Through the open windows of the regular provincial bus we took from Laoag City; the province of Ilocos, together with the houses getting lesser by the minute, and the landscape getting into full view, very much came alive before our own eyes. Though the 40-seater bus, filled with rowdy engagements, and even the fervent clucking of roosters echoing all over the crammed-up space full of locals all bound for several towns before Pagudpud, the almost two-hour trip was all worth it.
Southbound, Here We Come!
“Agyamanak, Manong!” yelled the old lady who alighted somewhere nearing the town of Burgos, then there I was, at the back row of the bus, sweating profusely, goosebumps all over, caused by all the food I ate hours prior to the trip. I immediately went down the passenger bus on halt, almost leaving my friend behind.
Then the story went on, we asked the lady from the sari-sari store beside the provincial highway if the town of Pagudpud is somehow near, and told us that we should just wait for the next bus that leaves every 30 minutes from Laoag. It was around 4:00pm when we hopped at the passing bus that almost missed us, and after half an hour again through the winding roads leading to the northernmost tip of Luzon, we dropped-off at the intersection at the town going to Saud. It is also where, Kuya Vhong, our tricycle tour guide whom we made arrangements prior to the trip, was already there waiting for us.
For backpackers and budgetarians, hotels are rarely out of the budget, so we chose to stay overnight at Saud where several homestays are up for grabs. Nanay Rolly, whom we also contacted prior to the trip already prepared our fan room for the night. Usual rates starts at 250php per night/person, and 400-500php/person for the airconditioned ones. The whole places feels much like home, owing for the single bungalow type house like the typical ones in the province. Upon arrival we immediately settled down and prepared for dinner after a little chat with Nanay Rolly and her husband. We had dinner at the nearest eatery and made friends with a solo backpacker from Palawan who asked if he can join us the following day.
The following morning, our tour guide was already waiting for us outside and we immediately started the tour by 8:00am. Usually, the Pagudpud Tour is divided into two, the Southbound and Northbound both pegged at 600php/trip. We chose to start venturing down its southern territories.
Renewable Energy? I’m a Big Fan!
Pagudpud is a fourth class municipality located at the northernmost tip of the island of Luzon. Perennial visitors are drawn by the alluring ivory beaches and natural land and seascapes of this coastal town, that some of its beaches gained the moniker “Boracay of the North”. From our homestay we travelled down south to the municipality of Bangui, 21 kilometers from Saud, where the famous Bangui Wind Farm is located.
Bangui Wind Farm has been the icon of Ilocos Region and all throughout Asia. The turbines are arranged in a single row stretching across the nine-kilometer Bangui Bay facing the West Philippine Sea. Each generating 1.65Mega Watts, this 70 meter high V82 Vestas Wind Turbines, is also composed of a three rotor blades spanning a total of 41meters.
Their total peak capacity, with all the 20 turbines in operation, generates 32 Mega Watts of power and energizes much of Ilocos Norte combined with the several wind farms commissioned in the region. To promote clean and renewable energy, the North Wind Project spearheaded by the local government of Ilocos, was initiated during the 1990’s and was finished by August 2008. Although not for tourism purposes, their aesthetic quality became a major draw for tourists all over the globe.
Waves are strong across the shore, so is the streamlining winds, that I have no idea if swimming around this pebble beach is regarded as safe given the fact that the shelf starts somewhere near so water depth will eventually get really deep at some parts. Refreshments and souvenirs are sold at the huts near the turbines and make sure to buy atleast a piece of anything to help the locals make a living out of tourism activities.
After half an hour we left for the town of Burgos to visit the much celebrated rock formations of Ilocos. From the intersection of Burgos, tour guides and their tricycles are not allowed so we had to transfer to another one wherein they charge 300php/roundtrip.
The once off the beaten path leading to Kapurpurawan now became a paved road due to the commissioning of another plant called the Burgos Wind Farm.
Aside from Bangui, there is also Burgos with their Wind Turbines sitting atop the craggy hills facing the West Philippine Sea. Being the second wind farm after Bangui in the country and the others in Rizal, Mindoro, Guimaras, Aklan et al. It features 50 units of V90 Vestas 3 Mega Watt Wind Turbine and produces energy as large as a whopping 150 Mega Watts per day, 5 times larger than that of Bangui! Why am I telling you this? Because you have to be very much aware how much electricity is produced by this rotating giants compared to the same capacity coupled with the pollution and waste produced by coal plants and the likes just to charge our phones and power up our appliances and airconditioning units. So, be a big fan of these big fans for clean and renewable energy.
The largest in South East Asia, it covers 600 hectares of land and takes up spaces from Barangays of Saoit, Poblacion and Nagsurot, it also houses a Solar Farm inside the facility.
Upon arrival at the jump-off point, which is 45 kilometers from Laoag City, and 10 minutes from the highway, several huts lined up the area ranging from souvenir shops to eateries. The salty and crisp sea breeze bellowed from where we were standing and invited us to witness the rocks upclose and personal. From the huts the actual kapurpurawan formation will require you to trek for 5 to 15 minutes before reaching it. There are also horses for rent available in the area.
The sun was all up from its slumber and a little searing than the usual as we trek a little with the whole sea in full view.
Then from where I am standing, panting a little, the picturesque rock formation came into full view.
A result of thousands, if not, millions of years of ocean movement, harsh weather conditions and carved by the howling winds streamlining the stones into quite a work of art, this peculiar rocks are no doubt, a feast for the eyes, and one of the attractions you shouldn’t miss on your next Ilocandia trip.
“Puraw” in Ilocano dialect means “white”, that is where the term Kapurpurawan came from, owing to its really white to cream colored appearance.
