Photo: rollings hills amidst the early morning fog viewed from the top of Abrasa MPC hotel
Are you thinking of an off the beaten path destination or a less crowded place to enjoy nature? Head to Quirino Province.
I highly recommend visiting this beautiful province. Landlocked between Aurora, Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya provinces, this province offers sceneries that your senses would really feast on. From majestic waterfalls, vast rolling hills, sprawling wide plains, astounding rock formations, pristine rivers and verdant landscapes, this province will truly blast all of your senses.
Imagine trekking to a major waterfall on a weekend only you and your guide on the trail.
Imagine going to key view decks alone and having a perfect landscape shot without the crowd.
One thing that stands out in this province is a very low crime rate according to the government officials.
Want something fresh, – and off beaten track? GO TO QUIRINO PROVINCE!!
How did I know about the province?
I have this ex-colleague Ms. Jenny Gabor who is proudly a Quirinian.
Photo: with Ms. Jenny Gabor in the Capitol Grounds
How did I get there?
Photo: Junction in Cordon, Isabela. The marker pointing to Quirino Province.
From Dau bus terminal, board a bus going to Tabuk/Santiago/Tuguegarao/Roxas and alight to Cordon, Isabela. There is a sign there that directs to Quirino province once in Cordon (4-5 hours night commute, 7-8 hours day commute). Hop on a PUV going to Maddela and ask the driver to drop you off at Cabarroguis, or at the Capitol. (30-40 minutes)
There are buses in Manila that goes straight to Maddela, Quirino. (Florida Bus)
I went home by boarding a van from Cabarroguis to Santiago City, Isabela then a boarding a Five Star bus going to Manila. (Unfortunately, only Victory Liner bus pass by in Dau and seats are fully booked) I alighted in Pura, Tarlac, took a tricycle ride to Gerona, Tarlac then boarded a bus to Cubao that stops at Dau Terminal.
How did I plan my itinerary?
I personally arranged my tour with the Provincial Tourism Officers, Sir Orlan Baliton and Sir Ian Ritchie Nicolas. Sir Orlan then organized my homestay and my guide for two days.
I laud the Provincial Tourism Officers of Quirino province. All of them are very accommodating and very hands on. They always wanted to make sure that each tourist will truly experience the majestic beauty of Quirino.
I learned from them the idea of preparing the community before the influx of tourists.
Photo: Facade of the Capitol Building
Photo: The Iconic colossal glass dome in the Capitol Building
Photo: The obligatory photo in front of the Quirino Museum
I have Sir Chris as my guide for two days. He drove me around the province safely through his own motorcycle and imagine on his birthday!
Photo: Sir Chris spent his birthday touring me around the province. He made a birthday selfie here!
Sir Chris has lots of stories to share about the province, two days is not enough to listen to them. I laud him for being supportive and he presented the province very well.
Photo: Sir Chris and his motorcycle
What activities did I initially do?
Canoeing in Siitan River
I happen to be assigned to the two master boatmen, which I initially underestimated their boating skills because of their age.
With Sir Chris, we boarded the canoe and I sat in the middle and let ourselves be drifted in the direction by the strong boatmen. I had my camera protected by just a simple plastic bag in case there would be splashes. After a few minutes, I was surrounded by massive rock formations!
More and more rock formations, towering stone walls and verdant sceneries unveiled as we go on with the cruise. I was stunned and captivated! This is mother nature presenting herself. The rock seemed small in pictures, but seeing them in person would really make you a tiny speck. I was in awe of God’s creation! The placid waters added to the great experience. There are portions of rough waters but not enough to knock me out off the boat and half of my consciousness is worried because I was not able to bring any waterproof case for my camera.
When we are about to make a return trip, I am a bit worried on how these aged boatmen would paddle up against the current. I was thinking that we could have a difficulty to return. But then I saw how they managed to travel upstream. They would paddle over placid waters and alternatively, would bring the boat near shore and would manually drag the canoe against the current. How strong!
Photo: Starting point of Siitan River Cruise
Photo: with the strong bangkeros. I laud with their endurance in paddling.
Photo: Colossal Rock Formations
Photo: placid waters almost mirroring the rock formations
Photo: towering stone walls over Siitan River
Governor’s Rapids in Maddela is another great river canoeing experience. One reason that made these experience remarkable is I have the spot myself! I was the lone visitor that moment.
After my canoeing activity, I was able to sit down briefly with the bangkeros with Sir Orlan and Sir Chris having a meeting. They were discussing how to prepare the community and themselves for the influx of tourists. They had me share my thoughts.
Photo: sunrise in Governor’s Rapids in Maddela
Photo: That strong paddler is a woman.
Photo: Overhanging Rock Formation in Governor’s Rapids
One of the features of Governor’s Rapids is the Bisangal Cave. During that time, it rained for many days before my visit that made the entrance of the cave halfway submerged. For you to enjoy the cave, you must crawl to a small entrance for about 20 meters (tanchameter lang) and there was I think 1 foot-2 feet clearance between the water surface and cave entrance ceiling. I brought my camera inside the cave, again wrapped in just a plastic bag. It was pitch dark and water is cold. I was terrified that I could drop my one and only camera.
The crawl seemed forever, but the end of the tunnel-like entrance is a cathedral-like opening where you can see the majestic Bisangal Falls. I was not able to make a short dip because I was already shivering.
A good thing is that the cave entrance could only be submerged after torrential rains. There is another exit on the cave about few meters away.
