Monday, June 13, 2011

Palanan and Maconacon, June 2011

A map of the area showing our route
This trip started in Cauayan City, Isabela, with a 23-minute Cyclone Air flight to Palanan on the east coast of Luzon, on a single-engine 7-seater plane flying low over the rain forest of the Sierra Madre. From Palanan we took a bangka to Divilacan, and from there land transportation to Maconacon. We then flew back to Cauayan City from Maconacon on the same Cyclone Air flight. There is no road passable to vehicles leading to Palanan, or from Palanan to Divilacan and Maconacon.















THE FLIGHT TO PALANAN
Flying low over the Sierra Madre from Cauayan to Palanan, Isabela
 
Palanan seen from the air

Our plane at Palanan Airport

The Palanan welcome arch

PALANAN is a town of about 16000 people that can only be reached by boat in 7 hours from Aurora Province, by foot in three days from San Mariano, Isabela, or by plane from Cauayan or Tuguegarao. There is no hotel nor restaurant, but homestays are available and can be arranged by the tourism officer at the Municipyo. Our homestay was the house of Tess and Kikoy Pagigan, who were delightful hosts. Palanan is located a few kilometers inland on the Pinacanauan River, about 30 minutes by boat from the sea. The town is well known in history as the place were Emilio Aguinaldo took refuge in late 1899 and remained until his capture in March 1901. Palanan is an old town that was founded by the Spaniards in 1609. The local dialect, called Paranan,  is a mix of Ibanag, Spanish, Tagalog and the indigenous Dumagat language.  
Our homestay in Palanan

The historical marker at the Aguinaldo Shrine
THE AGUINALDO SHRINE. A shrine with a bust of Aguinaldo and a historical marker stands where the house of Aguinaldo once stood. Aguinaldo was captured there on 23 March 1901 by American General Funston, who walked from Casiguran with Macabebe Scouts pretending to be a high-ranking American prisoner to be delivered to Aguinaldo.
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The Aguinaldo Shrine built at the spot where Aguinaldo was captured in March 1901
THE SIGHTS OF PALANAN

Sunrise on the Pinacanauan River

Dicotcotan Beach in Barangay San Isidro, Palanan
Disadsad Waterfalls in Palanan
A peaceful scene on the Pinacanauan River

THE DUMAGATS

Dumagat families going to a Born-again Church service

A Dumagat Village Chieftain in Barangay San Isisdro, Palanan
The Dumagat Chieftain's happy family

HONEYMOON ISLAND BEACH. The bangka trip from Palanan to Divilacan takes about two hours. A stop on Estagno Island along the way is a must. The island is better known locally as Honeymoon Island and boasts of one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Totally undeveloped, with pure white sand sloping slowly into a crystal clear water, it is a paradise for nature lovers.
White sand beaches as far as the eye can see between Palanan and Divilacan
The beautiful beach on Estagno Island, locally known as Honeymoon Island
You can walk half way to the other side on pure white sand in crystal clear water
I rate it one of the top ten beaches in the country
A shady spot on Honeymoon Island

DIVILACAN is a friendly town of about 4600 mostly tagalog-speaking people. Like in Palanan, there is no hotel nor restaurant, and homestays can be arranged by the tourism office at the Municipyo. Our host was none other than the Mayor's wife Flor Bulan. Jane, the guide assigned to us during our stay in Divilacan was very pleasant and highly competent. The main means of transportation in Divilacan as well as Maconacan is the three-wheel kuliglig, a derivative of the one used in rice fields in central Luzon.    
The friendly town of Divilacan seen from the Municipyo
The Divilacan Municipal Building
 
The Kuliglig, the main means of transportion in Divilacan and Maconacon

DICATIAN LAKE CROCODILE SANCTUARY
In July 2009, 50 captive-bred Philippine crocodiles (Crocodylus mindorensis) were released in Dicatian Lake in Divilacan.  The endemic Philippine crocodile is critically endangered and is the most severely threatened crocodile in the world, with about 100 individuals surviving in the wild. They are not easy to see and at least an overnight stay at the lake is required for a chance to spot them. We didn't see any. We paddled back to the road on a narrow wooden boat, a crossing that was not for the faint-hearted.
 
