Isabela (province)

Province of Isabela




  • Queen Province of the Philippines
  • Rice Bowl of the North
  • Corn Capital of the Philippines

Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 17°N 122°E / 17°N 122°E / 17; 122Coordinates: 17°N 122°E / 17°N 122°E / 17; 122
Country Philippines
Region Cagayan Valley (Region II)
Founded May 01, 1856
Capital Ilagan
  Type Sangguniang Panlalawigan
  Governor Faustino G. Dy III (NPC)
  Vice Governor Antonio 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 (2015 census)[3]
  Total 1,593,566
  Rank 15th out of 81
  Density 130/km2 (330/sq mi)
  Density rank 67th out of 81
  (Includes Santiago)
  • Isabeliño (m)
  • Isabeliña (f)
  • Isabelan
  Independent cities
  Component cities
  Districts 1st to 4th districts of Isabela (shared with Santiago City)
Time zone PHT (UTC+8)
ZIP code 3300–3336
IDD:area code +63(0)78
ISO 3166 code PH-ISA
Spoken languages

Isabela is the second largest province of the Philippines, and the largest on the island of Luzon in land area. Its capital is the city of Ilagan. Situated within the Cagayan Valley region, it is bordered by the provinces of Cagayan to the north, Kalinga to the northwest, Mountain Province to the central-west, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya to the southwest, Quirino to the south, Aurora to the south, and the Philippine Sea to 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.


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, where it remains up to present. It was initially called Isabela de Luzón to differentiate from other places in the Philippines bearing the name of Isabela. The new province was named after Queen Isabella II of Spain.[5]

Although the province did not play a major role in the revolt against Spain, it is in Palanan that the final pages of the Philippine Revolution were written when United States troops, led by General Frederick Funston, finally captured General Emilio Aguinaldo in the area on March 23, 1901. Isabela was re-organized as a province under the American military government through Act No. 210, passed August 24, 1901.[6]

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, Imperial Japanese occupied Isabela. In 1945, the 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.

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]

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 against partitioning the province.[9]

In 2012, the capital town of Ilagan officially became a city, after the move gained 96% of the votes in the plebiscite conducted in August 11, 2012.[10][11] The night after the plebiscite, Ilagan was declared as a component city of the province.[12]


Isabela comprises an aggregate land area of 12,414.93 square kilometres (4,793.43 sq mi)[13], 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 by land area. Occupying the central section of the Cagayan Valley region in Luzon, Isabela is bordered by Cagayan to the north, Kalinga to the northwest, Mountain Province to the central-west, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya to the southwest, Quirino to the south, and Aurora to the south. To the east lies the Philippine Sea, making Isabela one of the typhoon-prone provinces in the country.

View of the Sierra Madre from Cabagan

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 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.[14][15]

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 San Pablo near the border with Maconacon. Other notable peaks in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park is Mount Cresta in Divilacan with an elevation of 1,672 metres (5,486 ft).[16]

The western area is a fertile valley hemmed by the Central Cordillera. It is crisscrossed by the mighty Cagayan River, Siffu River, and Magat River.

Mallig Plains region

Mallig Plains Region is a region in the western section of the province. 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. The Plains covers the municipalities of Quezon, Mallig, Quirino, Burgos, Aurora, San Manuel and Roxas.

Administrative divisions

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.[13]

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 by land area.

  •    Provincial capital and component city
  •  ^  Independent component city
  •    Component city
  •      Municipality

City or municipality[A] District[13] Population ±% p.a. Area[13] Density Brgy. Coordinates[B]
(2015)[3] (2010)[17] km2 sq mi /km2 /sq mi
Alicia 3rd 4.5% 71,504 64,687 1.93% 154.10 59.50 460 1,200 34 16°46′44″N 121°41′57″E / 16.7789°N 121.6992°E / 16.7789; 121.6992 (Alicia)
Angadanan 3rd 2.7% 43,061 40,143 1.35% 204.40 78.92 210 540 59 16°45′24″N 121°44′53″E / 16.7568°N 121.7480°E / 16.7568; 121.7480 (Angadanan)
Aurora 2nd 2.2% 35,017 33,045 1.11% 115.56 44.62 300 780 33 16°59′26″N 121°38′21″E / 16.9906°N 121.6392°E / 16.9906; 121.6392 (Aurora)
Benito Soliven 2nd 1.9% 29,624 27,337 1.54% 184.40 71.20 160 410 29 16°59′05″N 121°57′41″E / 16.9847°N 121.9615°E / 16.9847; 121.9615 (Benito Soliven)
Burgos 2nd 1.5% 23,784 22,521 1.04% 73.10 28.22 330 850 14 17°04′05″N 121°41′37″E / 17.0680°N 121.6937°E / 17.0680; 121.6937 (Burgos)
Cabagan 1st 3.1% 50,174 45,732 1.78% 430.40 166.18 120 310 26 17°25′35″N 121°45′54″E / 17.4263°N 121.7649°E / 17.4263; 121.7649 (Cabagan)
Cabatuan 3rd 2.5% 39,413 37,299 1.06% 72.00 27.80 550 1,400 22 16°57′15″N 121°40′11″E / 16.9542°N 121.6698°E / 16.9542; 121.6698 (Cabatuan)
Cauayan[1] 3rd 8.1% 129,523 122,335 1.09% 336.40 129.88 390 1,000 65 16°56′03″N 121°46′00″E / 16.9343°N 121.7666°E / 16.9343; 121.7666 (Cauayan)
Cordon 4th 2.7% 42,926 40,877 0.94% 144.00 55.60 300 780 26 16°40′26″N 121°27′58″E / 16.6739°N 121.4662°E / 16.6739; 121.4662 (Cordon)
Delfin Albano (Magsaysay) 1st 1.7% 26,614 25,422 0.88% 189.00 72.97 140 360 29 17°18′16″N 121°46′44″E / 17.3044°N 121.7788°E / 17.3044; 121.7788 (Delfin Albano)
Dinapigue 4th 0.3% 5,005 5,484 −1.73% 574.40 221.78 8.7 23 6 16°31′29″N 122°15′47″E / 16.5248°N 122.2631°E / 16.5248; 122.2631 (Dinapigue)
Divilacan 1st 0.4% 5,687 5,034 2.35% 889.49 343.43 6.4 17 12 17°19′47″N 122°17′46″E / 17.3297°N 122.2961°E / 17.3297; 122.2961 (Divilacan)
Echague 4th 5.0% 79,094 74,680 1.10% 680.80 262.86 120 310 64 16°43′00″N 121°41′00″E / 16.7168°N 121.6832°E / 16.7168; 121.6832 (Echague)
Gamu 2nd 1.9% 29,904 28,657 0.81% 129.40 49.96 230 600 16 17°02′50″N 121°50′00″E / 17.0472°N 121.8333°E / 17.0472; 121.8333 (Gamu)
Ilagan[2] 1st 9.1% 145,568 135,174 1.42% 1,166.26 450.30 120 310 91 17°08′39″N 121°53′20″E / 17.1442°N 121.8889°E / 17.1442; 121.8889 (Ilagan)
Jones 4th 2.9% 45,666 44,218 0.62% 670.14 258.74 68 180 42 16°33′33″N 121°42′13″E / 16.5593°N 121.7036°E / 16.5593; 121.7036 (Jones)
Luna 3rd 1.2% 19,326 18,091 1.27% 45.70 17.64 420 1,100 19 16°58′06″N 121°43′45″E / 16.9683°N 121.7293°E / 16.9683; 121.7293 (Luna)
Maconacon 1st 0.3% 4,253 3,615 3.14% 538.66 207.98 7.9 20 10 17°23′21″N 122°14′23″E / 17.3893°N 122.2398°E / 17.3893; 122.2398 (Maconacon)
Mallig 2nd 1.9% 30,459 28,345 1.38% 133.40 51.51 230 600 18 17°12′41″N 121°36′40″E / 17.2114°N 121.6112°E / 17.2114; 121.6112 (Mallig)
