Wandering in Ilocos

We wandered the provinces of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur for a quick 2-day DIY itinerary. For only two days, we managed to visit not all, but most of the tourist attractions of Ilocandia.

We left Manila at about 11 o’clock in the evening. We took the TPLEX route that is why we only travelled seven hours from Manila to Laoag. If you take the bus, travel time is eight to ten hours.

After we had our breakfast at our home, we headed to our first leg of our tour. First leg is visiting some notable tourist attractions in the north.

We started at Cape Bojeador which is located in Burgos, Ilocos Norte approximately 50-kilometers from Laoag. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is a cultural heritage structure established during the Spanish Colonial times.  Normally, a visit to the lighthouse requires an entrance fee of PHP40.00. Luckily, when we were at the gateway to the lighthouse, our student tour guide told us that for now the entrance is free until the national election. It is a way of the incumbent Governor of Ilocos Norte, Imee Marcos’ way to promote tourism and bring tourists to appreciate the site for free.

Our next stop was the Kapurpurawan Rock formation also located in Burgos. It was just a few kilometers away from the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. The Kapurpurawan Rocks are formations created by the forces of the ocean on the rocky coast of Burgos. In Ilokano dialect, Kapurpurawan means white. We were stunned by the beauty of the formed white rock which is the main attraction. They say it was formed thousands of years ago by the forces of sea waves and wind.

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Kapurpurawan Rock Formation – Burgos, Ilocos Norte

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After seeing the beautiful rock formation, we took a stop at Bangui Wind Farm. The windmills in Bangui are a tourists’ favorite. Standing on the windswept shores of Bangui, these mighty giants are not only a tourist attraction but they serve as producers of electricity up to maximum capacity of 1.65 MW, for a total of 24.75 MW. A project of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. in 2005, the Governor of Ilocos Norte at that time, this was highly prioritized to build up the power shortage of the province that slows down economic growth.  Be mesmerized with the dancing wind turbines as the wind blew swiftly from the coast. These were first in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia.

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Windmills in Bangui, Ilocos Norte

After watching the dancing giants along the shore, our group headed to Pagudpud beach to have our lunch. We took some time to rest and headed our way to Patapat Viaduct to watch the sun sets. Unfortunately, we were not able to catch up the setting of the sun. Though we did not catch the sunset, our trip to the viaduct was still awesome and took a lot of photos because of the majestic view of the coastline of West Philippines Sea and the long-high bridge connecting Ilocos Norte and Cagayan Valley.

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Patapat Viaduct in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

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Pagudpud Beach 
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Pagudpud Beach during sunset

On our second and last day of our short Ilocos trip, before heading to Ilocos Sur we took a short stop in Batac, visited the Marcos Museum, the formerly ancestral house of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos. We were amazed by the untold stories of the Marcoses most especially the achievements of the late dictator from surviving the World War II until his political years where good and bad tales were told. And were able to see his body in his Mausoleum.

After our tour in the Museum, we headed downtown and had miki and empanada for our late lunch. A trip to Ilocos Norte is incomplete without a food trip in Batac, the home of the famous Ilocos Norte empanada. Miki, a homemade thick noodle with orange soup, sprinkled with green onions and chicharon (pork rind) plus a hard-boiled egg is also one of Batac’s pride. Our tummies were super satisfied with what we had and forgot about getting tired.

And because we regained our energy from the tasty lunch we had, we traveled to Paoay, Ilocos Norte and took a short visit of the Saint Augustine Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The church was just an amazing structure. It was built in 1694 and completed in 1710 where it took almost a decade building it. The church is made up of coral stones and bricks and known to be a prime example of “Earthquake Baroque” design. The Paoay Church stood the test of time. It has survived wars and countless tremors and typhoons. Although it was partially damage during huge earthquakes, the church has been reconstructed and repaired that makes it looks unscathed. Today, the Saint Augustine Church in Paoay stood still as the mighty icon of the whole Ilocos Norte province. Tourists fall in love with this royal structure overtime and are one of the most visited places in North.

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The Saint Augustine Church, Paoay, Ilocos Norte

From the north, we headed to Ilocos Sur and took a very quick tour in Vigan (leg 2 of our tour) – known as the home of ancestral houses and sites. Like Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur is also rich in historical stories. In fact, the province’s capital, Vigan, now a city is known for its well-preserved Spanish colonial and Asian architecture. Due to an insufficient time we have, we were only able to visit The Baluarte or fortress, a must-see attraction in Vigan that offers a mini zoo with various animals from different countries and others endemic of the Philippines. It has also a butterfly farm, a track for horse riding and a skeet shooting range. The Baluarte has no entrance fee from 9AM until 5PM.

