By Steph Llarena
Cagayan Valley’s huge land area is home to vast covers of rice fields and farmlands growing a variety of agricultural products, from rice and corn and to citrus and coffee, among many others.
So it’s pretty obvious that when it comes to Region II, food and farm are the number one.
Just recently, in fact, the Department of Tourism has adopted the FUN for Fun UP North campaign for the region composed of Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino provinces.
“FUN could also stand for ‘Food’ or ‘Farm’ Up North with its culinary journey and its emerging farm tourism sector,” DoT said in a statement.
As with most things, destinations in the Philippines especially, there are more in each town in these provinces. Cagayan Valley promises a blend of culture, nature, adventure, and everything in between.
An example of this blend is the municipality of Bagabag in Nueva Vizcaya.
The bucolic town of Bagabag is known for its so-called buko pie alley, a promising pitstop attraction at the national highway. The town is also known as the gateway to Banaue Rice Terraces.
Motorists and commuters from the north would usually pull up along the roadside stores to buy pie variants—buko, mango, ube, pineapple—and assortment of sweet snacks for pasalubong for family and friends.
One of the pioneers of buko pie in Bagabag is G&B Restaurant. Aside from sweet delicacies, the town-favorite food outlet also takes pride in its fusion dishes of Filipino all-time favorites which use coconut as an alternate or additional ingredient: pansit, chopseuy, and kare-kare, to name a few.
After filling up on good food, tourists can then learn more about the ingredients uses at the Department of Agriculture’s Nueva Vizcaya Experiment Station which offers an authentic farm life experience—promoting to tourists the importance of agriculture. Here, visitors can pick organically grown fruits and vegetables, tend to livestock and poultry animals, and feast on healthy farm-to-table dishes.
Speaking of farm tourism, the town is also an emerging hub of back-to-basics living with its farm-themed resorts—Palaisdaan Hotel, Reginaldo’s Farm and Recreation Park, and JGC Farm and Resort. And while they don’t have the typical spots that draw tourists such as waterfalls, caves, mountains or springs, these cozy accommodations take guests to an interlude with farms, gardens, and greeneries where they can they discover their proverbial green thumb.
The farm side covered, Bagabag also has fun up its sleeves.
The town recently held the 16th Pabbalat Festival in celebration of its patronal feast and 278th municipal founding day. From the Gaddang word which means thanksgiving, the weeklong festivity highlighted its vibrant agricultural economy and the blend of its lowland and upland indigenous culture through street dancing, float parade, and agro-trade fair.
In addition to being the gateway to Ifugao province, it is also an entry point to other exciting destinations further up north like Isabela and Cagayan.
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