The summer solstice extended the days in the country. But here in Batanes, the days felt a lot longer. 4:11 AM the sky was already showing shades of blue. The milky way slowly dissolves into the sky over at Mt Riposed. The purple glow brightens and unveils the landscape. We were at the sunrise point of Rapang Cliffs. I climbed on some sharp limestone rocks to get a better view near the cliffs. As soon as I saw the view behind the high rocks, my jaw dropped in amazement. I never thought Batanes could mesmerize me anew, but the landscape near the northern edge of the country just did.
As the second largest province in the Philippines, Isabela seems less explored. Maybe the places are far between that it takes considerable time to explore them. Or municipalities are cut-off by the Sierra Madre mountains like coastal villages Maconacon, Divilacan or Palanan that it takes a plane ride to get there. When an invitation to explore Echague, one of the municipalities of Isabela, came in, I immediately took the offer. Exploring new places is always exciting whatever I may find there. In this case, Echague is getting ready to showcase their eco-tourism attraction, the Madadamian Falls. A network of falls and streams found within the lush forest region of Echague.
Oh I am so looking forward to this. After days of hiking around Batanes, and recently a couple of daily hikes in Itbayat I was yearning for a place quiet to rest and recharge. I am excited to spend a night in Diura, an idyll fishing village in a quiet cove, east of Mahatao. I had been to Diura Fishing Village several times but haven’t tried spending a night. I wanted to take sunrise photos at the bay so being there would be advantageous. Our boat for Basco from Itbayat should have left already 2 hours ago. But I had to wait for 2 cows and 2 pigs on the boat. The sudden malfunction on the crane to hoist the cows added to the agonizing wait. I guess its just a little more time to endure for that much awaited repose.
I must admit. The urge to cover as much places as I can when traveling has lost its zing. New places still fascinate me but beyond the established tourist spots. Lately I have been visiting Bontoc, Mountain Province a lot. I’m still enticed to explore deeper into the area. My recent visit finds me hiking the Caneo to Tocucan Trail. Villages off the radar to most people since they are located in valleys tucked deep in the mountains. It was an idea thrown to us by our friend Suzzette which we gladly obliged as I was also looking for good suppliers for some native weaving.
“Tig tig tak! Tig tig tak!” I hear the sound of the loom beaters colliding. Creating a rhythmic beat as a weave of pattern slowly forms. I watch Auntie Benita busy with her loom at the balcony of her house overlooking the roof of her neighbors along with the high mountains hugging their village of Caneo (sometimes Can-eo). Her ever watchful grand daughter Shakira stays by her side. Observing how she skillfully coordinates her motions, from pedaling the treadles to shuffling the shuttle between the threads. Much like Shakira, Benita learned how to weave watching her mother as she grows up. Traditional Caneo weaving, which they call Tilar, is very much alive in this remote village.
Ilocos Sur is perhaps best known for Vigan’s Spanish-period architecture. But two hours away from the capital, in the windswept shores of Narvacan, an adventure camp is fast becoming a word-of-mouth gem. Narvacan Outdoor Adventure Hub, or NOAH, was founded in 2005, known only to a small circle of thrill-seeking explorers. They would drive seven hours to Narvacan to windsurf and paraglide at Bantay Abot hill, then later on, to scale the vertical walls of Via Ferrata. In February this year, NOAH’s management decided it’s time to extend its small family.
To travel is not only to see. It is to feel, to hear, and to taste. There is a compulsion to take a piece of every place back home. Hence, the thriving industry of souvenir items. Taking into consideration environmental preservation and sustainable tourism, there are certainly more preferable items than others. Fortunately, when you’re heading to the northern province of Cagayan, there are more than one pasalubong that does not only help sustain the community but also perfectly encapsulates the province’s identity. Here are three: