagayanos have been trading with them; a culture of trade and industry that some super powers wanted to destroy.
Natural pools abound and, clenched by rock formations, can transport one back in time. Sub- terranean caves are still hidden from the prying eyes and to locate them can be a reason to come. Its cliff offers the ultimate in paragliding while those rock walls facing the alluring and crystalline waters of Sibang Cove in Barangay Dadao calls for adventure.
Sta. Praxedes, the Garden of the gods
Sta. Praxedes is not called the Gateway to the Ilocos for nothing. A laid-back municipality of virginal greenery, its resplendent waterfalls have stood the test of global warming. Immersion among the indigenous Isnag tribe is a must. For those so intrigued on how the Porphyra (Gamet) is gathered, join the gatherers from October to March to realize why the seaweed is that expensive when gathered in the wild. The municipality is a natural habitat for four species of Pandanus which have been turned into a globally competitive products and has graced Manila FAME exhibits.
Pamplona, Bastion of Cagayano evangelization
This town of the original Ibanags is slowly taking its cue from its historical heritage. Since last year, it started to flex its muscles to claim its own place in the highly competitive world of the tourism industry. In Pamplona, you get what you can’t see at face value. Behind its image of tranquility and idyllic majesty, Pamplona is slowly becoming the Floating Cottage capital of the entire Northern Luzon.
Part of the mountain gave birth to a series of more than 24 cool and refreshing waterfalls; the perfect get-away in summer. The view of the Pamplona River, from rock boulders in Barangay Batu can be a view of a lifetime. Discover the real Ibanags; immerse in history amidst nature’s generosity.
Buguey, Wetland of International Importance
It houses the last of the Spanish-built churches in Northeastern Philippines, the St. Anne Church, now a beneficiary of a concert by Cagayano artists come May 19 this year. One of the richest towns in terms of history, its Buguey River has been declared a wetland of international importance by the United Nations during the Ramsar Convention in Iran in 1998.
The town offers its attraction, untouched by modernization yet comes in strong as a relaxing and refreshing summer center point in Cagayan. Take experience once here: tie the crabs, harvest the seaweeds, catch the fastest sand-boring crab species, build you castles on the beach, taste the nipa wine or better, simply empty yourself into the simplicity of countryside living. There’s more to Buguey tourism than meets the eye.
Sta. Teresita, habitat of the world’s tallest flying bird
As a municipality, age doesn’t matter when it comes to ecological tourism. As the youngest in a brood of 28 municipalities and one city, six years of unstoppable and aggressive tourism promotions have landed the town in the short list of ‘ must-see natural heritage sites’ in the country today. Asks international cavers, go talk to researchers and officials of UPLB-Museum of Natural Science; its caves are now the focus of interesting flora and fauna researches.
Its aces up its sleeves: it is one of the original habitats of the world’s tallest flying bird at six feet, the Luzonis Antigone crane; the first to produce the only fiber and fabric of its kind in the world today, the Hanguana malayana. Sta. Teresita is small but gargantuan in its natural heritage.
Finally, Santa Ana, Crossroad of Asia and the Pacific Realm
Whether which political fence you belong, the fact that somehow, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority infused the much-needed boost to promote the coast of Cagayan, is no argument. Despite the presence of multi-national locators and on-line gaming centers, Santa Ana’s countryside remain as the ideal haven for the weary soul.
In fact, Santa Ana in its rawness, is best when not captured by cameras. Shades of wilderness for extreme adventure await the challenger. Under CEZA and the local government unit, Santa Ana is undergoing an aggressive promotional stunts never seen before. The presence of the Lallo airport has signaled better things to come.
Amidst all these natural heritage, Cagayan is sure to win the tourism promotional war given the right attitudes of all the local government units involved.
The biggest challenge Cagayanos now face is reflected by what a Japanese journalist-friend told me, “The biggest problem with you Filipinos is that you don’t know how to put your acts together.”
Guilty as charge? You have the answer. Benjie De Yro/Northernforum.net