Tuguegarao City is a small young city in Cagayan Province, northeast of Luzon. This happens to be my hometown. I thought of starting to write this entry before other places as others might be interested on how to get here. Plus, this is the most familiar place for me.
Some facts about Tuguegarao:
Tuguegarao is the capital city of both the Province of Cagayan and the Cagayan Valley Region (Region II). It is supposedly the center of education, trade, commerce, industry and culture of the region. Current daytime population of Tuguegarao is roughly 132,000 with a nighttime population of 129,539 according to the 2007 Philippine Census. So, the city center is quite populated.
The city is subdivided into 49 smaller government units, known as the Barangays in the Philippines. The Barangay is a community government that has been established since pre-Hispanic times. The city has four districts namely the central business district (known as Centro), regional offices district (known as the Carig Regional Center), new sites development area (Buntun, Cataggaman, Pallua, and Bagay), and the rural agricultural center (found in the eastern Barangays).
The city government is made up of one city mayor, one city vice-mayor, fourteen city councilors (twelve elective and two ex-officios), and the local department heads. The 49 Barangays have their own government which is made up of one chairman, eight councilors (seven elective and one ex-officio) and appointed officials.
What to enjoy in the city:
The tourist spots of Tuguegarao are usually ruins of the old Hispanic Town such as the Tuguegarao Cathedral (Sts. Peter & Paul Metropolitan Cathedral), the St. Hyacinth Chapel (Ermita de San Jacinto), the Horno (ruins of the old Spanish Brick Place), the Buntun Bridge (an iconic bridge for Cagayanos that stretches around 2.5Km), and the Cagayan Provincial Capitol (office of the Provincial Governor, that used to house the Gubernadorcillos *if I am not mistaken***).
Food here is not as exotic as other Asian cities, however, due to mixture of cultures and the integration of the Ybanag Culture, there have been foods that are uniquely Ibanag. The Pancit Batil Patong (also known as Pancit Tuguegarao) is one of the most common foods in the city. Almost everywhere in the city, you’d find a panciteria that showcase their own version of the famous Batil Patong. What is Pancit Batil Patong? It is like any other stir-fried noodles in the Philippines but have these unique Tuguegarao Characteristics. It is stir-fried with either pork or buffalo (carabao) meat with some cabbages and carrots, served with a fresh minced onions and salted nido soup.
The town of Cabagan is quite near in the city, so people also enjoy Cabagan’s version of the stir-fried noodles. The noodles are different, and instead of chicken eggs, they place quail eggs. Cabagan panciterias are also all over the city.
Bulalo in Tuguegarao is also quite different as it is also quite popular with the people. You should try to taste how Tuguegaraouenos cook their Bulalo. Some Bulalo are Beef and some are Buffalo Beef. In the outskirts of the city center across the Pinacanauan River, in Barangay Capatan, a famous (among Tuguegaraouenos) Papaitan and Bulalo restaurant serve also Dinuguan and Mixed Bulalo and Papaitan.
The Pavvurulun Festival is celebrated annually in the month of August that has to land on the religious fiesta holiday of the Patron Saint, St. Hyacinth on August 16/17. The festivities usually last for 8 to 10 days with parades, street dancing, and other uniquely Filipino. Pancit Festival is embedded in the Pavvurulun as Pancit-Eating Contest, Pancit-Cooking contest, and other Pancit related activities happen usually on the third or fourth day of Pavvurulun Festival.
Cebu Pacific Air & AirPhil Express fly in and out of Tuguegarao from Manila. Sky Pasada has flights to Baguio, Maconacon, Palanan, and Cauayan City (in Isabela). Buses in and out of the city are also available. Among them are Victory Liner, Baliwag Transit, GV Florida Bus Liner, Dalin, GMW (Tuguegarao-Vigan, v.v.) and others. Minivans and Jeepneys also travel from town to town such Tabuk City, Sta. Ana, Aparri, Santiago City, Cauayan City, and many others.
Jeepneys are not allowed to enter the city center. Therefore, Tricycles are the only mode of public transportation from point to point within the city. The minimum fare is Ten Pesos only but unfortunately some drivers demand for more. Please be wary about this. You can report this to any local police if they harass you. Moreover, try the Calesas to ride around the town!
There are couchsurfers in the city like I am. But only three of us seemed to host backpackers. Others usually meet up for coffee or pancit. But hotels are quite expensive. There are several hotels here such as Hotel Roma, Delfino Hotel, Hotel Lorita, Mango Suites, Ivory Hotel, Hotel Carmelita… most of these have an “okay” service. But I suggest that Mango Suites are the best.
There not many souvenir shops in Tuguegarao. However, Valley Souvenirs do sell some quality t-shirts although quite costly. Valley Souvenirs is found in Paseo Real. Also, try buying Chicharabao, Chicha-bana, Ms. Kara from Lighthouse Cooperative. Those are quite a treat.
I’ll be posting more about Tuguegarao soon. Here are just some of the basics I think you should know if you wish to travel to Tuguegarao.