Ever wondered to return the soonest to one of your favorite destinations? Ever listened to the “take me back” voice shouting inside your head? You know the “feels” right?
But here I am again writing for my second Quirino province experience. I really never expected that I would be back after a month of my solo travel in this province. This time, I introduced the province’s beauty to the first tour group, together with my longtime travel buddy, Ella (@iamellaenchanted). We were a group of nine.
We left Pampanga late night and spent our night on the road, traversing the undulating and bumpy road of AH26 Highway (AH means Asian Highway) passing the boundaries of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya. Our first and only road stop was in Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya. The moment we slid open the van’s door, cool air drenched our skin. Brrrrr! Are we in Baguio?
QUIRINO, HERE WE COME!
We arrived in Quirino as the first rays of the sunrise burst from the horizon. There was a thick fog blanketing the vast plains of Diffun municipality as you enter the province, obscuring the rolling hills that would welcome you.
Few minutes passed and we are parked on the doors of the Provincial Tourism Office. We arrive a bit early and decided to warm ourselves up by walking to the Capitol Building.
THE UNEXPECTED WALKING TOUR
Incidentally, we met Mam Aurea Martinez, doing her Saturday morning jog with her husband. She is the Supervising Tourism Operations Officer of Quirino. With her natural finesse with travelers, she joined us in exploring the Capitol Hill. It is such a great privilege and a rare experience to be assisted by a supervising provincial tourism officer. It was my first time and I was a bit awe-struck at that moment.
Mam Aurea even requested to prepare and open the museum before its regular operating hours just to accommodate us. As we logged our names in the registry, we set our sights to the relics and antiques that are part of the province’s rich history. Ranging from ancient artifacts to tribal masterpieces, truly this experience educated us how the province came to be.
She ushered us around the capitol building, the Governor’s Cottage and showed us the new Wakeboarding Site on its development stage. Truly, the province has more promising attractions!
We ended our walking tour on the capitol grounds and making jump shots in front of the staircase leading to the Capitol Building Facade. As we walked back to the Tourism Office, Sir Orlan was at the door of the Tourism Office waiting for us. He would be assisting to the homestay just a few strides away.
CHECK IN TIME!
The name is Joyce’s Homestay, owned by the jolly and highly attentive Tita Mina, located near the Capitol Hill premises. From her terrace, you can view the wakeboarding site under construction.
She prepared our breakfasts and Sir Orlan joined us, sharing stories about the province.
FAST FORWARD TO DAY TWO: CHASING WATERFALLS!
We woke up early and prepared ourselves as Tita Mina prepared breakfast. I was excited because I already have the opportunity to see and experience Ganano Falls myself. I am tired of just seeing its photos in blogs and engine search. To share, I missed visiting the waterfalls during my first travel with the province last January 2016 due to a landslide that covered a small portion of the mountain trail.
One by one we hopped to the van and drove to the jump-off point located in Little Baguio Village in Diffun. It is an hour worth of drive from Cabarroguis to the jump off point.
If you are from Cabarroguis, drive to Diffun and ask directions going to Little Baguio Village. There are no signages yet. My landmark is after passing the bridge beside Nagbukel Caves, turn left onto a street with an old gas station.
Expect winding road with alternating bumpy areas and chances of dry corn grits. If you are attentive enough, count the barangays you passed by as you go deep to the mountain road and when you reached four, you are almost there.
The registration area is right beside the Health Center. Along with the barangay officials, we are greeted with this shy and charming kid. Her tantalizing eyes caught our attention. I asked permission to her father to take a photo of his child and he agreed. After completing the registration and giving a donation, we have the young Sir Jonathan, a local of Little Baguio Village as our guide to falls. He instructed to drive and park the van to the hanging bridge, the start of the hour-long trek.
After completion the registration and giving a donation, we have the young Sir Jonathan, a local of Little Baguio Village as our guide to falls. He instructed to drive and park the van near the hanging bridge, the start of the hour-long trek.
We started the trek by taking pictures on the hanging bridge and off we go.
We crossed rivers, passed uphill trails, climbed big boulders, walked past vegetable patches and private homes on the mountains. We did not notice the time as we enjoyed each others company, cracking jokes, a contest of wits and taking occasional selfies and grou-fies. Our driver, Sir Jonard, joined the trek by the way.
There are interesting wild plants and flowers along the trail. Some are worth capturing!
Deeper as we go to the forest trail, a gushing sound looms, a sign that we are near the falls. Few more river crossings and there she is!
Ganano Falls right in front of our eyes, at an astounding height of approximately 70-80 meters.
Tall and Majestic!
Thunderous but Graceful!
From the main cascade, splitting herself to more cascades and flowing different pools and catch basins.
To enjoy its catch basin, you need to climb the slippery and moss covered rocks approximately two to three stories high.
And there we are, enjoying to cool waters of Ganano Falls! After almost an hour of bathing, we ate the food we brought on the flatbed rocks below and then made our return trek.
Slips and slides. Bumps and scratches. And Poof! Some things and stories are meant to be left with the falls.
We spent almost half day for this activity.
Ganano Falls is included to one of my top waterfalls experience.
REWIND TO DAY ONE!
It was almost 9:00AM when we left our homestay, a bit late to start our adventure. Along with us is Sir Richard, our designated guide. Incidentally, there are already road constructions happening on the way to the tourist spots. There was a bit of waiting time because some sections of the road are one lane passable. There were parts that are really bumpy. Good thing the traffic was not as horrendous compared to the urban areas.
