letters to my younger self

Escaping to Cagayan Valley on a Not So Fair Weather

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Whew! First trip for 2018. Cagayan Valley trip actually was one of the trips last year that failed to materialise, so we pushed it to happen this year and also to celebrate my elder sister’s birthday. She actually planned to have a solo trip – but being the annoying little sister – I insisted that I want to come too. (It being a fact that I don’t know anyone who wants to go to Cagayan Valley except her and thinking that there would be no more chance in the future – because I don’t want to go alone – I know, unusual for someone who enjoys being alone most of the time)

Flight to Tuguegarao

You know that feeling that you think everything works out terribly fine – we’re not late on the flight to Tuguegarao, we’ve got all our things packed, we even have breakfast at the airport, there’s no long queue on the departures area – it was all going smoothly – until we heard the announcement: “Flights to Tuguegarao is temporarily on hold due to awaiting weather condition.” I even got to memorise it because it was said over and over too many times I lost count. And then the end. “Your flight is definitely cancelled for today. For checked-in baggage, go to carousel number…” And I didn’t remember anymore.

I only recall us not knowing what to do but in the midst of it all – I am amused that I am very calm about it. I don’t know, it is my first time to have my flight cancelled but I am amazingly calm and I don’t understand why. I could’ve been all over the place because we don’t know what to do. So we just headed for the counter and the choices were: (a) to rebook the flight to Tuguegarao at 10am (our flight was scheduled at 7am) (b) to rebook the flight to Cauayan, Isabela at 10am (Isabela is near Cagayan) or (c) to refund the ticket via cash/credit card or travel credit.

I don’t know if our choice was the right choice but we did chose the first one – and then off we wait until the 10am flight to Tuguegarao. In which the passengers were actually quite amusing – because most of us were from the cancelled flight – and you can see the bewilderment on their (and our) faces when the announcement came again: “Flights to Tuguegarao is temporarily on hold due to awaiting weather condition.” It was epic. Repeat announcements and then suddenly they changed our boarding gate because we will be boarding – our flight was definitely not cancelled. I remember myself thinking if this is the right choice because I know the weather can’t be trusted.

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The flight was about an hour and I was greeted by the wonderful view of the clouds having different formations. And then when we reached Cagayan, I can only see fields and fields and it was so amazing and refreshing and it feels like I entered a new world entirely.

Travel to Sta. Ana, Cagayan

It was only gloomy when we arrived in the airport and we rode a tricycle to the van terminal. We ate lunch first and proceeded to ride the van going to Sta. Ana. At this point, it was starting to rain. The ride was about 3 to 4 hours and it was raining. When we arrived at Sta. Ana terminal, we still need to ride another tricycle that would take us to Sta. Ana Beach Club in Anguib Beach. At this point I am fairly certain that the rain won’t stop so we bought an umbrella. (which will be my companion for the whole trip)

The tricycle ride was about an hour and darn, we’ve been travelling since morning of this day – we arrived at the resort a little bit before 5pm and upon stepping outside the tricycle, I felt the strong cold winds and waves that make me think twice about swimming.

Anguib Beach Overnight

There were no people in the Anguib Beach that time. Figures. You can feel the wind and waves colder that your average cold. There was a reason our first flight to Cagayan was cancelled.

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But we didn’t fret. We originally booked the glamping accommodation but since it was raining, we changed it to one room. And then we ate early dinner: Sinigang na Baboy and Grilled Tilapia. And then it was still early but we can’t afford to stroll in the beach because it was so cold and a little bit raining.

Which is sad because Anguib beach is awesome – we just had a fat chance with the weather though.

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So, I just read Good Omens in the bed and we slept early. After all, it was a tiring day and we need to rest. Also we plan to go to Palaui the next day.

Surviving mud trails in Palaui Island

We woke up at 7am – whew! Congratulations, not-so-morning persons! It was not raining anymore but the sky is filled with thick gray clouds and the winds were faring stronger today. We tried to walk beside the beach and the sand was very fine – strong winds got nothing on this sand.

After packing up all of our things, it was time to leave for Palaui – it’s such a waste that we didn’t have much time in Anguib beach – but it was really not a good weather condition so we just made the most of what we had. One final look in Anguib Beach and off we go to Palaui Island via boat.

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We rode through the mangroves because we can’t bear the strength of the Pacific Ocean waves. It was a bit scary because up above the blue sky isn’t showing, in front of me I can only see the sea stretching into everything and we are being splattered by millions of tiny droplets of rain I wonder when we could’ve chosen a perfect weather to Cagayan.

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Alas, after I don’t know how many minutes, or after my jacket was entirely soaking wet we reached Palaui, or Punta Verde. I don’t know which is which. We should be having breakfast now but the food isn’t yet cooked so they told us we can go to the waterfalls first – since it is very near.