Naguilian 2nd 2.0% 31,902 29,491 1.51% 169.81 65.56 190 490 25 17°01′23″N 121°50′06″E / 17.0231°N 121.8350°E / 17.0231; 121.8350 (Naguilian)
Palanan 1st 1.1% 17,260 16,094 1.34% 880.24 339.86 20 52 17 17°03′46″N 122°25′45″E / 17.0628°N 122.4292°E / 17.0628; 122.4292 (Palanan)
Quezon 2nd 1.6% 25,860 24,522 1.02% 189.90 73.32 140 360 15 17°18′41″N 121°36′21″E / 17.3114°N 121.6059°E / 17.3114; 121.6059 (Quezon)
Quirino 2nd 1.5% 24,501 22,285 1.82% 126.20 48.73 190 490 21 17°09′10″N 121°45′19″E / 17.1529°N 121.7554°E / 17.1529; 121.7554 (Quirino)
Ramon 4th 3.3% 52,707 49,812 1.08% 135.17 52.19 390 1,000 19 16°46′53″N 121°32′06″E / 16.7815°N 121.5351°E / 16.7815; 121.5351 (Ramon)
Reina Mercedes 3rd 1.7% 26,998 23,497 2.68% 57.14 22.06 470 1,200 20 16°59′15″N 121°49′07″E / 16.9875°N 121.8186°E / 16.9875; 121.8186 (Reina Mercedes)
Roxas 2nd 3.9% 61,773 57,699 1.31% 184.80 71.35 330 850 26 17°07′18″N 121°37′11″E / 17.1218°N 121.6198°E / 17.1218; 121.6198 (Roxas)
San Agustin 4th 1.4% 22,880 21,797 0.93% 278.40 107.49 82 210 23 16°30′24″N 121°44′51″E / 16.5067°N 121.7474°E / 16.5067; 121.7474 (San Agustin)
San Guillermo 3rd 1.3% 20,200 18,423 1.77% 325.49 125.67 62 160 26 16°43′11″N 121°48′31″E / 16.7198°N 121.8087°E / 16.7198; 121.8087 (San Guillermo)
San Isidro 4th 1.6% 24,861 22,758 1.70% 71.90 27.76 350 910 13 16°44′03″N 121°38′01″E / 16.7343°N 121.6337°E / 16.7343; 121.6337 (San Isidro)
San Manuel (Callang) 2nd 2.0% 31,896 30,407 0.91% 112.77 43.54 280 730 19 17°01′20″N 121°37′54″E / 17.0223°N 121.6318°E / 17.0223; 121.6318 (San Manuel)
San Mariano 2nd 3.5% 55,370 51,438 1.41% 1,469.50 567.38 38 98 36 16°59′01″N 122°00′46″E / 16.9835°N 122.0127°E / 16.9835; 122.0127 (San Mariano)
San Mateo 3rd 4.0% 64,505 60,792 1.14% 120.60 46.56 530 1,400 33 16°52′52″N 121°35′16″E / 16.8812°N 121.5878°E / 16.8812; 121.5878 (San Mateo)
San Pablo 1st 1.6% 25,384 22,040 2.73% 637.90 246.29 40 100 17 17°26′54″N 121°47′43″E / 17.4483°N 121.7952°E / 17.4483; 121.7952 (San Pablo)
Santa Maria 1st 1.6% 25,382 22,939 1.95% 140.00 54.05 180 470 20 17°28′17″N 121°45′09″E / 17.4713°N 121.7524°E / 17.4713; 121.7524 (Santa Maria)
Santiago[3] ^ 4th 8.5% 134,830 132,804 0.29% 255.50 98.65 530 1,400 37 16°41′15″N 121°32′41″E / 16.6875°N 121.5446°E / 16.6875; 121.5446 (Santiago)
Santo Tomas 1st 1.4% 23,005 21,688 1.13% 60.70 23.44 380 980 27 17°23′59″N 121°45′57″E / 17.3998°N 121.7658°E / 17.3998; 121.7658 (Santo Tomas)
Tumauini 1st 4.2% 67,650 58,463 2.82% 467.30 180.43 140 360 46 17°16′26″N 121°48′35″E / 17.2739°N 121.8098°E / 17.2739; 121.8098 (Tumauini)
Total[C] 1,593,566 1,489,645 1.29% 12,414.93 4,793.43 130 340 1,055 (see GeoGroup box)
  1. ^ Former names are italicized.
  2. ^ Coordinates mark the city/town center, and are sortable by latitude.
  3. ^ Total figures include the independent component city of Santiago.

