1000-Peso Challenge: Quirino Province
Quirino Province: Where Eco-adventure begins
18 of 81. Quirino is one of the provinces that is not quite listed on everyone’s travel bucket list because of the more popular provinces of Aurora, Isabela, and Nueva Vizcaya. As it is now gaining its reputation as one of the must-go places in Northern Luzon, Quirino is an adventure in itself – from its caves and rivers that make the province into a tourist haven.
Named after the 6th President of the Philippines, Elpidio Quirino, the province was once part of Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela before gaining juridical personality and establishment on February 10, 1972.
Being the 18th province on my list, my interest in this province sparked because it is one of the less visited provinces in Cagayan Valley. In my blog’s 4th 1000-peso challenge, again, I want to know if a budget of PhP 1,000 (or more) will meet my needs while exploring Quirino.
|Bus Fare||Baguio – Maddela
(Coda Bus Lines)
As of writing, there are two (2) major bus lines servicing the Baguio-Quirino route. One is Coda Lines located in Shanum Street just right in front of Burnham Park’s main entrance beside Rizal Park, and the other is the Northern Luzon Bus Line near stationed near the Baguio Orchidarium. There is also a bus/van transport in Slaughterhouse Compound terminal plying to Quirino via Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya (which is much faster in terms of travel time.
Fares for Coda Bus Lines are as follows: PhP 310 (student), PhP 380 (regular) – Baguio – Cabarroguis (approx. 8 hours); PhP 335 (student), PhP 420 (regular) – Baguio – Maddela (approx. 9 hours). Note that our fares to and from Quirino are not included in the challenge. Trips to Quirino are daily.
Aside from the bus/van transport in Slaughterhouse plying the Benguet – Nueva Vizcaya Road, regular trips usually pass by Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Viscaya, and then a portion of Isabela before reaching the province’s first town of Diffun.
Turista Boy Tip:
You can make a prior reservation at the bus terminal for at least a week (depends) before boarding, to avoid seating on the center aisle.
The 1000-Peso Challenge:
|Tricycle Fare||Maddela Public Market – Villa Caridad Resort and Restaurant||PhP 20 (each)|
|Overnight Stay||Villa Caridad Resort and Restaurant
(Dorm-type room with own CR and bathroom)
|PhP 200 (each)|
Minimum fare of a tricycle in Quirino is pegged at PhP 20 each. The main mode of transportation in downtown Maddela is a tricycle. Jeepneys cater to the farther towns to and from Maddela, particularly to Nagtipunan, Aglipay, and the capital town of Cabarroguis.
Upon researching affordable accommodations in Maddela, I have come across Villa Caridad Hotel and Restaurant. Their cheapest room rate is at PhP 200 per person per night (dorm type room with own comfort and bathroom). You can contact them at +63 905 791 6636. Other possible accommodations and homestays will be discussed in the future.
|Governor’s Rapids||Maddela||PhP 160
(minimum of 3 pax)
When planning to visit Quirino, contact the Provincial Tourism Office and look for Ma’am Mikara Palaruan, one of the province’s tourism staff at +63 926 116 4001. You can discuss with her the possible itinerary for your visit. Tell her that you were referred by me (they know me as Aldrick from Baguio City) so that she will fix your tour in no time.
Kuya Primitivo “Bong” Ruma was our assigned tour guide for our 2-day stay in Quirino. He has a tricycle that’s why it is not hard for us to commute in and around Quirino. The tours we had was similar to that of the tricycle tours in Aurora Province. (Contact me here if you want to get kuya Bong’s services!) I also recommend that you consult ma’am Mika first in order for other tour guides to have a fair share of the tourists coming in the province.
And so our tour began. The “Governor’s Rapids” is one of the popular tourist spots in Quirino. The nature park can be reached in 30 minutes from downtown Maddela. It got its name from a Japanese Governor who failed to escape in the rapids of the mighty Cagayan River after an American soldier caught him upon hitting a rock during the Japanese-American War.
One of the first attractions in the Rapids is the Pusuak Rock where many locals believe that when water flows out of from the rocks, bad weather or heavy rains will be expected in the following days. Along the river, too, are huge boulders scattered in the banks which the locals call “pilat-bato,” an Ibanag term for “white rock.”
