Quirino is where my former boss from the Presidential Security Group (PSG) originated; he speaks Ilocano. For many years, that’s pretty much the only thing that I knew of this province. I’d been thinking of taking a solo trip and I found a window last weekend in time for the holidays. I told myself, This is it, I’m going to Quirino. I was supposed to do it alone, but ended up going with two of my friends. One kept inviting me for an out-of-town trip (Pancake), which I couldn’t join. Feeling somewhat guilty that I kept turning her down, I invited her to join this trip. The other friend (Silver) I invited after she told me we’d be going to her church last Sunday (she’s a Christian, and yes I am agnostic, but it’s not like keeping her company is gonna kill me so why not). It coincided with my trip so I invited her instead; interestingly, she decided to come with. So from being alone, there were now three of us. I told them I had no set plans; no itinerary, no set budget, all I had is a list of places that I wanted to see based on the blog articles that I read. And this is the beginning of a long weekend to a province that is so beautiful, makes me wonder why it’s not so popular with tourists.
Quirino is a landlocked area in the Cagayan Valley region named after the 6th president of the Philippines, Elpidio Quirino. In its borders are three other provinces; Aurora, Nueva Vizcaya, and Isabela. It used to be a part of Nueva Vizcaya until the enactment of Republic Act 4734 that made Quirino an independent province. The province is divided into 6 municipalities; Aglipay, Cabarroguis, Diffun, Maddela, Nagtipunan, and Saguday. The people here are called Quirinians and majority of them speak either in Ilocano or Ifugao dialects.
From Manila, it takes 10 to 11 hours of land travel. Two known bus lines that ply between Manila to Quirino are Victory Liner and Five Star. I highly recommend you reserve a seat via PinoyTravel especially if you are going on a holiday. For Five Star, the original ticket rate is PHP 490 (USD 9.80), but if you buy online it’s PHP 530 (USD 10.60). I booked two tickets for Pancake (TravelHistoryCulture) and I; we weren’t able to buy Silver hers because it was already 3 days before the trip.
We convened at Five Star bus terminal in Cubao for the 8pm trip. All seats have been reserved and so one of us could only go as a chance passenger. Chance passengers can take the seats of the booked passengers who didn’t show up, or they can sit on the aisle of the bus. There are other buses that have middle seats; unfortunately, not this one. They did provide small plastic stools to sit on, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to be comfortable. Pancake was kind enough to offer her seat to Silver, reasoning that she is of small frame and can fit on the stool more than Silver could. Silver was so grateful she promised to take care of Pancake’s meal the next day and she made good of that promise.
The travel is so long I wished we were on a sleeper bus. If there’s a sleeper bus that goes to Quirino, I wasn’t informed.
|Book your ticket online at PinoyTravel at least 5 days before the trip. There’s an extra payment of PHP 40 (USD 0.80) on top of the original rate, but it’s worth it. There are only a few buses that go to Quirino and the seats are almost always taken by the time you reach the terminal. Trust me when I say that you don’t want to be a chance passenger in a 10-hour trip.|
|Remember that this is going to be a very long trip so bring 2 pillows. Yes, two pillows; one to support your head, the other for your lower back. It’s going to make your trip a bit comfortable.|
|Always have loose change in your pocket. You will need them to pay for the use of restrooms during the stopovers.|
I took the window seat, beside me sat Silver who never seems to run out of stories. I’d offer my opinion when it’s required or when I felt like it. Otherwise, I kept my participation to nodding and “uh-huhs.” When we got a little bit excited, we’d hear a shush from other passengers to keep us quiet.
On how many hours I slept, I wasn’t able to keep track, but I tried my best to adjust my sleep cycle. This is what happens when you work at night, you have to modify your sleep pattern during trips. I have to be awake for our tour the next day. In the remaining hours of our trip, Silver started to doze off. I, on the other hand, was awake and regaled myself by looking out of the window, to the views of fields that stretched out as far as the eye can see, brown-colored rivers, and towering trees on the side of the road.
Save for my traveling companions and a few people from work, I didn’t tell anyone about this trip. I wanted a little drama by surprising people that I was already there (yes, I’m weird ).
We left Manila at around 8:00 in the evening and reached Maddela, Quirino at around 7:00 in the morning. The bus stopped in front of Villa Caridad Resort and Restaurant (stay tuned for my review), our place of accommodation. As soon as we got ourselves settled, we were ready for the day ahead.
With no set itinerary, I was beyond excited to see the rest of Quirino.