Quirino’s Basket of Happiness

Landingan Viewpoint in Nagtipunan

Quirino Province, the frontier of the Cagayan Valley Region, recently belatedly celebrated its 50th founding anniversary through its annual Panagdadapun Festival to formally announce the reopening of its tourism industry.

Literally meaning “gathering” in Ilocano, the weeklong celebration gathered the municipal festivals of the province’s six towns with a display of their rich cultures through music, song, dance, art, cuisine, and everything in between.

The merry-making has died town, but Quirino’s natural wonders bundled as a “Basket of Happiness Circuit” continue to beckon travelers who want to discover something more than the usual go-to places. Below are the “goodies” inside the tell-tale basket which will surely bring happy moments and fond memories.

Ganano Falls in Diffun

Ganano Falls (Diffun). The province’s most Instagrammable waterfalls, it boasts of a voluminous 100-foot drop and passes through the three minor cascades of Sabangaran, Nantugao and Sinipit, which have wide and deep cool basins. Situated at Diffun Eco Park, the trek commences at Baguio Village where visitors pass through Bagnes Nature Park for a taste of authentic Kankanaey tribal specialties such as tinumbo (rice cooked in bamboo) and kiniing (smoked meat) after the tour.

Provincial Capitol Complex (Cabarroguis). A sprawling 110-hectare government space, which is among the cleanest and greenest in the archipelago with plenty of spaces for environment-friendly development. For a glimpse of local history, walk into the Provincial Museum and Library, or fill your basket with souvenirs and native snacks at the adjacent One Town, One Product (OTOP) Center. Better yet, swing by the main dome-shaped Capitol Building where sunlight pierces through the bust relief monument of former President Elpidio Quirino.

Quirino Bamboo Eco Park

At the upper portion is the Quirino Watersports Complex, north Luzon’s only full course world-class and tournament-grade wake park, and comes with cozy accommodations and a pavilion overlooking an infinity pool.

Nature lovers can bask in the greeneries of the Orchidarium, Tree for Legacy Park, Bamboo Eco-Park, plant nurseries, and the tree-lined lake for a boating nirvana.

Aglipay Caves (Aglipay). Spelunking is a must-do at the 101-hectare Aglipay Caves and Campsite, which has hollow and fragile draws, amazing drapers and stunning stalactites attesting to the rich biodiversity of the watershed and forrestal land. Eight chambers have been mapped, and are ideal even for neophytes because of its moderate difficulty. For a complete adventure, cavers can sleep under the stars at the campsite which has a gazebo, toilets and cooking area.

Aglipay Caves

Quirino Experiment Station (Aglipay). A farm of the Department of Agriculture, QES produces and sells great-tasting organic food items, most notably its dragon fruit home-made ice cream and dairy products. This is punctuated by a huge cow monument on the provincial road which has become a landmark.

Governor’s Rapids (Maddela). A poster image because of its amazing rockscape and whitewater for an adrenaline pumping two-hour canoe cruise at a river which has been named several times as among the region’s cleanest inland bodies of water. Its natural features are majestic jagged limestone formations and a 30-foot rock platform for diving. Inside a crevices is a chest-deep natural pool which serves as a pit stop in the river tour.

An alternative or supplementary recreation is whitewater tubing which is as exciting as the boat ride along the Cagayan River tributary. Kayaking was recently added as an aquasport for those who wish to navigate the waterway more physically.

Governor’s Rapids in Maddela

Siitan River Park (Nagtipunan). Located on the far end of Quirino, tourists can cruise along the river aboard a dugout canoe and marvel at the geological wonders along the way. A picturesque rock formation is the “Bimmapor” which got its name from “bapor” because of its resemblance to a ship’s steel hull. The River Park is a superb venue for live band performances, special events, motor camping, and other off-the-grid adventures.

Another must-see is Landingan Viewpoint, the town’s highest point which has a commanding panorama of colorful flowers, the meandering river, Sierra Madre mountain ranges, and neighboring Aurora province.