Dicatian Lake, where 50 Philippine Crocodiles were released in 2009

Another view of Dicatian Lake

MACONACON is a town of about 4000 mostly Ilocano-speaking people. It is reached in about 30 minutes by road from Divilacan. The town was devastated by Typhoon Juan in October 2010, a direct hit with 305 kph winds. It seems that everyone is still talking about the typhoon all the time. Most buildings and houses were destroyed or badly damaged. Many trees were uprooted and those that remained were thoroughly defoliated. There is a dormitory-type guesthouse for visitors, a wet market and a few restaurants, but no electricity except few a few private generators. 
On our way from Divilacan to Maconacon
The road to Maconacon showing the trees damaged by the October 2010 typhoon
The town of Maconacon. The destoyed building on the left was a gymnasium. The municipyo (white building in the center) is just a shell. The Smart tower is new.
Our guesthouse in Maconacon
Leda's Snack House, the best restaurant in eastern Isabela, where a plate with 8 lobsters costs P150

THE COAST NORTH OF MACONACON AND THE BLOS RIVER
On the road to the Blos River, 25 kms north of Maconacon
The road leading north from Maconacon
The east Luzon coastline in the bright morning sunshine
The Pacific Ocean waves crashing on pebble beaches
A Dumagat Settlement on the banks of the Blos River
The refreshing Blos River. The bridge over the river was destroyed by Typhoon Juan.
The stunning coastline of northeast Luzon

THE FLIGHT FROM MACONACON TO CAUAYAN
Maconacon Airport with the runway in the foregound, where a 4-seater Cyclone Air plane crash landed on 8 June 2011.
Busy ground servicing activities at Maconacon Airport
Maconacon seen from the air
Flying back to Cauayan City over the Sierra Madre National Park


See my other travelogue "Off the Beaten Track in the Philippines"


43 comments:

  1. Great stuff again, Christian.

    Seems like a fantastic area to escape the congestion afflicting most of the rest of the country.

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  2. Really great post. Thank you for the photos and the information. I am planning a similar trip later this week and your blog has been very helpful and informative. One quick question. Are there regular boats going from Palanan to Divilacan? Or did you have to arrange for a special trip? It looks like you may even be able to do a day hike since it is only two hours by boat. Thanks in advance. Jacob

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  3. Hello Christian. I am a journalism student and i want to make an article about maconacon and divilacan isabela's tourist spots. Can you be one of my interviewee for my article because you had an experience going in maconacon and divilacan. if you are interested, just respond and I will send you a few questions via e-mail. Thank you very much

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    Replies
    1. Sure, you can send me your questions, together with your email address so we can communicate.

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  4. nice... The views literally took my breath away! hahha. I couldn't help it...! Kudos to this blog!

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  5. Beautiful........
    Goes to show that this country has a lot of hidden treasures......
    The undeveloped tourist spots...
    Plus the warm hospitality of the people....

    Hopefully one day I can also make this kind of trip...but for the meantime, I will enjoy your blog.....

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  6. Hi Christian,

    Great photos :-) I'm wanting to take a trip to this area later this year. Is it easy to organise yourself, or would you suggest going with a tour? Was it particularly expensive to fly into Palanan?

    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hello.

      As far as I know there is no tour going to that area, so you will have to organize the trip yourself. The flight to Palanan was not expensive, although I don't remember the exact amount. I would suggest to fly from Tuguegarao as they use larger and more reliable planes (e.g. Sky Pasada airline)

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  7. Thanks, Christian! Is it easy to find accommodation/guides once you arrive?

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  8. I suggest that you call the Isabela tourism office (Google it) to get contact numbers for homestays and guides. Note that November to February is not a good time as it will be windy and rainy. May-June-July is the best time to go to the east coast of Luzon

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  9. Thanks. I may have to drop the Palanan idea, or at least be extremely flexible regarding weather. Thanks for the advice!

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  10. Wonderful photos you have here. I especially love the Chieftain photo making that Korean peace sign. So funny!

    Thanks for the extensive info on Honeymoon Island and these little-known places in Isabela. Definitely adding them to my bucket list!

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  11. Thank you Gretchen for your nice comments.

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  12. Hi Christian, how far Dilakit and Dicatian from the Maconacon Airport? is it true that the Provincial Gov't of Isabela starting the road to Ilagan City?

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  13. Hello Don M. Divilacan is about 30 minutes by road from the Maconacon Airport, and from there Dicatian Lake is a short distance, about 15 minutes I would say. I don't know of a place called Dilakit. I did not hear about a road project to Ilagan when I was there, and I have not heard anything about that since. Christian

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  14. Hi Christian,
    Your trip, although a few years ago, was breathtaking. I would be interested in asking more questions about this trip ie, how you planned your trip, language barrier, recommendations ect. if you have time, would love to exchange information. Would that be possible?

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    Replies
    1. Hello Emma, yes we can exchange information. Give me your email address so we can start a conversation. Christian

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  15. Hello Christian, we're planning on having our Isabela Trip nextyear and we will be needing your advice/recommendation regarding the said trip. Do you have any itineraries? I'd be happy if we exchange info regarding this as we will be doing the same Palanan-Divilacan-maconacon.. hope to hear from you! loah_misador@yahoo.com

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  16. Clap-Clap-Clap for this blog, great experience indeed. Such a wonderful place, province living. How much you spent sir Christian for this escape? thanks

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  17. Hi Mr. Christian! I would like to ask your advice on how to get to Maconacon and the possible expenses during the trip. I am an architecture student working on a thesis that proposes a community center for the Dumagat tribe. I don't know how to arrange my travel plans and schedule since I don't have any experience with this. Can you please give me insights? I would gladly appreciate it. Thank you! janeillekasala@yahoo.com

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  18. Hey Christian,

    I am planning a trip to the Philippines next year and wanted to ask some more questions about some of these places. If you have time, it would be grew to connect by email. abordoli12@gmail.com Thanks and look forward to hearing from you!

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  19. Hi guys,

    Who's planning to go here? May I join as I also plan to go here and already did some research on the place. A bus from Manila to Cauyan Isabela I believe and the plane ride would cost around 2,500 per way (5K roundtrip). Here's my email jbgeraldino@rocketmail.com


    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi jb

      Natuloy kb?were planning to visit this coming dec eh..pa share naman ng experience mo there..

      Delete
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  21. Hi christian,

    Do you have idea how much the air fare from cauyan to palanan?were planning to visit palanan divilacan and maconacon this coming dec...thanks😊

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  22. Hi Yvone, I don't know what the fare would be now since I went there in 2011 and things change all the time. The best is to search on the Internet what are the airlines that fly there now and inquire directly about their fares. Have a good trip! Christian

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  23. nice to see a town that has no 4 wheeled vehicles and only motorcycles, tricycles, and that modified kuligligs.

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  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  25. Hi, good morning,. im jhen, im searching regarding palanan and iv seen ur posts...
    May i know if u know a tourguide who could help us get to palanan? Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jhen, I'm sorry I don't know any tour guide in Palanan. I organized my own trip and did not use a tour guide at the time.

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    2. Hi Jhen, just wanna know if you've been to Palanan, Maconacon or Divilacan this yr, planning to go to Divilacan this month, can you pls share your experience and how much is the plane ticket from Cauyan to Palanan or Maconacon? my email, nolitarey@yahoo.com

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  26. hello! i would like to know how much was the cost of flying to to palanan and maconancon? thank you!

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  27. oops..i got to read all the comments here....i will just inquire through isabela's LGU...but many thanks...your photos are amazing! i cant wait to spend a week in this part of the philippines! thank you for the info!

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  28. Hi Sir Christian, Can you share the phone number of Mr. Kikoy Pagigan? Thank ypu very much.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry I don't have their phone number. The homestay was arranged by the Palanan tourism officer when we landed in Palanan

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  29. I have my flights already for Cauayan, Isabela from Nov 26-30, 2016. Anyone going there for the said dates? Message me john.delaserna@ihg.com

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  30. Hi I'm planning to go to Palanan this summer? Can you suggest an itenary? Either for Cauyuan to Palanan or Tugegarao to Palanan. Thanks :)

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    1. I was there 6 years ago so I don't know what flights are availalable now. I would suggest to fly to Palanan, then go by land and bangka to Divilacan and Maconacon, and fly out from Maconacon. You can fly from/to Cauayan or Tuguegarao depending on flight schedules, prices, and what's easier for you. It doesn't really matter.

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  31. Sir Christian, Do you have any idea on the schedule of flights from Cauayan airport to Palanan? or Any any website on the flights to palanan. thank you!

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    1. Hi Joseph. I was there in 2011 so any information I have would be obsolete by now. I see that this airline flies to Palanan and Maconacon from Tuguegarao: http://www.northskyair.com/flights.html

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  32. after all these years, do you think an off-road motorcycle can make it there

    I have been travelling primarily using motorcycles. I used to have a scoot and now driving a cruiser.. My current bike is on a big disadvantage so I'm borrowing a off-road bike

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    Replies
    1. Hi Allan, I really don't know the current situation. Sometimes the best way to find out about local conditions is to go there and try...
      Christian

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