Then we got back to the huts to have our breakfast, Pansit with pork toppings and Ilocos Empanada!
We got back to the junction of Burgos and drove 20mins and 17 kilometers farther to the Barangay of Bannawag and reached the Faro De Cabo Bojeador or Cape Bojeador Light House by 11:00am.
Finished by 1887, it stands 160 meters atop the Vigia De Nagparitan Hill, the spanish lighthouse faces the West Philippine Sea and was designed by Magin Pers and was commissioned by Servicio De Faros headed by Engr. Guillermo Brockman.
The lighthouse was designed to guide seafarers during the late spanish colonization era as a station point for ships veering towards the Pacific coast crossing the Babuyan Channel towards China, Japan and Hongkong. It likewise assists ships heading south towards the port of Saomangue in Ilocos Sur and Currimao in Ilocos Norte.
Leaving each visitor breathless with the sundry topography and the sea in unison. This Spanish lighthouse is still in use up to the present day and was declared as a National Cultural Treasure on June 20, 2005.
This is part of Spain’s masterplan for lighting the maritime coasts of the Philippine archipelago as the construction frenzy started with the country opening up to a wider network and international access began as the galleon trade of Manila-Acapulco ceased.
Then we continued on up to the next part of adventure, next stop: Northbound!
Third part of our Ilocos Norte adventure here:
The Great Amianan, Northbound – Ilocos Norte (Part III)
How To Get There:
● By land, take any bus bound for Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte (GV Florida Transport), or alternately, take any Laoag, Ilocos Norte bound bus (GV Florida Transport, Partas Bus, Dominion Bus Lines, Fariñas Transit) then hop on to another bus bound for Pagudpud and alight at Burgos Junction.(700-800php, 10-12hrs travel time)
● By Air, take any flight bound for Laoag City Airport via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines, and from Laoag, Ilocos Norte hop on to another bus bound for Pagudpud (45mins flight time + 1hr+ land travel)
● Once in Pagudpud, there are several accredited tricycle tours that can take you on a Southbound Tour (Pagudpud Town, Saud Beach, Bangui and Burgos Wind Farm, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse) and the Northbound Tour (Kabigan Falls, Patapat Viaduct, Bantay Abot Cave, Timangtang Rock, Blue Lagoon and Dos Hermanos Islets). Each tour costs 600php/trip and can accommodate 3 people each tricyle.
Where To Stay:
● There are several homestays to choose from at Saud, the one in which we stayed overnight is at Allen’s Homestay located in Brgy. Saud, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
– Owned by Mrs. Rorily De Guzman (09102898217/09127470765). Room rates starts at 500php/ Fan Room, 800php/ Airconditioned Room and can accomodate 2-3 people.
● Polaris Beach Resort, Brgy. Saud, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
● Hannah’s Beach Resort
BUDGET AND ITINERARY
Ilocos Norte-Ilocos Sur 2D1N DIY Adventure
2000 – Cubao, Take Partas Bus Bound for Vigan, Ilocos Sur (625php/pax)
0500 – Arrival at Vigan (Breakfast own account)
0530 – Start walking tour
●Simbaan A Bassit
●Plaza Burgos and Plaza Salcedo
●Ilocos Sur Provincial Capitol
●Bantay Bell Tower (Hail a tricycle to take you to Bantay, 30php/trip)
0815 – Take Tricycle to Partas Bus Terminal (40php/trip)
830 ETD to Batac, Ilocos Norte via Partas Bus (105php)
0945 Alight at Batac Junction, Start tour (300 each(2pax)/ 600php good for 3 pax)
●Marcos Presidential Center and Mausoleum (50php/per pax)
●Malacañang Ti Amianan (20php/pax)
*you can add Suba Paoay Sand Dunes if you are traveling by group, 2500php for an hour of 4×4 ride and sand surfing
1300 Laoag City, visit Sinking Bell Tower, Ilocos Norte Museum and Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol, take lunch
1430 Depart for Pagudpud, Bus Terminal is at the back of Provincial Capitol (90php/pax)
1630 – Arrival at Pagudpud, take tricycle to Aling Rollie’s Homestay (tricycle free of charge to and fro the bus terminal, if you are availing his tour services)
1650 – Arrival at Homestay (500php/overnight/fan room/good for 2-3persons, Aircon Room starts at 800php)
0700 – Wake up, breakfast
0800 – Start South bound tour (600php, 200php/pax if group of 3)
0830 – Bangui Wind Farm
0930 – Arrival at Burgos Junction, transfer to another tricycle (100php/each, 300php/trip)
0945 – Kapurpurawan Rock Formation and Burgos Wind Farm (15php/pax, Entrance Fee)
1100 – Cape Bojeador Light House
1145 – Start North bound Tour (600php, 200php/pax if group of 3)
1300 – Arrival at Kabigan falls (Guide Fee: 300php, Entrance Fee: 10php)
1430 – End of Waterfall trek
1445 – Lunch
1530 – Patapat Viaduct
1600 – Timangtang Rock Formation
1615 – Bantay Abot Cave
1645 – Pagudpud Blue Lagoon
1730 – Saud beach
1800 – Back at Homestay, Tidy up
1830 – Tricycle to Bus Terminal, Buy Vigan Longganisa at Aling Maricel’s House 250php/Kilo
1900 – Florida Deluxe Bus (700php/pax)
0500 – Manila
TOTAL DAMAGE: 2815php/pax excluding food
My total expenses (with food and souvenirs): 3500php
Go, Carve That Niche
There are far better things ahead than the ones we leave behind.
– C.S. Lewis