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Isabela (province)

Queen Province of the Philippines
Top Corn Producer of the Philippines
Rice Bowl of the North
Region (Region II)
Founded May 01, 1856
Capital Ilagan City
 • Type Province of the Philippines
 • Governor Faustino "Bojie" G. Dy III (NPC)
 • Vice Governor Antonio "Tonypet" T. Albano (Independent)
 • Total 12,414.93 km2 (4,793.43 sq mi)
Area rank 2nd out of 81
  Includes Santiago
Highest elevation[2] (Mount Dos Cuernos) 1,785 m (5,856 ft)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total 1,622,449
 • Rank 17th out of 81
 • Density 130/km2 (340/sq mi)
 • Density rank 66th out of 81
  Includes Santiago
 • Independent cities 1
 • Component cities 2
 • Municipalities 34
 • Barangays 1,018
including independent cities: 1,055
 • Districts 1st to 4th districts of Isabela (shared with Santiago City)
Time zone PHT (UTC+8)
ZIP code 3300 to 3336
Spoken languages Ilocano, Ibanag, Gaddang, Tagalog, English

Isabela is the second largest province of the Philippines, and the largest in the island of Luzon in terms of land area. Its capital is the city of Ilagan. Situated within the Cagayan Valley region, it is bordered by the provinces of Aurora on the southeast, Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya on the southwest, Ifugao and Mountain Province on the west, Kalinga on the northwest, Cagayan on the north and the Pacific Ocean on the east.

This primarily agricultural province is the rice and corn granary of Luzon due to its plain and rolling terrain. In 2012, the province was declared as the country's top producer of corn with 1,209,524 metric tons.[4]

Isabela is the 10th richest province in the Philippines in 2011, the only province of Northern Luzon to be included in the list. The province has four trade centers in the cities of Ilagan, Cauayan, Santiago and the municipality of Roxas.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Physical 2.1
      • Mallig Plains Region 2.1.1
    • Administrative divisions 2.2
      • Barangays 2.2.1
  • Government 3
    • Governors 3.1
  • Demographics 4
    • Religion 4.1
  • Economy 5
    • Trade and Industry 5.1
    • Agriculture 5.2
    • Forestland 5.3
    • Fisheries 5.4
    • Airports and sea ports 5.5
    • Mineral and energy 5.6
    • Power 5.7
  • Education 6
    • Colleges and universities 6.1
  • Tourism 7
    • Places of interest 7.1
    • Churches 7.2
    • Festivals 7.3
  • Notable residents 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Prior to 1856, the Cagayan Valley was divided into only two provinces: Cagayan and Nueva Vizcaya. The Province of Cagayan at that time consisted of all towns from Tumauini to Aparri in the north. All other towns from Ilagan southward to Aritao comprised the Province of the old Nueva Vizcaya. In order to facilitate the work of the Catholic missionaries in the evangelization of the Cagayan Valley, a royal decree was issued on May 1, 1856 creating the Province of Isabela consisting of the towns of Gamu, Old Angadanan (now Alicia), Bindang (now Roxas) and Camarag (now Echague), Carig (now Santiago City) and Palanan, all detached from the Province of Nueva Vizcaya; while Cabagan and Tumauini were taken from the Province of Cagayan. The province was placed under the jurisdiction of a governor with Ilagan as the capital seat, where it remains up to present. It was initially called Isabela de Luzon to differentiate from other places in the Philippines bearing the name of Isabela. The new province was named in honor of Queen Isabella II of Spain.[5]

Although the province did not play a major role in the revolt against Spain, it is in

  • Province of Isabela
  • Philippine Standard Geographic Code
  • Philippine Census Information

External links

32. P7-B solar power plant to rise in Isabela. Retrieved June 15, 2015

31. Renewable energy plant to rise in Isabela. Retrieved June 15, 2015

30.!festival/ccp2 Retrieved October 10, 2014

29. Retrieved October 8, 2014

28. Retrieved October 8, 2014

27. Retrieved October 8, 2014

26. Bambanti Festival. Retrieved October 8, 2014

25. Retrieved October 8, 2014

24. Official Website of the Province of Isabela. Retrieved October 3, 2014

  1. ^ "List of Provinces". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  2. ^ U.S. Corps of Engineers (1953). "Ilagan (topography map)". University of Texas in Austin Library. Retrieved on 2014-09-28.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Annual Growth Rates for The Philippines and Its Regions, Provinces, and Highly Urbanized Cities" (PDF). 2010 Census and Housing Population. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "Isabela, top producer of corn". Bureau of Agricultural Statistics. Department of Agriculture (Philippines). Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Brief History of Isabela". Fly Philippines. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Act No. 210, passed August 24, 1901.
  7. ^ Republic of the Philippines, Commission on Elections (26 May 1995). "Resolution No. 2796 .".  
  8. ^ Robles, Chan. "REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7891 - AN ACT DIVIDING THE PROVINCE OF ISABELA INTO TWO PROVINCES NAMELY: ISABELA DEL NORTE AND ISABELA DEL SUR". Philippine Laws, Statutes & Codes, and Republic Acts. Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  9. ^ Catindig, Raymund (February 28, 2011). "Marcos Mania still alive in Isabela 25 years after EDSA". Valley Journal News Online. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  10. ^ Isabela's Ilagan now a component city Philippine Star. Retrieved 08-15-2012
  11. ^ Ilagan now 4th city in Cagayan Valley Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 08-15-2012
  12. ^ [ILAGAN KICKS OFF CITYHOOD BID] Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 08-11-2012
  13. ^, Isabela gov sees big job ahead vs illegal logging
  14. ^ iWitness: Si GOB at ang mga BUGADOR, 08/25/2008
  15. ^ "Mount Cresta, Divilacan, Cagayan Valley, Philippines". Google Maps. Retrieved on 2014-09-28.
  16. ^ a b "Province: ISABELA". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  17. ^ "Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay: as of May 1, 2010" (PDF). 2010 Census of Population and Housing. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  18. ^ Ilagan cityhood gets Senate nod Philippine Star. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  19. ^ More than ‘munggo’: Isabela’s San Mateo is an agro-ecological city in the making , Business Mirror, July 06, 2013. Retrieved July 08, 2013
  20. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing: Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay:as of May 1, 2010" ( 
  21. ^ "Province: Isabela".  
  22. ^ "Robinsons Place Santiago Grand Opening Invitation". Flickr. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  23. ^ Top 10 Highest earning Philippine province Nobert Bermosa website. Retrieved 06-17-2012.
  24. ^ "P3-M premyo ng Isabela bilang Best Corn Quality Awardee". Bombo Radyo. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  25. ^ Cleland, James E. (2008). "The Silent Sentinel", pg. 43. AuthorHouse, Bloomington, IN. ISBN 978-1-4343-5968-1.