The tour is 2 Kilometers long aboard a wooden boat paddled by a local guide. Along the course, there are also stopovers that you shouldn’t miss, one of which is the Tenyente (Sinilubyan) Cave and falls which can be explored in 30 minutes (gears will be provided by your tour guide). The whole Governor’s Rapids tour can be finished in 2 hours, depending on your group’s pacing.
|Capitol Plaza Hotel and Resort||Cabarroguis
(45 minutes – 1 hour ride from Maddela)
|Quirino Provincial Capitol Complex
(Quirino Capitol, Motocross Park, Wakeboarding Pavilion, Provincial Tourism Office, QuirinoProvince Museum and Library)
|Capitol Hills, Cabarroguis
(A few meters away from Capitol Plaza Hotel and Resort)
|Maddela Welcome Marker||Maddela – Aglipay Boundary|
Capitol Plaza and Hotel
This is one of the main and biggest hotels in Cabarroguis where you can also buy souvenirs from their souvenir shop (which is unfortunately closed when we visited). There are also makeshift stalls fronting the resort-hotel where you can buy cheap finds.
Capitol Hills Complex
This is the place where you can find the Quirino Capitol, the Motocross Park, Wakeboarding Pavilion, Provincial Tourism Office, Quirino Province Museum and Library, and the Quirino Capitol People’s Mart. This is where you will also find the “Quirino” letters that is perfect for picture-taking!
On our way back to Maddela, our tour guide took us to the boundary marker between the municipalities of Maddela and Aglipay. On the boundary marker, the word “Pinappagan” is engraved. The word means the converging of all the peoples that comprise the now-province of Quirino in the traditional Ilongot dialect. You will also get to see a giant corn monument in the border as it is the main product in Maddela (and in the whole Quirino province.)
|Breakfast||Maddela Public Market
There are a few local restaurants in the province (wish were also closed when we visited) and there are a number of eateries scattered especially in town centers offering local (mainly chicken) dishes. For our second day in Quirino, I noticed that almost all eateries have a unique dish that I think is unique in Quirino, the “Chicken Backbone Dish.” According to our guide, the dish is the most common in Maddela, served in almost all eateries in the municipality.
|Nalungtunan Bridge||Nagtipunan, Quirino|
|Landingan Viewpoint||Sitio Landingan, Nagtipunan|
When we finished eating breakfast, we immediately headed to the municipality of Nagtipunan as it took us around an hour to reach the place. While traveling, kuya Bong told and pointed to us some not-so tourist spots that definitely are of significant value.
“Nagtipunan” is an Ilocano word for coming together of the Ilongots, Ilocanos, and Ibanags in Cagayan Valley, particularly in present-day Nagtipunan. It is believed to be the locale where people converged and exchanged cultures and beliefs making the province of Quirino a place of many ethnic cultures.
The main mode of transportation in Nagtipunan is the jeepney with a minimum fare of PhP 60 to and from Maddela (45 minutes to 1 hour travel time).
The sitio of Nalungtunan in Nagtipunan was once believed to be the place where many people were beheaded as part of the locals’ tradition. But today, Nalungtunan is one of the more peaceful places in the municipality.
Picturesque views anywhere!
Formerly part of the province of Nueva Vizcaya, Sitio Landingan was once a landing point of various aircrafts in the province. Landingan has become one of the famous tourist spots in the province. As its distance is far from mainland Nagtipunan and its location is high above the mountains, the sights from the viewpoint is promising.
Overlooking the mountains of Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya and the source of the Governor’s Rapids (tributary of the Cagayan River), the provincial government of Quirino plans to build a formal view deck in Landingan in order for locals and tourists alike to appreciate the greenery surrounding the province. You also get to pass by a mountain range that locals call “Toblerone Mountains” because its shape is likened to that of the famous chocolate bar.
|Diamond Cave||Nagtipunan, Quirino||PhP 50
(environmental fee, each)
(guide fee – minimum of PhP 100 fee per group)
|Siitan Nature Park
(Bimmapor Rock Formation)
(minimum of 4 pax)
Formerly known as the Palasican Cave,the place was renamed into “Diamond Cave”because the entrance and exit chambers of the cave are shaped like diamonds. Personally, this is one of the iconic caves I have explored so far because of the numerous stalactites and stalagmites scattered inside the newly-opened cave system.
