LOTR : Abra - Ilocos Sur - Apayao - Cagayan - Isabela - Ifugao

by - Friday, July 22, 2016

In the attempt of doing a life on the road, opportunity finally opens when long weekend sets because of Holy Week. Holy Week starts from Holy Monday to Easter Sunday but office works is usually until Holy Wednesday. On my part I asked permission from my boss to take an early shift that day so I can leave the office as early as 3 pm and be at the terminal by 4 pm. Trips everywhere during this time of the year is very hectic since almost everyone are going either to their hometown or visiting places trying to take advantage of this long long weekend.

This trip will cross out provinces from Cordillera Administrative Region or simply CAR. The remaining provinces I haven’t been to CAR are Abra, Apayao, and Ifugao. It was supposed to be just a CAR trip but upon researching which province I’ll go first I discover that along the way I will be passing through provinces on Region 2 or the Cagayan Valley. To make most of my time I decided to include some provinces from Cagayan Valley on this trip: Cagayan and Isabela.

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The plan is to visit Abra first, then Apayao, Cagayan, Isabela, then last is Ifugao. 

It was a long queue at Dominion lines that day, I chose Dominion bus since it’s the same bus we used to take whenever we visit my dad’s hometown La Union and their price is a bit cheaper than the others.

Together with my friend, Bella, who happened to join me on a last minute notice, we left Manila at exactly 10:30 in the evening of March 23, 2016. I am that exhausted that I woke up when we are already at Ilocos Norte, few miles before we reach our first destination, Abra.

At exactly 7:30 AM of March 24 we finally reach Bangued, Abra. It was a quiet town and you can feel the fresh air and a smiling faces welcoming you. I listed a lot of landmarks to visit though I know it will be impossible to visit all. But my target has always been to visit at least one Church, a Museum, a Nature trip, and Historical landmark.
Since its Holy Week I expected a mass on the Cathedral which is advantage on our part because we wanted to attend one. Our first stop is the Cathedral at Bangued. Good thing the mass just started and we happened to attend and listened to one.

Bangued Cathedral

After the mass we eat breakfast suggested by the locals then visit the Police Station for some assistance and we head to our next destination, the very famous “Angalo Footprint” located at San Quintin. It took us almost two hours to reach it. Apparently, the famous landmark is much accessible if you take the Ilocos Sur route. Ilocos Sur sits right beside Abra province, and it takes only a tricycle to reach the place. I thought it’s a bit near but it wasn’t. Thus became the almost two hours ride to see the place. The tricycle driver that we talked to informed us that if we take the Abra route we need to pass through a swamp and a forest to reach it while if we are taking the Ilocos Sur route the tricycle can take us there directly. So we agreed.

Tangadan Tunnel

Tugot ni Angalo on the background

There are still a lot of places to visit at Abra and I plan on going to Apayao via Abra route, the locals told us that bus and jeepney trips are very limited during this time. The only possible route we can take is that if we go to Ilocos.

Bella suggested that since we are already at Ilocos Sur why not visit the famous Vigan, it was just a few kilometers away, I haven’t been to Vigan so I agreed immediately! She’s been to Vigan and willingly to give me a tour of the place. It was spontaneous! And I am loving it, really! And besides we still have almost 12 hrs time to consume.
The same tricycle take us to Bantay Church, one of the famous church at Ilocos Sur. It was full of people especially their Bell Tower, it was understandable, given its Holy Week and Maundy Thursday, a time for Visita Iglesia.

Bantay Church

Bell Tower

Right after Bantay Church we head to Vigan’s Cathedral, The St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral. Same with Bantay Church it was full of tourists and a lot of devotee’s. Of course, visiting Vigan will never be complete without taking a tour on their historical and ancestral houses and streets and thus include tasting their empanada!!! We also visit Crisologo Museum and another Church that I really forgot the name.

Vigan's Cathedral

It was around 3 in the afternoon when we finished our Vigan tour. Learning our route going to Apayao we change at the comfort room of the bus terminal and wait for the bus bound to Ilocos Norte, where we are taking a Tuguegarao trip that will pass through Apayao Junction.

We left Ilocos Sur around 4 pm of the same day and we reached Ilocos Norte almost around 9 pm and from there by taking a tricycle we head to another terminal bound to Tuguegarao. And our next journey begin. Rain starts pouring and the sky gets darker and darker and the road gets slippery and a bit dangerous. But I was so sleepy to bother. We informed the bus conductor to drop us at Apayao Junction.

At around 2 in the morning we finally reached Apayao. Since it was that early, no tricycle is available, luckily, there is a mini grocery store that also offers mini food stall that we have a place to stay in for a while. And yes, it was still raining.

