Abra is one of the places that have remained unseen and less traveled by foreign and local tourists. People think that Abra is dangerous due to the reported political killings in the previous years. It also requires lengthy  8 hours of travel by bus to get there which turns off the tourists. 

So now, you might be asking. Why should we go to Abra? Is 8 hours of travel worth it? Is it safe?  

So let me introduce my hometown and will leave the judgment to you. 

Abra is the home of the Ilocanos and seven ethnolinguistic groups that are called the Tinguians. Each of the subgroups is unique; which makes the province even more interesting. The province has many things to offer- from its rich and unheard stories and culture that are evident in its food, clothing, way of life, festivals, and raw beauty.

Abrenian Kawayan Festival 

The best way to know Abra and its people is through its grandest Abrenian Kawayan Festival which is being held annually from March 6-9 in Bangued. 

Every year all of the towns, government agencies, and schools are participating. They showcase their best products, tourist attractions, and traditions through their street dancing performances, float parade, and town booth. The government also provides different activities for both locals and tourists to enjoy. It is the best time to have a glimpse of everything in a short period.

To get there, you need to ride a  bus from Cubao Quezon City to  Bangued, the capital of Abra. I usually take night trips because it feels like you just slept for a night and then woke up looking at the familiar views of your hometown. 

one of the street dancing performers during Kawayan Festival photo of ABRA GOV. PH


Parks and tunnels

  • Tangadan Tunnel 
  • Cassamata Hill National Park / Victoria Park
  • Bangued Town Plaza
Tangadan Tunnel/ Usukan Tunnel by AbraMazing

 

Tangadan Tunnel is the entry point to Abra. It is a popular landmark that serves as a pasalubong center and a stopover area for travelers. It can be reached from Narvacan Junction after traveling a winding 9-kilometer road carved through the hills bordering Abra and Ilocos Sur. A few minutes after passing through it, you will be directed to Bangued and will see the Bangued town plaza. 

Bangued town plaza is one of the most important places in Abra. It is where you can witness many special events like Abrenian Kawayan Festival, pageantry, annual lighting ceremony, and outdoor activities. Just a few walks away is the Cassamata Hill National Park or also known as Victoria Park. 

Victoria Park/ Cassamata Hills National Park offers a mini hike from Bangued Town Plaza. It offers a panoramic view of Bangued and its neighboring towns, the Sleeping Beauty mountain, and the Abra River. It is also best for sunrise and sunset viewing and even gets better at night. 

sunset in Cassamata Hill / photo of DARYLL
sunset by the Cassamata Hills photo of Daryll
Cassamata hill at night photo of Abra gov. ph
Sleeping beauty view in Cassamata Hill
Dancing fountain of Bangued Town Plaza
Abra capitol

 Rivers and Bridges

Abra River 
  •  one of the largest and longest river system in the Philippines
  • Don Mariano Marcos Bridge and Sabnangan Hanging Footbridge
    • known to be one of the longest bridges in the Philippines

 Abra doesn’t have beaches but it has amazing rivers and enormous bridges that don’t only connect the towns but also offer picturesque views, free picnic areas for family and friends, and different activities like kayaking, white water rafting, fishing, cliff diving, and many others. Rivers are a big part of the daily lives of the Abrenios. It became their source of food and living for centuries but also causes death and fear among many. During summer, some parts of the river become dry and show the gravel and sand but in the rainy seasons, it becomes enormously big and wide with raging waves that flood many towns nearby. 

Kayaking in Abra River photo by Abramaziing
overlooking view of Abra river photo of Abramazing
Abra river and the Calaba Bridge by Manasan Imagery
Nipa huts in the Abra river
Traditional fishing in Abra river / Photo of Abramazing
Don Mariano Marcos Bridge
Sabnangan Footbrige - the longest foorbridge in the Philippines photographed by silverbackpacker

Falls, mountains and rice terraces  

 

  • Kaparkan falls/ Mulawin falls  and Rolling Hills of Tineg Abra
    • the enchanting terraces of water and thousand meters high with infinity pool
  • Kili falls, Hot Spring, and Kili Rice Terraces
    • relax in the Kili falls and Hot Spring with the view of Kili Rice Terraces
    • meet and experienced the hospitality of the Maeng Tribe 
  • Ar-Arbis / Curtain Falls of Lagayan Abra 
  • Nagaparan( The little Bagiou of Abra) and the Century-old Tree of Danglas 

Aside from the rivers, Abra is also known for its rolling hills, towering mountains, and rice terraces. Most of them are newly discovered and others are yet to be discovered. It requires patience and endurance to reach them which is perfect for hikers and adventurers.  Abra was featured twice on the Biyahe ni Drew travel show of GMA last 2016 (check the video below). 

 

Among the tourist destinations, Kaparkan falls and Rolling Hills of Tineg, Kili Falls, Hot Spring, Rice Terraces of Kili,  Lagayan’s Ar- arbis falls or Curtain Falls, and  Nagaparan Mountains of Danglas are the most popular. These tourist destinations are out of Bangued and have to endure long kilometers of  walk, and rugged, muddy terrain rides on dirt bikes or 6×6 military trucks from Bangued. After the long endeavor you will be rewarded by breathtaking waterfalls and sceneries.

Caparkan falls
Caparkan mother falls
Ar-arbis Falls/ curtain falls
Kili falls

Cultural attractions

After your adventures around the province and decided to know more. It is also worth visiting the old churches St. James the Elder Cathedral in Bangued, the Santa Catalina de Alejandria Parish Church in Tayum (or “Tayum Church”) and the San Lorenzo Ruiz Shrine in Bangued. The Tayum Church was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2001. Visitors are welcome to visit the workshops and shops where they can witness the Abel Loom weaving, the traditional art of weaving in Abra. The Gabriela Silang Gallery of Fine Arts in Tayum has a large collection of European, Oriental, and Asian art comprising paintings, ceramics, and many other objects. The viewing of the gallery is by appointment only. You can also visit National Living Treasure  Cultural Treasure awardee Teofilo Garcia, the last of the gourd hat makers.  Teofilo Garcia also known as Tata Pilo was featured in many travel and documentary shows like Biyahe ni Drew and Victory Liner Know Your North Series. (see the video below). 

San Lorenzo Ruiz in Bangued
Abel weaving photo of ABRA GOV.PH
St. Catherine Church of Tayum
Gabriela Silang Museum by ABRAmazing

 There is more to explore in the province and I will leave the rest for you to find out. 

So what do you think?  Is Abra worth knowing and exploring?

 I hope the next time you plan your travel, you would consider visiting the less travelled province of Abra and discover its seemingly shy and hidden beauty. 

For your future travel plans  in Abra, you may reach out the following:

ManeyHillcamphttp://https://www.facebook.com/Maneyhillcamp

Camp-Roscoe-Mangolon https://www.facebook.com/Camp-Roscoe-Mangolon-101735855106753

 ABRAmazing Tours https://www.facebook.com/abramazingtours 

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