Published: August 19th 2010June 15th 2010
Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
We were supposed to be on a Super Deluxe bus with a toilet and supposedly more comfortable seats but we ended up on a regular one. And since we are generally tolerant to a lot of things, and it was already an hour past the scheduled departure time, we didn’t argue anyway and just got on.
Unexpectedly, the 9 hours bus ride didn’t turn out to be so bad at all.
We arrived at Laoag at around 07:00 in the morning with the driver of the hired van waiting for us at the bus station. After getting some takeaway breakfast, we made a couple of short stops, and then headed to Pagudpud.
Our first stop was the Cafe Bojeador Lighthouse which was built back in the 1800s but is still working and is still in use until today. And the second stop was to the enormous Bangui Windmills which provides almost half of the power supply in Ilocos Norte and was built to help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The humid air plus the summer heat was almost unbearable.
It was more than an hour drive to our first proper destination, Pagudpud.
Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
We arrived half an hour before noon and were already feeling hungry. The owner of the resort where we were supposed to check-in wasn’t there and the caretaker told us that our rooms were not ready yet. We ended up waiting for almost three hours and were not able to get the keys until about 02:30 in the afternoon. We were craving for food but our accommodation didn’t have food to serve either so we went to the nearby hotel, Hannah Resort for lunch. Good thing the food was good, making us a happy bunch once again. For dinner, we opted for a healthier organic food and a nicer setting at the Kapuluan Resort Restaurant. We were actually eyeing to stay at the fancier Kapuluan Resort but it was fully booked for the whole month.
Our hotel was located right at the beach front, a few minutes walk to what they call the Blue Lagoon. In all fairness, it was the best swimming lagoon that I have ever gone to with its fine sand and clear blue water, if only there weren’t stinging jellyfishes
. The lovely color combination of the blue water, the white sand, and the green mountains
was quite soothing; I’d like to say that it was the best swimming area ever. The resorts and the shoreline didn’t look very neat, but the Lagoon was something I would love to go back to.
We left Pagudpud at around 11:00 the next morning for a two-hour drive to our next destination, Laoag City. We ate lunch at La Preciousa Resto where the local specialties, Puqui-Puqui and Bagnet were big hits! And before checking-in at the Laoag Grand Octagon Hotel, we first made a stop at the town’s Sinking Bell Tower which is said to continue sinking at the rate of an inch per year but is still being used to ring the bells for the Sunday churchgoers.
After checking-in at the hotel, we then carried on with our trip to the municipality of Paoay and to one of the oldest towns in Ilocos Norte, Batac City - also known to be the home to one of the most infamous figure in Philippines politics, the former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Our first stop was to one of the Unesco World Heritage site, Paoay Church. It is also known as the “Earthquake Baroque” due of its 16th century
design and its buttresses which serve as the church’s strong defense to earthquakes.
We were already at Batac at around 03:00 in the afternoon to view the former President’s remains at the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum located at the heart of the town. The room had draping curtains, was eerie, and the lights were faint. At the middle of the room lies the once most powerful man in the country, inside his glass coffin; his refrigerated casket keeps his body preserved, but he looked more like a sculpted wax to me. A block away from the mausoleum is another building that contains mostly of old family photos before, during, and after the family’s stay in the Malacañang Palace - the official house of the President and the first family.
The former President built about 29 rest houses during his term and one of those was the Malacañang of the North, also known as the White House of the North. This was the former first family’s official residence in Ilocos Norte. The structure which is overlooking the lovely Paoay Lake is now a museum, a glimpse to the family’s lavish living.
Our last stop before heading back to
the city proper was to the Fort Ilocandia Resort and Hotel, the only 5-start Hotel in Northern Luzon. We couldn’t afford this one either so we just went there to check out its elegance and its classy ambiance.
It was about half an hour past six in the evening when we arrived back at our hotel, and after everyone has freshened up, we were all ready and looking forward to a good dinner. But alas, the hotel staff told us that they have ran out of food due to the big number of guests. We were wondering which guests were they referring to as we have not seen much people around that day! *Jollibee to the rescue! [* is Filipino’s McDonalds]
Our third day in Ilocos was spent in another UNESCO World Heritage site, the city of Vigan, which is a two-hour drive from Laoag City. Our first stop was to the Baluarte Zoo
owned by another prominent/controversial political figure and the former Governor of Ilocos Sur, Chavit Singson. There, I got to pet and had photos taken with a tiger for the first time, and yes it was enormous and I was scared!
We had more
local specialties during lunch at Café Leona Resto right along Calle Crisologo, our second stop. It was actually their eggplant/aubergine pizza that we wanted to try but it wasn’t available that day. We continued to stroll along the cobblestone paved street to see the century-old Spanish houses; some of these were turned into souvenir shops and restaurants, and some being renovated. It’s just a shame that the ones under renovation didn’t look much like the original ones anymore. The constant sight of horse drawn carriages, locally known as Kalesa
is seen around the area, and we took one eventually so we can go further in the town. The Kalesa
took us to the St. Augustine Church with a bell tower built back in the 1500s, a Pottery shop, and to this place called the Hidden Garden
. The garden was quite a refreshing place surrounded with plants, ferns, flowers, bonsai, and lots of greenery (which are also for sale)
and a sort of
hidden restaurant in the middle. We would have loved to stay for a few more minutes to try their food but we had to go back to Laoag because Martin and Mervin had a flight to catch later
We didn’t do much on our last day except buy more souvenirs and hide away from the nasty summer heat. But definitely, we weren’t so excited to get on our 02:30 flight back to Manila because it meant … Goodbye Ilocos, Hello work!
There are more photos below