After wandering inside the Baluarte, we headed our way, in fact our last stop in Calle Crisologo. The Calle Crisologo is a historic walking site. History lovers like me will enjoy strolling in the streets. A historical site Vigan City is famous of. We reached the historical streets of Vigan before dark and the view of the whole place was just nostalgic and returns you to olden times. It is just wonderful. When you get to visit Calle Crisologo, don’t forget to ride on a calesa and have a joyride around the historical streets of Vigan. You’ll be able to see remarkable old Spanish-inspired houses around. Make the most of your stay in Vigan City and you will not regret.

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Calle Crisologo
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Old Spanish-style houses at the Calle Crisologo
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Calle Crisologo at night
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Taking a photo in the middle of the street

Before we headed back to Manila, we had dinner at my uncle’s ancestral house in Bantay, a small town near Vigan City.

And that concludes our two-day trip to Ilocos. Our original plan was just to spend a day in Pagudpud beach but we were fortunate to cover some different attractions the Ilocandia can give.

 

Mt. Ulap Eco Trail-My First Outdoor Adventure

I was never an outdoor adventure lover. Sure I am a marathoner, but the road was enough for my feet to conquer. I must admit, I was a less-adventurer.  Last March 19, 2016 was different. My friends who have climbed mountains and tried hiking before attempted – for the nth time inviting me to join them and have a day hike at Mt. Ulap (also known as the care bears mountain for hikers). And yes, they succeeded.  I was actually convinced, finally. And I must say I didn’t regret it.

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Gungal Rock- most popular site at Mt. Ulap

 

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This way to Mt. Ulap

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Camp site

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Grassland slope of Ambunao Paoay

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Stone balancing at Mt. Ulap

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At the camp site

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Over-looking

 

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It was supposed to be an easy climb. Not for a first-timer like me. Pity. It was a struggle for me. I almost ran out of breath reaching every summit. The traverse is another struggle story for me. I slid like five times. But I managed to get myself up and laugh about every breakdown. To sum it up, it was a lot of fun. It is another achievement for me- be able to conquer Mt. Ulap.

Throughout our journey, I can’t help but take pictures of every angle. The view is breathtaking. It was truly amazing how God have created all these. He was truly a genius. With this hike, I learned how to appreciate God’s creation more. And I am certain I would definitely do this again.

 

Mt. Ulap Day Hike budget:

Transportation:

Bus: Manila-Baguio – PHP455/head  (Victory Liner)

Jeepney going to Ampucao, Itogon – PHP31/head

Day Hike:

Registration Fee: PHP100/head

Guide: PHP400 for a group of 10 people

Note: I suggest that you hire a guide. One perk of having a guide is they will contact a jeepney that will take you back to Baguio City proper. Fare is PHP50/head.

Madongan Dam: A New Favorite Summer Getaway In The North

This past few weeks, photos have been circulating over social media about a newly discovered summer attraction with its cascading waterfalls and crystal clear waters – the Madongan Dam.

Initially, the Madongan Dam in San Marcelino, Dingras, Ilocos Norte was just out of curiosity of the locals. In just a span of a week, the local dam (which is also called Papa Dam) is now a tourist attraction and a new favorite for a weekend getaway.

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Cascading waterfalls of Madongan Dam

 

Madongan Dam, a new favorite spot

 

Visitors at Madongan Dam

 

Crystal Clear Water

If you are looking for a cheap but a relaxing and fun weekend escape this summer, visit this eye-catching spot located in the northeast part of Ilocos Norte.

Top Summer Destinations in the Philippines

It’s officially summer in the Philippines. Summer here means more fun and more sun. Philippines is known to its famous beaches in the world. You heard of Boracay, right? We have more of that. Beach, beach and more beach! If you speak of summer, the Philippines defines that word. So if you’re planning for a summer getaway, here a some perfect summer destinations to visit.

1. Boracay Island – Boracay Island maybe overrated but it is no denying that this beautiful island is one of the best summer destinations in Asia. A tourist’s favorite because of its stunning beaches, fine white sand and so much fun.

  

2. Palawan – With Boracay in the south, Palawan is a beautiful gem in the north. Famous places include El Nido where you can see the Marine Reserve Park and the Puerto Princesa where UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Subterranean River Park and Tubbatha Reef Marine Park are located. 