Notable residents

Festival City/town
Bambanti (Scarecrow) Festival - celebrated annually by the whole province to honor the province's bountiful harvest and its emerging agro-industrial prowess. The festivity showcases the scarecrow dancing spectacles and agricultural booths. The municipalities and cities exhibit their respective culture, beliefs, traditions, origins and products. Annually, the event can drew at least 250,000 crowds all over the Cagayan Valley region, the biggest in the history of annual festivities in the region. It has become Isabela’s showcase of its rich cultural heritage and pristine natural beauty that made this province as the socio-cultural hub of the north. Bambanti is an iluko word for scarecrow. It is known to be a truly world class celebration in the valley. Province of Isabela
Isabela Day - Anniversary of the establishment of the civil government of Isabela in honor of Queen Isabella II of Spain. It is noted for being the grandest and most awaited celebration not only in the valley but also in Northern Luzon as well. Activities like agro-industrial trade and tourism fairs, parades, sports events are conducted to entertain visitors. Also, one of the highlights of the celebration is the Miss Isabela, an extravagant colorful pageant featuring the candidates from each town/city of the province who exemplify Isabela’s youth and vibrancy. A grand fusion of fashion, music and dance with particular focus on Isabela’s tourism attractions and its leader. Province of Isabela
Pattaraday Festival - from "pattaraday", an Ybanag word for "unity", the festival is celebrated in the city of Santiago to honor its founding anniversary, and the unity of the ethnolinguistic groups that have merged in the city to make it the melting pot of culture of Region II and contributed to the city’s progress and development-unity in action. Highlighted with the presentation of the Comedia – a moro-moro dance made famous by the Spaniards to stress the power of Christian Religion over the Moorish non-believers; other activities include beauty pageant, grand batalla presentations and a grand street dancing parade and exhibition with performers from other cities, provinces and regions. Santiago City
Pansi Festival - "Pansi" is an Ybanag word for "pansit", a noodle dish topped with chopped "karahay" or "lechon kawali" in Tagalog. The town became noted for its famous local product which is the "Pansit Cabagan". Pansi Festival is the official festivity of the municipality of Cabagan. Cabagan
Pinilisa Festival Jones
Balatong (Munggo) Festival - In San Mateo, mungo beans are not just a rich source of protein. It is also so packed with economic potential that it is referred to as “black gold”. In previous years, the annual town fiesta promoted duck-related products during the Pato Festival. San Mateo
Pagay Festival - Held annually every September 28 in conjunction with the founding anniversary of the town of Alicia. It used to be called Alicia Town Festival, but was redefined and renamed to Pagay Festival in 2010 by Mayor Cecilia Claire N. Reyes. The festival aims to uphold the town's cultural identity and heritage and to promote the municipality’s primary agricultural product called, pagay (Ilocano word for rice) - the municipality’s major livelihood economy and trade mark. The festival is widely participated by the community which features various competitions (e.g., rice planting, harvesting, and cooking among others), street dance showdown, beauty pageant (Mutya ng Alicia), battle of the bands, and exhibits. However, the Pagay Parade is the main highlight of the festival that features decorated carabaos, various rice crop floats, and people marching with colorful costumes which attracts tourists and visitors. Alicia
Kankanen Festival - celebrated in Cabatuan, showcasing native delicacies made of glutinous rice. Mayor Alma Dayrit and the Rural Improvement Club started this annual tradition in 2003 and done on the Foundation Day rites of every year. Cabatuan
Binnadangan Festival - A yearly celebration of Pagay Festival (Palay Festival) held every July 4. The Festival was popularly known as the Araw ng Roxas Celebration but it was declared formally as Pagay Festival during the reign of Mayor Benedict Calderon. It is celebrated because of the rich agricultural bounty of Roxas, being one of the towns that produce large stocks of rice. The festival features a parade mostly of politicians and participating schools from different parts of Roxas, kuliglig contest and cooking of the biggest rice cake that was also featured in the national television. Major events include a Street Dance Competition from different schools and Palarong Bayan. Due to a conflict in the name of the festival, by which the town of Alicia celebrates the same. It was changed to Binnadangan Festival by former Mayor Harry Soller. The Binnadangan comes from an Ilocano word meaning "bayanihan" and was also derived from the former name of the town during the 1600s. The festival ends with a long Pyromusical. Roxas
Dikit Festival - Known for being an agricultural municipality, Aurora annually celebrates its Dikit Festival every 28th to 30 April. "Dikit" is an Ilocano term meaning "glutinous rice". The festival is celebrated to showcase this delicacy and its by-products which are bibingka, muriecos, inangit, tupig, kalamay and tinudok, among others. Farmers in Aurora plant this glutinous rice served to guests during special occasions. Aurora
Nateng Festival Mallig
