Part 1: Adventures in Ilocandia

Maps of the Ilocos region distributed in the airport.

I have always wanted to go to the Ilocos region and I have to thank Cebu Pacific for that Piso fare sale July of last year. It was a long seven months wait before my bucket list trip. If I was brave enough to travel alone, I would have traveled in many places by now. Gladly, I have Myding to accompany me in this Ilocos trip.

I love the cozy atmosphere of Laoag City. No heavy traffic --well at least in my five-day stay I wasn't able to experience such. I love the simplicity of the place, accommodating locals, the simple tricycle rides and most of all how the locals love their culture and heritage which we could still witness until today.

March 12, 2013
Cebu Pacific has no direct flights from Cebu to Laoag so we have to book a connecting flight. Our flight from Cebu to Manila was 5:00 AM. It was a tiring 12-hour wait for our Manila to Laoag flight. We stayed and took a nap in the airport and went to MOA around 10:00 AM. It was my first in SM MOA and there was nothing much inside. It was just a HUGE mall. We got tired strolling so we decided to watch a movie to kill time and went back to the airport after the movie. We wait and wait until it was time to board the plane around 6:30 PM. By the time we arrived at Laoag, there was a tourist info center where you could ask for a map of Ilocos. We also registered for the FREE SHUTTLE RIDE which takes tourists directly to their hotels. I have to commend the Ilocos Norte Provincial Government for taking this initiative since Laoag airport is a little bit far from the city proper and for giving us tourists a welcoming experience the moment we set foot in Ilocos.

Touchdown Laoag!

We arrived at Balay Da Blas around 9:00 PM. Balay Da Blas, the hotel we stayed in, also offered a home away from home feel. Their lobby resembles like that of a house sala. The hotel itself was an old house converted into a hotel. The room that we booked was worth the price. It was clean and spacious enough since there were only two of us. So we got ready to hit the sack and got our batteries charged for tomorrow's adventure!

Let me take you back to that awesome 4 day stay in Ilocandia....

March 13, 2014
Let's go Sand Boarding in Paoay!
We departed from our hotel at 9:00 AM. Transpo around the city is by tricycle. Regular tricycle fare is PHP 11.00. Tricycle rate is PHP 800.00 for three municipalities, Paoay, Batac and Laoag city. If you are an experience haggler, you could still negotiate for a much lower rate.Our first destination was the Paoay Sand Dunes. We arrived at the area at 10:00 AM. According to Merriam dictionary, dune means a hill of sand near an ocean or in a desert that is formed by the wind. The stretch of sand covered a vast area near the ocean. We drove around by a 4x4 vehicle for 1 hour for PHP2,500.00 It is also inclusive of sand surfing which I loveee but sadly wasn't able to perfect it. Damn. Riding the 4x4 vehicle was a great and an adrenaline pumping experience.There were hills that resemble like a mini rollercoaster that makes your stomach jump and give you that ticklish feeling inside. Teehee! After 20 minutes driving around the dunes, we stopped to sand surf. The sand was excruciatingly hot! It felt like my feet was submerged into a hot boiling water! So if you happen to visit, wear something that will cover you feet and legs. Don't forget to put on sunblock.I shamelessly tumbled in my first try so I thought to myself ok that's it not doing it anymore but then I was challenged when a petite girl successfully completed sand boarding. I tried but still tumbled towards the end --well at least I had a great picture in action. Sand boarding was the highlight of out first day tour. After that epic adrenaline pumping experience, we proceeded to our next destination......
Sand Boarding more fun in Paoay, Ilocos Norte.

With the 4x4 ride

The MalacaƱang of the North
At 11:00 AM, we arrived at the "Bahay Bakasyonan" (as said by the mansion tour guide) of the Marcos family in the early 80s. It is mansion facing the Paoay lake. It features old furnitures used by the family, old paintings by Bongbong Marcos, the presidential table used when Fmr. Pres. F. Marcos signed the Martial Law in 1972, achievements and projects of Fmr. Pres. F. Marcos like the San Juanico bridge (I just knew this during my Ilocos trip =D), the Patapat Viaduct and the Bataan landmark. Entrance fee: PHP 50.00

Malacanang of the North

Paoay Church
By 11:30 AM, we arrived at the UNESCO heritage St. Augustine Church or as commonly known Paoay Church. I'm not an architecture graduate so I really can't describe how beautiful it is technically. All I could say is that was the most beautiful church facade I have ever seen. After taking pictures, we ate our lunch at a nearby carenderia. One viand costs around PHP 50.00- PHP60.00.

Paoay Church

Marcos Museum and Mausoleum
By 1:30 PM, we arrived at the Marcos museum showcasing F.E. Marcos' life from his childhood years, his stint in the military during World War II, how him and Imelda met and the 11-day romance, his documents during his congressional and presidential days and old memorabilia's related to Ferdinand Marcos. Entrance fee: PHP 50.00

Next to the Marcos Museum is his mausoleum. There is no entrance fee just wait for the caretaker to take you inside the mausoleum.Taking pictures is prohibited. There is a viewing schedule but wasn't able to take note of it. It felt like I was in North Korea when I entered the mausoleum with all the glorifying music within the place. If you have watched some North Korea docus, you'll know what I mean. It is astounding to see a whole and intact dead body of a former president but still my mind is in a tug of war whether..................

St. William Cathedral and its Sinking Belltower
At the heart of Laoag city stands the sinking belltower. It was an unusual belltower because it is 85 meters away from the church itself. The reason as to why it is sinking was not explained by our tour guide or I guess he also doesn't know why. We stayed inside the church and had a short reflection. At that moment, I thanked God for giving me the opportunity to travel to Ilocos with someone I dearly love.

Sinking Belltower

Museo Ilocos Norte
Our last stop for today's tour is the Museo Ilocos Norte. It features the ethnicity and cultural heritage of Ilocandia. The museum displays old farming equipment used by the Ilocanos, Ilocano 'bahay kubos", traditional Ilocano rooms and a lot more Ilocano stuff. Entrance Fee: PHP 50.00

Around 4:30 PM plus, we were back in our hotel and took a nap since we still have to buy our dinner later when the sun sets.

So that's it for Adventures in Ilocandia Part 1. Stay tuned for more adventures in Vigan, Burgos, Bangui and Pagudpud! Very sooooooonnnnnn! Gotta rest now. Work resumes tomorrow (*I'm on leave for 5 days since last week*). Sigh. I'm still having an Ilocandia hangover. Sigh.


ILOCANDIA related posts:
Part 2: Let the tour VIGAN!
Part 3: Let's go up NORTH! (Bangui Windmills, Pagudpud)


2 Thoughts:

Val said...

Hi Jen!

So far, we skipped the sand dunes..I was 3 months pregnant during our visit.

Looking forward reading the rest of your Ilocos entries.



Sheryl said...

Thanks for this post! I was supposed to visit Ilocos last year pero bumagyo. Will definitely try again this year and now I know where to go. :)