Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya

This post is part of my Nueva Vizcaya Series chronicling my 2013 and 2015 visits to the province. To see other towns, refer to the linked list after the article.

Many people know that when the bus they are riding reached Bagabag Junction in Nueva Vizcaya (even without actually knowing that that junction is called as such), they are almost at the vicinity of the Cordillera Region. This Maharlika Highway junction which is a part of Bagabag town leads to the provinces of Ifugao and Mountain Province, and serves as a landmark for travelers telling them that they are already nearing their destination, which may be any of the famous Cordilleran towns of Sagada, Bontoc, or Banaue. Little did they know that the town where the junction is located is actually worthy of a stop-over or even a side trip. 

Famous Pancit Buko of Bagabag

I was able to visit this beautiful town in 2015 through Sir Juval Rey Valdez, a local, who was a very accommodating host. Bagabag wasn't part of my list of places to visit during my first travel to Nueva Vizcaya but upon learning from Sir Valdez that it is one of the older towns of the province where traces of the past still exist, it became the main reason of my second visit. 

St. Jerome Parish Church, the new Bagabag Church.

My travel to Bagabag happened after my 3 day town hopping of Apayao, Cagayan and Isabela provinces. After seeing the famous Our Lady of Atocha Church in Alicia, Isabela, I immediately got on a bus which brought me to Bagabag junction. There, I met Mr. Valdez and he toured me around the town through his motorcycle.

Interior of Bagabag Church.

We first visited the St. Jerome Parish Church in the town center. The church is of modern and modest design with a spacious and well-lit interior. The east wall (the wall behind the altar) is designed with woods from century old trees and glass panels allowing natural light to enter the chancel (the altar area). The construction of this modern church commenced in 1962 and completed later in the year though the design of the altar and east wall must have been completed just recently.


Bagabag Bell Tower Ruins

But more than Bagabag's modern church, the very thing that made me want to visit the town is the still standing Spanish-era Bagabag Bell Tower, which can be found just at the right side of the new church. This bell tower is part of the once existing older church, which was built in 1777, and was unfortunately razed down to ground during the World War II. The bell tower mightily stands side by side with a century-old tree but the battery it has endured through the passage of time is noticeable. Some parts of the walls' bricks are already missing and by just looking at it, one can surmise that it is also already missing a whole level or two.



Design details of Bagabag Belltower

Through closer inspection, one can see that the tower has a very distinctive design and patterns that would have made the tower a very beautiful piece of art during the time it was still complete. Unfortunately, its present state is far from that and the most that the church or the Bagabag local government can do is to salvage and preserve what's left of it.


Ruins of the old Bagabag Church

Actually, the bell tower is not the only ruins left in the church compound. Ruins of the old church and convent is still visible between the bell tower and the new church though it is obvious that there is no hope of restoring them to their previous form. Many bricks are strewn beside the present convent, the bell tower and other parts of the church compound, which can be presumed part of the old church. I tried to research (online!) about the history of the church as well as the subsequent foundation of the town but all I get are jumbled and incoherent data. But what's clear is that the church and the town of Bagabag were founded during the Spanish-era as evidenced by these ruins (construction of the church started in 1777 though I cannot determine the exact date when it was completed).


Bagabag Town Plaza. Bagabag Municipal Hall.

After finally seeing what I came for, Sir Valdez continued touring me around the town center. Just outside the church compound can be found the very spacious and beautiful plaza as well as the town hall and the town library. One can see that the plaza is well-maintained and designed, perfect for a morning or afternoon stroll and hanging around. 


G & B Noodle Station, Tuao North, Bagabag.

I thought the tour was already finished but Sir Valdez brought me to another destination: a restaurant in Barangay Tuao North, along Maharlika Highway. This restaurant, branded as the G & B Special Buko Pie and Noodle Station, serves and sells many buko-based products such as buko pie, bottled buko juice, buko tart, and other noodle based-one such as canton/bihon guisado, lomi, wanton, etc. But the restaurant's bestseller is unarguably Pancit Buko (pictured at the start of this post), a noodle dish which uses buko as noodles instead of bihon, lomi or canton! It taste heavenly, especially for a self-professed ultimate pancit lover like me.

Bagabag Buko Pie
This restaurant is one of the pioneers in Bagabag's Buko industry making Bagabag known for its Buko products. According to Sir Valdez, the restaurant has already been featured in some tv shows and newspaper/magazine articles because of the popularity of Bagabag Buko Pie and the uncommon but ultimately delicious Pancit Buko. Bagabag is really worthy of a visit even just to buy their buko products especially their very own style of pancit!

After that sumptuous meal, we stayed for a bit of aftermeal rest then we continued on our way to the next town I would be visiting that day, Nueva Vizcaya's capital town of Bayombong.


HOW TO GET THERE?

From Cubao, you can ride Florida, Five Star or other buses bound to Tuguegarao or Ilagan. Just tell the driver to drop you off at Bagabag Junction. From the junction, you may ride a tricycle to bring you to the town proper. You may also opt to walk to the to the town proper. Just ask around how to get there.

If you are coming from Tuguegarao or any town north of Nueva Vizcaya, you may ride any bus bound to Manila/Cubao and tell the driver to drop you off at Bagabag Junction and follow the directions above. 

I visited Bagabag in 2015.

2 comments :

  1. Bhel eaquierdo asinasApril 27, 2015 at 7:20 PM

    Very interesting and informative. Were u able to inquire with the town's Heritage council or anyone in the locality who are incharge? Sayang naman for the sake of the next generation to see.

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    1. No Ma'am, unfortunately. But Sir Juval, my guide, is an eager one and I am pretty sure he will do what he can to protect these ruins... I'll ask him and will relay to you his answer ma'am...

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