Exploring the Cagayan Region: Calvary Hills, Magat Dam, Capisaan Cave System, Sam's Rock Resort and Landingan Viewpoint
It can be a disappointment when your heart and soul is set to go on a planned vacation then all of a sudden you have to cancel it due to a deadly virus. This is exactly what happened to us when we planned to go to Sagada, Mt. Province and Buscalan, Kalinga over the weekend but tourism was suspended due to the Corona virus. Now we have to rush and find for an alternative place to visit, luckily for us we are near Region 2 or the Cagayan Valley, known to be the road less traveled by tourists. It was in fact the best alternative as it turns out that the Cagayan Region has some of the best places to show.
Here is a summary of the places we visited in the Cagayan Region:
1) Mt. Calvary of the Far East: Calvary Hills in Iguig, Cagayan Valley
2) Magat Dam of Ramon, Isabela
3) Capisaan Cave System of Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya
4) Sam’s Mountain View Resort and Hotel at Diffun, Quirino
5) Landingan Viewpoint of Nagtipunan, Quirino Province
Mt. Calvary of the Far East: Calvary Hills in Iguig, Cagayan Valley
If you just want a quiet place to emote or to release your stress, the Calvary Hills of San Antonio de Galicia Church located at Iguid, Cagayan is one of the best places to visit. It offers a wide rolling terrains with life size images and status depicting the 14 Stations of the Cross. According to my travel companion who is from Tuguegarao, it is a well-known pilgrimage site and it is often visited by devote Catholics during the Lenten Season as it offers a memorable experience during the Holy Week.
Magat Dam of Ramon, Isabela
Built in 1982, the Magat Dam is the second largest dam in the Philippines, one of the reasons why it is a must visit site in the country. Its main purpose is to provide irrigation water to agricultural land and of course to provide hydroelectric power.
Since we have our own car, it is only 20minutes away from the main highway of Ramon, Isabela. For those traveling with no car, you can charter a tricycle from the main road going to the Dam and perhaps ask the driver to wait for you as there are limited tricycles going in and outside the Dam.
The first thing I observed when we got there is that there are plenty of people having picnics on the ground of the Dam. There were also plenty of visiting tourists, it was as if the Dam was created to really cater tourists. The place has a scenic view and it has mountain ranges. Since its February, the water is low, hence the Dam is not much highlighted, but over-all it was a beautiful place to visit.
pictures from Magat Dam....
Capisaan Cave System of Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya
Ah, the highlight of our travel, the Capisaan Cave System of Barangay Capisaan, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. This is one of the places that is very much under rated as there were very few tourists that visits the place. When we talk about caves in Northern Luzon, majority of us only remembers the Sumaguing Cave of Sagada, Mt. Province. It can be because the cave is located in a very quiet town with no cellular signal and also it is quite far from the National Highway.
Capisaan Cave is actually the fifth largest cave in the Philippines measuring to 4.2 kilometers from the Lion Entrance. I’ve explored a lot a caves and I can say that for adventure seekers like me, this is so far the best. The cave is very much alive, water is flowing everywhere, stalactites and stalagmites and the other stones are still glimmering proudly for tourists to appreciate. This is definitely the haven for spelunkers for it has plenty of chambers, tunnels and holes where you have to crawl, jump and even swim. It is enough to ignite that excitement and fill that energy for explorers.
It is very dark inside but you are given flashlights to light your way. Just a tip of advice, wear long stretchable leggings and never ever wear shorts as there are stones that may wound your legs. I would also recommend that you wear rush guard or any long sleeves to protect your arms. You have to ready yourself to walk on icy cold water that are knee to chest deep.
In the information center, the guides will first orient you about the cave and provide safety precautions. They will offer you 3 options to explore the cave, first is “through and through” where you will explore the 4.2kms cave, second is “half way” where you have to explore only half of the cave and lastly is the “children’s route” which only takes 30minutes exploration of the exit of the cave. My advice? Take the longest route or through and through. Do not listen to your fear because the cave is definitely safe, besides you are given protective gears to protect yourself and a guide to ensure your safety. Also come to think of it, they will not open the cave for the public to explore if it is not safe and easy. The guides will also ask you some questions about your health and will definitely tell you if you are not fit to go through the cave.
