Uncharted Territories – Abra (Part II)

Often an overlooked destination and a blank canvass on the tourist map, the province of Abra for the longest time is still managing its way to become one of the next up and coming destinations in the country. With its location and being relatively near the top tourist destinations in the Northern Luzon, shadowed by the great Ilocandia and the mighty Cordilleras, only a few eager and brave travelers and backpackers alike have set foot into this intriguing province. 

After setting foot at some of the far flung municipalities in Abra, I continued my journey back to the provincial center, Bangued, with persistent hopes of proving that the province is far from what the local media claims it to be.

Dayum, Tayum!

I felt a jolt of sudden relief as paved roads welcomed us again at the municipality of San Juan. With the long ride covering almost two thirds of the distance down to Bangued, we stopped over at Kuya Minic’s house to rest for a little while. Then after some good fifteen minutes we strolled a little until we reached Tayum. 

Tayum, located just four kilometers north of Bangued, is one of the places you shouldn’t miss on your next visit to Abra. We were welcomed by a quaint town center with many surviving bahay-na-bato ancestral houses (Filipino style houses with lower portions made with bricks and adobe while the second storey is made up of local wood). We then turned left to visit one of the impressive churches in the province. 

Tayum Church or the St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish Church is declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines. This Spanish Baroque style church was built during the Spanish colonialization and boasts of a facade a little similar to the Earthquake-Baroque style churches in the Ilocos Region. 

I noticed that some of the details aside from the brick clad sidewalls supported by buttresses and fluorishing vines lining the upper portions, are the designs that somewhat suggests influences from the Filipino culture for the presence of “Palayok” or clay pots atop the pillars.

Another interesting sight is the little scale model of the church beside the rectory grounds, smallest church in the country eh?

 A few blocks away along the Teodoro Balmaceda Street  is where the former headquarters of Gabriela Silang is located, known today as the Gabriela Cariño Silang Gallery of Fine Arts.

The estranged wife of one of the great leaders of Ilocos resistance, Diego Silang, Gabriela made a name for herself and retaliated against the spanish forces after his husband got treacherously killed in 1763. She was called as the “Joan of Arc of the Ilocandia” for being the first female leader of a Filipino movement for independence against Spain. This is where she stayed prior to her attacks continuing the Ilocos Revolt after assigning two locals as generals namely Miguel Flores and Tagabuen Infiel.

Unfortunately, there was no one around that day and I was not able to take a look at what’s inside so I just peeked from the alightly ajar front door. But it is said that it contains an impressive collection of paintings, books, artifacts and documents collected around the world by the retired ambassador, Rosario Cariño. Some notable and prized pieces were paintings by Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo, Pablo Picasso, Domenico Ghirlandaioto, and Pierre Auguste Renoir. 

Bridging Gaps 

After a worthy visit in Tayum, we further travelled down to Bangued but passed by some fascinating bridges along the way. First was the Don Mariano Marcos Bridge, located along the Abra-Kalinga Road and connects the towns of Tayum and Dolores, and is the third longest bridge in the country. Make sure to stop by and appreciate the view. 

We arrived in Bangued by lunchtime and had a quick stop at Nanay Binang’s that serves authentic Ilocano and Abrenian cuisines cooked in traditional way. We had good servings of Dinardaraan, Ginisang Munggo, and Dinakdakan. It is one of the most visited eatery in Bangued. 

Then we met Ms. Dykath somewhere in Calaba and transferred to a private vehicle since they insisted on taking me to the “Little Baguio of Abra” and who am I to resist such offer. This was by far the best and hospitable tourism office experience I ever had. Then the next bridge came into view, the Calaba Bridge.

Spanning over the mighty Abra River, which is one of the largest river systems in the Pjilippines. It is a major infrastructure project at a total length of 900 meters that connects Bangued to the town of La Paz. During dry seasons, Nipa Huts are present under the bridge and swimming is allowed to beat the stifling summer heat. 

