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Brief History

In 1581, Captain Juan Pablo Careon, native of Vizcaya, a province of Spain, with one hundred soldiers fully equipped with arms and ammunition and other provisions came to Cagayan with their families by order of Don Gonzalo Ronquillo de Peñaloza, the fourth Spanish Civil Governor, to explore the Cagayan Valley and to convert the natives to Christianity as well as to establish ecclesiastical missions and towns throughout the valley. This was the first batch of Spanish settlers in the Cagayan Valley who introduced Spanish culture and Latin Civilization, enriching primitive culture, customs and tradition.

On June 29, 1583, Don Juan de Salcedo traced the northern coastline of Luzon and set foot on the Massi, (Pamplona) Tular and Aparri areas. The Spanish Friars soon established mission posts in Camalaniugan and Lallo, which became the seat of Nueva Segovia established on August 14, 1595. The Spanish influence can still be seen in the massive churches and other buildings that the Spaniards built for the spiritual and social welfare of the people.

With the Treaty of Paris signed in 1898, ending the war between Spain and the United States, America took over the Philippines and enriched the culture most notably in agriculture and education also in public works and communications. At the close of the 18th century, there were 29 municipalities in the Province of Cagayan. When Philippines came under American sovereignty in 1902, 35 municipalities have been founded. Since then, however, on account of the tendency at centralization and shifting of population as a result of the opening of roads and public agricultural lands only 29 municipalities now remain. (Source:Cagayan Souvenir Program 1968)

Cagayan today is the Regional Seat of the Cagayan Valley Region.

Tuguegarao, the capital town is the seat of commerce and trade and center for learning. The province has the largest marine fishing grounds and 73 percent of the region’s potential fishpond area.

Known as the spelunker’s, trekker’s, and gamefisher’s paradise rolled into one, Cagayan provides a never-ending adventure with ecotourism in the forefront of its offering.

Both foreign and local tourists continue to explore its caves, engage in gamefishing expeditions, trek its mighty mountains and retreat to its centuries – old churches.

PAL flies to Tuguegarao City- the regional seat, three times a week. Various bus companies with lines to Cagayan Valley Region leave Manila everyday while public utility jeepneys, buses, tricycles and calesas are the common mode of transport for short leisurely trips.


Present day chroniclers say that the name was derived from the word “tagay”, a kind of plant that grows abundantly in the northern part of the province. Thus, “Catagayan which means a place where the tagay grows abundantly” was shortened to “Cagayan”, the present name of the province.


The province is bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the east, on the south is Isabela province, on the west is the Cordillera Mountain and on the north by the Balintang Channel and the Babuyan Group of Islands.

About two kilometers from the northeastern tip of the province is the island of Palaui, a few kilometers to the west is Fuga Island. The Babuyan Group of Islands which include Calayan, Dalupiri, Camiguin and Babuyan Claro is about 50 to 60 nautical miles north of Luzon mainland.


Cagayan Province lies on the northeastern part of Luzon, occupying the lower basin of the Cagayan River. It is well traversed by many rivers, with Abulug and Cagayan Rivers as the largest.

Area and Population

The province comprises an aggregate land area of 9,002.70 square kilometers which constitutes three percent of the total land area of the country and the second largest province in the region.

The Province of Cagayan has a total population of 993,580 as of the year 2000 census of population or 110.36 persons per square kilometer.


Seasons in the province are not very pronounced. Relatively dry season occurs during the months of March to June and rainy season from July to October, although it is relatively cold during the months of November to February

Political Subdivision

Cagayan has 29 municipalities divided into three congressional districts. It has 816 barangays. Tuguegarao City (December 18, 1999) is the provincial capital, regional seat and center of business, trade and education. It has a land area of 144.80 square kilometers and a population of 120,645 as of 2000.


Languages in the province are Ybanag, Ytawit, Malaweg, and Ilocano. Other ethnic groups that migrated to the province speak their own dialects. People in places where literacy is high speak and understand English and Pilipino.

Major Industries

Agricultural products are rice, corn, peanut, beans and fruits. Livestock products include cattle, hogs, carabaos and poultry. Fishing various variety of fish from the coastal towns of the province is also undertaken. Woodcraft furniture made of hardwood, rattan, bamboo and other indigenous materials are also available in the province.

Best Time to Visit

The advent of the dry season from January to June ushers the festivals. Visitors come in droves to explore the caves, trek the mountains, enjoy the sea or make a pilgrimage trip to the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Piat. Visitors and excursionists are advised to bring warm clothes on July to September when the rain comes in the afternoon. Evenings are relatively cold in the months of November to February.