We arrived in less than hour to our first destination, Governor’s Rapids in Maddela. We started our adventure with river canoeing, exploring the falls inside Bisangal Cave, marveled the interesting rock formations, river tubing, and the momentous 25ft cliff diving. I lost my guts to try it and stationed myself just to document their jumps.
Our adventure was capped with a local style Tinolang Native Chicken. We left Governor’s Rapids nearly 3:ooPM.
You would recognize that you are about to enter the municipality of Nagtipunan as the scenery would dramatically change from vast plains to endless rolling hills.What is unique about this hills is that the locals learned to utilize the slopes to plant different crops, but mostly corn.
We hurried to the Landingan Viewpoint in Nagtipunan as we need to to be in Diamond Cave Park before 5:00PM. Thank you for the newly paved road in Nagtipunan we arrived just in time. The marker that you are near the viewpoint if you passed the steep convoluted road. Be ready to immerse yourself with an epic view as the vehicle goes higher and higher. At last, the view deck!
Lush and expansive rolling hills.
Relaxing sound of a free-flowing river cutting itself across the wide valley.
Leaves bristling against the cool mountain wind
The setting sun kissing our cheeks.
Wild birds chirping hidden among the tree branches.
This is Landingan Viewpoint.
No eyesore houses or structures, no crowd, just us and Mother Nature.
It was a brief stay. Diamond Cave is waiting.
There is no clear signage or marker on the way to Diamond Cave Park and that is where a guide is crucial. As we turned left to the road leading to the cave, the sun starts to set. From the parking area, we need to walk for an approximate 15-20 minutes to get to the registration area. We arrived just in time. The cave guides are still there and luckily my previous guide was there! After paying the entrance fee and hurried to the cave entrance with a team of three guides.
The park is being developed into a beautiful mountain resort where its waters are coming from the streams from the mountain. Multi-tiered pools and artificial falls are currently being constructed. Seeing the development, I believe this resort will be one of the best in Quirino province. I am eyeing to visit again this park once it is completely finished.
We spent almost an hour caving and taking obligatory grou-fies with the interesting structures and rock formations. We waded through cold knee high flowing waters, crossed steep rocky trails and true to its name, marveled on formations sparkling with diamond-like specks. It was my first time to cave explore with a group. We were fetched by another group of cave guides to fetch us. We need to hurry as it is getting dark outside and according to them, there are chances that snakes could appear somewhere.
It was almost night when we finished spelunking. We thanked our guides and hurried off to have our dinner.
We ate our dinner at a local eatery in Cabarroguis and tried their version of Pancit Cabagan and Pancit Batil Patong! Naimas! Unfortunately, we are not able to document as we are really tired and hungry.
As soon we are done, we paid our meals and hurried off to our homestay. One by one in the shower. After we exchanged photos, shortly, snoring… Zzzzzz.
FAST FORWARD AGAIN, AFTER THE TREK:
GOODBYE AGAIN QUIRINO!
Sadly, we packed our things and bade our goodbyes to Tita Mina. She was like our second mother in Quirino. She treated us as if we are kin.
We passed by a store in Diffun to buy its unique Tubikoy. Hesitant at start, one of the team offered her box of Tubikoy for us to try. The moment our taste buds sensed its heavenly taste, we saw ourselves hurrying to order more boxes of it. They were freshly cooked and still warm. Yum! We bought the entire stock of Tubikoy for the day. It was a good day for business for her.
The team has not yet experienced the other major tourist destinations and activities that Quirino province could offer but we ticked all the planned activities we set!
- River Cruise. Check!
- River Tubing. Check!
- Spelunking. Check!
- Cliff Diving. Check!
- Food Trip. Check!
- Viewdeck. Check!
- Trekking. Check!
- Waterfall Adventure. Check!
- Selfie. Many Check!
- Pasalubong Buying. Check!
Agyammanak from me and from the group! Thank you Mam Aurea, Sir Orlan, Sir Richard and Tita Mina!
I shall return again!
How to commute?
There are buses in Manila that goes to Maddela, Quirino. Alternatively, you can board buses going to Tabuk/Santiago/Tuguegarao and alight to Cordon, Isabela Junction. Hop on a van going to Maddela and ask the driver to drop you at the Tourism Office.
It is best to arrange your trip with the friendly Tourism Officers of Quirino. See them personally at the Tourism Office in Cabarroguis. They would assign a guide, if you need, and coordinate homestays or hotel. The road to the jump-off point is quite tricky and it is recommended to have a guide from the tourism office.
Should you have a private vehicle, you can possibly arrange to meet your guide at the junction to Diffun (you will pass by Diffun before Cabarroguis if you are from Cordon Junction).
Sir Orlan 0935 914 1007
Joyce Homestay 0917 682 0418
Van Rental 0906 537 3075
The Team’s Expenses (as of January 2017)
|ITEM||COST||DIV by 9 PAX|
|Van Rental (Pampanga-Quirino)||PHP 15,000.00||PHP 1,666.67|
|Homestay + 2 Days Breakfast||PHP 4,050.00||PHP 450.00|
|Food Expense for 2 Days||PHP 1,475.00||PHP 163.89|
|Guide Fee for 2 Days||PHP 1,000.00||PHP 111.11|
|Governor’s Rapids Activities||PHP 1,740.00||PHP 193.33|
|Diamond Cave Entrance Fee||PHP 450.00||PHP 50.00|
|Ganano Falls Guide Tip + Donation||PHP 450.00||PHP 50.00|
|COST PER HEAD||PHP 2,685.00|
Featured Image credit to Christian Poblete