  • 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][19]
  • 3 Became an independent component city on July 6, 1994 under Republic Act 7720.


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.[17]

Further information: List of barangays in Isabela



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 final term since 2010.


Population census of
YearPop.±% p.a.
1990 1,080,341    
1995 1,160,721+1.35%
2000 1,287,575+2.25%
2007 1,401,495+1.18%
2010 1,489,645+2.24%
2015 1,593,566+1.29%
Source: National Statistics Office[3][17][17]

The population of Isabela in the 2015 census was 1,593,566 people,[3] making it the most populated province among the five provinces in Cagayan Valley (Region II). It had a density of 130 inhabitants per square kilometre or 340 inhabitants per square mile.

In 2010, Isabela had a population of 1,489,645 people: 46 percent of the 3.2 million people in the region at that time. 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.

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.

Ilokano are the most prominent group in the province. Of the total household population, 68.71 percent classified themselves as Ilokanos, followed by 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.

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


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, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Seventh-day Adventist, other Charismatic Christians and Jehovah's Witnesses. There are also small number of Muslims.


In terms of income classification, Isabela 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.

Trade and industry

Ilagan, capital of Isabela

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.

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, 172 banking branches operate in the province, with most of the commercial banks providing automated teller machines for the convenience of their clients.

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.

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.

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.

Retail giants SM and Robinsons have set up shops in the cities of Ilagan, Cauayan 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, Ilagan City and Tumauini) owned and operated by homegrown investors. Fast food chains such as Jollibee, McDonalds, Greenwich, Chowking, Mang Inasal, KFC, Shakey's, Classic Savory, Kuya J, Kenny Rogers Roasters, 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, Roxas and Tumauini while San Miguel Pure Foods Company, Inc. have managed set up their field offices and plant in Santiago City, Reina Mercedes and Echague, respectively.

In 2014, two of the country's dominant players in the retail industry, SM Prime and Robinsons Land opened its pioneer malls in the region, the first SM Supermall in the province, the SM City Cauayan which opened in May 30, 2014 in Cauayan City and Robinsons Place Santiago which opened earlier in February 19, 2014[20] in Santiago City, respectively. Robinsons Land is also set to launch its second mall in the province which will be in Cauayan City.

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.

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.

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

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 and Lumina Isabela in Cauayan City.

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.[21]


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.[22] 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.


Forests in Palanan

Forestland covers 54.37% or 579,819 hectares (1,432,760 acres) 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's coast in Divilacan

Isabela has a fertile fishing ground on the Pacific Coast. The Magat Dam reservoir is utilized for fish cage operations for tilapia production for domestic markets. Another thriving industry in the province 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.

Mineral and energy

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.


Solar and biomass power plants in the city of Cauayan and in the town of Alicia have started operating in 2015 to supplement the region’s high energy demand.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

Officials of the National Irrigation Administration — Magat 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.

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.


A road in Ramon

Isabela is accessible by all means of transportation. Almost 180-kilometers of the Pan-Philippine Highway pass through the different towns and cities of the province. Several bus companies offer daily trips to different routes like Manila, Dagupan, Baguio and Ilocos vice versa. Public utility vans and small-time bus operators ply daily trips from Tuguegarao in Cagayan to Santiago City vice versa, while jeepneys and tricycles are commonly used as the basic mode of transportation within the province's jurisdiction.