Gakit Festival - An annual festival held at the Cagayan River. Participants of the festival offer fruits, vegetables, poultry, and livestock as thanksgiving for their abundant bounty. The practice also reminds Angadanians of their tradition of planting crops and raising poultry in their own backyards for their own consumption. The Gakit Festival also aims to show Angadanians that progress can only be achieved if they are united as one. A key detail of the festival is the hand-made bamboo rafts which are used by the participants. Each bamboo pole, if alone, has no value. It cannot float reliably on a river nor can it be used to transport anything. But if many bamboo poles are tied together as one, it can be made into a raft which can float and sail on calm or rough waters while transporting people and products. Angadanan
Nuang Festival - Despite the introduction of mechanized agriculture, the carabao (Bubalus Bubalis Carabanesis) remains a farmer’s indispensable helpmate in the fields. This beast of burden is honoured in the Nuang Festival of San Agustin as are the products the carabao enables farmers to produce. The town boasts of over 300 heads and farmers bring them over to the poblacion (town center) for the festival. To get the cattle there, they either guide the animals onto the ferry and keep them quiet for the short river crossing or find the shallowest point of the river, take off their clothes then lead them across. San Agustin the town supplies carabao milk to other towns where carabao milk candy is produced. The festival also serves as a venue for promoting other major products such as corn (Zea mays) and bananas (Musa paradisiaca L.). San Agustin
Gawagaway-yan Festival - The City Fiesta and the Feast of Our lady of the Pillar are celebrated annually on April 10–13 and October 10–12 respectively. Since its conversion into a component city on March 30, 2001, the City Government started to celebrate its founding anniversary with the conduct of "Gawagaway-yan Festival" aimed to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the city. It is highlighted by street dancing, beauty contest, trade fair, cultural parade, parlor games, free concert, band exhibition and other variety shows performed by local and Manila-based talents as well. Cauayan City
Mangi Festival - Aside from its exquisite church, one of the most enduring legacies of the Spanish colonial era lives on, quite literally in Tumauini, corn (Zea mays). It was one of the plants that came aboard the galleons and became one of the primary crops of the Philippines. The late National Artist for Dance, Ramon Obusan traced the origins of a traditional dance inspired by the crop to Tumauini. Thus, a corn inspired festival seemed especially appropriate for Tumauini. Tumauini
Baka Festival - A survey revealing quite number of ranches in San Pablo led to the establishment of the Baka Festival. Held on January 15 it is expected not only to be the highlight of future patronal fiestas of San Pablo but also to sustain efforts to promote the local cattle industry and the products that have been developed since a convergence project was located in the municipality. The festival is a fine time to see cowboys of San Pablo display skills that are reminiscent of the American Wild West. San Pablo
Mammangui Festival - It is a celebration or rather called by Ilagueño farmers as a thanksgiving activity for a bountiful harvest. Mammangui is an Ybanag word which means to harvest corn, which is the primary crop in the city, the Corn Capital of the Philippines. Since the assumption in office of Mayor Josemarie L. Diaz, Mammangui Festival was proclaimed as the official festivity of the city. During the celebration, different activities such as parlor games, cultural and trade fairs, colorful street dance, cook fest, sports events, cheerdance competitions, float parade and many others are conducted by the city government to showcase the past to present day transition of Ilagan's rich tradition and cultural heritage. Highlights of the celebration are the annual beauty pageants namely Little Miss Mammangui, Miss Gay Mammangui and the Miss Mammangui, which is one of the most prestigious of its kind in the valley and a free concert featuring local celebrities. It is annually celebrated every 29–31 May. Ilagan City
Binallay Festival - Ilagueños have made the binallay a symbol of the noble characteristics they aspire to have as individuals and as a community. These include being masipag (hardworking), matiyaga (patient), matalino (intelligent), and makadiyos (God fearing). According to them, they are patient because the process of preparing binallay is tedious and involves steaming the rice cake twice, hardworking because it is difficult to prepare the rice cake (the glutinous grains are ground the traditional way, with a stone mill), intelligent because it requires a special technique to peel the wrapper off so that none of the cake is wasted and God fearing because it is a delicacy associated with the Holy Week. They regard the white cake as a representation of the body of Christ and the laro as his blood. As part of their penitence during Holy Week, Binallay is the only food that Ilagueños eat. It is a rice cake that holds a special significance in the collective psyche of Ilagueños, their religious life and their culinary heritage. Not surprisingly, they have named their town festival after it. Every May, their signature product takes center stage twice, once during the festival itself and during the Isabela Day celebrations earlier in the month when it usually has a wider audience. Ilagan City
Sabutan Festival - Held every March in Palanan, the festival is named after the local name for pandan (Pandanus tectorius) which is plentiful in the town. The people of Palanan are fine craftsmen who weave dyed and natural colored strips into a variety of bags, hats, and placemats, among other items that have both traditional and contemporary designs. For the festival, the sabutan products are not only sold, these are also used as a theme and are fashioned into costumes and décor. Palanan
Sinag-Banga Festival San Isidro