We also happen to pass by the municipality of La Paz where it is famous for the Bulbulala Loom Weaving Village, eight kilometers northwest of Bangued. This place is unique since the sustainability of the craft is still continuous since old and young generations alike are into the trade.

Another 40 kilometers northwest of Bangued, and around 2:00pm we arrived in Nagaparan, a community in the Municipality of Danglas, is located along the Abra-Ilocos Norte road. From afar, we caught a glimpse of the black mountain named Mt. Sedir and noticeable are the presence of pine trees around the mountain ridges due to the elevation gain to reach the area. 

Mountains and more impressive ridges awaited us that looks a lot similar to those in Tineg. Then we travelled back to Bangued and made sure to stop over again at Calaba Bridge!

Bangued, Abra

Abra was said to be a thriving community engaged in agriculture and trade even since the Spaniards came. There were evidences of pre-colonial trades include the excavation of antique porcelain jars and gongs in Bangued. And in the year 1898, Augustinian Friars established Abra as the provincial capital.

After a long drive down from Danglas, they showed me the tourism homestay in case I visit again, and room price ranges from 300php-600php per night per person. It is also where I washed off as my day almost comes to a close. 

Then for the last leg of the tour, Kuya Minic took me to Bangued’s favorite park, the Victoria Park. It is also known as the Cassamata Hill National Park, from the main road it is accessible through a 15 minute ascend on paved concrete road leading to the top of the hill or a 5minute tricycle ride. 

This is where some of the provincial events are held and where you can enjoy the stunning view of the whole downtown Abra. This is also where you can see the surrounding mountain ranges and take a glimpse of Mt. Bullagao, also known as the Sleeping Beauty for its resemblance of a woman in her sleep.

Tha park also has a shrine for the Blessed Mother and Infant Jesus and an amphitheater for several events.

From Victoria Park, I bid goodbye to Kuya Minic and for showing me what Abra has in store for me for the whole day and paid 1500php for the whole tour. Might sound costly for some but Tineg is really far, and travelling with a local is the most safest way of exploring a destination. 

Five minutes from the Park is where the Provincial Capitol and Municipal Hall is located. Then at the other end of the park is where the Bangued Cathedral is located.

Known also as the Cathedral of St. James the Great, this churchbhas survived several eras, from the Japanese occupation and the adjacent Colegio del Sagrado Corazon used as military hospital and is now called the St. James the Elder Parish Rectory, up to the bombing of American Warplanes in 1945, the church has stood the test of time and was declared as cathedral in 1955.

 The place is very much alive, a typical day at the busy intersection, students walking around the park after class, fast food chains in their usual chaos, tricycles in their usual waiting lines. Everything in Abra is very much the same as every town center in the country is. I was all alone but I never felt frightened or threatened from what I have experienced the whole day. 

Truly awesome, a day spent in Abra is worth the long travel, but there is still far more awesome attractions like the numerous waterfalls such as those in Kili and Kaparkan, mountains to climb like that of Mts. Bullagao, Sedir and Poswey, Springs to take a dip like that of in Lusuac, spanning rice terraces to marvel at, river systems and rock formations. There is truly more to Abra than the negative notions set by the local media that is waiting to be rediscovered.

One thing’s for sure, this place is truly, #ABRAMAZING!


How To Get There:

● In Metro Manila, there are three bus companies plying the Manila/Cubao/Pasay to Bangued route, namely Partas Bus Company, Viron Transit, and Dominion Bus Lines, Fares start at 650php for the Regular Airconditioned Bus, and 800php for the Deluxe Bus. (Travel time: 7-10hrs)

● For those travelling with private vehicles, Bangued is 408 kilometers from Manila. Passing through NLEX-SCTEX-TPLEX and the Manila North Road, then turn left at the Abra-Ilocos Sur road which is 4 kilometers past the town of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, head past the Tangadan Tunnel until you reach Bangued. (Travel time: 7-8hrs)

● Other entry and exit points are the Abra-Kalinga Road in the east, which passes through the town of Malibcong, Abra to Balbalan, Kalinga. There is also the Abra-Ilocos Norte Road that passes through the town of Danglas, Abra to Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte. Public Transportations along these roads are still not available.

