BY RICKY MONTECILLO
October 25, 2017
Don’t confuse it with Quirino Province which is also in northern Luzon. The small municipality of Quirino in Ilocos Sur is a far flung barrio close to the boundary of Abra province. It is between the Mountain province and Cordillera.
Most probably you have not gone there. It is really off the beaten path. Away from the crowd and out of reach by tourists.
Actually we didn’t plan on going to Quirino. The plan was to go to Tubo, Abra but the winding roads from Candon to San Emilio somehow brought us to this sleepy town by the Abra river.
We were seven motocrazy riders belonging to the adventure seeking group The Long Riders. Restie, Randy, Ricky (me), Gaby, Eric, Limwel and Ambet. All of us riding big bikes and looking like tough guys with our gears and boots. In reality, we are just like little boys who want to getaway and get lost.
Quirino is such a discovery. It’s worth road trip to Ilocos Sur. The highways from Manila all the way to Ilocos are well paved.
We met at Km. 42 Petron gas station at the NLEX by 6:30 am. Had breakfast at Mcdo and then had a briefing by Restie. He also led a prayer for our safe travel.
In Candon, we took a turn towards San Emilio town. After riding for more than 6 hours, we were thinking of staying the night there. But it was still early so we rode on to see the Skyline.
Going there via the twisty mountain road, the weather became cooler as we went further up The Skyline is actually a view deck where one can have a bird’s eye view of the Quirino, Tubo mountains and the Abra river.
While we were enjoying the view and taking photos and selfies, the cool fog suddenly descended upon us and covered the sights at exactly 5pm as if saying that the place had closed for business.
The sun was fast setting and we had to move on to find a place to stay for the night. A local igorot fellow who was hanging out at the view deck pointed us to the town down by the Abra river. He said we can find a place to eat and sleep there.
When we reached the town, we asked a group of young girls where we could stay and one of them suggested for us to meet the Barangay Captain who happens to be her tatay. Jennifer told us to drive uphill to the poblacion and look for Kap Padao.
The poblacion is small and as we reached the covered basketball court, we parked our bikes and Restie looked for Kap. His house was just down the road nearby and we met him together with other locals while they were gathered around a bon fire. They were cooking a newly slaughtered carabao.
Kap is a burly man in his 50s who seemed friendly but who doesn’t smile too much. Restie befriended everyone right away. A nice young fellow named Segundo told us that their place had a better waterfalls than Tubo. He said theirs had seven layers!
It was all it took for us to bite the bait and decide to spend the night right there at Kap’s place. He offered his place where we can pitch our tents while the others can use his brother’s house.
They also offered to be our guides to the Kayapa water falls and the hot springs.
Luckily, they had just slaughtered a carabao who broke a leg and they were cooking it to share with the townsfolks.
And so we gathered by the fire and sat with the men of Quirino as we partook of carabao meat and innards as side dish.We drank rounds of Ginebra San Miguel quatro quantos, the popular gin in the country, and we bonded like brothers into the night.
They said they felt honored to have us as guests and in their culture, they treat their guests as one of their own, assuring us of our safety and comfort during our stay. Such is the hospitality of the igorots in this town.
So what did we discover in this quiet simple town?
We learned that they plant rice not for commercial use but for their sustenance. They hoard their harvest and sell only the surplus, thus, assuring them that no one goes hungry.
We discovered Kayapa Waterfalls after hiking 2 hours through rice fields, forests and mountain trails. Segundo was right. Their water falls is majestic, its water pristine clear. Few visitors get to see it. It is certainly worth the trek.
There used to be hot springs in the other river. We also hiked to see it but even though the river was wonderful, the hot spring pools no longer exists.
There are still hot springs seeping through the river rockbeds but after massive eruption of the Mt. Pinatubo way back in 1990s, the pools of disappeared.
The people of Quirino wishes that someday more people will visit their hidden haven and bring some tourism activity. They hope for us to tell others of the beauty of Quirino.
We spent 2 nights in Quirino but before heading back home, we gave away some toys and other stuff to the children as our way of showing our appreciation, The Long Riders way.