  • Our Lady of the Pillar Church (Cauayan City)
  • San Pablo Church in San Pablo, the oldest town of Isabela founded by Padre de Santo Tomas on Nov. 30, 1646 (about 210 years before Isabela was made a province). Its six-level bell tower including the circular apex is made of adobe. It is said to be the oldest in Isabela and the tallest in Cagayan Valley.
  • Our Lady of Atocha in Alicia. The church and convent as seen today in the town of Alicia, beautiful and solid, was built by Fr. Tomas Calderon, OP and inaugurated in 1849, with Fr. Francisco Gainza, OP, then vicar of Carig (now Santiago City). Famous for their antique Spanish architectural designs, these churches are found along the national highway and are accessible by land transport.
  • Saint James Parish Church (Santiago City)
  • Saint Clare Monastery (Gamu)
  • Cathedral of Saint Michael the Archangel (Gamu)
  • Saint Ferdinand Parish Church (Ilagan City)
  • Our Lady of La Salette Church (Roxas)
  • Saint Rose of Lima Church in Gamu is known for its Spanish architectural design. Built in 1726 during the Spanish time, the church façade was made of layered bricks and stones dating back during the 17th century and considered a pilgrimage church because of its antiquity. The feast of their patron, Saint Rose of Lima is celebrated every 23 August.
  • Shrine of Our Lady of the Visitation of Guibang in Gamu is located along the national highway frequented by travelers passing the Maharlika Highway. It is now known as the Guibang Basilica Minore because it also comes alive on July of every year when religious pilgrims from all walks of life come to offer prayers of good health, peace and abundance, among many other intentions. The image of the Our Lady of the Visitation was canonically crowned by the Most Rev. Carmine Pocco, Papal Nuncio to the Philippines on May 26, 1973 at the former St. Ferdinand Cathedral (now St. Ferdinand Parish Church) in Ilagan City. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines at its 52nd Annual Bishop’s Meeting held in Tagaytay City in January 24–26, 1986 have approved the petition of His Excellency, the late Most Rev. Miguel Purugganan, former Bishop of the Diocese of Ilagan for the Church of Our Lady of the Visitation of Guibang to be called a National Shrine.
  • Parish Church of St. Mathias in Tumauini. Work on the church started in 1783. It has been faithfully restored after being damaged during World War II and is acknowledged as the most artistic brick structure in the Philippines. The cylindrical bell tower is the only one of its kind in the country.


Tourist Attraction Location
Sierra Madre Natural Forest Park Eastern coast of Isabela
Maconacon Falls Maconacon
Hanging Bridge Maconacon
White Sand Beaches -Typical of coastal areas along the Sierra Madre mountains of Cagayan Valley. coastal towns of Dinapigue, Palanan, Divilacan
Dibulo Falls Dinapigue
Dinapigue Sea Wall Dinapigue
Bonsai Park Dinapigue
Waterworld Grand Resort Ramon
Magat High Rise Dam - Asia’s biggest dam project at the time of its construction. It serves the primary function of power generation and irrigation. Its reservoir area of 4,450 hectares has a great potential for water-based recreation like fishing, boating and water skiing, among others. Ramon
Camp Vizcarra Ramon
Balai na Ilagan Ilagan City
Queen Isabela II Monument and Park (in front of the Isabela Provincial Capitol in Ilagan City)
Pinzal Falls Ilagan City
Abuan River Ilagan City
Ilagan Sanctuary Ilagan City
Sta. Victoria Caves Ilagan City
Burmurbur Falls Ilagan City
World's Largest Butaka - It is 11 feet 4 inches high, 20 feet 8 inches long, and 9 feet 7 inches wide. It weighs 2,368 kilos and was constructed by 25 workers in 29 days. Ilagan City
Desert Island Divilacan
Water Impounding Dam Roxas
Borubor Falls Roxas
Honeymoon Island Divilacan
La Salette Shrine - located in Balintocatoc Hills, contains life-sized statues of religious icons. Santiago City
Obelisk Jones
Dimanek Falls Located near boundary ridge between Palanan and San Mariano
Crocodile Watching (Crocodylus Mindorensis) San Mariano
Aguinaldo Shrine - Historic capture and heroism of General Emilio Aguinaldo Palanan
Dilaknadanum is the home Agta people, a minority group on the coast of Isabela. Features forests, beaches, rivers and small farmsteads uprivers. Palanan
Dicotcotan Beach Palanan
Sta. Maria Triangular Park Santa Maria
Mororan Tumauini
Camp Samal -"haven of scouts" Tumauini
Sinavulluan Caves Tumauini
Villa Diana Resort Cordon
Punta Amelita Resort Cordon

Places of interest

In recent years, tourism has become an income-generating industry for Isabela. New hotels and resorts have opened, mostly in the cities of Ilagan, Cauayan and Santiago, and the towns of Tumauini, Gamu, Roxas, Alicia, Ramon, San Mariano and Cordon. Top tourist attractions are the centuries-old churches; Magat Dam Tourism Complex, which houses Southeast Asia’s biggest dam; Santa Victoria Caves, Pinzal Falls and Ilagan Sanctuary at Fuyo National Park; the white sand beaches in the coastal municipalities of Maconacon, Divilacan, Palanan, Dinapigue and islands of coastal Isabela; the world’s biggest wooden lounge chair or butaka in Ilagan City; and various festival and fiestas, most famous of which is the Bambanti Festival annually celebrated every February, and the commemoration of the birth of the province during Isabela Day every May.