● Once in Bangued, destinations within the city are accessible through tricycles which is its main mode of transportation. It can take you within the town and its adjacent municipalities. Minimum fare starts at 10php. Jeepneys are also stationed in Bangued but their schedules are based on the Alas-Puno-Bago-Umalis schedule or it will wait to be filled up with passengers before it leaves, so if planning to go farther, contact the tourism office to arrange your service vehicles.

● You can contact their local tourism officer, Ms. Dykath Molina at 09277725856.

Where To Stay:

■ Abrassi Hotel – Poblacion, Tayum

■ Origines Hotel and Restaurant/ Abra Valley Grand Hotel, Hollandia Homestay- Calaba, Bangued

■ Oval Era Hotel/ Adtemco Hotel – Zone V, Bangued

■ Terrence Hill Resort – Poblacion, Bucay

■ Abra Tourism Homestay – Calaba, Bangued


Itinerary and Expenses

Abra Day Trip

Day 0

2200 Partas Bus Terminal, Cubao (Deluxe Bus, 800php)

Day 01
0445  Arrival at Bangued
0530  Meet Tourism Coordinator, Dykath Molina
0540  Breakfast at Acosta Panciteria
0600  Start motorcycle tour
0730  Arrival at Apao Rolling Hills, Tineg
0800  Salakop River, Brgy. Alaoa, Vira, Tineg
0810  Piwek Rock Formation
0830  Traverse to Ambang Camouflage Rocks via Mt. Aliwatey
0915  Arrival at Ambang Rocks
0930  Ascend back
0945  Piwek cliff dive spot,
1000  Descend back to Brgy. Alaoa (200php guide fee, 100php raft fee)
1015  Brgy Alaoa, travel back to Bangued
1120  Stop Over at Brgy. Dolores
1130  Tayum Church, Gabriela Silang Gallery
1150  Resume trip back to Bangued
1200  Don Mariano Marcos Bridge
1215  Arrival at Bangued, lunch at Nanay Binang’s
1300  Resume, San Lorenzo Ruiz Church

1415  Little Baguio, Brgy. Nagaparan, Danglas

1450  Calaba Bridge
1500  Back at Bangued, wash up
1530  Bangued Plaza, Municipal Hall, Provincial Hall, Bangued Cathedral, Cassamata Hill National Parj
1600  End tour (1500php tour fee)
1930  Depart for Manila (655php)

Day 02

0330 – Arrival at Cubao

Total Damage for Solo Trip: 3200php + Food

Go, Carve That Niche,

Rex

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things — air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky — all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese


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Uncharted Territories – Abra (Part I)

Often an overlooked destination and a blank canvass on the tourist map, the province of Abra for the longest time is still managing its way to become one of the next up and coming destinations in the country. With its location and being relatively near the top tourist destinations in the Northern Luzon, shadowed by the great Ilocandia and the mighty Cordilleras, only a few eager and brave travelers and backpackers alike have set foot into this intriguing province.

Downtown Abra and the sleeping beauty that is Mt. Bullagao from afar.

The province hid from the call of tourism mostly because of the negative notions set by the local media tagging Abra’s publicity as unsafe and dreaded. Primarily due to political rivalry and being an election hotspot, many reports of deaths and abductions have loomed the local scene and kept the people from visiting the area. But it is time to change our perspectives regarding this matter, in retrospect, there is much more to Abra than the fear inducing news and negative publicity.

Prior to my trip, I knew very little about Abra and what it actually has to offer. I was plainly curious for what’s in store for me inside this landlocked region. Only fueled by photos from social media as one word got out of its amazing destinations, I told myself that I should set foot on this province, but this time, solo. 

Landlocked Wonders

Abra is part of the Cordillera Administrative Region, this landlocked province is bordered by Ilocos Norte on the northwest, Apayao on the northeast, Kalinga on the east, Mountain Province on the southeast, and Ilocos Sur on the southeast. It is said that the original inhabitants of the province are the Ifugaos and the Bontocs but eventually they moved farther up and left the place to the Tingguian Tribes.