Formally opened to the public last November 18, 2015, Diamond Cave definitely should not be missed in your itinerary. The 1-hour traverse inside the cave is really worth it as many rock formations will amaze you (bats included) and the difficulty is much easier than that of any other cave systems in Cagayan Valley. The cave was also once a hideout of the ancestors of Quirino when foreign colonizers tried to suppress them during World War II.
Freshwater is also abundant inside the cave and is the source of the still-developed water park outside. Before entering the cave, you may want to hike from the highway for 30 minutes or ride on your own vehicle for 10-15 minutes and register in 2 entrance points for safety measures and proper monitoring after some parts of the cave were vandalized and that some rock were tipped off by unscrupulous visitors. That is why before entering, you are required to have at least one guide in order for your group to traverse the cave system.
Siitan Nature Park and Bimmapor Rock Formation
After exploring the Diamond Cave, we then went for a final splash in Siitan Nature Park. Also located in Nagtipunan, the nature park can be reached in 15-20 minutes via tricycle of your private vehicle. The registration hut can be easily seen where you can also see the park’s package for pure fun!
Siitan comes from the Ilocano word “siit” which means fish bones. The place was then believed to have many kinds of fish species before before they were gone over time leaving its bones behind, thus the name.
Just like in the Governor’s Rapids, the tour is also by boat and can be explored in an hour or so. There are also perfect jump spots for cliff diving as the waters can be as deep as 20 feet. Water tubing is also one of the activities in the nature park where you get to ride on an inflated buoy while being pulled by a motorboat.
Also located within the Siitan Nature Park is the famous Bimmapor Rock Formation. From the Filipino word “bapor” which means “ship,” the colossal rock looks like a capsized shipif the place is filled with water. This is one of the most pictured tourist spots in the province as the locals said. You can just also see that almost every place is Quirino is covered with the greeneries of its rolling hills, complemented with the outskirts of the Cagayan River while overlooking the farther Sierra Madre mountain chain.
Maddela Public Market
Serves as Maddela’s main trading center, the Maddela Market is where you will find almost all of your needs. Unfortunately, due to little tourism activity in the municipality, there are very few tourist shops that sell souvenirs to visitors.
|Lunch||Maddela Public Market
Tour Guide Fee
(500 / day)
|PhP 1,000 for 2 days
(PhP 500 per pax)
|Guide’s Motor Oil||
PhP 600 for 2 days
(PhP 300 per pax)
|Bus Fare||Maddela – Baguio
(Northern Luzon Bus Lines)
Verdict: 9 / 10
#1000PesoChallenge in Quirino is good for groups of 4 and up. In that way, your individual expenses would be much lesser. If you opt to stay at Villa Caridad, their dorm-type room is good for 4-5 persons only at PhP 200 / night / person. Wi-Fi connectivity is also fast. There are also numerous homestays in Cabarroguis and Maddela, just contact the Provincial Tourism Office and look / ask for ma’am Mika Palaruan.
Tricycle tours are also common in the province as the tourist spots in Quirino are quite far from each other. It’s just also common for a province not on everyone’s tourist map because tourist assistance centers and souvenir shops are also rare (or usually closed). People are hospitable and welcoming. Our tour guide is also knowledgeable about the different points of interest in Quirino.
Quirino is undeniably one of the greenest places I have been – literally! Every corner of the province is covered with lush greens. I was just in awe when I saw how clean and naïve the province is when it comes to welcoming tourists. People are very genuine and they always wear a smile when they see you (which is a good Filipino trait, I attest.) Their tourist spots are somewhere between out-of-the-ordinary and extreme giving justice to their tourism slogan that says “It is where eco-adventure begins.”
(Provincial Tourism Office of Quirino)
|+63 917 416 5945
+63 917 500 0162
*The itinerary I stated in this challenge is according to the tourist spots’ proximity with each other and is only based on a 2 Day-1 Night stay. There are more tourist spots that can be visited in the farther municipalities of Quirino (if you opt to stay longer) and I will be updating my Quirino blog as soon as I get back there!*