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Pursuit of Happiness

Pursuit of Happiness

Bernard Supetran

When the United States Continental Congress declared Independence from the British Empire on the fourth of July 1776, its most striking statement is the God-endowed unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Little did America’s founding fathers know that centuries later that their “pursuit of happiness” would have far-reaching effect even into the world of mobility.

At any given time, road warriors are pursuing happiness on the road on board their trusty vehicles, come hell or high water, on a bicycle, motorcycle, automobile, or the more upscale recreational vans. For the Pinoy hoi polloi, the most popular and affordable mobility is the motorcycle which can take you anywhere in the archipelago.

One destination which goes by the tagline “Basket of Happiness” is Quirino Province and aspires to be the “motorcycle tourism” capital of the north with its rider-friendly topography and scenery. Indeed, what can be a more exhilarating experience than the pursuit of happiness in the Basket of Happiness on two wheels.

Pit Stop 1: Nagtipunan. Quirino’s easternmost town can be reached via the scenic and less-congested Pacific coastal road of Aurora. Because of the fewer vehicles and bypasses the steep Dalton Pass, it has become the alternative road which proves that the journey is as exciting as the destination.

Landingan Viewpoint, the town’s highest point, boasts of an unobstructed panorama of the Siitan River and the infinity of the Sierra Madre mountains. Down at the River Park, you can grab a bite as you marvel at the area’s geological wonders, most notably the “Bimmapor” rock formation which resembles a ship’s hull.

The local tourism industry players have designated the place as a spot for motor camping and outdoor gatherings owing to its natural wonder.

Pit Stop 2: Maddela. Named after a former governor, this is home to the province’s poster image of Governor’s Rapids, known for its jaw-dropping rockscapes, jagged limestone formations, and rock diving platforms. Its main attraction is the adrenaline-filled rapids boat ride, whitewater tubing or kayaking at the Cagayan River.

Pit Stop 3: Aglipay. Said to be the hiding place of revolutionary priest Gregorio Aglipay, it boasts of eight mapped chambers which has hollow and fragile draws, amazing drapers, stunning and rich forest biodiversity.

Treat yourself afterwards to healthy snacks at the Quirino Experiment Station which produces organic food items, dragon fruit home-made ice cream and dairy products. You won’t miss this roadside shop with the humongous cow statue which has become a snapshot spot for motorists.

Pit Stop 4: Cabarroguis. This quaint town is the provincial capital, urban center, and hotel and restaurant hub.

In the heart of the town is the sprawling capitol complex stuffed with touristy buildings such as the Provincial Museum and Library which gives a glimpse of Quirino’s checkered history, the OTOP Center for pasalubong shopping, and the provincial tourism office for all information and assistance services.

The adjacent track oval is the civic center for outdoor assemblies which include the annual Panagdadapun Festival where municipal festivities converge to mark the provincial founding anniversary.

Nearby is the newly-opened Q-Life Center, the province’s tallest structure and one-stop shop for value-added local agricultural produce.

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This clean and green government property also has an Orchidarium, Tree for Legacy Park, Bamboo Eco-Park, plant nurseries where you can go forest bathing, and a landscaped lagoon which is ideal for boating.

Its core is the Quirino Watersports Complex, north Luzon’s only full course worldclass and tournament-grade spring-fed wake park, with cozy accommodations, multipurpose pavilion and infinity. Further up is the motocross mountain playground of extreme motorcycle riders for the Quirino Motorismo Festival which made a grand post-pandemic return this summer.

Pit Stop 5: Diffun. A first photo opp for riders is the twin peaks called: “Susong Dalaga”, whose etymology is self-explanatory because of its contour.

Next destination is Ganano Falls which is known for its voluminous 100-foot drop and passes through the three minor cascades that form cool natural pools. After chasing waterfalls, quite literally, reward yourself with a well-deserved lunch of Kankanaey indigenous dishes such as tinumbo (rice cooked in bamboo) and kiniing (smoked meat) at Bagnes Nature Park.

At a roadside stall, sink your teeth at the creamy tubikoy pie which mixes tupig, biko and tikoy while sipping coffee after lunch.

While the common entry point via the Cagayan Valley Road, Diffun can also be an exit point where motorists can head back to Manila via Malico, a newly-opened breath-taking road near the boundary of Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya and San Nicolas, Pangasinan.

After the exciting ride on the long and winding roads, you would have pursued happiness found in a single basket called: “Quirino.”