From Manila I took an overnight Deluxe Partas Bus going straight to Bangued, Abra and cost me 800php, I failed to catch the 7:00pm regular bus trip but all is well since the seats inside the bus are incredibly comfortable and can be reclined totally. I slept all throughout the trip and woke up when we had our stopover at Candon City, Ilocos Sur, it was way faster than I expected. Most of the provinces in the country will greet you with a welcome arch, but not here in Abra, wherein a tunnel serves such purpose. Tangadan Tunnel is a 40-meter tunnel situated along the Abra-Ilocos Sur National Road.

Fifteen minutes before 5:00 in the morning, and after six hours and forty five minutes of land travel, I have finally set foot in Abra!

Ms. Dykath Molina, a tourism coordinator of Abra whom I made contact prior to the trip met me up in the wee hours of the morning just to accomodate me and even treated me to the Acosta Pansitan’s Abrenian Pancit Miki. Way to go!

Sunrise over the mountains of Kalinga

At exactly six in the morning, my habal-habal guide Kuya Minic was already waiting for me and so we started the whole tour. The natural tourist destinations are basically raw, majority of the roads past Dolores and Tayum are not passable to all types of vehicles that only off-road capable conveyances can pass through this dirt roads. Public transportations in the form of Monster Jeepneys only plies several routes once a day only so going into this places are rather costly and likewise advisable to groups or if renting a motorcyle.

The Rolling Hills of Apao

50+ kilometers northwest of Bangued, we ventured down to Tineg, Abra to reach one of its natural landscapes that has circulated throughout social media after the Kaparkan Spring Terraces, that is the Apao Rolling Hills. Too bad, the waterfall is only open during the rainy season (August to December) since during summer months no water trickles down the terraces of enchanting white rocks. 

Then we also passed by San Juan and their imposing golden lion statues along the road and its beautiful municipal hall.

Municipal Hall of San Juan, Abra

The way going to Tineg was not an easy one, majority of the roads are still not developed, it was raw and rugged and the trip aboard the single motorcycle is not for the faint hearted. But the sight of the surrounding mountains fringed with lush forests, wide valleys, river systems and pastures riddled with corns, rice and numerous types of vegetables, made the trip worth it. Tourism still hasn’t knocked on this undeveloped province, but for some, it is where the charm really lies.

Dirt road going to Tineg, Abra

Monster jeepney and motorcycle as common modes of transportation.

After a butt numbing trip, the weather changed dramatically and it felt like I was in the Cordilleras due to the cool climate as we arrived at the Balay Ti Tineg, or the Tineg Municipal Hall standing atop the mountain ridge with splendid views of the surrounding valleys and the Abra River. A few kilometers away, the Rolling Hills of Apao waited before us, as the sun slowly rose above the horizon, leaving the vast grassland filled plains in a beautiful array of amber and auburn hues.

” ….atop the mountain ridge with splendid views of the surrounding valleys and the Abra River.”
Municipal Hall of Tineg, Abra

Being near the Municipal Hall, Police Station and the Rural Health Unit, this place is ideal for camping and for stargazing. Located at Sitio Vira, Brgy. Alaoa in Tineg, the panoramic viewpoint of the Apao Rolling Hills is a very picturesque landscape that left me in awe. The mountains of Apao cover its neighboring Barangays of Lacub and Lan-ag. 

“….the Rolling Hills of Apao waited before us, as the sun slowly rose above the horizon…”
“…..leaving the vast grassland filled plains in a beautiful array of amber and auburn hues.”

Truly, I was surprised of what this province initially has to offer, beaming with a distinct characteristic that slowly unveiled itself as we ventured farther down into Brgy. Alaoa.

The Piwek

Another thirty minutes down Brgy. Alaoa, where pairs of Labuyo (Native Jungle Chicken) were disturbed by the faint rumbling of our motorcycle from their morning hunt for food along the road side, and flew like birds of paradise, I never thought that chickens could fly (and even soar through the air) that high! 

