Category Archives: ILOCOS NORTE

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


SNAPSHOT – Kabigan Falls

Photo by Kristina Cuenca (IG: @keiseizetheday)

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. 

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.(600-700php, 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 and alight at the Burgos Lighthouse, on the right. (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.

Full Article Here:

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

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

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.

The Kapurpurawan

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. 

Photo by Kristina Cuenca (IG: @keiseizetheday)

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!

Burgos Lighthouse

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. 

Photo by Kristina Cuenca (IG: @keiseizetheday)

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)


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) 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

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


There are far better things ahead than the ones we leave behind.
– C.S. Lewis

The Great Escape – Ilocos Norte (Part I)

Again, the second part of our journey went up through the long, meandering and seemingly never ending roads heading up to the northernmost tip of Luzon. As our bus swiftly passed through several communities and municipalities of Ilocos Sur, I can’t help but notice the simple lives of Ilocano locals going on with their daily routines, kids merrily walking side by side with their best friends as they went to school, the daily gossiping at the local store, the busy intersections filled with the roaring engines of jeepneys and tricycles, and the frantic shouting of the barkers near the municipal markets.

The bus came to an abrupt stop with the attendant yelling that we are now at the junction of Batac, Ilocos Norte. We then alighted, Sun’s up and probably a little scorching by noon time. It was 09:45am on my trusted wristwatch, and without any contacts prior to the trip, we haggled with the TODA drivers at the nearest tricycle terminal to take us to some of the different attractions of Batac and Paoay then head to Laoag for our final stop of the tricycle tour. We then agreed with 600php as Kuya Jun’s fixed rate and the going got a little better from here.

 

The Making of a Great Leader


Batac, Ilocos Norte, is dubbed as the home of Great Leaders, with the insignia and slogan flashing loud and proud against the plaza grounds. First stop on our tricycle tour was the Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center where it also happens to be the ancestral home of the Marcoses. It also houses the infamous ghostly cenotaph of the Martial Law regime, the well preserved corpse of the late president Marcos.

No picture taking is allowed, the entrance to the mausoleum involves some strict security measures and the insides of it were equipped with cctv cameras so don’t you dare snap a photo or else. The main wooden door is guarded by two wooden eagle sculptures, upon entry, the whole place were deprived with natural light, the interiors are flushed in black paint up to the higher spans of the ceiling.

Eerie classical music filled our ears, and will warrant goosebumps as soon as we set foot into the red carpet. Then there he is, the late President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Edralin Marcos laid in an eternal unrest, he was wearing a Piña fiber Barong Tagalog and black slacks and shoes, while being encased by a glass compartment. His remains were transported back to Batac from the United States in 1993 after succumbing to Lung Cancer, his frail little figure was far from the once powerful physique that I have seen in documentaries and textbooks. After the encounter with the late president, we then paid for a 50php museum fee and proceeded to the second floor of the ancestral home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update: As of November 2016, his remains were re-interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes Cemetery) in Taguig. A replica made up of wax remains to be displayed inside the coffin in Batac. This event was uncalled for and was tagged by the masses as the “Last Betrayal of the Marcoses”. There were no information as to what was about to happen, and like a thief in the middle of the night, his remains were air lifted from Batac to Taguig and the processional march instantly came into life at the cemetery with his immediate family behind the funeral carriage. News spread all across mass media like wildfire, with mixed reactions varying from rage, contentions to vindication.

 

The second floor of the ancestral home houses several memorabilias of Marcos from his stint as an official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines down to assuming the highest seat in the country as the President.

One should also not miss the Dragon Fruit flavored ice cream peddled in the streets of Batac while enjoying the view of the nearby plaza and the Church of Batac.


Paoay, Kumakaway

After an hour, we then headed west going closer to the shoreline of Ilocos Norte, we passed by the DMMSU or the Don Mariano Marcos State University named after the father of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. Several kilometers and a couple of minutes more, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Paoay with its towering belfry came into full view.

Demanding your undivided attention, the Paoay Church is really magnificent in its very own right.

Sighting the inscription from the Philippine Historical Commission Marker at the main entrance:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHURCH OF PAOAY
Parish founded by Augustinian Missionaries, 1593. Cornerstone of Church laid, 1704, of convent, 1707, of tower, 1793. Used before completion and kept in repair by the joint auspices of the church and town officials. Inaugurations ceremonies, February 28, 1896. Church damaged by earthquake 1704 and 1927. Tower used as observation post by Katipuneros during the revolution. By the Guerilleros during the Japanese occupation.

 

The construction of the massive edifice started in 1704, and is a prime example of “Earthquake Baroque” a localized interpretation of Baroque architecture suited for the country’s seismic conditions. It has twenty four (24) large buttreses designed like fluorishing vines supporting the coral stone and brick clad side walls. The facade somewhat suggests influences from other south east asian countries for its pointed niches on top of large pillars.

