Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rizal, Tuao, and Piat : Visiting Three Historic Malaueg and Itawes Towns of Cagayan

Three towns on the south westernmost part of the province of Cagayan are definitely places worth visiting for, especially to someone who has much interest on antiquity, culture, and everything in between. Belonging to the Itawes region of the province, Rizal (also known as Malaueg), Tuao, and Piat are all able to preserve their local identity through their main language, Itawes and Malaueg, and other local dialects which is still being used by the locals. But equally important to that is that they were also able to preserve colonial edifices and structures that bears imprint of their past, as well as the whole nation's past. These are the things that made my trip, together with another heritage enthusiast from Nueva Vizcaya, Mr. Juval Rey Valdez, a very memorable and fruitful one.

An ancestral house in Tuao, Cagayan.

I have already been to Cagayan in two occasions before but were only able to visit towns found near the national highway from Tuguegarao going to Appari. I actually have no plans of visiting Cagayan this year (2014) but something I have learned just recently made me eager to visit the province for the third time. In an FB group (Churches, Basilicas, and Cathedrals in the Philippines) where I am a member, I learned that the 2nd oldest church in the whole Philippines can be found in Rizal, Cagayan! Upon learning that, I immediately hatched a plan on embarking on my third town hopping trip to Cagayan as soon as possible. I have no plans of delaying my visit to this important heritage structure just to find out that natural calamities such as earthquake and strong typhoons came to visit before me and leave in their wake a crumbled and devastated church - just like my experience with the Bohol and Eastern Samar churches. 

Malaueg Church (Rizal Church), Cagayan. The 2nd oldest, still existing Spanish-era church in the Philippines.

And so I was able to see with my own two eyes this beautiful 17th century church of Rizal. It was a wonderful feeling seeing a structure which has stood for more than 3 centuries still standing and existing even with the advent of the modern times. It's as if a connection from the present to the past was opened and I was able to travel back in time. Even just that made my third trip to Cagayan a success.

The next day, we were able to visit the historic town of Tuao. We saw there the newly constructed Church of the Holy Guardian Angel, the Mamba House and other beautiful ancestral houses, the beautiful Tuao Municipal Hall Compound, and also the numerous "calesas" which serve as a normal means of transportation around the town. Tuao is a beautiful town and I actually told the policemen in the town proper how beautiful their town is.

Tuao Church. Cagayan.

From Tuao, we visited the town of Piat next. This town is famous for the black image of the Virgin Mary housed in the Basilica Minore of the Our Lady of Piat, making the town the pilgrimage capital of Cagayan Province. It is actually my first time visiting the Basilica for I wasn't able to catch a trip there from Tuguegarao during my first visit.

Aside from visiting the basilica, we have also searched for the ruins of the former Sto. Domingo Church in the same town, and were likewise successful in locating it. 

Sto. Domingo Church and Convent ruins. Piat, Cagayan.

After Piat, we were supposed to continue our town hopping to Enrile, then Claveria where we will be spending the night. The next day would have been another town hopping from Claveria down to Tuguegarao passing through Sanchez-Mira, Pamplona, Abulug, Camalaniugan and Lal-lo but typhoon Luis is such a spoiler that we have to drop our plans of visiting more north and north easternmost towns of the province. We were confronted with heavy rain and strong winds upon reaching Tuguegarao (coming from Piat) that we decided to just go home already.

Even though Typhoon Luis cut our trip short, it was still a fruitful trip for we were able to visit the original three towns we planned on visiting, including the foremost reason of this trip: the Malaueg Church. 


In the coming days, the three towns that we have visited will be featured individually and at length here in San Josenyong Gala. You are much welcome to visit again to read the following soon:

Rizal, Cagayan : From Pagans to being Christians (soon!)
Visit Tuao, Visit Tu-WOW! (soon!)
Piat : A Town of Miracle (soon!)

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About the Author

I am ROMEL RAFOR JAIME, the man behind San Josenyong Gala. My travel blogger name came about because I am a proud resident of the City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. In real life, I am a licensed librarian who works in a college in Gapan, Nueva Ecija as a librarian and teaches general education subjects from time to time. My goal is to visit all the 81 provinces of the Philippines before visiting other countries. As of 2017, I have already visited 73... :)


  1. Wow bro Western Cagayan is love! Tagal kong hindi nakabisita sa blog mo and pagbalik ko dito ang raming bagong posts na magaganda! Nasa bucketlist ko na 'yang Tuao na yan because of the calesa but marami pa rin palang pwedeng gawin at makita diyan! Excited ako, hanggang northern coastal towns pa lang ako sa cagayan (from sta praxedes to sta ana). I've never been to the southern half as of now, even Tugue. Hopefully soon! :)

    1. Oo brod. Kahit ako, nagulat sa nakita ko sa Tuao. Hindi ko inaasahan kasi ang target talaga ay yung Malaueg Church, side trip lang talaga yung Tuao...

      Bisita na brod, andami pang magagandang mapupuntahan south of Aparri...

  2. I'm from Tuao po.. salamat po sa pag appreciate ng town namin :)

    1. Wala pong anuman at salamat! Maganda at malinis pong talaga ang Tuao... :)