Rice Terraces as seen from the main road leading to Alaoa.

Encompassing the equally picturesque mountain ridges of Brgy. Apao, the dirt road lead to one of the obscure spots in Tineg, the Piwek Rock Formations. We arrived at a modest community down the footholds of a limestone karst of a mountain down to the gleaming riverbanks of Salakop River.

Daing na Igat, or Freshwater Eels dried under the sun to preserve it longer.

People in here spoke in heavy Ilokano dialect, but after some negotiations, we were given guides to accompany us to the rock formation (It was Kuya Minic who accompanied me all the way to Piwek), they charged us a total of 300php (200php for the guide, and 100php for the raft). Initial part of the short trek involved crossing the emerald waters of the Salakop River by a bamboo raft. Ten minutes and we were greeted by the limestone formations that line the riverbanks of the Salakop. 

“Initial part of the short trek involved crossing the emerald waters of the Salakop River by a bamboo raft. “

The beak shaped limestone rock at the river is worth the climb as it gave me a good view of the river and the surrounding mountains. It is reminiscent of that of Tinipak River in Daraitan Rizal, but a little bit rugged and more beautiful from its obscurity. 

No raft were present on the other side so I was asked if it is alright to wait for it, but I chose to climb the little mountain called by the locals as Mt. Aliwatey, going to our next destination where crocodiles and eels frequent the place.

The hike was relatively short but purely descent, there were no tree covers and thus, it was a little exhausting because of the warm and humid weather down here in Alaoa. But upon arrival at the little craggy peak, I caught a good glimpse of the meandering river down below and the imposing rocks they call the Ambang Rock Formations.

Another ten minutes of descent, we finally reached the rocks, but there were no crocodiles on the banks, only the Barangay Captain and his crew searching for Igat (Freshwater Eel) to eat that day. Ambang Rocks are said to contain gold ores because of the bright streaks of brown and yellow against the peculiar color of the rock that from afar, looks like camouflage patterns.

Another rock formation lies at the other bend of the river but it will take longer to reach so we chose not to venture at the other side. We traversed again at the other side of Mt. Aliwatey and arrived by 9:45am at the Piwek cliff diving spot, I had no life vest that time so no cliff dive for me then. 

We travelled back to Tayum by 10:15am and prepared myself for another long and bumpy ride.

Next part of my Abra adventure here:

Uncharted Territories – Abra (Part II)



How To Get There:

● In Metro Manila, there are three bus companies plying the Manila/Cubao/Pasay to Bangued route, namely Partas Bus Company, Viron Transit, and Dominion Bus Lines, Fares start at 650php for the Regular Airconditioned Bus, and 800php for the Deluxe Bus. (Travel time: 7-10hrs)

● For those travelling with private vehicles, Bangued is 408 kilometers from Manila. Passing through NLEX-SCTEX-TPLEX and the Manila North Road, then turn left at the Abra-Ilocos Sur road which is 4 kilometers past the town of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, head past the Tangadan Tunnel until you reach Bangued. (Travel time: 7-8hrs)

● Other entry and exit points are the Abra-Kalinga Road in the east, which passes through the town of Malibcong, Abra to Balbalan, Kalinga. There is also the Abra-Ilocos Norte Road that passes through the town of Danglas, Abra to Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte. Public Transportations along these roads are still not available.

● Once in Bangued, destinations within the city are accessible through tricycles which is its main mode of transportation. It can take you within the town and its adjacent municipalities. Minimum fare starts at 10php. Jeepneys are also stationed in Bangued but their schedules are based on the Alas-Puno-Bago-Umalis schedule or it will wait to be filled up with passengers before it leaves, so if planning to go farther, contact the tourism office to arrange your service vehicles.

● You can contact their local tourism officer, Ms. Dykath Molina at 09277725856.

