Today, I woke up in Tuguegarao.
It was Day 1 of Lakbay Norte, a Northern Philippines familiarization tour spearheaded by the Northern Philippines Visitors Bureau in cooperation with the visitors bureau of the provinces and cities we are visiting. Together with writers and photographers from major dailies, inflight & travel magazines, and fellow travel bloggers Anton, Ivan, Ferdz, Estan and Melo, we are going on a 7-day whirlwind tour of Northern and Central Philippines to see what these places can offer travelers.
Our first stop was Tuguegarao in the Cagayan Valley. In between the usual welcomes and press briefings, we went to one of Cagayan’s biggest attraction, the Callao caves. We climbed up 184 steps to get to the first dome, where we were greeted by an impressive array of stalactites. Further in was an even more impressive sight, the second dome with an opening right above a row of pews and altar. We explored the domes, learning more about stalactites and stalagmites and taking plenty of pictures.
From there we went down to the river bank, were we rode a boat to take us to the otherside. There, we were welcomed by one contingent of Cagayan’s festival. They treated us to a performance of their street dance, a dance performed in the honor of the Blessed Mother.
After lunch, we headed upstream for some kayaking adventure. Well, some went on a kayaking adventure, while some of us are content to just sit around the small beach and take pictures. We were still supposed to witness the circadian flight of bats, but as it started drizzling, we decided to just forgo the bats and head back to the city for some much needed rest, hot shower.
I’m writing this from my room in Hotel Lorita, while waiting for Sol, my roommate to finish freshening up. Day 1 isn’t over — we still have diner and another round of speeches and presentations. And we’ll be doing this for the next 6 days.
P.S. Dear Rotch, your hometown is very beautiful. I regret not taking up your offer to bring us here sooner. Let’s go sometime this year, yes?