Colleges and universities

Isabela is one of the primary centers of education in the Cagayan Valley Region. There are several public and private educational institutions offering courses in the fields of Medicine, Engineering, Architecture, Nursing, Law, Commerce, Education, Information Technology, Science & Technology, Criminology, Hospitality & Industry, Tourism and others. They are strategically located in the different municipalities and cities of the province. The most notable is the Isabela State University, with its main campus in Echague and satellite campuses in Cauayan City, Ilagan City, Angadanan, Cabagan, Jones, Palanan (extension), Roxas, San Mariano, San Mateo and Santiago City (extension).


In May 27, 2015, the service contract of the largest solar PV power plant in the country has been approved by the Department of Energy (DOE). According to some experts, the P7-billion worth 100 MW Solar PV project in the city of Ilagan will help reduce the current shortage in electricity that causes regular blackouts that results to industry closures as well as inconvenience to the consumers. The solar power facility will be constructed at a 100-hectare land at Barangay Cabannungan, several kilometers away from the city proper.

Officials of the National Irrigation AdministrationMagat River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-MRIIS) said they are adopting the scheme due to the “continuous drop” of water level of Magat Dam which is now at 176 meters or one meter above the normal level.

As of now, authorities and investors are still on the process of finalizing the draft feasibility study and once it is completed, the construction is expected to start within the last quarter of 2015. The local government would also benefit in the proposed project as it is expected to supply continuous power to the city and other government installations such as health facilities and other future projects. Meanwhile, the government-administered irrigation agency is implementing a rotational irrigation water supply scheme in the Lower Magat irrigation system in the province as a result of the absence of rainfall in the hot summer days of 2015.

In Cauayan City, the city government is negotiating with Korean investors to put up the 20-megawatt solar power plant. This would augment energy produced from hydro-electric energy especially during summer and El Niño season when the rivers run dry and water provided by the dam is not enough to run the day’s water turbines. Also, some South Korean investors who visited the city recently had signified their intention to invest in a multimillion-dollar solar power plant here. The solar farm will be constructed in a 24-hectare land in the village of Tagaran in the said city.

The biomass power facility in province is the first in the region and is expected to provide economical source of energy as well as job opportunities to residents of the host town/city.

According to the authorities, “The use of biomass as fuel makes the power plant carbon neutral and sustainable. The plant is also expected to produce 100 percent renewable energy that does not harm the environment.”

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the P2 billion power facility established by the Isabela Biomass Energy Corporation (IBEC) would not only augment power supply in Cagayan Valley but would also help contribute to healthy environment.

The planned online solar power plant in Cauayan City is capable supplying at least 20 megawatts while the biomass power plant in Alicia can produce another 20 megawatts. Both systems provide clean and renewable energy.

Solar and biomass power plants in the city of Cauayan and in the town of Alicia are expected to start their full-blown operation in 2015 to supplement the region’s high energy demand.


Large deposits of copper, gold, zinc & chromite, manganese and nickel have been found in Isabela. It also has extensive deposits of non-metallic minerals such as limestone, clay, marbles, guano, sand & gravel, and boulders. Indigenous energy sources such as natural gas and hydroelectric capabilities have been found to be abundant in the valley. Many of its mineral reserves have yet to be fully tapped.

Mineral and energy

There are three airports in the province. The Cauayan Airport is the primary airport in the province serving a trip to Manila and Tuguegarao. The other two are the Palanan Airport in Palanan and Maconacon Airport in Maconacon. The country’s leading passenger airline Cebu Pacific services the Cauayan-Manila-Cauayan Route. Light planes operated by Cyclone Airways and WCC Aviation’s Sky Pasada Have flights from Cauayan Domestic Airport to the community airports in Palanan and Maconacon. The province has two minor seaports, the Divilacan Port and Palanan Port in the coastal towns of Divilacan and Palanan. The trade going to the ports come primarily from major seaports in Cagayan such as Port of Aparri in Aparri, Cagayan, and Port of San Vicente and Port Irene, both in Santa Ana, Cagayan.

Airports and sea ports

Potential investments in fisheries are being developed by the government and other private business entities. Isabela has a fertile fishing ground on the Pacific Coast. The reservoir of the Magat Dam is utilized for fish cage operations for tilapia production for domestic markets. Another thriving industry in Isabela is aquaculture, sustained by inland fishing through 1,108 hectares of developed freshwater fishponds and 450 hectares of fish cage culture at Magat Dam Reservoir. Rich marine resources could be found in Isabela’s coastal seaboard municipalities of Maconacon, Divilacan, Palanan, and Dinapigue.

Isabela's coast in Divilacan


Forestland covers 54.37% or 579,819 hectares of Isabela's total land area of which 62% is protected forest and 38% is production forest. The best quality of timber resources in the Philippines are found in Isabela's forest. Isabela's vast forest resources are now being ecologically manage to effect sustainable forest-based resource not only for the wood working industry but to secure a balanced ecosystem. Some 54% of the province`s total area is covered by forestland, of which 62% is part of the protected area while 38% is designated as production forest. The woodwork industry continues to operate under a regulated system, particularly the making furniture using indigenous materials.


Isabela is one of the most progressive provinces of the Philippines having been adjudged as the most outstanding province on food security in the Gawad Sapat Ani Awards 2000. For corn production, Isabela ranks first among the top ten corn producing provinces for cy 2004, contributing 15.70% to national production. On 2013, the Department of Agriculture declared Isabela as the Best Corn-Quality Awardee.[24] Ilagan City was proclaimed as the Corn Capital of the Philippines for being the top corn producer among the 34 municipalities and 2 cities of the province as well as in the whole country.