Where To Stay:

■ Abrassi Hotel – Poblacion, Tayum

■ Origines Hotel and Restaurant/ Abra Valley Grand Hotel, Hollandia Homestay- Calaba, Bangued

■ Oval Era Hotel/ Adtemco Hotel – Zone V, Bangued

■ Terrence Hill Resort – Poblacion, Bucay

■ Abra Tourism Homestay – Calaba, Bangued


Itinerary and Expenses

Abra Day Trip

Day 0

2200 Partas Bus Terminal, Cubao (Deluxe Bus, 800php)

Day 01
0445  Arrival at Bangued
0530  Meet Tourism Coordinator, Dykath Molina
0540  Breakfast at Acosta Panciteria
0600  Start motorcycle tour
0730  Arrival at Apao Rolling Hills, Tineg
0800  Salakop River, Brgy. Alaoa, Vira, Tineg
0810  Piwek Rock Formation
0830  Traverse to Ambang Camouflage Rocks via Mt. Aliwatey
0915  Arrival at Ambang Rocks
0930  Ascend back
0945  Piwek cliff dive spot,
1000  Descend back to Brgy. Alaoa (200php guide fee, 100php raft fee)
1015  Brgy Alaoa, travel back to Bangued
1120  Stop Over at Brgy. Dolores
1130  Tayum Church, Gabriela Silang Gallery
1150  Resume trip back to Bangued
1200  Don Mariano Marcos Bridge
1215  Arrival at Bangued, lunch at Nanay Binang’s
1300  Resume, San Lorenzo Ruiz Church
1415  Little Baguio, Brgy. Nagaparan, Danglas
1450  Calaba Bridge
1500  Back at Bangued, wash up
1530  Bangued Plaza, Municipal Hall, Provincial Hall, Bangued Cathedral, Cassamata Hill National Parj
1600  End tour (1500php tour fee)
1930  Depart for Manila (655php)

Day 02

0330 – Arrival at Cubao

Total Damage for Solo Trip: 3200php + Food


“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

– Henry David Thoreau


Go, Carve That Niche

Rex

SNAPSHOT – SAUD BEACH

Saud Beach, characterized by its ivory to cream colored sands, it earned the title, “The Boracay of the North” owing to its sand reminiscent that of Boracay in Aklan. Located in Barangay Saud, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, it has a long stretch of fine sand beach dotted with numerous coconut trees with some docked outrigger boats and nipa huts.

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, Autobus) then hop on to another bus bound for Pagudpud town proper. (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 + 1.5hr land travel)

● Once in Pagudpud, there are several accredited tricycle tours that can take you on the 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).

Full Article Here:

The Great Amianan, Northbound – Ilocos Norte (Part III)


SNAPSHOT – BLUE LAGOON

Located in Brgy. Balaoi, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, the Blue Lagoon is a half moon shaped cove formed by the Nacatnagan Cliff in the east and the Dos Hermanos in the north. The sand is fine and cream colored, when surf season is out, waves are gentle and still that it reflects the clear blue sky earning its name, the Blue Lagoon. But during swell months, the waves are really good for surfing as the depth of the beach is shallow mostly inside the cove. 

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, Autobus) then hop on to another bus bound for Pagudpud town proper. (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 + 1.5hr land travel)

● Once in Pagudpud, there are several accredited tricycle tours that can take you on the 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).

Full Article Here:

The Great Amianan, Northbound – Ilocos Norte (Part III)



SNAPSHOT – BANGUI WINDFARM

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 blade diameter of 41meters. 

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, Autobus) then hop on to another bus bound for Pagudpud town proper. (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 + 1.5hr land travel)

● Once in Pagudpud, there are several accredited tricycle tours that can take you on the 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).

Full Article Here:

The Great Amianan, Northbound – Ilocos Norte (Part II)


SNAPSHOT – BURGOS WINDFARM

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! 

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, Autobus) then hop on to another bus bound for Pagudpud town proper. (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 + 1.5hr land travel)

● Once in Pagudpud, there are several accredited tricycle tours that can take you on the 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).

Full Article Here:

The Great Amianan, Northbound – Ilocos Norte (Part II)


The Great Amianan, Northbound – Ilocos Norte (Part III)

Northbound, Finally!

