From Tuguegarao, since Calayan seems impossible with the weather, I thought either of getting a tattoo from Fhang Od in Kalinga, or a visit to Quirino Province.
As I am yet to visit the provinces of Abra and Apayao, I thought about waiting until I have enough time so I can strike all Abra, Kalinga, and Apayao in one going.
From Tuguegarao, while I was told it will take me only 2hours, It took me 3.5hours on a Victory Liner bus to go to Santiago, Isabela. It was already dark, so I spent the night in the city, and waited til morning for the trip to Quirino.
My first stop was the Cave system in the town of Aglipay.
According to my guide, there's about 34 caves all in all in the system, and only 8 have been explored and are available for visitors as of time.
The cave has been found during the 1970's and the scene will confirm this; A lot of the formation has gone dormant and dull. Nonetheless, the formations are still very prominent. As the caves are long, while there are the average chambers you see in most caves, one thing I found distinct were the narrow but tall passages that give a different feel.
Cave no 6 gives the most challenge; While it may only be 75 meters long, we had to crawl 90% of the time, and for the 10% you can choose to duck walk. I couldn't remember an instance we had the chance to stand up.
Meantime, in cave 7, there isn't much except for a thick mud and into a pool that, according to my guide, is a source of irrigation for farmers.
Kindly be wary of disposables when entering the caves. During our spelunking, our guide would pick up trash once in a while.
My guide's name is Tony Cabigat: (0936) 185 8137
How to go?
From Manila, you may take the Five Star bus to Maddela. Bus leaves at 6pm and 7pm (2 trips only). Fare is P480 to Maddela (shall be lower if getting off in Aglipay Caves itself). Just ask to be dropped at the Aglipay Caves. From the drop off, it shall be a 100m walk to the administrative office. Entrance is P25. A guide is provided free, but won't hurt to appreciate a little. Spelunking will take 1-2 hours (for all 8) and may vary depending on the speed.
It is suggested that guests bring their headlamps/flashlights. There were 3 of us in that tour, and it was only the guide who had the light. We asked why there weren't any headlamps, and was told that there are, but for smaller groups, they'd rather only the guide having the light (which made it hard for me to walk and roll my eyes around).
There's only 1 store in front of the office selling only basic sari-sari store stuff, so make sure to have some meals before heading there. Prepare for extra clothes too. There are comfort and shower rooms for changing.
For those coming or intend to come from Santiago in Isabela, there are vans and jeeps that go to Maddela/Aglipay. Fare is P50 to Aglipay caves. There is also a Samana Trans bus that leaves early morning. This bus plies from Santiago to Baler. I spotted some buses too coming to/from Baguio (which I suspect are those going to Baler too).
What I spent in Quirino for 2 days (Aglipay and Madfella Falls)
Santiago-Aglipay Van: 50
Entrance in the caves: 25
Sari sari store: 24
Jeep town-dimatubo: 10
Hitch from dimatubo-zamora
Free lunch c/o resort
Overnight at Zamora: 250
Hitch from Dimatubo-Maddela Falls
Entrance in Maddela Falls: 30
Hitch from falls to dimatubo
Trike from dimatubo-town: 10 (per head or P50 per ride)
Total (from and back to Santiago): P649