Farming is highly mechanized as most of the agricultural lands are irrigated. With the presence of the Isabela State University, joint ventures and other foreign assisted projects and the Magat Dam contribute to the high productivity in agriculture. It is also the hub of trade and commerce and other economic activities due to its central location in the region. The wood industry used to be a top earner for the province but due to the logging ban imposed in the Cagayan Valley Region, activities in this industry considerably declined. However, furniture making using narra wood and other indigenous forest materials continue to exist.

High-value agricultural crops grown in Isabela include monggo, tobacco, coffee, banana, and mango. Its livestock and poultry industries are also on the rise, especially dairy processing, hog production, cattle breeding, and commercial poultry raising.

As second highest rice-growing province nationwide, Isabela produces 15% of the aggregate national rice production on an annual basis. Being a surplus producer of the Filipinos’ staple crop, the province’s rice sufficiency rate is at 224%, which means that Isabelinos produce more than they consume and are in fact responsible for supplying the rice requirements of Metro Manila and many other provinces. The unprecedented increase in palay production of Isabela made the province the Hybrid Rice Champion of the Philippines.

Agriculture is the biggest industry in Isabela. As the country’s top corn producing province, it contributes 21% of the annual national yellow corn production. Asia’s largest post-harvest corn processing facility, the Mindanao Grains, is located in the town of Reina Mercedes.


The province of Isabela is the richest in Cagayan Valley. It is also the Top 10 Richest Province in the Philippines last 2011, being the only province of Northern Luzon to be included in the list.[23]

Big real estate developers like Vista Land and Lifescapes, Inc. entered the province with the opening of Camella Isabela and Camella Santiago in Santiago City and Camella Cauayan in Cauayan City.

Telecom firms Globe, PLDT/Smart and Digitel/ Sun Cellular operate cellular sites and fixed telephony facilities throughout Isabela.

Leading car, motorcycle and truck manufacturers such as Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi Motors, Isuzu Motors, Kia Motors, Nissan, Ford, Chevrolet, Suzuki, Hyundai, Foton, Peugeot, MAN SE, Yamaha and many other companies entered the province over the past years.

The “big three” oil companies- Shell, Petron and Chevron – have numerous gasoline stations in Isabela, as do new petroleum industry players Total, Eastern Petroleum, Flying V and SEAOIL Philippines. Land transportation operators Victory Liner, Five Star Bus Company, Dagupan Bus Company Inc., Dalin Liner, GV Florida Transport and Northern Luzon Bus Company have terminals and depots in the province.

SM Prime constructed its first SM Supermall in the province, the SM City Cauayan which opened in May 30, 2014. It is located in Cauayan City. The second largest mall operator in the Philippines, Robinsons Land, also opened its first mall in the region, Robinsons Place Santiago in February 19, 2014.[22] It is located along National Highway, Mabini, Santiago City. The company is also set to construct their second mall in the province which will be in Cauayan City.

Retail giants SM and Robinsons have set up shops in the cities of Ilagan and Santiago and in the municipalities of Tumauini, Roxas and Echague with the opening Savemore and Robinsons Supermarket, respectively. They are located in Isabela’s new malls, Northstar Mall, Talavera Square Mall and Xentro Mall (with branches in Santiago City, Roxas and Ilagan City) owned and operated by homegrown investors. Fast food chains such as Jollibee, McDonalds, Greenwich, Chowking, Mang Inasal, KFC, Shakey's, Classic Savory, Max's, Gerry's Grill, Goldilocks and Red Ribbon all have outlets in Isabela. Puregold, a large retail chain is currently operating supermarkets in Cauayan City, Santiago City and Roxas while San Miguel Pure Foods Company, Inc. have managed set up their provincial field office and plant in Santiago City, Reina Mercedes and Echague, respectively.

In the rice industry, substantial investments have been made by Valiant Rice Mills Corporation in San Mateo, Family Choice Grains Processing Center in Cabatuan, Golden Season Grains Center in Luna, Herco Agro Industries in Santiago City, JDT Silver Grains Center, New Cauayan Goldyluck Grains in Cauayan City and the La Suerte Rice Mill Corporation in San Manuel.

Universal Leaf Philippines has built a tobacco processing plant in Reina Mercedes. The Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. subsidiary and San Miguel Corporation’s Cosmos division both operate bottling plants in Ilagan City, while RC Cola and Pepsi Cola have beverage operations in Cauayan City and Santiago City, respectively.

Since the start of 21st century, a growing number of foreign and local investors have selected Isabela as site of their business ventures. Heading the list are Isabela’s top three investors, namely: Mindanao Grains Processing Company, Inc. in Reina Mercedes, SN Aboitiz Power- Magat Inc. in Ramon.

The cities of Cauayan and Santiago and the capital city of Ilagan are the principal commercial centers of Isabela. Metro Manila-based malls and fast food chains have recently opened in these key trading hubs. To date, 169 banking branches operate in the province, with most of the commercial banks providing automated teller machines for the convenience of their clients.

Strategically located at the center of Cagayan Valley region, Isabela is acknowledged to have demonstrated strengths in business and industry. Thus, it has come to be known as the Regional Trade and Industrial Center of north-eastern Luzon.

Trade and Industry

The economy of Isabela is at the fulcrum of an ever increasing growth curve. In terms of income classification, it is rated as first-class province and considered among the richest and most progressive province in the Philippines and the most progressive in Region 02 courtesy of the three key cities strategically located in the province. The three cities and some towns in the province are showing signs of progress.

Magat Dam in the municipality of Ramon


Roman Catholicism is the predominant faith followed by about 80% of the people. Other religions practiced are Aglipayan and various Protestant churches such as Iglesia Ni Cristo, Baptist, Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, Seventh-day Adventist, other Charismatic Christians and Jehovah's Witnesses. There are also small number of Muslims.


