Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday, April 10, 2016
A local fisherman at the wharf of Punta Pier in Aparri
The PAGASA-DOST Weather Radar Station in Barangay Punta


O F   L U Z O N

It's been almost a week and I was getting homesick in Cagayan. I was in the town of Sta. Ana for my last stopover before I was to board a Manila-bound bus and endure a 14-hour commute. For my first few days, I had necessary layovers in Tuguegarao City and Baggao before I explored Palaui Island and the beaches of Anguib, Matara, and Nangaramoan.

For some reason, my local guide wasn't convinced that my tour of the province was enough. He tried to convince me that buses leave by the hour in Aparri for Manila unlike in Sta. Ana. He said that I had to see the town. Suspicious that I wasn't sold to the idea of staying another day in the province, he dangled the prospect of tasting the best coco or buko roll in the north. He knew that I liked such a version in Palaui Island during our previous 10-hour hike. His wife jumped in our conversation and insisted that I must try at least a bite of it.

An Aparri Public Market vendor
The delicious Kuya J buko roll

A local at the Aparri Public Market selling binnek

Road Trip For One Hot Buko Roll

Next thing I knew we were on a road trip to that windswept town that's at the edge of mainland Luzon. It's a bit ridiculous to state that I finally stepped foot in Aparri because of one hot buko roll, but it was exactly the reason. It had the fluffiest dough from a panaderia that I've tasted and it was creamy on the inside as it's stuffed with just enough coconut filling, making the treat naturally sweet!

Visiting Punta Pier

We drove from Kuya J Bakery where we bought the buko rolls and made a stopover at a village called Punta where the famous fishing spot of Punta Pier is. It's where an old wharf can be seen where local fishermen prance like seasoned javelin throwers in the Olympics but instead of a spear, they release fishing nets with the expertise of athletes. The fishing routine was amusing to watch especially next to some locals who choose to fish the traditional way of angling. Since this area in the town is where the Cagayan River meets the raging sea of the Babuyan Channel, the scenery here is one of a deluged sight of waves on loop.

Stopover At The PAGASA-DOST Weather Radar Station

The area also has the PAGASA-DOST Weather Radar Station that has a powerful Doppler radar installed thanks to the initiative of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2007 after her order to expedite the procurement of the specialized radar in coordination with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The turnover and inauguration of the installation in 2012 after her term in office marked the fulfillment of the former president's legacy to the country in terms of equipping it in its role as a climate taker, one that does not emit large amounts of greenhouse gas but nonetheless, suffer the consequences of climate change.

The Busy Aparri Public Market

After a few minutes at the pier, we proceeded to drop by the busy Aparri Public Market where all the locals' fresh catch are sold. It's also where they're sent out to different towns and cities in Luzon. The market is a feast for a food lover's eye because every interesting sea creature is laid bare on counter tops, woven baskets and plastic containers like there's an urgent clearing sale. Since the town is just next to Ilocos Norte, there's also an abundance of what the locals call the Ilokanong Longganisa which basically tastes like the famous Vigan Longganisa.

A Chinese temple in Aparri
Ilokanong Longganisa
Seafood varieties at the Aparri Public Market

Last Lunch In Cagayan

After purchasing enough varieties of seafood for lunch, we headed to the house of my local guide's old folks for lunch. We managed to pass by an old Chinese temple which is an alternative sight to casinos that have recently been alluded to the presence of most Chinese businessmen in the province. If they have complexes for gambling, temples for worship are also bound to be seen.

I managed to catch the 3:00pm bus bound for Manila after my delicious lunch in Aparri. It was encouraging to find out that the First Class Victory Liner ride was designed for a long journey that I even had access to a power outlet next to my seat. My visit of the town might have been brief but it was certainly memorable and made me less homesick after being in Cagayan for a week.

Special thanks to local guide Vhin Cezar

For tours of Sta. Ana, Gonzaga, and Aparri, contact Vhin Cezar at 0916-583-5508.

Recommended homestay: Jove Lodging House (Contact Vhin Cezar for details)  

Check out other Cagayan-related attractions:

• 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

More Photos Below:

The PAGASA-DOST Weather Radar Station in Aparri
The salty Ipon (pronounced as epon) packaged in plastic bottles for consumers
The salty Ipon (pronounced as epon) served for lunch
Locals fishing at Punta Pier
San Antonio Beach
A major thoroughfare in Aparri
Locals call these binnek
Kuya J Bakery: Home of the original hot buko roll


  1. you should have tried the okoy (made from alamang)...


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