Scenic Ilocos Norte

After our Vigan trip, Ting and I decided to proceed to Laoag, Ilocos Norte on June 9, 2013. Search for best hotels in Laoag City. We boarded a Partas Bus at around 1 pm and reached Laoag roughly 4 pm. We checked in at La Elliana Hotel. Although it is considered a budget hotel, the room is very spacious and could very well accommodate up to 6 people.

We wasted no time and immediately took off and went to Museo Ilocos Norte, but we barely looked around when they closed and we have to cut short our visit. Walking distance is the Sinking Bell Tower, it used to be one of the tallest bell towers in the country. It is sinking because it was built on a sandy foundation. Nearby still is St. William’s Cathedral where Ting and I lit candles, prayed and briefly listened to the day's sermon.

From St. William’s Cathedral, we took upon ourselves to look for the missing Aurora Park. We described it as "missing", because we have asked a lot of people but none of them could tell us where it is. Finally, we came into a public park with a fountain in the center, right in front of Gilbert Bridge. Based on the description on the web I've read, we assumed this is the "missing" Aurora Park. Maybe to the locals, it is just known as the public park. Ting and I spent a lot of good hours discussing personal matters until its time to eat.

We choose to have dinner at Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant. They have local names of dishes that's difficult for me to remember, but we ordered steamed fish, beef soup and malunggay dessert. Together with a generous serving of rice, we have had a delicious and hearty meal. We rested early in preparation for the long trip tomorrow.

The next day, we waked up early, took breakfast and meet Mr. Marcial, the tricycle driver that will take us to Paoay and then to Pagudpud.

First stop is the Malacanang of the North, which used to be former president Marcos's residence but is now a museum and open to the public. However, we came too early so we went to see Paoay Lake which is located just below the residence.


Fisherman in Paoay Lake.

Still having ample time before the “Malacanang ti Amianan” opens, we decided to proceed to Paoay Church. And wow, the church known as the oldest in the Philippines is really majestic with its extra large buttresses. The tour guides are also very friendly.


Ting with the majestic buttresses of Paoay Church.

We drove straight to the Marcos Mausoleum and Museum in Batac. There, we tried the famous Ilocano empanada, it is "saboroso" and fills the stomach. It has a different taste and ingredients compared to Iloilo's empanada version.


Entrance to former president Ferdinand Marcos's Mausoleum.

We went back to the Malacanang of the North which by this time is already open. The house is impressively spacious. Sitting on a hill, it overlooks Paoay Lake which provides the house a constant flow of cool air. From here, we went north towards our farthest destination: Pagudpud beach.


Inside Malacanang of the North with Paoay Lake in the background.

Along the way we made a short detour, climbing the hill where Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is located. The lighthouse overlooks the West Philippine Sea and is considered as a National Historical Landmark and National Cultural Heritage.


The stairs going to Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.

Kapurpurawan White Rock Formation is one of the most beautiful natural scenery I've seen, it is almost out of this world. The combined action of sea, wind, and sand gave the rocks its weird formations. The formations are covered by sand and are somewhat soft, I can scrape it with my fingers.


Ting with The Rock in Kapurpurawan White Rock Formation.

Bangui Windmills is another out of this world albeit man-made structure. It is the first ever wind farm in the Philippines and is said to be the biggest in Southeast Asia, providing 40% of Ilocos Norte's power needs. There are 20 windmills spread along 9 kilometers. Each windmill at 70 meters high, is so huge and imposing, I'm wondering how those blades can be moved by wind alone.


Me with the Bangui Windmills, take note of the size of the shadow casts by one of the windmills.

From Bangui, we went straight to the popular Saud Beach Resort in Pagudpud. The beautiful and relaxing beach with its semi white sands made the long trip worthwhile. The Bangui windmills can be seen from here! Hungry and tired, Ting and I had a sumptuous meal in their restaurant before going back to Laoag.


Pagudpud Beach, the Bangui Windmills can be seen in the background.

All in all, the trip took us a total of 12 hours, arriving in Laoag City at around 7:30 pm. Tiring? Yes, but the feeling of seeing the beauty of the places we've been, is priceless.

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