Although Bayombong still has a long way to catch up with other popular tourist destinations in the country, the town looks set for big things, which is a good reason to visit. Nestled in the province of Nueva Vizcaya, Bayombong is hemmed in by lush massifs and pastoral lands, making it an impeccable place to grow citrus fruits. A visit here wouldn’t be complete without taking home a bag of honey dew, oranges, seedless Satsuma and whatnot.
I recently joined the Cordillera Caravan 2015 organized by the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) to Nueva Vizcaya. We arrived in the town of Bayombong where we were warmly met by cheery elementary students who pleasantly flaunted their band’s performance. Meanwhile, the staff of the local government unit and the residents eagerly showed us what their town has to offer.
Looming over the town square is the 17th century St.Dominic Cathedral (formerly St.Augustine Church). Its crimson brick walls and octagonal bell tower makes it a favorite subject of snap happy tourists. But aside from its gorgeous facade and neck-swiveling architecture, this massive edifice is stuffed with history.
The first mass in the region is believed to have been celebrated here. Based on the marker, on April 12, 1739, Fray Pedro Freiri celebrated the first mass in St.Augustine Church in Bayombong. Five months later, the Augustinian friars relinquished the mission to the Dominicans and rededicated the church to St. Dominic de Guzman. But it was only in November 1982, when the first bishop took sit, that the church was named St. Dominic Cathedral.
Just a stone’s throw away from the cathedral is the interesting People Museum’s Library. The ground floor contains traditional blankets hand-woven by indigenous people of the Philippines. One of the exhibits here is the ues pintuan, an Ikat blanket crafted by the Isinay tribe of Nueva Vizcaya. The last known of its kind can be found at St.Vincent Ferrer Church in Dupax del Sur, which was woven by Uwa Felipe Mangayat Castillo in 1978. Another impressive textile on display during our visit is aladdang, a blanket from Guinzadan, Mountain Province which is used as a death shroud.
Another landmark worth checking while in Bayombong is the Bangaan Hill National Park in Brgy.Magsaysay, the setting of the annual Stations of the Cross during the Lenten season. It’s a protected site ideal for hiking which offers a scenic view of the surrounding valley hemmed in by mountain ranges.
How to get to Nueva Vizcaya
Take a bus bound for Cagayan and tell the driver you are getting off at Bayombong town in Nueva Vizcaya.