Cagayan, the “Smiling Land of Beauty”, when founded in 1583 included all the land that later on became the provinces of Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino. Cagayan is the regional center of Region II. Located at the northeastern part of Luzon, it is bounded by the Balintang Channel and the China Sea to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Cordillera mountains of Kalinga Apayao to the west, and the province of Isabela to the south.

A. Brief History of Cagayan

As in other parts of the archipelago, the Spanish friars who were considered as harbingers of western culture to the orient lifted the first page of Cagayan Valley’s rich colonial past. Father Francisco Rojano, the great chronicler of the Province would tell us that Cagayan Province got its name from the Ilocano word "carayan" (big river), which traverses the entire valley from north to south. Contrary to what the priest chroniclers would say that the name was derived from "tagay", a kind of plant that grew in abundance in the north. At first, they said it was referred to as "catarayan" (a place where "tagay" abounds) and later shortened to Cagayan.

According to the Spanish written chronicles, it was Don Juan de Salcedo, grandson of Legaspi who, after leaving Vigan and tracing the coastline of northern Luzon, was the first European to set foot on the area particularly Massi, Tular and Aparri.

Cagayan’s rich past was impregnated with the Spaniards who occupied the Province for three centuries; the American’s take over was provided for by the Treaty of Paris signed in 1898 as a result of the war between the two powers. The liberal American system that came out in many forms, foremost of which were in education and agriculture enriched the legacy left by the Spaniards. This period saw the construction of roads and bridges that reduced the vast valley into a minute and more compact province thereby facilitating travel and communication. Commerce and trade flourished especially in Tuguegarao, the capital town and the then existing educational system was revised.

The Second World War brought the American regime to an end; for not long after the Japanese occupied the area. It was during this period that the famed Governor Marcelo Adduru caught the limelight for having offered a stubborn resistance to the occupying Japanese forces. Tuao on the southwestern part of the Province became the "Bastion of the Valley". It was here where Adduru established his resistance government. After several years of Japanese-run government which saw varied attempts of the occupying force to introduce changes, the Allied Forces forcibly broke the chain of bondage. It was in later part of 1944, that the province was liberated after countless lives have been sacrificed.

B. Cultural History of Cagayan

Cagayan is undoubtedly one of the riches archeological sites in the Philippines. Excavations by the National Museum and field researchers of the Cagayan Museum have unraveled vast archeological findings including artifacts dating back to the Paleolithic Age. It is the presence of such discoveries which gives us a diachonic view of the technological and cultural evolution of the Cagayanos.


A. Paleolithic Age

Almost all of Cagayan’s prehistory belongs to the Paleolithic Age. There are two separate evidences which supports this assertion. One is the presence of fossilized bones of now extinct mammals such as elephas, stegodons and rhinoceros. Present day archeological theory holds that during the Ice Age or the Pleistocene Epoch, these animals drifted into the then uninhabited Philippines through the land bridges that connected the country with mainland Asia. Shortly afterwards, man followed these mammals presumably to hunt them down. Another evidence is the recovery of very crude, chipped and flaked stone tools at the upper layers of the river terraces at the foothills of the Sierra Madre and Cordillera Mountain ranges.

Archeological studies undertaken at the Tabon Cave in the western Palawan have resulted in the excavation of the first fossilized bones of ancient man which are believed to be at least 22,000 years old. The Callao Caves in Cagayan may yet reveal her real prehistoric value.

Paleolithic man was a cave dweller. His main source of tools were river pebbles, cobbles and other rocks. One or both sides of the stone were usually chipped to produce a cutting edge used primarily to dismember carcasses of hunted animals. Such crude stone tools have been collected from morte soil surface at Alimannao and other equally known sites in the vicinity of Tuguegarao, Cagayan. A number of core and flake tools have also been recovered in the area. A core is a lump of stone from which flakes or blades may have been removed. Sometimes it is merely the by-product of tool making but can also be shaped and modified to be an implement in itself.

The presence of probosicidean fossilized bones in Solana, Cagayan reveals the geological and fauna transformation from 250,000 years ago or earlier up to the present. Dr. Yves Coppans, the Deputy Director of Musse le Home France identified the fossilized bones to be the teeth, milk tusk and extremities of elephas and rhinoceros. Comparable to the size of a carabao, stegodon and elephas are considered "pygmy elephants". Evolutionary theory holds that stegodon and elephas may have been ancestral to the present day elephant specie.

