Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday, February 28, 2016
Laglagto River view from the old hanging bridge
The old hanging bridge with platform made of yakal



When traveling, I sometimes make one detour after another until I ultimately find myself lost. I can recall my recent Cagayan Valley immersion to be true of this. I was supposed to head for Sta. Ana after my Tuguegarao layover, but the lure of Baggao's picturesque cornfields was just too enticing to ignore. I had to schedule it as a detour between main stops. For a while, exploring the town was a blur. I was at a point of culminating my visit with nothing at hand until I made a last minute side trip to the town's Duba Cave. To the prodding of my hired tricycle driver named George, I took another turn on a dirt road instead of returning for my booked lodging at the cozy Country Inn Hotel and Restaurant in the village of San Jose. According to him, the additional side trip would be worth it.

Treading On Rocks

George said he knows of a secluded attraction that's a river with rock formations. He was so excited because he hasn't seen it with his own eyes despite residing nearby for decades. It turned out that he has only learned stories from residents who have been traversing an old hanging bridge that connects the terrain over what he referred to as Laglagto (the term is Ilokano for treading on rocks). He even alluded to Baggao regarding its location, but we both learned from locals on our way there that the river is found past the border of the town, making it part of Peñablanca.

Boulders to behold
Locals of San Miguel, Baggao at the hike trail to Laglagto River
The picturesque cornfields of Baggao
Laglagto River view courtesy of Google Earth
Taking a restful break from hiking

Attraction of Baggao Or Peñablanca? 

Farmers residing at the foot of the mountain where it's located feel otherwise. They're all from Baggao and tending to various errands at the banks of the river from bathing livestock and washing clothes where no one from Peñablanca could be seen for miles. Even the same registration area for Duba Cave visitors  -- a small convenience store in San Miguel -- currently adopts the P5-registration process for Laglagto River. On maps, though, it's politically the next town's tourist attraction.

Twenty-Minute Hike To The River

After the necessary visitor registration in Sitio San Miguel, we hit the road for a few minutes until we reached a signage indicating the detour. My tricycle driver soon parked our ride at the entrance of a narrower dirt road where the short 20-minute hike was supposed to start. According to him, trekking the area used to be a lot harder because the pathway was mostly rock-studded. It appeared that a private firm (commissioned by a cornfield owner) was currently doing construction on the road these past few weeks. As it was during our visit, it was already a bit challenging to tackle because the ascent was steep. After 10 minutes, though, the terrain would steadily be sloping and turn flat in most parts. It helped to see the pristine water of the river next to the trail as it eased me of any exhaustion that I was feeling.

Crossing The River

There was no signage anymore past the jump-off point. We just kept on going until we reached the site of the hanging bridge which indicated that we had arrived. Instead of crossing the yakal-made platform of the old bridge, we decided to wade through the knee-deep waters below to reach the other side. Surprisingly, the current was a bit strong even if it appeared tranquil at the surface. To my dismay, my pair of Tribu sandals was no match to the force of the current that it split in two in the midsole! We were following two guys who were also having a hard time advancing with a motorcycle in tow. Behind us was a kid who was half my size and he didn't look annoyed at all which sort of encouraged me to trudge on.

Scenery and More

After 10 minutes in the water, we reached the continuation of the trail. I decided to take a quick break for a cool soak next to a boulder and recklessly rested on top of it for a sunbathing session like it was my party. I didn't care if it wasn't the beach. It's something like that which makes getting lost in a new place memorable, especially if the scenery were views of a massive rock wall, rock formations, age-old trees and pristine waters.

The massive rock wall rising next to the river
A young local crossing Laglagto River
The old hanging bridge

We continued on the trail and found at the cliff-side a more narrow pathway accentuated by vines, ferns, and other wild plants that seemed to lead down to the river below where huge rocks and limestone could be found. Down there, the rock walls and boulders looked more massive. Although most rocks appeared intimidating to crawl onto, they were not quite slippery. Rising from both sides of the river, the fortifying rock walls seemed to drown out any noise coming from nearby places that the attraction felt like a refuge of solitude for anyone who craves peace and quiet. The turquoise waters were so clear that we spotted snails, freshwater shrimp, and other little crawlers enjoying the remoteness of the area.

Leaving Via The Hanging Bridge

I decided to seal my visit by crossing the river via the old hanging bridge which gave me splendid views of Laglagto from a high point. As with all similar attractions I've been to, it was difficult leaving it behind. The remote beauty of the place made me wish I owned a rustic cottage nearby for an overnight stay.

Most tourists know Peñablanca as the site of the 7-chamber Callao Cave and nothing more. With the presence of Laglagto River and its old hanging bridge at its border, travelers suddenly has the option to be more intrepid and venture getting lost in this remote part of Cagayan.

Travel Tips:

• Laglagto River is a 20 to 30-minute hike from Sitio San Miguel of Baggao. It's a kilometer away from Duba Cave.
• It's 20 minutes away from the nearest lodging in San Jose called Country Inn Hotel and Restaurant. The hotel is 2 hours away from Tuguegarao City and less than four hours away from Sta. Ana.
• There's a Baggao-bound van that leaves Tuguegarao City daily. Van terminal is along Balzain Highway near the University of Cagayan Valley.
• Contact Village Councilor George at 0906-848-2142 for a chartered tricycle ride from San Jose.

Check out other Cagayan-related attractions:

• Sta. Ana's white beach island resort called Jerolynda
• Duba Cave of Baggao
• Laglagto River and Rock Formation of Baggao
• Country Inn Hotel and Restaurant in Baggao
• Country Inn By The Sea in Sta. Ana
• Palaui Island: Cape Engano Lighthouse, Baratubot Falls and More
• Nangaramoan Beach of Sta. Ana 

View the Turista Trails E-Zine feature on Cagayan:

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