River rush at Governor's Rapids
River rush at Governor’s Rapids

We came with rain the last time we were in Maddela, Quirino. The waters at Governor’s Rapids were murky and flow erratic like the weather. The recent visit this year was a side-trip from Echague, Isabela, a neighboring municipality across the provincial border. It was a smooth over an hour drive on paved roads. Friends from Isabela tourism seems to be chummy with the people here in Maddela. They knew each other. This time the sun shown bright, the waters a healthy pale green and the rapids inviting. Finally we get to experience this river adventure.

On one of the colorful boats by the river banks
On one of the colorful boats by the river banks

Governor’s Rapids Take 2

Flowing through the gorgeous wall of rock formations in Barrio Bisangal, Maddela is the Governor’s Rapids. The river is a tributary of the mighty Rio Grande or commonly known as the Cagayan River. The clear waters is attractive but the rapids can be lethal. It was believed a Japanese Governor during World War II drowned and disappeared in these same rapids. The body was never found.


Not to scare people that it’s not safe, the people who organize the river tours here are well-trained. I could see some developments here since we last visited. Cottages are now available for picnics or visitors. They already have a system here for guides and river staff. Life vest are required and the proper briefing before the activity starts.

Impressive rock formations during the ride
Impressive rock formations during the ride

Through the Rapids

We boarded one of the many colored canoes used for the river tour. They don’t have outriggers in order to freely navigate through rough waters. Our group has two boats. Our main guide started the tour with a quick pass under a natural shower. The rock formations weathered by the elements were impressive. Our guides tried to tickle our imaginations by suggesting different shapes from them. Some rock walls looks like a good place for experienced rock climbers to scale.

Then came the rapids. The wild river we were excited to cross. It was exciting at first but it kinda fizzled out quickly as it was short. I was expecting something lengthy like the Ulot River in Samar. Though we came to a spot where we could do some cliff diving. An activity we thoroughly enjoyed as we had chance for a little adrenaline rush from the jumps and chill time to swim while on water.

The white water portion of the river
The white water portion of the river

Cave Falls

Waterfalls inside the cave
Waterfalls inside the cave

An unexpected surprise side-trip along the river is the cave exploration. I had no idea there was a cave in the area. When we were told, I thought it was just a large hallow cavity. But this one we had to squeeze our way through a few meters to reach a waterfall inside. I thought this was fun and the waterfalls experience awesome. There was basin to swim and the flow of the falls was strong. It was cool and refreshing. The water was also drinkable taking it directly from the falls. If I had known, I would have risked taking my camera inside just to take a photo of the cave and falls.

It was almost dark when we rappelled out of the cave. We were all wet and exhausted. But the good kind of tired after hours of activity and exploration. I’m glad I was able to go back here. An adventure-filled afternoon in Quirino.

Cliff diving fun
Cliff diving fun

Essential Info

We got into Maddela, Quirino as a side trip from Isabela but there is a direct route from Manila. The following buses ply the Manila-Quirino route daily for Php 500 a way.

  • Five Star (Cubao) +632.851.6614
  • GV Florida (Manila) +632.743.3809 / +632.781–5894
  • Nelbusco – (Manila) +632.712 5902 / +632.743–1332
  • Northern Luzon Bus Line (Manila)

For info and assistance please contact the Tourism Office of Quirino at 0917.416.5945

Mouth of the cave
Mouth of the cave
A bat cave we passed by the river
A bat cave we passed by the river
The river becomes tranquil as the afternoon settles with less passing boats
The river becomes tranquil as the afternoon settles with less passing boats
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Ferdz

Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.


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