The Paoay Church or Church of San Agustin is one of the four (4) Baroque Churches in the Philippines inscribed in the 1993 World Heritage Sites of UNESCO. Heritage sites such as this one that displays exceptional value and deserves protection for the benefit of the humanity.

A little farther away from the lush landscape of the centuries old church lies the Paoay marker made of fiber glass and is a must photo spot for every tourist visiting the area.

Across the main road, is a photo gallery open for all and named as Arte Luna, with their latest exhibit, the Fade Into Light Series by Raul Echivarre and AP Murillo. The installation is composed of several photos of the fisherfolks of Currimao. Title loosely refers to a series of professions slowly waning into irrelevance. It is about workers staring into the inevitable but still soldiers on.

And a question from one of the exhibit panel really hit me hard: “How do you travel? Are you the type who gets the most bang of the buck by cramming as much places of interest as you can into the itinerary? Or would you rather spend time getting to know the nuances of a place?” And then the answer came like a ton of realization washing me out into full unscathed attention with the last sentence; ” ..while these two roads may diverge, it is guaranteed that it won’t be in the same yellow wood.” Changing my perception of how to travel if only given enough time not just to explore the place but also the culture.

After a short but meaningful visit to the gallery, it made me more inspired to travel the Ilocos Region.

The Sand Dunes of Paoay is really a must for anyone who visits the Ilocos Region, but with only the two of us, with a tight budget on our pockets,we chose to skip this place. We made sure that this will be our next destination on our next Ilocos trip.

Paoay Sand Dunes is a long stretch of desert sands facing the West Philippine Sea that encompasses the town of Currimao up to Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte. One can rent a 4×4 vehicle, which are at your disposal and can be found at the base of the site near the highway. The tour costs 1500php for 30minutes with maximum of 5 pax per vehicle, enjoy sightseeing and photo sessions. One should also not miss Sand Boarding and experience sliding down the dunes aboard a wooden plank!

Dakkel a Danum

A little farther up into the alternate route going to Laoag, the houses at each side of the highway got lesser and lesser by the minute. Then Kuya Jun, our tour guide, stopped by a restaurant at the right side and only then we realized that the placid body of water in front of us is the Paoay Lake!

Legend has it that this 3.86 square kilometer lake, the largest in Ilocos Norte, once existed as the village of San Juan de Sahagun. Villagers, once god fearing and humble, prospered much that they turned materialistic and selfish over time. The gods, appalled by the transformation, punished them by submerging the whole place in water, with the villagers turned into fishes, with their jewelries still adorning their scales and fins.

The leaves of the nearby trees rustled against the warm and humid air streaming across the lake. Terrazas De Paoay, the restaurant in which we stopped by, offers food and refreshments to any visitors who wants to appreciate the unobstructed view of the lake. And to fully enjoy our brief stay, we ordered some Ilocos Empanada partnered with a glass of Halo-halo.

Malacañang Ti Amianan


Half an hour spent at the Terrazas de Paoay, we then ventured again up into our second to the last stop, the Malacañang Ti Amianan or the Malacañang of the North. The road then forked into a smaller one, then we happened to pass by an old golf course and country club then continued into what seemed like a country side filled on both sides with trees blocking out the sunlight and served as mighty canopies.

We then alighted at a gate where you have to pay the entrance fee of 20php before we got down into a road sloping down into an old but elegant filipino style two-storey mansion made up of local materials. It was built impressively in a five(5) hectare property in Suba, Paoay, Ilocos Norte facing the serene Paoay Lake. It was once the official residence in Ilocos Norte during the former president’s regime.

The flooring, panels, and doors were made up of Philippine hardwood while the sliding windows were filled with capiz shells. Upon entry, we were welcomed with an elegant receiving hall, big enough to accomodate a hundred. A grand wooden staircase stood at the left side, a common sign of Imelda Marcos’ penchant for grandiose and elegance. The dining hall were fit for a king.

The second floor, similar to the ground floor is a much wider one but filled with rooms ranging from the spacious masters bedroom up to the well kept library and the office where officials are received whenever the late president seeks refuge and peace in his hometown. The balcony faces the mansion’s large garden extending up to the banks of the Paoay Lake.

After an hour inside the Malacañang of the North, it is now time to bid our goodbyes with the locals whom we had a short chat with, and headed to our last destination.


The City of Lights

The long tricycle ride felt like eternity as the hot afternoon air were like little pin pricks on our skin. Then after 30minutes we were welcomed by a long bridge encompassing a whole river system, the big white signage standing atop a hill from afar said it all, “LAOAG CITY”. It is the political, commercial and industrial hub and the location of Ilocos Region’s only commercial airport, the Laoag International Airport.

It is not only known as the “City of Lights” but also for another preserved massive edifice that really exemplifies Ilocos Norte as the Region of Grand Bell Towers, the Sinking Bell Tower of Laoag. 

