Discover the Offbeat wonders of Claveria

By Ferdz Decena for Yahoo! Travel

North Luzon is full of surprises! And it's mostly when we veer off the usual destinations when we find them. Claveria, found north-west of Cagayan Valley, is one such surprise. I wasn't expecting to find a scenic boat-filled cove known as Taggat Lagoon with dramatic rock formations in this northern coastal town when I first caught sight of it under torrential rain. We were just passing through the town on the way to Pagupud, Ilocos Norte and took a cursory look but the image of the lagoon remained in my mind. It was enough to persuade me to go back and this time stayed longer to explore.

See the legendary rocks.
 Legend tells of a rich but greedy old couple and their son living in Claveria. An old man begged the rich man to spare a fish after an abundant catch but he just haughtily shrugged him off. An old lady knocked on their door and asked for food but the rich lady shunned her. When they were about to have dinner, they found their precious child missing. Before the sun rose, they found their son turned into stone. They blamed each other for their greediness and soon the waves lashed at their feet.  The couple also turned into stone.

The two towering limestone formations off the coast of Taggat Lagoon and clearly seen from Claveria beach are said to be this two greedy couples, Apo Lakay-lakay (Old Man) and Apo Baket-baket (Old Woman). These rock formations have become Claveria's landmarks and locals still believe that they should offer some of their catch to the rocks whenever they pass by. It could also be one of the reasons why a lot of Cagayanos here are so hospitable and generous. The rock formation of their sonUbing-ubing (Child) can be found on Centinela Beach.
Photo by Ferdz Decena

Enjoy the freshest catch at the fishing village. Venture early at Taggat Lagoon and observe how the locals earn their livelihood by going out to sea. When the fishermen arrive, the locals work hand-in-hand sorting out the catch. You can buy directly from the fishermen and have the fresh bounty cooked there for lunch or dinner.
Photo by Ferdz Decena

Splash in the waters of Taggat Lagoon. While the grownups work, the children run and hop along the rocks and splash along the shore. The clear, emerald-hued water of Taggat Lagoon is so inviting, you may get the urge to copy the kids who jump from the high rocks to enjoy it. Aside from being jump-off points for overeager swimmers, the rocks also act as a natural breakwater which explains why the water in the lagoon is almost always placid.
Photo by Ferdz DecenaWaterfalls-hopping. Venture inland and visit a few waterfalls nearby. Portabaga Falls is the furthest, some 30 minutes away near the border of the next town of Sta Praxedes. Already a developed area with picnic huts and man-made pool, it is still popular among the locals.Macatel Falls is relatively quieter, boasting of twin falls and native picnic huts in more natural surroundings.Mabnang Falls requires a short trek to reach but is worth seeing with its beautiful cascades, a scenic way of witnessing how nature slowly creep in and reclaim its place among the rubbles of halted development.
Photo by Ferdz Decena

Climb Bantay Kalbo and see the sunset at Centinela Beach. Within sighting distance of Taggat Lagoon lies Centinela Beach, a rugged cove with a crushed-coral beach and limestone rocks sculpted by the waves. The area where the river meets the sea is a popular swimming spot for its friendly waves. Nearby is a hill known as Bantay-Kalbo which can be easily climbed for a panoramic view of the whole cove - a perfect spot to watch the sunset.  

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