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ILOCOS – “A Marvelous Heritage”

A place rich of spectacular history – Ilocos is a collision of nature and man-made tourist spots. Three of its popular tourist spots have been listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site among other 6 designated places in the Philippines. They describe them as places of importance to cultural or natural heritage. Ilocos is also most known as the residence of the late president Ferdinand Marcos and his regime that lasted 20 years. It was great to look back and visit these places and be reminded about how it was in the past.

I have a fascination with old and historical places. The ruins, the antiques, and anything old, I just admire them. When I was in gradeschool, I only see those eye-catching destinations on the covers my notebooks. One that I particularly fell in love with was Vigan. I told myself that one day, I will visit this place. Twenty years after, they all came into reality. I have found the love to explore and experience new places. Taste the food and learn about their tradition and culture. I like to understand how things are in the other parts of the world. This is the reason why I like to write these experiences so when I grow much older than I already am, I can look back to these memories.

No matter how late it may be, I will try to inspire myself to put all of these experiences into writing. I am not good with labeling myself. I travel to places because I love to and budget has always been in consideration. I travel in my own expense. So, there are a lot of places that I wish I could go but do not have the luxury to. However, I am also thankful for every opportunity because I got to be in places not everyone else may have been. Just dream on, and move to reach that dream. Do not worry about how people will label you, if you love what you do then go for it. May you be a Tourist, a Backpacker, an Adventurous Traveller, a Mountaineer, a Beach buddy or a simple Local Sightseer – enjoy your time, enjoy all the moments and enjoy your life. Be spontaneous, or plan it out, it doesnt matter. What matters is you spend your time to things that makes you feel alive. So go ahead and list Ilocos as one of your destination – haha!

Why Ilocos?

Social Media has reached its peak and is still soaring across the sky. So, one post caught my attention in 2015. I saw a huge desert-like hills of sand and sun. I got intrigued and asked my friends if they would be interested. I was at my emotional state, I was about to end a longtime relationship (of which we will not discuss). For having crazy friends, as random as it may be, we booked tickets 2 weeks before the unplanned travel and without itineraries. So random, but I gathered 6 friends to travel with me. We were all excited. I was most excited because I will get to see Vigan in real life!

A day before we travel, I found a good tour package that we needed and just right for our budget. I suggest you do the same to ease your travel worries and let them do all the work. If you wish to know which tour agency it was, just message me. So we got to visit a lot of places for 2 days for as low as 1800 PHP each. That includes accommodation, breakfast, service ride and some entrances. Our whole duration of stay is for 4 days and 3 nights. Two of these nights were spent on the bus to save time. I will give some details about how our trip went.

The Preparation

As soon as we arrive from Cebu to Manila, we booked tickets for the bus going to Laoag City. The nearest bus terminal is in Partas. Travel time is about 8-9 hours. This is too much time if you travel in the morning. Instead of wasting one day, we all decided to book a ticket for 8PM departure. We arrived in Laoag by 7 AM and our tour van has been waiting for us. We took our breakfast first, and went to check-in in our hotel and was given time to freshen up and then go right ahead on our first tour.

Let me first introduce you to my Ilocos Travel Buddies.
From Left to Right – Deanne, Reina, Glyza, Bharny, Giodelyn, Graeola, and Me!

Ilocos Norte:

First stop – The Sinking Bell Tower

This is a local version of the Leaning tower of Pisa. Located in Laoag City, this Sinking Bell Tower is at 45m tall and is called a sinking tower because of its massive weight built on a sandy ground. Its weight with the loose foundation makes it sink an inch every year.

The Cape Bojeador lighthouse

Still a functional simple lighthouse built in the Spanish era with brick walls and is one of the highest elevated lighthouse in the Philippines.

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

Located in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. A long trek down in the winding road under the heat of the sun, and you will reach this awe-inspiring site. Passing through you will see some windmills built around the area. The rock formation is white in color and that is why it is named Kapurpuruwan, “puraw” means white. Once you get there, you will find the natural beauty of this formation created by number of years of ocean waves crashing and eroding the natural structure.

Bangui Windmills

This is the pride of the Ilocanos. To have their own sustaining renewable energy and power up their households by generating electricity through a natural resource – the wind! The Bangui wind farm has provided 40% of Ilocos Electric Supply. It may not be the first of its kind in Asia but having it here in the Philippines is something to be proud of. Situated along the Bangui Bay in Laoag city, the windmills spread in an arc formation with tri-blades and is 70 meters high.

Laoag Sand Dunes

This was the place that caught my eye on Facebook. Here
you get to experience the 4×4 ride. This is the PH version
of the Dubai Desert Safari. These sand dunes have
heights that range from 10-30 meters and is really an
enjoyable adventure ride experience. Must try and dont
forget to do the “padidit” or sandboarding.

      

Patapat Bridge
The signature pose

This is a 1.2 KM long bridge in Pagudpud. A long winding zigzaggy bridge with a view of the sea and the mountains on the side. You cant help but stop and enjoy the air. This is also the fourth longest bridge in the Philippines.

 Bacarra Domeless Tower

The tower that lost its dome after an earthquake, and that is all I can tell. It is now named as the “Dignified Domeless Belltower in Asia.”

Malacañang of the North

The official residence of the Marcos family. Behind the two-storey building is the legendary Paoay lake. Built with good architectural components and spacious interior. It also has a luscious garden on the rear side and a magnificent view of the lake from the terrace. Inside you can find some good stuff and things the family once used in the house.

Pagudpud Beaches
Hannah’s Beach Resort
At Timmangtang Rock
Bantay Abot Cave

It’s not really a cave, but a big rock/hill that was destroyed by an earthquake leaving a hole in it.

Ilocos Sur:

Paoay Church

This church is the designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in 1896 with coral bricks and massive walls. A Baroque type of Architecture which has enormous and magnificent buttresses on the sides and back of the building.

Bantay Bell Tower
Within the area is a chapel in ruins that they still use but doesnt have a roof anymore.
Vigan

Well, finally! Im out of words. One of the designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the few Spanish towns left in the Philippines. One of which is Intramuros. The structures have remained intact, and it is well known for its cobblestone streets and a unique architecture that fuses Philippine and Oriental building designs and construction, with colonial Spanish architecture.

Off from my Bucket List

So, there goes my 2 day tour in Ilocos. I have had the chance to see the late president in his glass casket before he was eventually buried. We cannot take pictures in the museum and I am not sure how it is now. All his relics are still there.

We have enjoyed our stay and discovery. Definitely a good blast from the past. Dont forget to enjoy the delicacies such as the Ilocos empanada, bagnet, and their chorizo. At night in Vigan, they also play a fountain show and it’s also amazing. I had fun in Ilocos, and when I came back to Cebu, I have prepared the most significant decision of my life, to let go of the pain and let the good memories remain.

Enjoy some few pictures with my friends . . . .

The border in Pagudpud
Marcos Museum
Ilocos Empanada
Dinner at Grandpa’s in Vigan
At the Marcos mansion
Striking a pose
I <3 Vigan
The Calesa
View from Lighthouse
Going to the hole.
Hurray!
Thank you, Guys!