Going outdoors is my kind of weekend. There is nothing like stepping outside, feel the Earth and breathe.
Mount Talamitam in Nasugbu, Bantangas is one of the easiest and shortest climb in the Philippines. For newbies, and for some hardcore mountaineers who just want to have a good time outdoors, Mt. Talamitam is a must-climb. Also, it’s a good place to train for those who are aspiring to become trail runners (like me).
Reaching the summit is like no other. The view is such a beauty. You’d also get to see Mt. Batulao on the other side. My friends and I took a lot of photos and we enjoy every view.
Here are some tips/guide if you plan going to Mt. Talamitam on a day hike.
It is a less than 2-hour drive from Manila if you’re in a private vehicle taking SLEX-Nuvali-Tagaytay-Nasugbu route
You may also take public buses going to Nasugbu, Batangas and stop at the registration site itself.
The registration site is at Barangay Aga, Sitio Bayabasan
Registration fee is PHP40.00 per head
Guide fee depends how much you want to give your guide. As for us, we gave Kuya Eugene PHP400 + food
Note: there respective fees if you want to use their toilet and have shower.
Camping or spending over night is also possible with corresponding fees.
Sidetrips: Layong Bilog River (optional)
Rappelling activity is also available at the campsite of Mt. Talamitam.
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.
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.
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.
Patapat Viaduct in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
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.
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.
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.
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.
Stone balancing at Mt. Ulap
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:
Bus: Manila-Baguio – PHP455/head (Victory Liner)
Jeepney going to Ampucao, Itogon – PHP31/head
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.