B. Neolithic Age

The term Neolithic (New Stone Age) applies to that stage when man started to produce his own food through the domestication of plants and animals. This technological stage was not attained simultaneously by all human societies. Some prehistoric societies were able to domesticate plants and animals faster that the others. The direct archaeological evidence of the domestication of plants and animals is the preservation of known domesticated plants and animals in burial and refuse heaps. The presence of artistic representations of animal husbandry and farming in the form of etchings and gravings likewise points to the attainment of neolithic stage of development. However, in the Philippine research, most of this inferred presence of neolithic culture is based largely on the presence of a particular assemblage of stone tools which show definite signs of grinding and polishing.

The earliest identified neolithic site was discovered in Lal-lo by Mr. Israel Cabunilla in 1972. Mixed with the polished stone stools were pieces of pottery, animal bones and clamshells. Whether or not this group of people who lived in Lal-lo during this time constituted the first Philippine society that practiced farming and industry is still uncertain. More research will have to be undertaken before such assertion could be established. It is highly probable though that this pre-historic society was the first to have introduced farming into the country. Whether the cultivation of plants by the Lal-lo prehistoric society was an indigenous and independent local development or an intrusive foreign influence cannot be answered yet because of lack of date to support either view. Suffice it to say here that the neolithic societies of Lal-lo engaged in pottery making, cooked their food and devoted some time to artistic activities as shown by the elaborate decorations of the surface of their pottery.

Some broken and whole pieces of well-polished neolithic stone tools have been collected from surface finds at Tuguegarao. Associated with these tools are pottery types similar to those found in Lal-lo. Radio carbon dating of Lal-lo artifacts indicated that these maybe as old as 20,000-40,000 BC the adzes likewise indicate the presence of woodworking technology during this period.

C. Iron Age

The Iron Age covers the transition from 200 years BC to 1400 AD. Cagayan culture has progressed to a point where there is already knowledge of smelting and forging iron, the use of more advanced agricultural techniques, glassmaking and weaving.

D. Age of Contact

Cagayan like many provinces in the Philippines, was never isolated from foreign influence as was earlier believed. Contrary to common belief, the Filipinos were already trading with their Southeast Asian neighbors - Thailand, Khmer (Cambodia), Aannam (Vietnam) and China - even long before the Spaniards arrived. Archaeological surface finds of porcelain vessels and shards and ethnographic collection of heirloom pieces by the Cagayan Museum staff firmly establish that Cagayan was once a part of that long pre-historic international trade with neighboring countries albeit on a very limited scale.


A. Location, Land Area and Political Subdivisions

Cagayan lies in the northeastern part of mainland Luzon (Figure 1.1), approximately 17° 30’ north and 121° 15’ east, occupying the lower basin of the Cagayan River (Figure 1.2). Tuguegarao, its capital town is 483 kilometers north of Manila, about one hour by air travel, and ten hours by land, through the Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway, also known as the Cagayan Valley Road -- the region’s trunkline road -- which runs parallel to the Cagayan River.

The Province, including the Babuyan island group, is approximately 900,270 hectares. It is the second largest in land area in Region 02 and constitutes about 3% of the total land area of the Philippines.

The Balintang Channel, north of the Babuyan Islands, forms the boundary between the Provinces of Cagayan and Batanes. The Cagayan mainland has a level coastline on the north opening to the South China Sea and an irregular coastline on the east facing the Philippine Sea, the country’s territorial waters of the Pacific Ocean. The Sierra Madre Mountains form its rugged and mountainous eastern coast, but its beaches and coves could be utilized for economic production. Cagayan is bounded on the south by the Province of Isabela. The Cordilleras enclose its hilly southwestern part, bordering the Province of Kalinga, and its low and swampy northwestern part, bordering the Province of Apayao.

Cagayan is politically subdivided into 28 municipalities and one city (Tuguegarao), with 820 barangays. Of the 29 municipalities, 3 are first-class municipalities, 2 are second-class municipalities, 4 are third-class municipalities, 14 are fourth-class municipalities, and 5 are fifth-class municipalities. Only Sta. Praxedes is a sixth-class municipality. (See Figure 1.3) The classification is income-based by the Department of Budget and Management. Cagayan is classified as a first-class province.

For administration purposes, Cagayan is divided into three (3) congressional districts. The Third District includes the southern municipalities of Amulung, Iguig, Peñablanca, Tuguegarao, Enrile, Solana and Tuao. All other towns west of the Cagayan River comprise the Second Congressional District, except for some parts of Aparri, Camalaniugan, Lal-lo, Alcala, and Amulung, which are found west of the Cagayan River. The rest of the municipalities comprise the First Congressional District, northeast of the Province (Figure 1.3).

