A Taste of Tuguegarao City, Callao Cave, & Noodles

Our North Luzon Road Trip Leg #5
A Taste of Tuguegarao City, Callao Cave, &  Noodles

by Danny Tariman

Tuguegarao is the urban center of Cagayan Valley and the capital city of Cagayan province. During summer, the temperature in this city sizzles to over 40 degrees Celcius, and is probably one of the hottest places in Luzon. This was our 4th leg of our North Luzon road trip.

The winding bridge of  Patapat.
The winding bridge of Patapat.

We left Pagudpud Beach at about 9am moving east-ward towards the direction of Cagayan province. We passed by a famous bridge in the area, the Patapat viaduct. It is long winding bridge at the edge of a mountain and hanging above the sea. The view is indeed postcard-perfect!

We continued our long drive – the longest I had driven in this road trip without a stop – going futher south-east. We passed by mountains and fields, and truly this is what I really like in distance driving. It refreshes my soul as I view the natural beauty of the surroundings. What I had noticed though, is that the mountains in this trip (east of Luzon) were greener than the mountains we passed 2 days ago (west of Luzon). Maybe the weather; I don’t know.

A rice field we passed in Cagayan Valley
A rice field we passed in Cagayan Valley

We had a pit-stop at Alcala town where we refilled our drinking water tank. We also had a quick visit to the market for anything we can buy – a local food or item. And yes, we were fortunate as we were able to buy a local version of “tupig”. This one is not grilled and is wrapped in fresh banana leaves, while the “tupig” that I had known long time ago from Pangasinan is grilled. We had a good snack stop in this town.

We drove further south reaching Tuguegarao City just about lunch time. The city is bustling with urban activity – jeepneys, tricycles, pedestrians walking. You will also see the common sight in Metro Manila, lines of popular fast-food restaurants. But as my family agreed, we will not eat food available in the metro.

My family in front of St Peter Cathedral.

We first stopped at the St Peter Metropolitan Cathedral where we offered our prayers and thanksgiving. The church is the homebase of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao. This is a clean-looking church made of bricks outlined with plaster painted in white. In the inside you will see a mixture of old and new – old ceiling showing the wooden braces, with new chandeliers hanging.

We crossed the street towards a mall. As we were all hungry, we quickly looked for a local dish we can eat immediately. We found from the mall’s food court some stalls offering these local dishes:

Pacit batil patong
Pancit batil patong
Pancit Cabagan
Pancit Cabagan

pancit batil patong and pancit Cabagan. These are 2 varieties of noodle preparation, and we tried them both! The pancit batil patong is a stir fried noodles with pork and vegetables with fried whole egg on top. The pancit Cabagan on the other hand is made from noodles from Cabagan, Isabela, sauteed in crispy pork, igado (pork liver stew) and vegies with rich thick sauce.

After our quick lunch, we drove to the Callao Cave which is about a 20 minute travel from the city. At the tourist desk, we met another “Willy” – the third “Willy” for this road trip! This time he was our tour guide for the cave exploration.

My family at the entrance of Callao Cave
My family at the entrance of Callao Cave

The cave entrance is several steps up from the road. When we reached near the entrance, we all felt a cool waft of breeze coming out of the cave. It was really very cool; it was a refreshing treat for our weary body catching breath because the climb.

Once inside, it was a different world – stalactites and stalagmites greeting us all over. We were told by our guide that the cave has 7 chambers. The one that really caught my curiosity is the “Cathedral” – a chamber with high ceiling, and an altar look-alike in front. We were told that Masses where held in the past in this chamber.

The "cathedral" inside the Callao Cave
The “cathedral” inside the Callao Cave

We walked towards the inner chambers but we did not pursue anymore the innermost because we are already happy experiencing first few chambers.

We drove back to the city, and then finally headed back to Maharlika highway on our way to Santiago City, Isabela where we plan to sleep for the night. We would have visited the Piat Church but due to time constraints, we decided to forgo seeing this beautiful church.

We passed though highways and valleys. I enjoyed viewing the rural scenic beauty of the Cagayan as we drove towards Isabela province.

We reached Santiago City very late for this travel – at about 8pm. We were suppose to taste local dishes but it was a bit late, and so we “forced” ourselves eating at a popular fastfood chain.

We had not pre-booked hotels for this travel, and so after our dinner, I looked for a good hotel. Unfortunately, the 2 good hotels in the city that we checked are both full.

Left with no choice, we drove a couple of kilometers back to the city outskirts and we found this really nice hotel with big rooms and very reasonably priced! I believe this is a blessing as the accommodation is indeed very good. My family enjoyed a restful and peaceful sleep.

After our breakfast the following day, we hit the road again for the 6th leg – and our final stop – of our road trip: the Banawe Rice Terraces.

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