The Undergound River at Puerto Princesa by Mike Gonzalez

3. Cebu – Do you want to experience whale shark diving? Well it’s true. Watch local fishermen in Sumilon Island feed these lovely creatures by hand. And if you want a real up-close encounter with these friendly giants, try scuba diving with whale sharks. How is that for an extreme summer experience? Whale Sharks Watching

    

Get up-close encounter with the friendly whale sharks in Oslob, Cebu
  

4. Ilocos Norte – If you’ve visited Boracay a couple of times already, have a taste of the Boracay of the north- Pagudpud. Ilocandia’s pride Pagudpud is a fourth class municipality and a coastal resort town located in the north-most part of the Ilocos Region. Afraid of heights? Conquer your fear with Asia’s longest over water zipline at Hannah’s and have an unforgettable summer ever.Hannah’s Zipline in Pagudpud

 

Saud Beach in Pagudpud by John Ryan Cordova
 

5. Camarines Norte – Ah the Calaguas Island. A newly-discovered paradise in the Bicol Region. Though local tour operators are still gearing up towards a better local eco-tourism in the island not that bad to visit the island while it’s fresh.

Calaguas Island
 
6. Laguna – I’ve been talking about beaches in this post. I know, I know I am a bit bias. Next on my list is not about the beach and sandbar. The province of Laguna may not have those huge seas but they are still rich in water natures. Waterfalls, hot springs and lakes are all over the province of Laguna. Check out the local travel sites of Cavinti, Pagsanjan, Los Banos and Liliw to name a few. There’s a lot more Laguna can offer.

  
 7. Aurora – Baler the provincial capital of Aurora province is rich in historical stories. It is host to a spectacular geographic formations and situated ion a vast plain at the south end of Baler Bay, a contiguous segment of the Philippine Sea.Baler is said to be the birthplace for surfing in the Philippines.Baler provides small to large size waves best for beginners and novice surfing. List of surf spots in Baler   

A local surfer sporting his surfinfg skills with Baler’s wave
   

8. Cagayan de Oro – From north let’s go down far southern part of the country. Another extreme activity to do during summer is water rafting. White water rafting could be Cagayan de Oro’s most popular tourist’s getaway. Waters splashing and slamming against boulders will remind you of nature’s powerful effect on life. If you want real adventure and at the same time commune with nature, include Cagayan de Oro on your list.White Water Rafting Package

White Water Rafting in Cagayan de Oro

Well, these are just few destinations you can add-on to your bucketlist to experience adventure, fun and nature-loving summer in the Philippines. Being a tropical country and summer is the most favorite season, now is the best time to experience Philippines!

 

What’s in Your Luggage?

Are you a budget traveler? A backpacker? Traveling with luxury? What are the things you always keep inside your backpack or luggage?

As a budget traveler, I always prefer to travel lite. So I make sure I bring the best and most important stuff I can use throughout my trip. Packing your stuff is quite a job, really. You pack all the things you need and make sure you don’t forget anything. That is why making a travel checklist is very essential. And before generating your checklist, you have to be acquainted with your planned destination. What am I saying? Packing your stuff when you are traveling in a humid country is different from packing when traveling to a cold country. Check the current weather of your destination so you know what to bring or not to bring during your trip. Also, this could help you avoid getting exceeded on your allowed baggage load returning home. Sure you’ll get to have lots of those souvenirs from your trip back home. In this post, I’m sharing my own list.

  1. Travel Documents – This include your passport, air ticket or e-ticket, boarding pass, invitation letter, etc. These are your A-tickets to all of your trips especially when you’re going out of your mother country. Double check your destination because some countries require VISA when entering their land. Don’t forget to bring your Personal ID’s. If I may suggest put all your travel documents in one envelope or pocket organizer so you can keep all these in one place and for your own convenience.
  2. Reservations, Itineraries & Contact Infos – Before you leave for your trip, it is vital to write down and bring along with you important contact information of services you may need. To maximize your travel, have your itinerary on-hand, always.
  3. Money – Of course you will need to eat during your trips. And don’t forget to visit the local markets to buy some goodies to take home.
  4. Technology – This includes your phone, cameras, chargers, power banks and other useful tools you may need during your trip.
  5. Lightweight Clothing – As I have mentioned, this depends on the weather/climate of the place you’re visiting. As much as possible, pack basic, lightweight clothes. and if you’re traveling to a place with a cold climate, you may want to bring one or two sweater or jacket. Pack an extra swimsuit just in case you may want to dive into a pool or beach.
  6. Toiletry Bag – What’s in it? The basics. Toothbrush, deodorant, sunscreen, moisturizer, facial wipes, lip balm, personal feminine hygiene products (for females of course), hairbrush/comb, lotion and if you’re particular to your hair products, bring your own shampoo and conditioner. But these are available at your hotel for sure.
  7. Day Bag – This can be used in a variety of ways and help you stay comfortable and prepared. This is where I put my sunnies, purse, cellphone, lip balm, face powder and hanky.
  8. Footwear – I only bring a pair of flip-flops and a pair of comfortable shoes – sneakers or a comfy flat.

Necessities for each traveler may vary, but these are the basics that are always in my luggage. What’s inside your bag?