I meant noodles, of course!
Last July 2016, I had to go to Tuguegarao with Gio and some of our closest friends to celebrate my best friend Sasha’s graduation. This was my first trip without my parents and my first trip after graduation so I was really excited, especially since I will be exploring a whole new city!
From what I heard about Tuguegarao, it’s the warmest place in the Philippines but it serves the yummiest noodles (pansit) as well. While we were in college, I always hear Sasha complaining about how she wants to go home and eat pansit batil patung, their trademark noodle dish. I can’t help but to look forward to eating some of that whenever she describes what’s in it.
Gio, our friends Nadya and Jessica, and I reserved our bus seats at Dangwa terminal the day before the travel as per Sasha’s instructions. The fare costs around ₱580 per person then. Why is it that expensive for a commute, you ask? Because the travel time from Baguio to Tuguegarao lasts from 12-14 hours, 11 if you’re lucky. The only bus bound to Tuguegarao leaves at 5 PM so we’ll be arriving there the next morning.
During the bus ride, we only had two stops. One in Tuba, Benguet (45 minutes away from Baguio) and the other in Isabela (around 4 hours from Tuguegarao). It’s advisable to not drink fluids that much and if possible, bring sleeping pills just like we did. What’s more irritating than holding my pee in was that my glasses broke during the ride for some unknown reason! I really need glasses to see clearly so imagine my panic. Luckily the sleeping pills started to kick in while we were in an area with heavy traffic so I was able to forget about my glasses and sleep, although uncomfortably.
We arrived at Tuguegarao around 5 AM and we saw Sasha waiting for us at the terminal. It was a happy reunion even though we got separated for just a few weeks. Sasha brought us to her house and we had breakfast courtesy of her mom. Afterwards, we went to sleep for a bit before going out and eat (again).
The heat of Tuguegarao is more like due to the sun, unlike in Manila where it is super humid, you feel sticky immediately. There’s occasional breeze in Tuguegarao and it’s cool, and also, we have our air conditioned room to go back to.
We went out to a place called Billy Jack’s Panciteria to eat the *drumroll* batil patung! Going there we had to ride a kalesa (horse carriage) for ₱10 each. It’s a normal mode of transportation there and I was shocked because kalesas are usually made as tourist attractions and cost ~₱500 for an hour.
We arrived at the panciteria, and look at this:
This is what I was waiting for. This is the Super Batil Patung with krak krak (crunchy bits of fried pork skin), karahay (bits of fried pork), liver, ground pork, egg, and vegetables. What’s more is it comes with free soup and unlimited onions with soy sauce and calamansi. I like onions a lot so that’s a yay for me! All of this for what? ₱80. The servings are not too heavy and not too light, the taste is so perfect that I wanted more. I cannot explain how delicious it is through words so better try this! What’s special in Billy Jack’s Panciteria is you can have some add-ons like balut, tapa, chorizo, sisig, and more. I ate two of this within the span of 4 hours. It’s that delicious. The owner is very nice, too! He let us draw and write messages on the walls using chalk.
That night, we celebrated Sasha’s graduation along with her childhood friends and it was a night of drunkenness, eating a lot (again!) and having fun even with strangers. Gio and I decided to walk around to let the alcohol pass before going to sleep for the adventure the next day.
We woke up early to take a bath and head to New Life Panciteria. Yes, noodles again. I will never get tired of Tuguegarao noodles. New Life Panciteria offers pansit cabagan, a different type of a noodle dish with quail eggs, karahay, igado (pork tenderloin in sauce), and vegetables.
This was served with soup and onions, too! They have really large servings and it’s more filling than the batil due to the igado’s sauce. According to Sasha, even though the apparent difference between batil and cabagan is the igado, the noodles of pansit cabagan are thinner and flatter while batil’s noodles are wider and thicker. The tables in this panciteria is inside a hut so that’s another new experience we had.
After being too full to eat, we went to a nearby town named Peñablanca. Peñablanca has a small cave, named Callao Cave, and is the closest tourist destination from Tuguegarao.
To get to the pure limestone deposits cave, we had to “hike” ~160 steps of stairs. It was easy for me since I hike regularly, but my other friends don’t so we had to wait a lot for them. Getting to the cave, it was really small and there are various rock formations that are amazing. There is also an indoor church where we had our pictures taken by “Beshie” — our guide, Jackson. Callao cave is named as such because of fossilized remains found there by Armand Salvador Mijares way back ten years ago. This pre-dates the supposedly first settler in the Philippines, the Tabon man. The Tabon man’s fossils were aged 47,000 years, while the Callao man’s fossils were aged 67,000 years.
Since it’s time to head back to Baguio, we went to Ibanag Products to buy souvenirs such as milk candies and Chicharabao (deep fried dried skin of carabaos). We also roamed around the city for a while before preparing to travel for 12 hours again. I almost didn’t want to leave because I know I will surely miss the pansits…and I do now that I saw the pictures posted above.
The trip to Tuguegarao was really short but fulfilling. I really can’t wait to go back and eat a lot of “noods” again!
On the way back to Baguio, in Nueva Vizcaya, there’s a buko (young coconut) pie that’s so cheap but so heavenly and addictive! Make sure to ask your conductor to stop at G & B Buko Pie, this is also a perfect souvenir along with your Ibanag Products!