B. Topography

Cagayan is a vast expanse of plains and valleys, bordered by mountains, running north to south both on its east and west ramparts. It is crisscrossed by rivers and creeks, the largest of which is the Cagayan River, which originates from Quirino, and traverses the province from south to north. The larger tributaries of the Cagayan River are the Pinacanauan River in Peñablanca in the southeast; the Dummun River in Gattaran and the Pared River in Alcala, both in central Cagayan; and the Zinundungan River in Lasam and the Matalag River in Rizal, both in the west. The other rivers in the province are the Chico River in southwest Cagayan at Tuao, the Pata River and Abulug River in the northwest, Buguey River in the north, and the Cabicungan River in the northeast. These rivers drain the plains and valleys of the province, and provide water for domestic and irrigation purposes, as well.

Beyond the Sierra Madres to the east, the coast fronting the Philippine Sea has strips of level land that could be utilized for economic activities. However, only Bolos Point in Gattaran is presently accessible and is being used as a small port. There are several other prospective ports on the Pacific Coast; most notable of which is Valley Cove in Baggao. Similarly, the northeastern and northwestern parts of Cagayan are strips of level land, hemmed in by the sea on the north and by the mountains and hills on the south.

Of its total land area, 28.19% or 253,831 hectares are flat to nearly level land (Table 1.1). This consists of alluvial plains, river deltas, low wetlands, mangroves, and beaches. Most of these are found contiguous to the bodies of water, especially along the Cagayan, Pared, Dummun, Pinacanauan, Abulug, and Chico rivers (Figure 1.2). These areas are planted to rice and corn, subjected to frequent floods during the wet season.

The gentle and moderate slopes of the province, which constitute 6.08% and 13.48%, respectively of the total land area of the province are mostly contiguous to the level land, enclosing the plains of the meandering rivers and creeks. This arrangement forms the various dales or valleys found in between the hills of the province.

Majority of the rolling land to moderately steep areas which account for 17.07% of the province’s total area are found at the foothills of the Sierra Madre and Cordillera mountains, separating the valleys and the mighty ranges.

Steep and very steep land which constitute 10.44% and 24.73%, respectively, of the total land area, or 94,030 hectares and 222,595 hectares, respectively, are found along the Cordilleras, in some parts of Santa Praxedes, Claveria, Sanchez Mira, Pamplona, Lasam, Santo Niño, and Rizal; and in the eastern parts of Santa Ana, Gonzaga, Lal-lo, Gattaran, Baggao and Peñablanca, as the northern mountains of the Sierra Madre range.

The Babuyan group of islands, which include the islands of Calayan, Babuyan, Dalupiri, Balintang and Camiguin, has a mixture of flat to nearly level land, and steep to very steep slopes. These islands have extensive coral reefs. There are two volcanoes in the Babuyan Islands - Mount Didicas off Camiguin island, which has a symmetrical cinder cone, about 215 meters above sea level; and Mount Pangasun in Babuyan island, which is about 840 meters above sea level and has two craters.

Another volcano found in Cagayan is Mount Kagua in Gonzaga in the northeast. It is being considered as a potential source of geothermal energy.

C. Climate

Because of its latitude, the country’s climate is tropical - warm, humid, and fairly consistent from year to year. Because of its topography, Cagayan has three types of climate. Type I climate prevails in Santa Praxedes and in western Claveria, which have two pronounced seasons: wet, May to October and dry, the rest of the year. Type III climate is experienced in the eastern part of the Sierra Madre mountains and in the Babuyan group of islands, where rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year mainly because of the northeast tradewinds. This further enhances the economic potential of the level land along the pacific coast of the province.

The rest of the province, which consists of the valley floor, has Type II climate, and that means no pronounced season; relatively wet from May to October. Maximum rain periods are not very pronounced and dry seasons last from one to three months.

From November to January, the northwest monsoon from East Asia brings dry and cool winds to this valley floor. Because of the open coastline in the north, this part of the province feels the full impact of this phenomenon, which could mean cold mornings and evenings, with average temperatures ranging from 18° - 21° Celsius. The tradewinds from the Pacific are blocked by the Sierra Madre range. Being on the leeward, this part has hot and dry climate in summers from February to May, with average temperatures ranging from 30° - 38° Celsius. From June to October, the southwest monsoon from the Southern Hemisphere brings heavy rainfall as it blows over the mountains. This heavy rainfall extends to the early part of November. During these months, rainy days could average 11 to 20 days a month. Being sheltered by the Sierra Madre Mountains the prevailing winds are north and northwest in the valley floor of Cagayan. This part of the province is driest in February to March.

