My recollection of Isabela in Cagayan Valley relative to the 4 other provinces in Region 2 is it ranks next to Cagayan in terms of progress, income and development. It still is but a lot has changed since then.
As Tuguegarao is the regional center, Isabela is a pass through access with Vizcaya the gateway from Central Luzon and National Capital Region.
Landlocked, access to the region from the South and the center is via the Pan Philippines national highway. Via air, both Tuguegarao and Cauayan have landing infrastructure but air traffic is still heavier in Tuguegarao. The 150 kilometer stretch of Cagayan River which spans across all the provinces from Nueva Vizcaya to Cagayan has still to be tapped as a vehicle for water surface mass transport.
In the immediate past decades, Santiago in Isabela has emerged as a bustling city establishing it as the center of commerce, education, government and entertainment in central Cagayan Valley. With the development of Santiago, so did the other town Cauayan which is about 45 minutes and 45 kilometers away towards the upper North.
As a 3rd class municipality, the town’s appeal lies in the preservation of old wooden structures, a laid back lifestyle with the convenience of services of urban necessities as telecom, entertainment and national and international cable signals.
Church bells early dawn Our Lady of Pillar Parish resonate within hearing range of the entire poblacion. Haircut is still done the old-fashioned way, in an on premise ventilated by ceiling fans and an unobstructed frontage door at the calle commercio. Chairs are cushioned not with foam but with an organic fiber which swivels and tilts when maneuvered by the barber mostly from Palanan Isabela. Meat roasting at the commercial center is done in the pedestrian lane fanned manually and slowly by the cook.
Unhurriedly, modern facilities are emerging like hotels, restaurants, large store groceries, banks and fast food chains. Yet even with these, the municipality is still predominantly provincial, the old Cauayan we are familiar with decades ago. Carnivals and mobile ferias and tiangge are housed in the centro near the town halls during the fiesta month.
Savor the moment while it lasts.