Lakbay Norte VI Part 3: Of Cagayan and Things Unplanned

Nuestra Señora de Piat

Our custom Lakbay Norte Victory Liner bus shuddered to a stop and, with a noticeable soreness to my tushy, I woke. From the window, I saw that the weather had turned bleary. We’d been traveling for 12 hours, spanning the length of Nueva Ecija all the way to Cagayan. To here, in the municipality of Tuguegarao.

After shaking off sleep from our eyes and a round of pandiculation, one by one, my companions and I disembarked. It was past 7AM but it felt like the sun got lazy and was taking its time to get up. A light drizzle was underway and wisps of morning fog blurred the edges of things. There was a dullness to the scene, almost like it was painted with watercolor.

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Claveria and Tuguegarao Side-trip Cagayan Chronicles 2011

Let’s literally go beyond what North Luzon is mostly known for. Go past the borders of Ilocos Norte and step into the neighboring town of Claveria in Cagayan. I was awed by the raw beauty of Claveria even under gloomy skies on my first visit that I immediately planned a return trip soon after I got back to Manila. I was able to spend a few days here with my friends and found it as a destination in itself. Here you can find a dedicated video, the itinerary and travel budget chart for claveria and a side-trip to Tuguegarao.

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In Transit: Tuguegarao to Manila via GV Florida Sleeper Bus

When we did our Backpack Photography Banaue 101, we took the GV Florida and was surprised to find that there are actually sleeper bus here in the Philippines. I had my share of riding a sleeper bus when I was in Laos, journeying from Pakse to Vientiane and finding them here made me excited. We were joking then that we should try for the heck of it. Being in Tuguegarao, we now had a valid reason to try it out on our way home. So after a day of spelunking in Callao and Sierra Cave, we trooped back to our hotel and prepared for the ride home via GV Florida’s Sleeper Bus to Manila.

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Cagayan: Going Subterranean in the Living Sierra Cave in Penablanca

For the more adventurous type, Sierra Cave, which is a very short distance from Callao Cave offers a lot more excitement with numerous cave formations in its pitch-black environs. We had our lunch after the Callao Cave exploration and then set off for a short hike up from the road. The cave mouth is barred with gates but since we informed them ahead, Ted was able to secure the key. Sierra Cave is one of my favorite caves because it’s a perfect example of a living cave which is ideal for studying various rock formations. Below I’m sharing an excerpt from an article I wrote back in 2005 for a magazine. It was my first visit to the cave. Nothing much has changed since then which is a good thing.

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Cagayan: Callao Man Pushing Filipino History Further in Penablanca

It was a choice whether we’ll go back to Manila the same route which is through Laoag or do a horse-shoe route and have a side-trip in Tuguegarao instead. While I’ve been to Tuguegarao several times already in the past years, our friend Erick hasn’t been there and it’s been five years since Og last visit in the area. So the group decided it would be real interesting to go through Tuguegarao instead and stay there for the night before finally heading back to Manila.

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Lakbay Norte: Cagayan and the Basilica of Our Lady of Piat

Lakbay Norte enters Cagayan Valley and Visit Piat Basilica

North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB) gathered around a number of people from different publications like Inquirer, Manila Bulletin, Mabuhay, Cebu Smile, Seair, Seair Inflight, Zest Air, Asian Traveler, Sidetrip then mix in a good number of bloggers in one Victory Liner Bus. While everyone doesn’t really know everybody at first except for the names on the media list which we may or may not have googled on, we all have one thing in common – Travel. And for 7 days on the road in one bus this could be one heck of an adventure. Lakbay Norte NPVB Media Tour starts.

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