After spending a good forty five minutes at the spanish era beacon, we headed to the northernmost territories of Ilocos Norte. The trip aboard our tricycle took us an hour and fifteen to reach Barangay Balaoi, which is the second to the last community before reaching the municipality of Claveria in the province of Cagayan.


It was around 1:00pm and the sun hid behind the clouds giving us a cool weather for the short trek. We registered and paid the corresponding fees, 10php for the reg fee and 300php standard rate for the guides. One thing that amused me the most is that all of the guides are female and they are the same age as my mom! 

To reach Kabigan Falls, one must trek for 1.8kms from the National Highway passing through a small community, then views of rice fields continuing up  through a forest with the trail lined up with trees that requires some crossing through brooks and streams. After a good 20 minute walk, we heard the trickling sound of gushing water. Hidden beneath a small mountainside with conclaves of moss covered rocks and age old trees, Kabigan Falls was a welcoming sight.

We crossed a wooden bridge before reaching the basin. The falls is approximately 87 feet high and flows down through a wide shallow basin ideal for swimming. The water was quite a refreshing treat after spending half the day under the sun. 

This makes Pagudpud a little more enchanting and jam packed all the same, from the beaches, the mountains and now, the waterfall. The word “Kabigan” was derived from the Filipino word “Kaibigan” which means a friend, since the waterfall and the river it goes down to is quite an unseparable duo given the fact that whatever the season is, it never dries up. 

Right after our waterfall trek, we got back at the main highway by 2:30pm and we almost forgot to have our lunch. Quite famished, we drove for 10minutes until we reached an eatery beside the highway, Ilocano cuisines are served and one must try their signature dishes such as Dinakdakan (Pork Sisig), Dinardaraan (Dinuguan) and Pinakbet.

The Patapat Viaduct

Connecting the Maharlika Highway from Laoag City to the Cagayan Valley, the Patapat Viaduct was completed by 1986 and is a 1.3km coastal bridge constructed 30 meters above sea level that passes through the mountain slopes of Pagudpud up to the municipality of Claveria in Cagayan. 

Said to be the fourth longest bridge in the country, this concrete masterpiece has been bridging two provinces for decades now and has been a very busy road ever since. 

It has been a tourist attraction as well, given the awesome seascape with the sight of the fierce waves hitting the shoreline beneath the bridge and also its long and winding sentinel of a structure if viewed from a good angle.

Lovers By The Beach

Pagudpud has a number of incredible beaches that is really perfect for relaxation after hours of touring under the sun. And at the northernmost tip of Pagudpud lies the Maira-ira Point, a once secluded cove located in Sitio Gaoa, Barangay Balaoi. 

But right before reaching the little paradise on the shortlist of travelers, two peculiar rock formations got our attention.

One of the highlights of the northbound tour, Timangtang Rock, is a piece of boulder lying alone off the shores of Maira-ira Beach. From a distance it looks like a whale stranded off the coast. This is believed to be the male counterpart of another rock formation on the otherside of the shoreline.

Located at Brgy. Balaoi, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, Bantay Abot Cave, jutting out in the open sea, in my opinion, is really not a cave but an arch that resembles that of Mahatao in Batanes. It used to be a hill back in the days and was strucked by an earthquake leaving a hole in the middle. Its top is covered in lush vegetation and is complemented by the Maira-Ira Beach on one side and the Timangtang Rock, its other half, on the opposite side.

They were said to be lovers by the sea as they complement each other from a distance. The calm blue sea reflecting the clear blue sky, and the sound of waves crashing against the pebbly coast will surely relax the hell out of all your city burdens for a little while.

Photo by Kristina Cuenca (IG: @keiseizetheday)

The Blue Lagoon

Not that far from where the rock formations are located, we passed by a couple of cartoon themed hotel rooms ranging from the Clash of Clans, Superheroes up to the disfigured Disney characters until we reached the other cove in the Maira-ira Point. This once secluded paradise now became a tourist hotspot, thanks but no thanks to the development ala Hannah’s Beach Resort, that perfectly ruined the white sands of the Malingay Cove with all the sight of cartoon figures that they have put up everywhere, add up the very expensive zipline that is said to be the longest in Luzon. 