Major languages in Isabela are Ilokano followed by Ibanag, Yogad, Gaddang. People especially in the capital and commercial centers speak and understand English and Tagalog/Pilipino.

Ilokano are the most prominent group in Isabela. Of the total household population, 68.71 percent classified themselves as Ilokanos. The next two prominent groups (ethnic) are the Ybanag (14.05 percent) and Tagalog (10.02 percent). The remaining 7.22 percent are either Gaddang, Paranan, Yogad, or from other ethnic groups.

For all ages, the sex ratio in Isabela was about 105 with 660,627 males and 626,948 females in the 2000 Census of Population and Housing (Census 2000). There are more males than females below 50 years old.

According to the 2010 Philippine Census, Isabela is the most populated province among the five provinces in Cagayan Valley (Region II). It has a population of 1,489,645 people: 46 percent of the 3.2 million people in the region. At the national level, the province contributed 1.58 percent to the total population of 88.57 million. There were 254,928 households in the province in 2007.


After Isabela was re-organized as a province under the American regime in 1901, its first provincial governor was Rafael Maramag, a former Municipal President and also the first Municipal President of the capital town Ilagan. He was succeeded by his brother, Gabriel. Afterwards, Isabela was ruled by the Dy family for 34 years (1969-2004). The dynasty was started by the patriarch of the family, Faustino N. Dy, Sr., who served as the Mayor of Cauayan from 1965 to 1969 and sat as the provincial governor of Isabela for 22 years (1969–1992). He was succeeded by his son, Benjamin G. Dy, in the gubernatorial seat from 1992 to 2001. Another Dy took over the gubernatorial seat in 2001 when Faustino Dy Jr. won the 2001 elections after having served as the district representative of the 2nd Legislative District of the province from 1992 to 2001. It was only in the 2004 elections that the family's control of the gubernatorial seat ended when Grace Padaca won over Faustino Dy Jr. She was the first woman to serve as the governor of the province. After serving for six years (2004-2010), she was defeated in the 2010 National Elections by Faustino "Bojie" G. Dy III, who is currently serving for his 2nd term since 2010.


Members of the Isabela Provincial Council (2013-2016)
Position Name of Provincial Official
Provincial Governor Faustino G. Dy III
Provincial Vice Governor Antonio T. Albano
District Representatives Rep. Rodolfo T. Albano III (1st District)
Rep. Ana Cristina S. Go (2nd District)
Rep. Napoleon S. Dy (3rd District)
Rep. Giorgidi B. Aggabao (4th District and Santiago City)
Provincial Board Members Kiryll S. Bello (1st District)
Ric Justice E. Angobung (1st District)
Rolando L.Tugade (1st District)
Faustino U. Dy IV (2nd District)
Ed Christopher S. Go (2nd District)
Atty. Karen G. Abuan (3rd District)
Manuel A. Alejandro (3rd District)
Randolph Joseph P. Arreola (3rd District)
Alfredo V. Alili (4th District)
Abegail V. Sable (4th District)


The 34 municipalities and 3 cities of the province comprise a total of 1,055 barangays, with Rizal in Santiago City as the most populous in 2010, and Catalina in Cauayan City as the least. If cities are excluded, Bugallon Proper (Poblacion) in Ramon has the highest population, and Uauang-Tuliao in Santo Tomas has the lowest.[20][21]


The province has ten (10) first class municipalities, two (2) third class cities and one (1) first class independent component city. Ilagan City, which became a city thirteen years after its failed cityhood proposal in 1998, it is now Luzon’s largest and the country’s fourth biggest city after Davao City, Puerto Princesa and Zamboanga City in terms of land area. The municipality of San Mateo is the Munggo capital, and the provincial government fully supports the municipality to become the Philippines' first agro-ecological city.[19]

1 Became a component city on March 30, 2001 under Republic Act 9017.
2 Became a component city on August 11, 2012 under Republic Act 10169.[18]
3 Became an independent component city on July 6, 1994 under Republic Act 7720.

