Now Reading
The Heat is (still) On

The Heat is (still) On

Bernard Supetran

Four decades before the country experienced a record heat index, Glenn Frey of The Eagles fame has been playing weatherman by singing that the heat is on the street, inside your head, and on every beat.

The mercury might have dipped a little, but is still generally hot in most parts of the country, prompting many road warriors to drive to the cooler or less hot areas. One under-the-radar destination which is slowly gaining attention as an alternative getaway is Nueva Vizcaya, which has some unexplored areas which can shelter you from the sweltering heat.

And despite the generally warm climate in the Cagayan Valley region, the province boasts of exciting uplands which are a few degrees lower than the lowlands.

The Hilux Conquest is the best companion on the road which can give you the leisure and maneuverability as you negotiate the never-ending twists and turns, and overtake the countless long vehicles you’ll encounter.

With widened roads and traveler-friendly stopovers, the long drive has become as exciting as the destinations themselves. Below are some must-see “naturally vibrant” attractions of Nueva Vizcaya.

Pit Stop 1: Sta Fe. With an altitude of 914 meters feet above sea level, this gateway town can be reached via the breathtaking Balete (formerly Dalton) Pass zigzag road. Motorists are welcomed to the province by the Balete Pass National Shrine, a hilltop World War 2 memorial to mark the victory of Filipino and American forces over Japan. It has the proverbial military high ground and a sweeping view of the road below and the Sierra Madre mountain range.

A new hot spot, thanks to the internet, is the relic of an American battle tank tucked in the pine trees of Malico’s uplands. With the opening of the newly-completed Sta. Fe-San Nicolas road, the corridor has stunned motorists with its meandering roads, undulating mountains, cool weather, and pine forests.

This spanking highway connects to the roads less traveled of Pangasinan towns which are close to the Tarlac- Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx).

Going back to Sta. Fe proper, pull over at Imugan Falls for a 20-trek and plunge into the icy waters of its natural pool.

Pit Stop 2: Dupax Del Norte and Sur. Nestled in the Caraballo ranges, this obscure municipality hugged the headlines a few years back with the sea of clouds which was popularized on social media by motorcycle riders.

After cloud-gazing, swing by the 18th-century St. Vincent Ferrer Church in its twin town of Dupax del Sur, and be amazed by the timeless architectural charm, which was declared by the National Museum as a National Cultural Treasure along with the adjacent Dampol Bridge.

Grab breakfast at The Green Oasis of Dupax, a plant garden and healthy restaurant rolled into one, which will surely delight certified plantitos and plantitas.

Pit Stop 3: Bayombong. This provincial capital is known for its humidity, but it has pockets of breezy spots in the outskirts worth checking out.

Courage Mountain in upland Bgy. Bansing is an integrated farm with fancy outdoor ornaments which can provide loads of social media content.

See Also

And yes, it takes lots of driving courage to negotiate the rough and steep road to the farm, which is accessible only to 4 x 4 vehicles. Spend the night at its Lord of the Rings hobbit house, or camp in its sprawling grounds and be caressed by the cool, crisp mountain air.

Another cool place to hang around is Nueva Vizcaya Integrated Farm which provides a naturally relaxing ambience and a rejuvenating down-to-earth health care. Its main come-on is their signature “hot kawa” herbal bath followed by traditional Filipino hilot massage and a bevy of salon services.

After pampering yourself, feast on tasty home style dishes and concoctions at an airy bahay kubo-themed resto as you gaze into the mountainscape at a distance.

For a consummate experience, you can spend overnight in its tropical cabanas for a peaceful evening away from the madding crowd and the urban heat. Accredited by the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), you can just imagine how friendly is it to seniors and those approaching the said age bracket.

Pit Stop 4: Diadi. The claim to fame of this northernmost town is the 1,200-hectare Lower Magat Eco-Tourism (LMET) Park which is also the province’s flagship destination. Tucked within the 24,000-hectare forest land, it has hiking and biking eco-trails canopied by hardwood trees which provide year-round cool weather.

Its centerpiece is the lagoon which is ideal for boating and fishing, and is surrounded by cottages, picnic gazebos, and an infinity pool.

The heat is still on, but Nueva Vizcaya’s cool spots are something Glenn Frey and the Beverly Hills Cop would like to bask in some time.