Climbing the 183 Steps at Callao Cave, Peñablanca, Cagayan, Philippines

The drive from Manila to Vigan to our final destination, Tuguegarao, was not only long but very tiring. It was definitely a relief to arrive in my parents’ home.

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A few years ago, my parents decided to retire in the northern part of the Philippines where my mom inherited a vast amount of land. But their idea of retirement was not really to stay put and hence converted their land into a business. Named after my mother and her grandmother, Chateau Leonor is a venue for weddings, parties, and mostly a place to go for families and friends to swim and hang out for the day. My parents also live there and so everyday it felt like we had a lot of visitors, only they were mostly strangers 🙂

at my parents' residence/buisness

at my parents’ residence/buisness

The city of Tuguegarao is in a peninsula in the Cagayan Valley region, surrounded by two rivers (the Cagayan and Pinacanauan Rivers) and by three mountains (Sierra Madre mountains to the east,  Cordillera mountains to the west, and the Caraballo mountain to the south).

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My childhood friend, Happy, and her husband, Kit, came to visit me from Manila the day after I arrived in Tuguegarao. Together with my sister-in-law, Keithleen, we planned a day to climb the 183 steps at Callao Cave and later reward ourselves to a Batil Patung pancit, a type of noodles famous in Tuguegarao.

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Situated east of Tuguegarao, Peñablanca is a municipality home to Callao Cave, one of the province’s well known landmarks and tourist site.

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Callao Limestone Formation

Callao and the other caves in the area is situated in the footfills of Sierra Madre Mountains. Callao Cave was one of the earliest national parks of the country. It is now a Penablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape.

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More than 300 caves dot this protected area, but Callao is the most accessible of all caves. It is composed of seven chambers, of which we were only able to go up to the fifth chamber. The farther you get to a chamber the more slippery it becomes.

The chapel inside the cave

The chapel inside the cave

Part of our itinerary was to take a boat ride and explore the Pinacanauan River. But the heat that day was blistering and we were unable to withstand the temperature.

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Tired and hungry from our ‘trek’, we stopped by a panciteria (noodle house) and tried a different version of Batil Patung that we had at our house earlier in the morning. In spite of not able to experience the boat ride after climbing the cave, we still felt our mssion was successfully accomplished.

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