Note to self: Near = 30 to 45 minutes walk/ trek

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Yep. But since it is raining the trek took an hour. And the difficulty level is 10/10. Muddy paths to the point where my slippers (yes, I’m wearing ordinary slippers, I didn’t get the note that we are going to trek) were sticking on the mud, my feet swimming in them and it was difficult to walk and there were times that I almost slipped and swam into the mud but didn’t because of my trusty ‘ole umbrella. 🙂

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And then the final road to the waterfalls is we need to cross this waterfalls crossing (like a river crossing except it’s falls) holding on tightly on a rope. I took off my slippers and crossed on foot. Sometimes I do wonder where I get my nerves to cross things like this when I know I easily get swept away.

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And then the waterfalls – it’s name is Baratobot Falls by the way. We are rewarded with a stunning view of the waterfalls – all to ourselves – and if that wasn’t enough, the almost chilly water emanating at the top of the waterfalls. At this time I don’t know if the coldness is a reward or a punishment. 🙂

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Almost Island Hopping Before Departing to the City

We trekked back to the house. And the sun was shining a bit by now and we ate Longganisa, Sunny Side Up Egg and Pinakbet. Birthday meal of my birthday girl sister. It was delicious. I don’t know if it’s only because we’re tired for the trekking or because it really tastes awesome because it’s home-cooked.

Since the sun is shining we thought we could trek to Cape Engano light house so we tried. Rode the same boat again for about 15 minutes and when we come up to register – it suddenly darkened. Rains were looming and they didn’t allow us to trek to Cape Engano because it will be too dangerous to trek for 3 hours in that weather condition. I’m thinking the levels of Baratobot Waterfalls Trek times Five.

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So, to kill time, some of the people there shared stories with us – I think it was about an hour before we decided we need to keep going and we’ll head back to Tuguegarao City. And it was amazing that they called the van terminal to tell them that we need to ride a van (a heads up for us to catch the last van heading to Tuguegarao that day).

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While we were on the boat, we saw this island and asked if we can stop over to that. It was actually the Crocodile Island that we planned to go to that day but decided not to because of the rain. But because the weather is fair, we stopped and strolled around it. It could’ve been so wonderful if we could swim in there (if only the weather permits).

Tuguegarao City Mcdo

We went to San Vicente Port after that. It was time to come back to the city. They gave us time to prep up and then we rode tricycle again to the van terminal. This time I think the travel only took 3 hours at best.

Having no rooms booked yet, we decided to have the planning session at Mcdo Tuguegarao. It was the cleanest Mcdonald’s that I ever saw. So there, we ate the usual and planned where to stay.

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We booked a room in Taj Hotel (which is not so nice but thinking about the price maybe you only get what you pay for). Alas, I can take a bath nicely. 🙂 It was a long day and we decided again to sleep early but unfortunately for me I can’t sleep so I read the book again.

Cagayan Valley City Tour

This day started with the most unpleasant breakfast I ever had. In fact I could’ve chosen not to eat the breakfast at that time. We packed our bags and left our backpacks in the front desks.

We rented a tricycle for the day. Our route is Callao Caves, Calvary Hills and Cagayan Cathedral. Wow, letter C overload.

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Callao Caves is located in Penablanca, Cagayan and is one of the most wonderful caves that I ever saw. It has its own space to have mass, crystals, stalagmites and a lot of other interesting things. It originally has 13 chambers but we could only get to the seventh one.

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Calvary Hills is located in Iguig – the one thing I liked here is that they sell streetfoods – and the mango was very tasty.

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We weren’t able to get inside the Cagayan Cathedral – it is closed on Weekdays – maybe because there were no masses.

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We ate Pansit Batil Patong – Cagayan’s specialty food and I’ll admit it was very delicious.

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Catching the Bus Back Home

We have more than an hour before the our bus to Manila goes so we stayed at the very same Mcdo Tuguegarao. The Cagayan Valley trip is short but sweet. Loaded with weather failures but I was still thankful I got to go there and I think we will try to come back again – when we are certain that the weather will be perfect. You can’t help but think it was so beautiful over there.

There is something in Cagayan that I couldn’t quite put my finger into. Maybe it’s because some of my roots were scattered there that it feels like half a home – almost like Ilocos. Or I don’t know, I remember when I was a child and Papa always mentions Cagayan on their trip to Ilocos and me always picturing it out on my mind as a different kind of province.

So, the ten-hour-travel back home is okay – I even got to watch Jackie Chan’s film The Foreigner which is so funtastic – everyone around us are sleeping but there we are excitedly watching the movie.

So there. Sure I’ll come back. On better weather conditions. I guess I got to experience Cagayan in one of their off-peak seasons and not-so-nice weather kinda like being with someone pissed or angry (what is this analogy?) but I enjoyed it already how much more will I enjoy the trip if it got the perfect weather?

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So, did we regret the choice we made? I guess not. I just hoped the weather could’ve fared better but what more could I ask for – at least I got to go there. Some people spent most of their lives stuck in a place they didn’t know they could leave behind. I was one of the blessed ones to have the opportunity to go and see places I didn’t know I could. It was always empowering and it keeps me on my toes, that the world – as ever and always – doesn’t revolve in my self and petty problems and we’re all just tiny dots making the most of what we have, hoping we’ll make a wonderful mark to leave in this world. 🙂

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