Photo: Bisangal Falls roaring inside a cave in Maddela
In able to enjoy the Aglipay Cave System, you must spend an hour or more spelunking these another gem of Quirino province. Since of my tight itinerary, I spent less than an hour and have not yet set foot in the deeper parts of the cave system.
There are huts for rent if you wish to have an overnight stay in the park.
Photo: Turtle Rock formation in Aglipay Cave.
Photo: Practice Long Exposure in Aglipay Cave
The experience would be capped by trekking to Ganano Falls. It was after lunch when we started our trek. From Cabarroguis, it is an hour ride to the jump-off point to Ganano Falls in Diffun. The hour-long trek would start in Little Baguio Village.
Along the trail, we crossed rivers and experienced fresh cool mountain air. Tall Bamboo shoots form natural shades and beautiful wild mountain flowers are waiting to be photographed. There is part of the trail where you can clearly see the other side of the mountains and hills. Verdant and virgin!
About halfway through the trek, we discovered that part of the trail was severely damaged by a landslide caused by the strong typhoon Lando. I was terrified and frustrated at the same time. But this means I have to be back! I have to see Ganano Falls through my naked eyes.
Sir Chris suggested seeing the Sabangaran Falls instead. It was a majestic one! About 20 feet tall I think. To get to this point, you have to trek down 5 minutes from the trail. At that time, comfort rooms are being erected for tourists.
Photo: Sabangaran Falls in Diffun
I would like to include in this article my favorite spot in Quirino, again which I missed in my first visit, the majestic Ganano Falls. Photo below.
My experience with this gem on my next write-up. 😉
Photo: Candid shot of our guides, Sir Richard and Sir Jonathan (a local of Little Baguio Village in Diffun)
I was afraid of caves and I do not want to try spelunking. I always think of the danger, slippery rocks, chance of snakes or any scary creatures appearing. That thought disappeared when I tried spelunking Diamond Cave. The first real cave spelunking was a great experience and thank you to my guide. All of the terrifying thoughts vanished when my eyes saw the beautiful formations inside the cave.
Photo: Stalactites and interesting formations in Diamond Cave. Long Exposure shots.
Photo: Interesting formations inside the Diamond Cave in Nagtipunan. Flash!
One of the best of Quirino province can offer is the Landingan Viewpoint. Situated in the Nagtipunan municipality, this is where you can have that commanding view of the river and rolling hills. The landscape is indeed a feast for our eyes! I wish I could build a resthouse in this spot.
Photo: Landingan Viewpoint. The breathtaking view!
Where did I sleep?
I rested and slept in D’Fields homestay owned by Mam Debbie Tiburcio, the pioneer Municipal Registrar of Nagtipunan. Mam Debbie and her family are very accommodating with their guests.
Mam Debbie would love to share stories on how the tourism in Quirino started. She would share the beautiful photographs she herself had taken with the spots.
The location is in Dipantan, Nagtipunan and is near the highway. The homestay is surrounded by rolling hills and plains. The very spot is a perfect spot to view the sunrise.
Peaceful and Quiet.
The family served sumptuous breakfast and dinner too. Naimas!
Photo: one of the cozy bedrooms of D’Fields Homestay.
Photo: Naimas ti Pako!
Thank you! Dacal a Salamat! Agyamannak!
Sir Orlan, Sir Chris, Mam Debbie and Sir Ian.
These four persons are pivotal for my remarkable and unforgettable Quirino experience. My senses are drenched with beautiful landscapes, lush greeneries, rolling hills, fresh air,
pristine rivers and waterfalls, magnificent caves, rich diverse culture and young history.
I urge my cabalens and kabayans to visit this beautiful province.
Quirino province has its own unique products. Tatak Quirino!
- Try buying fossilized flowers crafted by Quirinians.
- Taste and bring home a bottle of Bugnay Wine
- Take home their own version of a kakanin: TUBIKOY! (TU-pig, BI-bingka, Ti-KOY)
- Serve Fresh Tilanggit for breakfast to your loved ones
- Keychains and Souvenir shorts for your many officemates and circle of friends.
How much the trip costs me?
Travel in a group to divide the cost
|Dau-Cordon (Bus)||PHP 355.00|
|Cordon-Cabarroguis (Van)||PHP 30.00|
|Tour Guide and Transportation for 2 days||PHP 3,000.00|
|Diamond Cave Entrance Fee||PHP 50.00|
|Aglipay Cave Entrance + Guide Fee||PHP 75.00|
|Siitan River Cruise (Solo Boat Rental)||PHP 450.00|
|Lunch at a local carinderia||PHP 70.00|
|D’Fields Homestay in Nagtipunan||PHP 350.00|
|Breakfast + Dinner (D’Fields)||PHP 150.00|
|Cabarroguis-Santiago City (Van)||PHP 40.00|
|Santiago City-Pura Tarlac (Bus)||PHP 340.00|
|Pura-Gerona (Tricycle)||PHP 50.00|
|Gerona – Dau (Bus)||PHP 80.00|
|TOTAL (solo travel)||PHP 5,040.00|
Sample Weekend Itinerary
Day 0 night travel to Quirino
Day 1 Ganano Falls/Sabangaran Falls, Siitan River Cruise, and River Tubing, Diamond Cave Spelunking, Sunset view in Landingan Viewpoint
Day 2 sunrise in Governor’s Rapids+Bisangal Cave+Cliff Diving+River Tubing, Aglipay Cave, Capitol Grounds, (night travel back)