Beyond the hinterlands and beaches of the Municipality of Linamon, I had very little opportunity to explore Lanao del Norte in the past years despite its proximity to Iligan City. Although Linamon is like a second home to our family — we go there on weekends to our farm, buy vegetables at their “taboan” on Sundays, take a dip at the beaches of Samburon or bring our visitors to Tinago Falls, the rest of Lanao del Norte seems so out of the way.
Years before, when Iligan City is still part of the representation of the 1st Congressional District of Lanao del Norte, Iliganons have a strong affinity to the province and they are naturally interested in what is happening there. But when Iligan became a Lone District, it was as if an umbilical cord was cut. People have gradually lost their interest on the affairs of the province.
Just like Iligan City, Lanao del Norte also suffers a perception problem on their peace and order situation. Despite the fact that it’s generally peaceful in recent times, its reputation is hounded by sporadic incidents of fighting that happened more than a decade ago. Although it is very far from the province, the recent events in Marawi is not helping either.
When the Iligan Bloggers Society got an invite for a familiarization tour of Lanao del Norte, I jumped at the opportunity to join the activity and see for myself what the province has to offer in terms of tourism. There were already a few big events as well as festivals happening over there and this got me interested.
The Familiarization Tour
The two (2) day tour highlighted key tourism sites in the coastal area. On the first day, we went around Tubod, the provincial capital and visited some of its barangays. On the second day, we went to Sultan Naga Dimaporo first, then travelled to Linamon and visited interesting sites we passed along the way.
Here are some of the sites we visited that I find interesting:
1. SND Beach Resort, Municipality of Sultan Naga Dimaporo
This is a popular destination for local tourists. They have a pool and an aqua park. On weekends, the place is teeming with visitors from neighboring towns and even from Pagadian.
2. La Libertad Lake, Municipality of Kapatagan
This is a man-made lake located in the interior of the town and it takes half an hour from the highway to reach this area. This place is perfect for family or barkada outing. If you love to commune with nature you will like it here. If you are adventurous, you can take a boat ride and explore lake.
3. Cathedral Falls, Municipality of Kapatagan
For waterfall chasers, the Cathedral Falls is a must visit. It’s not as grand as Tinago, but the rock formations are something else. Located 15 minutes away from the town proper, it’s easily accessible via “habal – habal” or tricycle. No trekking required here.
4. Provincial Pasalubong Center, Municipality of Tubod
The Center showcases the various pasalubong products made by livelihood organizations and SMEs across the province. Aside from foodstuff, they also display handicrafts made by local artisans.
5. Dapit Alim, Municipality of Kolambugan
This is a pilgrimage site founded by Fr. Dong Galenzoga and the members – Kahigalaan ni Hesus. It’s a place for prayer, contemplation, meditation, and for retreats. If you are into faith tourism, this is a must visit.
6. Pagayawan Falls, Municipality of Bacolod
The falls may not be as popular as Tinago but it is definitely grand. Located in Barangay Pagayawan, it is a 10 – 15-minute habal-habal ride from the highway.
7. Longest Boardwalk, Municipality of Kapatagan
Sea breeze, great sunset and the company of your friends enjoying local food – these are the things that you will experience when you visit the board walk.
The Mindanao Civic Center Hotel was my home for 2 nights during the event. It’s a resort themed hotel with an inviting pool and nice rooms at affordable prices. Their twin-sharing rooms are priced at P1,200 including breakfast and access to the pool. Although it has shown signs of wear and tear, this government facility is surprisingly well maintained and clean. Located in Tubod, the capital town of the province, it’s ideal for the entire family.
- The main form of travel in the area is habal-habal or tricycle so be prepared and condition yourself to ride one.
- If you are travelling with a group, a van hire is the only option if you don’t have private transportation.
- Exercise prudence when visiting remote areas. It is better to bring a local to guide you.
- Don’t litter.
- Bring food and water. There are no sari-sari stores or food stalls in most of the nature sites.
- Bring your sunblock or wear a hat or bull cap especially if you want to take a boat ride at La Libertad Lake.
- Engage and be nice to the locals.
- Don’t forget your smartphone / camera. Enjoy!
If you are visiting the province it is best to make the MCC Hotel in Tubod n your base. From there you can take habal-habal or tricycle rides to its neighboring towns.
1. If you are coming in from Manila or Cebu, you can fly down to Ozamiz Airport.
2. From Ozamiz City: Ride in a RORO (in Ozamiz Port (Misamis Occidental) bound to Mukas Port of Tubod (Lanao del Norte).
3. From Cagayan de Oro City: At CDO Westbound Integrated Bus Terminal in Bulua, take a bus going to Pagadian or Zamboanga City. Travel time from Cagayan de Oro to Tubod Lanao Norte (estimated) is 5 -6 hours.
4. From Iligan City: At Iligan Integrated Land Transportation Terminal, take a bus going to Kapatagan or Pagadian or Zamboanga City. Travel time is more or less 2 hours.
My thoughts on Lanao del Norte
The two days fam tour gave me a glimpse of what the Land of Bounty and Beauty has in store for visitors travelling across its coastal towns – vibrant communities, thriving businesses, beautiful landscape, there are so many places to explore in the province.
The first thing I noticed when we went around is their road network. Practically all roads leading to tourism sites are cemented or are in various stages of completion. Easy access creates a better experience for travelers even for those who love adventure.
With regards to peace and order, the tour validated my belief that the problem with Lanao Norte is more of a perception thing as a result of sensationalized reporting by mainstream media in the past. I feel that the leaders of the province have a tight grip on its security to make people safe. Well I’m not going to say its 100 percent safe because just like any city or province in the Philippines there will always be incidents that cannot be prevented. But the fact that there’s also a Jollibee franchise in Maranding and another one starting in Tubod, for me that’s also another indicator of confidence on its peace and order.
In one of our stops, we chanced upon a “pulong-pulong” where residents are discussing a provision of the Bangsamoro Organic Law where 6 municipalities under Lanao del Norte may be included in the Bangsamoro Territories depending on the approval of the constituency through a plebiscite. People thought it’s not good for the province if these towns are going to be detached, since their leaders have poured so much effort to step up the development of Lanao del Norte. Its Internal Revenue Allotment ( IRA ) will be reduced and this will have a negative impact on its ability to fund projects. I guess they will have to decide on what is best for everybody.
Overall, I believe Lanao del Norte is well prepared to welcome travelers and give them an unforgettable experience.