The Isohyetal Map of Northern Luzon shows the average amount of rain in the different parts of the province. The valley floor of Cagayan receives 1,500 to 2,000 mm. of rain per year. Except for the Sierra Madre Mountains which have 3,500 to 4,000 mm. of rainfall per year, the rest of the province receives 2,000 to 3,500 mm. of rainfall per annum.

D. Hydro-Geology

Cagayan has abundant water resources. This include the Philippine territorial waters of the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, with their bays, breakwaters, fishing banks, capes and points; the major rivers found in the province, their tributaries, and several creeks; and Cagayan’s hydrosol and ground water. The whole province has artesian aquifers at 12 - 90 meters, which are recharged continually, especially in areas with alluvial bedrock whose permeability is high.

The bedrock foundation of the slopes of Cagayan is Miocene to Pliocene sedimentary bedding (formed 7.0 to 25.0 million years ago) which includes shale, sandstone, siltstone and limestone. Remnants of coral and other marine organisms are present in the bedding. The Sierra Madres and the foothills of the Cordilleras, however have Cretaceous bedding (formed in the Age of the dinosaurs, some 135 million years ago), made of very extensive volcanic rocks composed mainly of coarse-grained igneous rock.

The lower relief areas of the province, found mainly along the rivers and creeks, have a bedding made of recent alluvium (Quaternary to Recent, formed some 0.01 to 2.5 million years ago). Composed of unconsolidated clay, silt, sand, gravel, cobble with occasional boulders derived from weathering and erosion of pre-existing rocks deposited in the floodplains, riverbeds and banks, and valley floor. Interspersed between the recent alluvium and the slopes are interlocking patches of Pliocene to Pleistocene bedding (formed 2.5 to 7.0 million years ago) of shale, sandstone, mudstone sequence and some corralline limestone.

Abutting the province of Isabela are small tongues of Oligocene to Miocene bedding (formed 25.0 to 36.0 million years ago) of shale and sandstone. This are found in the southern parts of Rizal, Tuao, and Peñablanca.

Along the northern coast in Santa Praxedes, Claveria, Sanchez Mira and Santa Ana are patches of Miocene bedrock formation of lava flows of basalt-andesite series with pyroclastics. A patch of Quarternary to Recent igneous formation of pyroclastics is found in Gonzaga. It is composed mainly of volcanic ash, sand and boulders. Pyroclastics and quarternary volcanics are also found in the Babuyan group of islands, where the only recent alluvium found in the islands, are strips found along the seashore. These bedrock foundations are quite expected of the province, being located on the Pacific Ocean side of the country, and the Philippines belongs to the so-called "Pacific Rim of Fire", one of the earth’s great belts of active volcanoes.

On the whole, the province is spared of major faultlines. Only the protruding west portion of the town of Rizal along the Cordilleras falls along the Digdig Fault (Figure 1.6), which is considered the country’s most active as manifested by the 1990 killer earthquake.

E. Soil Characteristics

The greater portion of eastern Cagayan and the foothills of the Cordilleras in the west are undifferentiated mountain soils. These areas total 393,740 hectares or 43.74% of the total area of the province.

Parts of the moderate slopes to moderately steep land, about 311,670 hectares or 34.62% of the total area of the province, are essentially loam of sandstone and igneous rock parent material.

Parts of the flat to nearly level land, some 165,420 hectares or 18.37% of the total area of the province is predominantly clay of alluvial parent material. Hydrosol, bog deep, beach sand, river wash, sand dunes, and rocks are approximately 29,440 hectares or 3.27% of the total area of the province. This last type is apparently free from soil erosion. The flat, nearly level lands along the rivers and creeks are however annually subjected to river erosion as the bodies of water traverse through the province. As the rivers move, municipalities may either experience accretion on one side and erosion on the other side of the rivers.

The steep and the very steep lands at the foothills of the Cordilleras are severely eroded, especially in those parts without vegetative cover found in the towns of Rizal and Santo Niño. This is also true for some parts of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Hence, the Cagayan River is heavily silted in some parts because of the topsoil carried by the runoff from these slopes. Abundant runoff means reduced infiltration, and reduced aquifer and spring recharge, adversely affecting water supply sources for domestic and irrigation purposes, especially during the hot, dry summers. These are the conditions that are currently being addressed by the on-going reforestation and afforestation projects by the national, provincial and municipal governments.


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