Ilagan-Divilacan Road

The construction of an 82-kilometer road through the protected Sierra Madre mountains is on-going to open access to three coastal towns of the province, despite opposition from environmentalists and leaders of the Catholic Church in the province. The P2.28-billion project will pass through the foothills of the 359,486-hectare Northern Sierra Madre mountain ranges and will take three years to complete. The project will improve an old logging road used by the defunct Acme Logging Corp. until the 1990s. It will start in Barangay Sindon Bayabo in the capital city of Ilagan and will end in Barangay Dicatian in the coastal town of Divilacan.

Travel to the coastal towns of Divilacan, Palanan and Maconacon is often made by boat or by plane. There are no roads that links the capital city of Ilagan to the coastal areas, depriving villagers of basic necessities and social services, such as health. Only light planes and boats are the available modes of transportation there, making it difficult to reach the coastal towns in times of emergencies and calamities. Once completed, the road project is expected to boost the economies of the coastal areas, citing Divilacan’s 119-hectares beach and freshwater areas that have lured tourists. The Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) issued Resolution No. 11, which reclassifies portions of the Sierra Madre as a special-use zone. The Agta and Dumagat in the area have also signed a memorandum of agreement with the provincial government, expressing their consent to the road project. At least 1,800 Agta and Dumagat have been staying in the park areas. But the impact of the road on the protected forest has alarmed the leaders of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ilagan, who feared that the project may damage its forests and ecosystems. Even a former climate change advocate has urged provincial officials to put up safeguards and ensure that the Sierra Madre will be protected while the road is being built. The project was delayed in the recent years due to concerns about the road’s potential impact on the environment. The Cagayan Valley Regional Development Council required the project’s proponents to study the full impact of the road on the area’s biodiversity.

Airports and sea ports

See also: Cauayan Airport

There are three airports in the province. The Cauayan Airport is the primary airport in the province serving a trip to Manila, Palanan, and Maconacon. 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.


Isabela is one of the primary centers of education in the Cagayan Valley Region. There are several public and private educational institutions, the most notable being the Isabela State University, a government-owned and controlled public university. Its main campus is located in Echague and satellite campuses in Cauayan City, Ilagan City, Angadanan, Cabagan, Jones, Palanan (extension), Roxas, San Mariano, San Mateo and Santiago City (extension).

Colleges and universities

Among the most notable higher educational institutions found in the province of Isabela are the following:

  • Cagayan Valley Computer and Information Technology College Inc.
  • East Asia International System College
  • International Technological Institute of Arts and Tourism
  • Isabela College of Arts and Technology (Marine School)
  • Mallig Plains Colleges
  • National Police College Regional Training School
  • Northeastern College
  • Northeast Luzon Adventist College
  • Our Lady of the Pillar College — Cauayan Campus
  • Our Lady of the Pillar College — San Manuel Campus
  • Patria Sable Corpuz College
  • Philippine Normal University — Alicia, Isabela Campus
  • Saint Clare College of Region 2
  • Saint Ferdinand College — Cabagan Campus
  • Saint Ferdinand College — Ilagan (Main Campus)
  • Santiago City Colleges
  • Santiago City Polytechnic College
  • STI Cauayan, Ilagan, and Santiago Campus
  • Technical Education and Skills Development Authority
  • University of La Salette
  • University of Perpetual Help System — Isabela Campus


Since the early 2000s, 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, Burgos, 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 Fuyot 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.

Places of interest

Churches in Isabela
San Pablo de Cabigan Church Ruins
San Pablo de Cabigan Church Ruins in San Pablo that was started in 1735
The Church of Saint Rose of Lima
The Church of Saint Rose of Lima in Gamu
Tumauini Church
The St. Mathias Parish Church in Tumauini with its wedding cake-style bell tower
Our Lady of Atocha Church
Our Lady of Atocha Church in Alicia
Our Lady of the Pillar Church
Our Lady of the Pillar Church in Cauayan
Saint Ferdinand Parish Church
Belltower of Saint Ferdinand Parish Church in Ilagan City


Notable residents


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Further reading

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