The largest province currently in the Cagayan Valley Region is currently one of the north’s premier provinces. Isabela has been duely noted as the ‘Rice Granary located in the North.’ It has also been declared as one of the most progressive provinces for food security during the 2000 Gawad Sapat Ani awards by the Philippines Department of Agriculture. Isabela is home to the popular Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, a protected landscape and seascape with an exceptional biodiversity.
Tourism is a new industry, which is still being developed by the province. Thus, Isabela is still conducting further development of its support services as well as accommodation facilities. The current tourism in the province is presently focused around Santiago City.
The province is comprised of an aggregate land area covering up to 12,500 square kilometers, the second biggest province in the Philippine in terms of land area. The population is at 1.3 million, the 15th highest in the country. There are 35 towns and 2 cities. The provincial capital is Ilagan. Isabela is bordered by the surrounding provinces of Aurora, Quirino, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya, Kalinga, Mountain Province, and Cagayan.
Popular tourism attractions are comprised of seascapes and landscapes, which proliferate in pristine conditions at the eastern coast of the province. The towns of Maconacon, Divilacan, Palanan, and Dinapigue are ideal for doing outdoor activities like mountaineering, trekking, exploration, and camping. The Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park is a popular tourism haven for outdoor enthusiasts and researchers. It is one of the top 10 biodiversity hotspots in the world.
Other attractions are the St. Matthias Church, the Magat Dam Tourism Complex, and Our Lady of the Visitation National Shrine. Found in the province is the world’s biggest Butaka, which measures 11 feet and 4 inches high. It was constructed for 29 days by just about 25 workers.
Existing festivals in Isabela are the following.
Isabela Day – held every May 1 to 11. It is a commemoration of the province’s foundation anniversary. The celebration is capped by street dancing, singing, and other festive activities.
Scarecrow or Bambanti Festival – held every May 10 celebrated the province’s bountiful harvest of corn and rice. There is usually a float parade and a simultaneous street dance.
- Feast of Our Lady of the Visitacion of Guibang – held every July 2 is a celebration to pay tribute to religious elders’ Patroness.
How to get there
Land transportation is the best and most feasible way to reach Isabela. From Metro Manila, there are daily bus transport schedules. It takes about more than 10 hours to reach any destination in the province.