I love the fact that I have amazing friends who are willing to brave the rainy days of July and go on an out of town trip of me when they can very well just travel around without me on months with better weather. Last year, we went to Puerto Princesa. This year, we decided to explore Ilocos!
We stayed in the Palacio de Laoag Hotel for our entire trip. The hotel was very comfortable. The people were very friendly and hospitable. I wish we could say the same about their in house restaurant! They were just bad news for the entire trip! Tsk. But I’d rather not go into that… Look at how pretty the lobby is!
Day 1: Vigan
Our first destination in our Ilocos adventure was Vigan, where one of the country’s few UNESCO Heritage sites, Calle Crisologo, is located. Before we reached Vigan, we stopped by the Juan Luna Shrine where we were treated to beautiful paintings and a very interesting history lesson!
The first place we went to in Vigan was the Bantay Lighthouse. One thing that I am proud of myself for during the entire trip was that I actually survived all the climbing and walking! I’m not fond of going up stairs because of my asthma but fortunately, it didn’t act up the entire trip 🙂 Anyway, the steps leading up to the bell tower and the stairs going to the top of the bell tower were very much worth the climb! The view was beautiful and the interior was as well!
Next was lunch! We ate in Cafe Leona where we tried the Longganiza Pizza. It was surprisingly good and the taste of Longganiza was not at all overwhelming. Definitely worth the try 🙂
After lunch, we visited the Syquia Mansion, where we were greeted by an interesting caretaker who briefed us on the history (and gossip!) that surrounded the mansion and its family. The mansion was beautiful and huge! We then went to the Pagburnayan Jar Factory where the amazing god of pottery mesmerized us with his pottery skills. He made it look so easy! Finally we visited Calle Crisologo. It was definitely my most anticipated location to go to and it did not disappoint at all! It was beautiful. I felt like I was transported back to the Spanish era. Mar and I went ahead and walked along the road just observing the calesas that were passing by. I swear I could just walk back and forth all day.
We stayed in Calle Crisologo until dark. We attended Mass in the nearby Church then had dinner in a pretty restaurant in the Mestizo district called Leila’s Cafe.
Day 2: Pagudpud
I think one of the most fun moments in our Pagudpud trip was when we were in the van and using “Pagudpud” in a sentence. “Mag-pagudpud ka naman dyan!”. According to some stories, the name “Pagudpud” comes from the tagalog phrase “Ako’y pagud na pagud at ang sapatos ko’y pudpud” uttered by a Batangenyo peddler back in the day. This day was really a treat for the eyes! We visited beautiful sites with beautiful sights: Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, Bangui Windmills, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Blue Lagoon, Bantay Abot Cave, Patapat Viaduct and the Ilocos sunset in Saud Beach.
Of course no vacation is complete without me being a complete clutz. In our Kapurpurawan Rock Formation tour, I managed to survive the horseback ride and not break my neck while riding or getting on or off the horse but I did manage to trip over a rock which led me to plummet to the ground and giving me scars to add to the collection that I already have. Good thing our tour guide had betadine and I was prepared with band aids. So with Mar’s help, the wounds were quickly attended to. If there’s one goal for me next vacation, it’s to survive the entire trip unscathed.
Day 3: Laoag City Tour
This day was definitely the most exciting day of the tour! We started the day with Sandboarding and a 4×4 ride in the lone desert of the Philippines. We didn’t expect the 4×4 ride to be CRAZY. We all ended up covered in bruises but it was completely worth it! It wasn’t an ordinary 4×4 ride. We were told to stand at the back and the driver sped through all the sand dunes freaking us out by going faster at steeper slopes. It was a bit scary because we get worried that we might lose grip and fall off the vehicle. Despite that, it was so FUN! Probably one of the most extreme things I have done! Initially, I was worried about going sand boarding. I felt like I might not be able to maintain my balance and fall off the board, but after having gone through the intense 4×4 sand dune ride I felt that I could surely be successful in sand boarding, and I was! Although not as exciting as the sand dune ride, it was worth the experience!
We went back to the hotel to get cleaned up and have breakfast then we went around Laoag and Paoay to visit the tourist destinations there. We managed to go to the Sinking Bell Tower, the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum, the Paoay Church (which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site under the Five Baroque Churches of the Philippines), and Paoay Lake. Raisa, Tam and I also got to make our own Batac empanadas! Yum!!
With that we ended our Ilocos trip. It was such an awesome trip in that it wasn’t a usual barkada get away where we would go to a beach and chill. It was a trip where we learned so much new information not only about Ilocos, but about our own history as Filipinos. We experienced so much culture in this trip, from the stories from the caretakers of the heritage homes that we visited to the well-preserved landmarks that have lasted the centuries. I hope that our next trip will be as satisfying and as stimulating as this trip was!