The maximum time allotted to explore the whole cave is 4hours and 30 minutes with pictures and a lot of stop-over but we finished the route for only 3 hours. Like I said, it was not our first time to explore caves, hence, the spelunking experience was quite easy for us.
Rates, fees and fare:
I am writing this on February 2020 so the rates might have changed.
a) Spelunking fee “through and through”—Php280 for a group of five inclusive of helmet, flashlight, slippers entrance fees and tour guide.
b) Spelunking fee “half way” and “children’s route”—Php180 for a group of five inclusive of helmet, flashlight, slippers entrance fees and tour guide.
Note: If you are less than 5 in a group you still have to pay the 5 person since 5 person is to 1 guide. The summary of the fees is indicated in the picture attached to this.
Where to stay:
Accommodation in Capisaan and Kasibu is only homestay for only Php200 per head per night hence, do not expect for a hotel like accommodation. I would recommend the place where we stayed which is Manuel Pawid’s Homestay with contact number: 0926-370-2064. The family were very generous and hospitable; they are definitely one of the nicest people in town. The home cooked food of Mrs. Pawid is also delicious hence, I would advise you to have them cook your food besides, their charges are very cheap and affordable.
Since there is no cellular network in the area, you may contact Ms. Lorie Mae at 0906-227-3188, a relative of the Pawids who is working in Kasibu. She was the one who helped us with our reservations and who provided the information about the area.
How to get there:
When coming from Baguio City, you have to drop by Bambang terminal and take a tricycle going to Baldovie Compound then take a jeepney going straight to Capisaan, Kasibu before 12nn. The fare rate is Php100 per head and the travel time is around 2 hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours. For those first timers with private Car, you might take the ride for 4 hours from Bambang, 2hours Bambang to Kasibu and another 2 hours from Kasibu to Barangay Capisaan. If you think you’re lost, just ask. The locals are very friendly and helpful. During our visit, asking was our magic weapon to get there. It is one heck of a joy ride though, no guide, no GPS just the power of asking.
Sam’s Mountain View Resort and Hotel at Diffun, Quirino
Looking for the best hotel accommodation in town? Go to Sam’s Mountain View Resort and Hotel located at Purok 3 Maria Clara, Diffun, Quirino. It is a mountain resort because it is literally situated on a mountain. The best thing about the place is it is uphill and it is overlooking Diffun. Even if the place is still under construction, it already offers the best amenities. With restaurant that cooks delicious food, KTV bar, the best hotel rooms and of course my personal favorite, the swimming pool.
It has a very clean surrounding with spacious facilities. One will definitely feel amazed with the creativity of who ever made the idea of making the resort looks like a cave, it’s as if you are living like the Flintstones. Also, we are like the kings and queens of the modern era as we were treated like first class VIPs. So far the hotel personnel were very helpful and accommodating and all of our needs were provided from the time we arrive up to the time we left.
The brochure of the resort is attached to this.
Pamphlets from Sam's Mountain View Resort and Hotel.
Landingan Viewpoint of Nagtipunan, Quirino Province
Another highlight of our travel is the Landingan Viewpoint at Nagtipunan, Quirino Province. Experience the windy and cold breeze of the place like Baguio City. It is actually a flower garden on top of a hill where you can see the rivers and plains of Nagtipunan. It is perfect for family getaways since the hill can be easily trekked by adults, seniors and even children alike. If you are looking for the best instagramable photos, the place offers the best views.
The estimated travel from Diffun, Quirino is 2 hours on a private car. The entrance fee is Php25 per head and you also get to visit Diamond Cave and other tourist spots of Nagtipunan. Remember to wear jackets when you go there as it’s really cold.
Stop-over at Quirino Experiment Station.
There are many more places to visit in the Cagayan Region like the Maddela Waterfalls and Governor’s Rapid but with the limited time, perhaps it can be scheduled for another visit.