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.
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
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
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,
“The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien