Last December, my boys and I decided to go on a 5-day road trip up north ~ a family tradition we do every end of year. We spent a few nights in Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, and Abra. Unfortunately, it was raining hard throughout our stay in Pagudpud (Amihan season for that area, sadly), but on one of the days that the weather was forgiving, Bobby and I decided to drive all the way to Claveria, Cagayan (the nearest town from where we were).
I can't say that our trip was magical. It was quiet - well, there's nothing much to do when the weather decides to rain on your parade. We had a few hurdles - and by that, meaning flooded roads - we had to cross with our trusty thirteen year-old Fortuner (she really is) just to get to the place... but along the way, we saw a bunch of kalenderia's (kainans on the side of the road) serving kambing, bibingka, pancit, and more!
The town isn't too big. By car, you could see all that they had there in the span of 5 minutes. I couldn't take too many photos because our camera isn't waterproof, and I didn't want to get drenched in the rain... but here's a peek of what we saw.
Minus the rain, this humble scaled town is surrounded by rolling mountains, lush forests, pristine beaches and rock formations. Though we didn't have time to discover these places, seeing a glimpse of what lies beneath the rain, flooded roads, and people in raincoats is a town that is booming with life. Yet, it's also a town that appreciates simplicity, and is proud of what they call their own.
Since most restos that day were either closed, flooded, or didn't have parking, we had to look for a place to grab a bite 'cause the little boy was hungry. We ended up in La Segundina.
It's a developing ecopark primarily caters the needs of travellers heading to Cagayan, Isabela, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and neighboring provinces. It's mostly where buses stop over also for anyone who needs a good enough CR to use!
We ordered Kaldareta, Adobo, Mirinda (tunay na Pinoy orange soda), and some coffee. In fairness, masarap naman yung pagkain. Felt home-y.
You can eat Filipino classics - kaldareta, menudo, adobo, restock on your supplies at their tindahan, and enjoy their special bibingka! We spent about an hour here trying to rest and wait for the rain to stop (which didn't). We ended up just having P 5.00 coffee, bibingka and let Yñigo run around the kainan area to socialize (rather bother) other people who were there.
ROYAL BIBINGKA, SPECIAL BIBINGKA LOVES
At this point, it had been a while since we had bibingka. In Claveria, there are a lot of small bakeshops and stores that sell but this batch in La Segundina was addicting!
A classic kakanin that is a favorite pasalubong choice for those who frequent Cagayan... or north of Luzon in general.
They had royal bibingka and special bibingka. We had to order both as we are big fans of kakanin (especially meeeee). We actually didn't know the difference at first, but apparently royal bibingka is a Filipino native rice cake made from glutinous rice soaked in water then milled to form an almost white paste-like texture. It is then mixed with brown sugar and coconut milk, topped with grated cheese, then baked in a pugon (oven made from stones or clay) or a small clay oven.
On the other hand, La Segundina's special bibingka is basically royal bibingka but instead of being topped with grated cheese, they also put grated buko (and other secret ingredients hehe).
How they prepare these yummy special bibingka goodies
I actually asked if I could take a photo of her doing it, but she was too shy to let me.
So that basically sums up our Cagayan trip. We're planning to go venture around Cagayan - especially areas such as Tuguegarao, Peñablanca and Palaui Island! Of course, we also plan on visiting Claveria again when the sun's out so Yñigo can play freely and explore!
To those who are traveling up north, or staying in Pagudpud, don't forget to add Claveria, Cagayan as a stop to your itinerary!