Darkness fell early on the first day of our North Luzon Camino which was disappointing because I was not able to take the Amigos to see the gorgeous brick churches of Cagayan Valley -- in Alicia, Cauayan and most specially in Tumauini and San Pablo.
I therefore resolved to try and not miss anything as we travelled from Cagayan to Ilocos Norte on Day 2 of our road trip.
The tall and stately Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Tuguegarao City is the biggest church in the province and just a few hundred meters from our hotel. The church has undergone a facelift and renovation in the recent years but I am happy to note that no major changes have been done to destroy its traditional architecture.
This very friendly black dog reminded me a lot of my black labs, Nero and Rebus. I like to think we connected during this brief moment, serendipitously captured by Amigo Mayk Mariano, who was sitting a few pews behind me.
Although this dog was not a stray and was with a lady who was attending the mass, I had evil thoughts of dog-napping him and whisking him back with me to Manila.
Back at the hotel, we just had time for a quick breakfast of fried rice, egg and those divine garlicky longganisas that Tuguegarao is known for.
Here are the Amigos in front of our overnight stop, Hotel Lorita along Gomez Street in Tuguegarao City. It was a good place to rest and recover after the 14 hour trip from Manila.
From Tuguegarao, we took a 45 kilometre detour to Piat, to pray before Yena Tam Ngamin, patroness of all of Cagayan Valley. The church is known as the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Piat and is visited by pilgrims from all over the country seeking her help and intercession.
We were fortunate to run into Bishop Pol Jaucian, bishop of the province of Abra who was also visiting Piat at the same time. He was gracious and kind to pose for a photo with us.
From Piat, we drove back back through Tuguegarao and headed to Yguig, Cagayan. This magnificent brick church sits atop a hill overlooking the Cagayan River. It is also known as the Church of St. James and therefore, a fitting stop for us to come and pay a visit to our Amigo, Santiago. Unfortunately, the church was undergoing much needed repairs to its interiors and the statue of Santiago was in safekeeping somewhere inside the convento.
I did think that Santiago was happy to see us again. The Amigos were certainly awed by this massive brick church with three kinds of buttresses. I hope that the cracks that are so evident will be fixed and that Santiago's church in Cagayan will continue to stand proud through many more centuries to come.
It did not say "no photos" only " no sitting" so here is a nice shot of the Amigos by the outdoor altar behind the Church of St. James in Yguig, Cagayan Valley.
I had boasted about the tastiest, creamiest milk candy to the Amigos -- much more to my liking than sugary pastillas de leche. Teaño's Milk Candy sold along the highway in Alcala is Jay's favourite Cagayan delicacy. We were lucky that stocks had not run out when we passed by and everyone was able to have a taste of what I had been raving about.
The last Cagayan church we visited was also in Alcala, sitting right by the roadside.
St. Philomene's Church is a well preserved and lovely brick structure that was built in the 1800s. Graceful and elegant, the facade is adorned with statues of various saints, painted in white that contrasts nicely with the red brick exterior.
Intricate gold carvings adorn the church doors. Beside this beautiful church is the bell tower and the convento, also made of brick.
This church is said to be the widest in all of Cagayan province. The interiors are simple and the ceiling has been modernised with steel frames but you still feel like you are in another era especially as you enter and are greeted by this delightful young angel holding a shell filled with holy water. Notice the angel's skin tone and her noticeably Filipino facial features.
Alcala was our last stop in Cagayan on our way to Laoag, Ilocos Norte where we would spend the next two nights. When we passed the Patapat Viaduct approaching Pagudpud, it was a perfect opportunity to stop, stretch our legs and take this souvenir photo -- marking another day on the Amigos' North Luzon Camino.
NB Thank you Mayk Mariano for photos #3 and #10.