or city
(per km²)
No. of

Alicia 1st 64,687 154.10 260.5 34 1st Ian Paul Dy
Angadanan 3rd 40,143 204.40 196.4 59 3rd Lourdes S. Panganiban
Aurora 2nd 33,045 115.56 286 33 3rd William T. Uy
Benito Soliven 2nd 27,337 184.40 148.2 29 4th Benjamin E. Sanglay
Burgos 2nd 22,521 73.10 308.1 14 4th Ruben A. Tegui
Cabagan 1st 45,732 430.40 106.3 26 1st Rodolfo B. Albano
Cabatuan 3rd 37,299 72.00 518 22 3rd Chariton L. Uy
Cauayan City 1 3rd 122,335 336.40 363.7 65 3rd Bernard Faustino L. Dy
Cordon 4th 40,877 144.00 283.9 26 3rd Laurencio P. Zuniega
Delfin Albano 1st 25,422 189.00 134.5 29 4th Thomas A. Pua Jr.
Dinapigue 4th 5,484 574.40 9.5 6 1st Reynaldo D. Derije
Divilacan 1st 5,034 889.49 5.7 12 2nd Bulan C. Bulan
Echague 4th 74,680 680.80 109.7 64 1st Melinda G. Kiat
Gamu 2nd 28,657 129.40 221.5 16 4th Nestor M. Uy
Ilagan City 2 1st 135,174 1,166.26 115.9 91 3rd Josemarie L. Diaz, DMD
Jones 4th 44,218 670.14 66 42 1st Leticia T. Sebastian
Luna 3rd 18,091 45.70 395.9 19 5th Jaime N. Atayde
Maconacon 1st 3,615 538.66 6.7 10 3rd Ma. Lycelle Kate M. Domingo
Mallig 2nd 28,345 133.40 212.5 18 4th Pedro A. Flores
Naguilian 2nd 29,491 169.81 173.7 25 4th Edgar R. Capuchino
Palanan 1st 16,094 880.24 18.3 17 1st Angelo A. Bernardo
Quezon 2nd 24,522 189.90 129.1 15 4th Daryl G. Gascon
Quirino 2nd 22,285 126.20 176.6 21 4th Jossie Maria L. Juan
Ramon 4th 49,812 135.17 368.5 19 2nd Wilfredo L. Tabag
Reina Mercedes 3rd 23,497 57.14 411.2 20 4th Anthony P. Respicio
Roxas 2nd 57,699 184.80 312.2 26 1st Benedict C. Calderon
San Agustin 4th 21,797 278.40 78.3 23 4th Virgilio A. Padilla
San Guillermo 3rd 18,423 325.49 56.6 26 4th Marilou N. Sanchez
San Isidro 4th 22,758 71.90 316.5 13 5th Ray Socrates L. Velasco
San Manuel 2nd 30,407 112.77 269.6 19 4th Faustino Michael T. Dy III
San Mariano 2nd 51,438 1,469.50 35 36 1st Dean Anthony Domalanta
San Mateo 3rd 60,792 120.60 504.1 33 1st Crispina R. Agcaoili, MD
San Pablo 1st 22,040 637.90 34.6 17 2nd Antonio Jose T. Miro
Santa Maria 1st 22,939 140.00 163.9 20 4th Gilbert M. Masigan
Santiago City 3 4th 132,804 255.50 519.8 37 1st Engr. Joseph S. Tan
Santo Tomas 1st 21,688 60.70 357.3 27 4th Leandro Antonio P. Talaue
Tumauini 1st 58,463 467.30 125.1 46 1st Arnold S. Bautista

     Provincial capital and
component city
     Component city
     Independent component

Political map of
Isabela province

Isabela is politically subdivided into thirty four (34) municipalities, two (2) component cities and one (1) independent component city. The province is represented in the Philippine House of Representatives with four (4) legislative districts.

Administrative divisions

Mallig Plains Region is a region in the western part of the province of Isabela. Its name was derived from the rolling terrains or kilometers of plain lands in western Isabela. The municipality of Roxas serves as the business center of the region. It consists the municipalities of Quezon, Mallig, Quirino, Burgos, Aurora, San Manuel and Roxas.

Mallig Plains Region

The western area is a sprawling fertile valley hemmed by the Central Cordillera. It is criss-crossed by the mighty Cagayan River, Siffu river, and Magat River.

The highest point of the province is located near the border with Cagayan. Mount Dos Cuernos peak has an elevation of 1,785 metres (5,856 ft) located in the municipality of San Pablo near the border with the municipality of Maconacon. Other notable peak in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park is Mount Cresta in the municipality of Divilacan with an elevation of 1,672 metres (5,486 ft).[15]

The province is divided into three physiographic areas. The eastern area, straddled by the Sierra Madre mountain range, is rugged and thickly forested. A substantial portion is uncharted. These unexplored hinterlands are home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, and some are under government reservations. It is home to one of the world’s largest remaining low-altitude rainforests, with numerous unknown endemic species of flora and fauna and exceptional biological diversity in the protected area known as the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park. Isabela has 600,000 hectares (1,500,000 acres) of Cagayan Valley’s 900,000 hectares (2,200,000 acres) of forest cover.[13][14]


Isabela comprises an aggregate land area of 10,665 square kilometres (4,118 sq mi), representing almost 40 percent of the regional territory. It is the largest province in the island of Luzon and the second largest province in the Philippines in terms of land area. It is located on the right-most part of the Northern Luzon facing the Pacific Ocean and encompassing parts of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Isabela is one of the typhoon-prone provinces in the country due to its location.

View of the Sierra Madre from Cabagan


In 2012, the capital town of Ilagan officially became a city, after winning 96% of the votes in the plebiscite conducted in August 11, 2012.[10][11] The night after the plebiscite, COMELEC Commissioner Armando Velasco declared Ilagan as the new component city of the province.[12]

In 1995, Republic Act Number 7891 was passed legislating that Isabela be divided into two new provinces: Isabela del Norte and Isabela del Sur.[7][8] A referendum was held on the same year with a strong majority voting not to separate the province.[9]

A new wave of immigration began in the late 19th and 20th centuries with the arrival of the Ilokano who came in large numbers. They now constitute the largest group in the province. Other ethnic groups followed that made Isabela the “Melting Pot of the Northern Philippines”.[5]

The Americans built schools and other buildings and instituted changes in the overall political system. However, the province’s economy remained particularly agricultural with rice replacing corn and tobacco as the dominant crop. World War II stagnated the province's economic growth but it recovered dramatically after the war. In 1942, the Japanese Imperial forces occupied Isabela. In 1945, liberation of Isabela commenced with the arrival of the Philippine Commonwealth troops under the Philippine Army, Constabulary and USAFIP-NL units and recognized guerrillas attacked by the Japanese Imperial forces in World War II. Today, Isabela is the premier province of the northern Philippines, the richest in the valley and one of the most progressive in the country.

Humanitarian aid for victims of Super Typhoon Megi in Divilacan.


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