One of the locals who are eating at the store suggest a place owned by her sister. By 4 in the morning we are at their hotel and finally doze off on a nice bed in an air-conditioned room. It was still raining, and I am hoping a sunny day later for our adventure at Apayao awaits!

It was still raining a bit. A bit. But hopefully it will not pour as hard as it was last night.
I already contacted a local to handle our adventure at Apayao. Our first stop is the Rock Formation at Marag then Footbridge at Cagandungan just a 2 km from Marag Barangay Hall. Then our last stop is Lussok Cave. Original plan is to also visit the Manacota Underground River, they say it is quite similar to Underground River of Palawan and I wanna see the difference. But since we started late and rain is approaching, locals did not advise us to continue, they said that if ever rain poured hardly, we might be stuck inside if the water gets high and there’s a chance especially if the rain is as bad as like of yesterday. So yeah.

Marag Rock Formation

Footbridge at Cagandungan

Lussok Cave

We spent the night still at Borromeo’s Residence and we leave at exactly 3 in the morning the following day, Saturday, March 26, 2016. Bella and I need to part ways that day for she needs to be back at Manila by evening because of work. And I still have three provinces to finish in two days.

As per the owner of Borromeo’s there are fx that leaves Apayao going to Tuguegarao at 3 am. But since its holy week and just Black Saturday there are no passengers that early, only a few. The driver leaves junction at around 6 am already. We reached Tuguegarao at around 9 am and I bid goodbye with Bella. And it’s just me, all alone now.

I ride a tricycle going to Tuguegarao’s Cathedral. Sad to say that there is no mass that time, but the Church is busy for the Easter Sunday. After my visit at the church I ride a tricycle again going to the famous pancit batil patung. A dish well-known from their place. I need to try it.

Tuguegarao Cathedral

Pancit Batil Patung

It was hard to leave this place without exploring more. I know that there are more to this place and I am willing to be back here together with my friends. I’ll be visiting some other church but I don’t have much time and I still don’t know how to go to Ifugao coming from Isabela.

Another tricycle ride going to a terminal to Isabela. It was a quick ride for its not that far from Tuguegarao. I just got into wrong drop off for my first destination in Isabela and I don’t want to go back for there is a limited source of transportation there and really, no one knows the Church I wanted to visit. So I head to my next destination which I am eyeing to visit even before and part of my Church bucket list is The San Matias Parish Church or most commonly known as Tumauini Church  in Isabela.

Tumauini Church

Afraid that I will be lost on the road going to Ifugao I decided to leave Isabela right after paying a visit on the Police Station where I asked for assistance. They are kind enough to help me on how to go to Ifugao. It was a long and exhausting journey and part of it is heart-racing-pulse for I don’t know what will happen to me next. It was almost 6 in the evening when I reached the road going to Ifugao. And I am terrified and excited at the same time. Most of the locals don’t understand and speak tagalog. I did mentioned the name of the place I am visiting and where I am planning to stay. From that they gave me a direction on where to ride a tricycle.

Finally at 11 pm I arrive at Ifugao, a lot of mishaps happened to me and will narrate it on separate blog post. After finalizing my activity for the next day which is actually a first solo hike at Mt. Kapugan I sign-off.

Easter hike and a first solo hike. What makes it more memorable is not just because its my first solo hike but because we get lost descending the mountain. But I still find it amusing and entertaining whenever I think of it. After that I head to a falls nearby.

Mt. Kapugan on the background

Uttuh Falls

It was almost 7 in the evening when I arrive at Ohayami Bus Terminal. Since it was Easter Sunday and most of the people are going back home to Manila for work and school bus stations are full of people once again. I am just a chance passenger and the chance is really 0%! Luckily, someone back-out and I have a seat in the middle. Ugh, better than none. Though it took almost 19 hrs of travel just by going home to Manila. There are heavy traffic at Nueva Vizcaya. I got home by Monday at around 4 in the afternoon.

Survived the CAR and Cagayan Valley trip! Will I ever do it again despite all the mishaps? Definitely, YES! It was fun and adventurous, and adrenaline rush all over me. After this trip I realize even better that I love to travel alone or in just a few number of companion. One or two is enough for me. Really. No hassle. And few heads needs deciding on certain things. Haha!

I will be narrating the detailed trip on my next blog post for each of the provinces I’ve been to. As for the budget, I really wasn’t able to track everything, but all I have for that trip is 5,000 pesos and my expenses only is 4,500 pesos. J

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  1. Ellie, there is so much beautiful history here... it looks like you had a wonderful time xox

  2. Lovely post dear! Have a great weekend! xx


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