Exploring the North: Nipa Wine, Rivers, and Floating Cottages

When traveling, when you hear the “north,” what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Mountains? Beaches? Falls? Well, yes, the north has all that and more. In a small fishing and farming town that is more or less three hours away from Tuguegarao City in the province of Cagayan, lies a quiet haven that is Pamplona.

Fishing is one of the main sources of livelihood in this town.

The tourism in this small town is obviously still at its early stage, but you’d be surprised as to what Pamplona has to offer. From fishes and shells to wine, the town will make you want to hop on the bus and take that 14-hour trip from Manila. You can always book a flight from Manila to Tuguegarao City if sitting long hours on a bus isn’t your thing. Then, you can ride a van to take you to the town.

Holding tight for dear life on the back of a motorcycle, I took the opportunity to explore this part of the north that not everyone has the pleasure of seeing. The roads can be a bit tricky at times, most especially during the rainy season, but, overall, they are easy to navigate. When I arrived at the town, I got to see the local kids digging for “kaggu” shells. Seeing them enjoying what they do is so welcoming.

Local kids digging for “Kaggu” shells in a fish pond.

In addition to the abundance of seafood, Nipa, and coconut trees in the area, currently, the town of Pamplona takes pride in its floating cottages.

This is the part of the river in Pamplona where the town’s floating cottages are located.

It hasn’t been long since these cottages have been built, but many families are now building their own as a means of livelihood. In these cottages that can fit 40 up to 100 people, you can hang out with your family and friends, cook food, and even sing karaoke while you tour the river. There’s a videoke onboard, so you surely won’t get bored.

Two of the floating cottages that are available for rental.

From what I’ve learned, they cost at around Php 3,000 to Php 4,500, depending on its maximum capacity. I was told that once finished, the floating cottage below can hold up to 100 people and will cost Php 4,500, and you can rent it for the entire day. Definitely, a fair price, considering you can invite your entire barkada (barangay?) inside.

The base of a new floating cottage they are building.

Aside from floating cottages, Pamplona is also surrounded by Nipa palm trees. I got to visit the very first facility in the Philippines that produces Bio-Ethanol gas out of the Nipa sap. The Bio-Ethanol facility, launched in 2014, is located in Brgy. Cabaggan.

You’ll see this sign before you enter the Bio-Ethanol production facility.

The Barangay Captain, Mrs. Crisanta Leano, graciously gave me a tour around the facility and imparted some knowledge as to the many uses of the Nipa sap.

With the Brgy. Captain of Cabaggan, Pamplona, Mrs. Crisanta Leano.

Accoding to her, the first sap, or the one they get on the first day, is used to make mollasses and the second one is used to make vinegar.

Where they get the Nipa sap.

The last sap is used for making the Nipa wine or the Bio-Ethanol gas, produced in about 4 to 6 hours. Currently, though, the papers for the facility are still being processed by the Department of Science and Technology for it to be fully operational, which makes me wonder why, still, since it has been nearly four years since the facility was launched.

This is the machine they use to make the Bio-Ethanol gas.

And here is where they make the Nipa wine.

I wish they can process the papers, soon, so this one great facility can start producing more gas, which is usually used in race cars. The sap can also produce hand sanitizers. The fruit, on the other hand, makes a great snack. It has the consistency of a gelatin, with a taste that is quite identical to the meat of a buko.

The Nipa fruit.

The town of Pamplona has many places that are still waiting to be explored. A day isn’t enough to see everything, but since I went there during the rainy season, I wasn’t able to explore its magestic falls and other attractions. Surely, though, that I’d be going back to this part of the north to see more of its beauty. If you got the time, and you want to go on an adventure, you won’t regret visiting it.

If you want to visit other parts of the Cagayan province, you can check out the town of Sanchez Mira and its tourism sites.

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