-When I received the invitation three days before the actual trip in North Luzon, I was hesitant at first because one week out of the office was really long. But then again, why not? haha.
January 24, 2010
It was around seven in the evening when I arrived at the Victory Liner Terminal Station in Kamias. I walked with all my bags and searched for the bus until a lady in yellow shirt approached me and introduced herself as Charisse Anne Fernandez, one of the organizers from the North Philippines Visitors Bureau. CHA led me to the green bus covered with graphics. It stood out from the rest of the buses there. She pointed out a seat beside the window, where I saw my MEDIA ID for the tour.I didn’t know anyone from the group of Media people who were invited. Beside me was an ID which bears the name, LORRAINE. Few minutes later, the bearer of the name arrived and introduced herself, Raine from Manila Bulletin. So, my seatmate Raine became my new friend.
At around 8:15pm, the bus left Quezon City. Too bad, I forgot to bring a neck rest pillow. And so when I opened my eyes and stood up from my seat, I felt a bit of pain. It was 5:40 am when we arrived in Tuguegarao City. Quezon City-Tuguegarao City was approximately a 10-hour ride. whew!
I was really expecting a hot weather based on the stories that I heard about Tuguegarao. But to my surprise, it was a chilly morning.
An officer from the local tourism office first led us to the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral beside the Pastoral Center, where the Welcome Breakfast awaits our hungry stomachs.
After the press briefing and the hearty breakfast of native delicacies such as the Pancit Batil Patong , hot choco, puto’t dinuguan, the Lakbay Norte Media Participants headed to the Basilica Minore in Piat. Known as the pilgrimage center of the North, the Basilica Minore is visited by thousands of devotees of Our Lady of Piat, who is believe to be miraculous. One of the miracles of Our Lady of Piat was the healing of a local named Virginia Malana. She was diagnosed of cancer but her faith made her survived the deadly illness.
Before leaving the Basilica, the generous Cagayanons gave us some Paua, a sticky rice delicacy which contain peanuts, sesame seeds and sugar bits inside it. It tasted like chocnut. mmm…
From Piat, the group hopped again into the bus for the first adventure of the day: Spelunking and Rappelling in Callao Cave in Penablanca.
After a two-hour ride from Piat, we arrived in Penablanca, where the famous Callao Caves can be found. But lo and behold, our tour guide, Gerald, told us that we need to climb 187 steps before reaching the entrance to the cave. Alright, exercise.
Good thing, a resting area is available for those who feel tired.
Despite the struggle, the cave was worth the sweat. We were welcomed in the entrance to the first chamber by bats and swiflets called the Kallaw birds, where Callao Cave got its name. The Callao Caves [pronounced as Kal-law by the locals and kal-yaw in Spanish] have seven chambers.
Wandering inside the cave was not that difficult since cemented steps were placed in some parts of the cave.
Gerald, our tour guide, told us the names of each chamber and the stalactyte and stalagmite formations created by the Almighty.
The third chamber was like a scene in the Jurassic Park.
It was a battle between the Anaconda and the Crocodile.
Cagayan Valley is where adventure never ends. This is the tagline of the Department of Tourism Region II. True enough after spelunking in the cave, we tried rappelling just outside the cave. It was 20 feet high according to the handlers of the rope. From below, it seemed low. I told myself that I would try all the adventure stuffs in the tour. Gerald showed us the demo.
Among our group, Raine was the first one to go up but as a first-timer in rappeling, her fear of heights overpowered her. I was the next one who tried it. It’s my second time to rappel but it’s my first time to rappel on a rocky side of the mountain. The first rappel that I did was on a wall.
From above, it was high. hahaha. The fear on my face was caught by Estan here. Photo by Estan Cabigas.
This entry is becoming very long. lol!
I’ll post the next part of our first day in another entry for easy reading.