Built in 1707, and sinking at a rate of an inch a year, the tower has a foundation of 300 feet or roughly 90 meters. This 45 meter tower is made up of locally produced bricks joined by molasses and juice of sablot leaves mixed with lime and sand. It used to have a big clock face at the tower’s western face that is reachable through a winding staircase inside.

Across the street lies the main church of the sinking bell tower, the Laoag Cathedral built in 1612 by the Augustinian Friars. It showcases an Italian Reinassance style that has a two storey facade composed of a main retablo and two smaller ones at both sides. The upper retablo houses a recessed niche that contains the image of the city’s patron saint, St. William of Maleval.

Other places also worth visiting when in Laoag City:

■ Museo Ilocos Norte


Provincial Capitol of Ilocos Norte and the Marcos Hall of Justice



The neigboring towns also houses historical riches in the form of ancestral homes and century old churches with detached beautiful bell towers. The distinct charm of Laoag, with its right fusion of the classic and the modern influences of Ilocano and Spanish roots, never ceases to amaze and still continues even up to the pristine beaches and mountains of Pagudpud at the northernmost tip of Luzon.
Second Part of our Ilocos Norte adventure here:



The Greater Amianan, Upclose – Ilocos Norte (Part II)



NOTES:

How To Get There:

○ Ferdinand Marcos Presidential Center, Paoay Church, Sand Dunes, Lake, Malacañang of the North:
● By land, take any bus bound for Laoag, Ilocos Norte (GV Florida Transport, Dominion Bus Lines, Partas Bus) then alight at the junction of Batac, Ilocos Norte (9-11hrs travel time, 700-800php). Then hire a tricycle that will take you to the places of interest in Batac and Paoay
● By Air, take any flight bound for Laoag City Airport via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines (45mins travel time)
● From the airport hire a tricycle that will take you to the city proper, from there take any jeepneys bound for Batac or buses that will pass by the area. Upon arrival in Batac, hire a tricycle that will take you to the places of interest in Paoay and Batac

○ Laoag Sinking Bell Tower, St. William’s Cathedral, Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol:
● By land, take any bus bound for Laoag, Ilocos Norte (GV Florida Transport, Partas Bus, Dominion Bus Lines, Fariñas Transit). (10-12hrs travel time, 700-800php). Upon arrival hire a tricyle to take you to the places of interest in Laoag
● By Air, take any flight bound for Laoag City Airport via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines (45mins travel time).
● From the airport hire a tricycle to take you to the Belltower which is located in the town center.

○ Where to Stay in Laoag:

Hotel Tiffany
Address: M.H. Del Pilar St. Laoag City
Contact: hoteltiff@gmail.com or (+63)9266945221

Java Hotel
Address: G. Segundo Avenue, Bacarra Rd., Laoag City
Contact: javahotel@gmail.com or (+63)9108776849

Balay De Blas
Address: #10 Giron St., Brgy. 7-B, Laoag City
Contact: balaydeblas@yahoo.com or (+63)9175712110

Texicano Hotel
Address: Corner Giron and J.P. Rizal Streets, Laoag City

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 Southbound 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 


“What is the meaning of life? The meaning is not for you to find but for you to define. The meaning is found in the purposes that we pursue as we grow older.”

– Miriam Santiago


Go, Carve That Niche,

Rex

SNAPSHOT – Paoay Church

​Recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich history and its healthy mixture of Baroque and Gothic architecture, Paoay Church or St. Augustine Church stood the test of time since its construction in 1694. The unique construction of the church is composed of large buttresses supporting the side walls and the three storey belfry made up of adobe and corals standing a few meters from the church. Filipinos sought refuge in its walls and used the belfry as an observation tower during the Spanish Revolution until the Second World War. 


How To Get There:

● By land, take any bus bound for Laoag, Ilocos Norte (GV Florida Transport, Dominion Bus Lines, Partas Bus) then alight at the junction of Batac, Ilocos Norte (9-11hrs travel time). Then hire a tricycle that will take you to Paoay Church (20mins travel time).

● By Air, take any flight bound for Laoag City Airport via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines (45mins travel time).

● From the airport hire a tricycle that will take you to the city proper, from there take any jeepneys bound for Batac or buses that will pass by the area. Upon arrival in Batac, hire a tricycle that will take you to the church in Paoay.

Full Article Here:

SNAPSHOT: Laoag Sinking Bell Tower


The tallest belltower in the country, the 45-meter St. William’s Cathedral Belltower is built by the Augustinian Friars in 1612. It has gained its reputation as a sinking belltower as it was built in a sandy foundation that it has been settling continuosly for hundreds of years now. Located at the town center of Laoag City, 85 meters away from the cathedral, this Spanish landmark will surely catch your attention.

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.(10-12hrs travel time)


● By Air, take any flight bound for Laoag City Airport via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines (45mins travel time).

● From the airport hire a tricycle to take you to the Belltower which is located in the town center.

Full Article Here: