Basket of Happiness 

Happiness is among the top human pursuits, and journeying to stunning destinations is undoubtedly one of the means to attain this life goal.

So when Quirino Province recently reopened its tourism industry, it offered nothing short of a basketful of natural wonders which will make visits to this charming locale brimming with happy experiences and fond memories.

Siitan Nature Park in Nagtipunan

Considered as the frontier of the Cagayan Valley Region, this quaint province isn’t the typical tourist haunt and it takes a unique breed of travelers to find happiness in this diamond in the rough. With the help of the Department of Tourism–Cagayan Valley Region, it has put together its so-called Basket of Happiness Circuit which is comprised of destinations which are ready to receive guests once more.

At the gateway town of Diffun is Ganano Falls which boasts of a voluminous 100-foot drop and passes through the three minor cascades of Sabangaran, Nantugao and Sinipit, which have wide and deep basins.

Situated at Diffun Eco Park, it is arguably the most Instagrammable waterfalls within the province. The tour commences at Baguio Village where visitors pass through Bagnes Nature Park, where the guests can get a taste of authentic Kankanaey tribal specialties such as tinumbo (rice cooked in bamboo) and kiniing (smoked meat).

Aglipay Caves

The capital town of Cabarroguis is the seat of the provincial government and boasts of a sprawling 110-hectare Capitol Complex, which is among the cleanest and greenest in the archipelago.

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.

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

Nature lovers and “plantitos” can lose themselves in the vast expanse of greeneries at the Orchidarium, Tree for Legacy Park, Bamboo Eco-Park, plant nurseries, and the tree-lined lake for boating nirvana.

Kayaking Lagoon at the Provincial Capitol Hill

Aglipay town takes pride in its 2 contributions to the happiness basket—the sought-after Aglipay Caves and the Department of Agriculture’s Quirino Experiment Station (QES), which produces and sells great-tasting organic farm food items, most notably its dragon fruit home-made ice cream and dairy products.

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 consummate adventure, cavers can sleep under the stars at the campsite which has a gazebo, comfort rooms and cooking area.

To entice non-cavers to visit the area, the provincial government developed the Quirino Safari multi-purpose hall and visitors center where small meetings and special events can be held.

Saguday fossilized flower products

Governor’s Rapids in Maddela town is the province’s poster image because of its amazing rockscape and whitewater for an adrenaline pumping two-hour canoe cruise at a Cagayan River tributary which has been named several times as among the region’s cleanest inland bodies of water.

Its iconic features are the majestic jagged limestone formations and a 30-foot rock platform for diving. Inside one of the crevices is a chest-deep natural pool which serves as a pit stop in the river tour. A supplementary recreation is whitewater tubing which is as exciting as the boat ride.

Of late, kayaking has been added as an aquasport for those who want to navigate the manually waterway with brute force, instead of the usual motorized boat.

To the far end of Quirino is Nagtipunan town whose claim to fame is the twin attraction of the Landingan Viewpoint and Siitan River Park. The latter is similar to Governor’s Rapids, where tourists can cruise aboard a dugout canoe and marvel at the geological wonders. 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 site for live band concerts, pageants and motor camping, where outdoor lovers can wake up at an astounding natural backdrop.

For a bit of diversity, you can pierce through the low chambers of Diamond Cave, which was so called because of the stoned which glitter like the precious gem.

With these goodies and more in your basket, your journey will always be a happy ending.

Image credits: Bernard L. Supetran