Abra Tourist Attractions
Abra comes up first on the list of provinces in the Philippines. But sadly it wallows at the bottom roll of the least visited places in the country today.
I have long wanted to tick-off Abra in my list of 81 provinces to visit in the Philippines. But it seemed to lack the luster to make it a priority. I just couldn’t think of any defining image about its place, people, food or culture.
Learn the ABCs of the Philippines, beginning with Abra!
Itching to cross it out from my bucketlist, I decided to finally give it a shot, but only as a sidetrip to Kalinga via Malibcong’s mountain pass.
It was already dark when we got into the junction in Narvacan. Pushing further deep into Bangued, I noticed that the road was barely lit & even the houses along it were dusky. My prejudices started to come to life.
But as soon as we rolled on inside the poblacion, things crawled to a brighter change. Neon signages, blinking marquee lights from smoky old-town pubs & Mc Donalds suddenly signaled hope.
Checking in at Abra Grand Valley Hotel was a steal after a long day. It’s old & quite hallowed but it has a huge pool & WIFI. And before calling it the night, we took a quick dip & just hoped for the best the next day.
Old Map, Old Town
Roaming around downtown Bangued is easy. There isn’t much to see here but its rural quaintness is such a refreshing break from the breakneck speed of the city.
It is littered with colonial architectures that stand as a living timeline of its episodes in history when Spanish forces created a garrison in Bangued in the 16th century.
Abra is also the homeland of the former formidable senator Quintin Paredes whose memories are immortalized in his house in Bangued.
While the town sits on a wide plain, it is punctuated by a hill called Cassamata National Park. It is not a sunset spot but from here you can see the commanding breadth of Bangued & its neighboring towns.
Take Me to Church
Abra was annexed to Ilocos Sur, the bastion of Spanish conquest in the north. It was then called “El Abra de Vigan” or the “Opening of Vigan”. As a major gateway, it also had its share of wonderful churches that still stand to this day.
But their cathedrals here are not so celebrated & are slipping through the hands of immortality. Despite that, they are never short of its architectural & historical values.
But the church details of Iglesia Filipina Independiente in La Paz caught my attention. It’s small but it’s the most beautiful Aglipayan church I’ve ever seen.
Panorama de Abra
Did I say we just intended to take Abra as a stopover? Oh well, after having seen a part of it, we instantly felt there’s more to this province than what we thought it to be.
We woke up early the next day to chase the shy rays of sunlight at Kimkimay Lake up in the mountain of Villaviciosa. We snaked through the foggy trail until we reached this beautiful lake hardly anyone has ever seen.
From its vast ricefields to its mountains, Abra glistens like emeralds. After all, it’s an agricultural province with rice, corn, root crops, tobacco, & coconuts as its main produce.
But Abra isn’t all about being green. It’s also about silvers like its cascading waterfalls, springs & really wild rivers!
I heard about Tineg from Edmiration but I have yet to check its rapids next time when the weather is calm.
Spools of Stories
Abra is the homeland of the indigenous Tingguians & Itnegs who are popular for loom weaving. Their traditional fabric called “piningitan” or “bankudo” is an age-old craft that takes months to complete. Its complex weaving style & tedious natural dyeing process make the wonder.
The Ilocanos were also among the early settlers in Abra. They brought with them their dexterities in “abel” weaving. In fact today, the weaving community in Bulbulala, La Paz is one of the major producers of this unique traditional fabric.
Of Tunnels & Bridges
Tangadan Tunnel in San Quintin welcomes any guest to Abra. It was constructed in 1934 & is locally known as “usokan”. Today, it also serves as a landmark where the monument of Gabriela Silang stands on its sideway park.
If you travel around Abra, you won’t miss the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial Bridge that connects the towns of Dolores & Tayum. It may not be as pretty as that of San Juanico in Leyte but perspectively, it still worth a quick stop.
Oh Miki You’re So Fine, Oh Miki!
If there’s one thing worth going back to Abra, that would be their miki! Yes, this noodle dish is unpretentiously delicious, no wonder it’s everyone’s favorite snack.
In Bangued, you must not miss Acosta Panciteria because if you like it a little exotic, they’d be ready with shredded bull’s eye on your bowl! But if you’re around Pidigan, then Rico’s is the name.
Okay, so what was once planned only as a brush through turned out to be a 3-day exploration of Abra. And yet, there’s still so much more to see. Pardon the cliché but it is a place waiting to be discovered.
Journeying through Abra is like opening the gates to the Cordilleran wonders. Just say the magic words ABRAcadabra!
Just a little over 2 minutes, I promise.