The Malingay Cove or popularly called as the Blue Lagoon, was glorious as it can be, how I wish I could return back to a time wherein nothing was built in the area but nipa huts and the mountains at the background.

This half moon shaped cove is formed by the Nacatnagan Cliff in the east and the Dos Hermanos in the north. The sand was fine and cream colored, when surf season is out, waves are gentle and still that it reflects the clear blue sky earning its name, the Blue Lagoon. But during swell months, the waves are really good for surfing as the depth of the beach is shallow mostly inside the cove. 

We spent only half an hour swimming inside this laidback paradise as we have to get back before the sun sets. 

The Boracay Of The North

Upon returning at our homestay, we still had one last beach that we had to visit given that it is only 5 minutes away from where we were. 

Saud Beach, characterized by its ivory to cream colored sands earned the title, “The Boracay of the North” owing to its sand reminiscent that of Boracay in Aklan. Located in Barangay Saud, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, it has a long stretch of fine sand beach dotted with numerous coconut trees with some outrigger boats and some nipa huts.

The serenity along its crystal clear waters facing the Bangui Bay has became a backpacker favorite, also for its raw beauty and lack of the usual amenities found in Blue Lagoon. We spotted the windmills of Bangui and Burgos and that of another windfarm waiting to be synchronized to the grid. 

The sun perfectly set before us, the bright hues of yellow and orange painted the sky in ominous streaks that mar the once cool blue atmosphere into a warm orange as the big ball of light slowly descended from the horizon and finally hid behind the thin line that seperates the sky and the sea. What a way to cap-off our Ilocos Norte adventure as our second day was about to end. 

We returned back to our room and made haste to tidy up so we can catch the 7pm Florida bus in Pagudpud town proper that is en route to Manila. Around 6:30pm, Kuya Vhong brought us to the humble abode of Ate Maricel who sells authentic Pagudpud Longganisa (Filipino Sausage) for 250php/kilo. This variant was far from the little garlic infused Vigan Longganisa as this one was huge and Ate Maricel claims that they are made from the only finest parts of pork and no fats were included, she also supplies this type to various hotels in Pagudpud. As the day came to a close, we rode the overnight deluxe bus for 700php/each back to Manila and arrived by 5:00am the following day. 

Surely, Ilocos Norte will keep you coming back for more, there is still more to discover aside from the shortlists of travel aficionados. More waterfalls, beaches and mountains are still waiting to be revisited. So much for this two-day Ilocandia Adventure!


Update: Pagudpud Longganisa was a sure hit!, full of garlic goodness and really savory, no backfats were inside and only the ground mixture of pork as Ate Maricel claimed it to be, were present. Partnered with Sukang Iloko, a plateful of rice, nor a whole rice cooker did not sufficed. I was a bit dissapointed for only ordering a kilo and not making it ten! I’m thinking of a return trip to Pagudpud because of this. Bummer

NOTES:

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, Autobus) then hop on to another bus bound for Pagudpud town proper. (10-12hrs travel time, 700-900php/trip)

● 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 + 1.5hr land travel)

● Once in Pagudpud, there are several accredited tricycle tours that can take you on the 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

Day 0

2000 – Cubao, Take Partas Bus Bound for Vigan, Ilocos Sur (625php/pax)

Day 01
0500 – Arrival at Vigan (Breakfast own account)
0530 – Start walking tour
●Calle Crisologo
●Vigan Cathedral
●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)
●Batac Cathedral
●Paoay Church
●Paoay Lake
●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)

Day 02
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)

Day 03
0500 – Manila

TOTAL DAMAGE: 2815php/pax excluding food
My total expenses (with food and souvenirs): 3500php


Go, Carve That Niche,

Rex



“The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.”


– J.R.R. Tolkien