Last April my family and I decided to look for a resort to relax and swim. We started scouting resorts from Ilocos Sur and finally got the best place at Laoag which is Plaza Del Norte. You may go on a day tour and swim in their pool for P300.00 meals included.
I was surprised when I heard that Laoag actually has sand dunes, (and here I thought Pampanga only has them haha!) It wasn't anything like the ones in the real desset but this is good enough. You will see rolling sand hills as far as your eyes can see. It's quite picturesque!
The best way to enjoy this is to hop on a 4X4 jeep and go up and down the terrain. It feels like a rollercoaster ride without the harness. There are also sand boarding available in the area.
Paoay Church is the most iconic landmark of Ilocos Norte. Built in 1710, this baroque church was listed in the UNESCO world heritage site. What makes this chuch magnificent was the buttresses in its side and back.
I personally thought that the chruch's frontal structure was filled with carvings only to realize upon closer inspection that what I thought was carvings from a far were actually cracks...
The Marcoses is Ilocos Norte's most famous political clan. Ferdinand Marcos, being the late president turned dictator is still very well loved here. Because of this love, the family opened their ancestral house to the public and turned it into a museum. It houses the memorabilias of Ferdinand Marcos from his student years in UP, up to his presidency. It also has some of Imelda's dresses (sorry no shoes) and the late president's barongs. There also has a wall which tells the love story of the two which is quite romantic.
But the real attraction here is not really the museum but "Apong" himself. When Ferdinand Marcos died of Lupus in Hawaii, his body was brought back here in the Philippines but was denied of a burial in "Libingan ng mga Bayani" (Heroes cemetery) because of his alleged crimes as a dictator. Until now, the preserved body of the late President was stored in a glass case in a refrigerated mausoleum beside the main house. Unfortunately, no cameras allowed.
Before heading out to Pagudpod's beach, I suggest that you stop by to see the windmills at Bangui, Ilocos Norte. It is the largest windmills in South East Asia and powers 40% of Ilocos Norte. Marvel at the sight of the powerful blades of the windmills and of course get a picture with it just like I did hehehe. Coming from the south you could actually see the windmills by the road but it is a must that you get a closer look, just be careful when you're driving there becase the roads are unpaved and a bit small. The windmills are erected by the beach so if you're coming by car, I suggest that you park where the soil is more harder than the sand to avoid getting stuck.
Ferdinand Edralin Marcos was the first Philippine President that I have known and living inside Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo for a long time under his regime, I felt his...LEADERSHIP. Let's leave it at that. =[
Minus the history behind it, it is very beautiful and all the rooms were carefully decorated.
Outside, near the Paoay Lake where Marcoses rode their jet skis, it was very breezy. The air was fresh and it was very, very picturesque.
This place is known as the largest colonial home in Badoc and is the birth place of Juan Luna.
It is filled with his work of art and every piece has a story.
His wife, one of his favorite subjects, was killed by him because of alleged adultery.
Anyways, just click Juan Luna's name and would learn things about him. ;-D
THE GENERAL FEEL OF THE PLACE
It's nice to go around this preserved house. I felt like I was being transported to the time that the great lived there. While walking around the garden I envisioned the Luna siblings playing there.
Maybe getting some scoldings from their parents every now and then, but they must have had so much fun.
I also imagined how they were taught how to paint and whatever else, until they transferred to City of Manila.
He was well educated and well traveled, but died at a very young age of 42.
When you get the chance to go to Ilocos Norte, do drop by Badoc and visit the shrine of Juan Luna.
Tuesday to Sunday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Look for Mr. Angel Raguindin, Curator
Sounds interesting, isn't it? There are only a few known sand dunes here in the Philippines, and lesser sandboarding opportunities. If it's one of the things to do in your bucket list, then you can start now. Of course, the best sand dunes are in the Middle East, but then, for locals, Paoay is good enough. Our guide said the best time for sandboarding is from 7-10 am and 4-5 pm. When it's too cold (like the early morning) or too hot (around noontime), the board doesn't slide down smoothly. To get to the sand dunes, we rode a 4x4 vehicle which took us into the ride of our lives, much like a roller coaster. It was so fun. Then it was time for the sandboarding. We were taken to a slope for beginners. It was a breeze sliding down. Of course, there were stumbles along the way, but the board slid slowly so balancing was not much of a challenge. Our overconfident selves then dared to slide down the steep slope. It turned out to be a disaster as nobody was able to stay on the board going down. Nobody got physically hurt, by the way, only egos were broken. :-) It was fun, though, watching everybody fall. The package we got cost P2,500.00 which included the use of the 4x4 vehicle and sandboards for an hour. Maximum no. of persons per trip is 5. Was it worth it? Of course. After travelling for 9 hours to get there, we just had to do it.
When we went back to Burgos, Ilocos Norte in June 2011, we skipped going to Burgos Lighthouse to spend more time climbing and taking pictures of Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. Once a well-kept secret of photographers, the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation is now a popular tourist destination.
The Kapurpurawan Rock Formation is an interestingly-shaped hill of white limestone rock formed through the processes of sedimentation and erosion by the natural forces of land, sea and wind. Depending on how or which side you look at it, the top part of the hill look like waves with the hull and sail of a submarine showing. Others "see" the head of a dragon.
I have posted a separate Travel Page on Burgos.
The first time we went to the small town of Burgos in 2008, we went to see Burgos Lighthouse, also known as Cape Bojeador. As our tour bus arrived at Vigia de Nagparitan Hill, I couldn't help but admire the old lighthouse on the top of the hill. It stands 65 feet/20 meters high, and is considered the highest elevated lighthouse in the country. Cape Bojeador has served as a beacon to sea navigators for more than a century, having started its operations in 1892. Cape Bojeador was declared a National Treasure by the National Museum. The structure is made of local red bricks with accents of cast iron grill work.
If you want to appreciate the Burgos Lighthouse, you must be prepared to do a lot of climbing because one has to go up the hill, climb several flights of stairs to the building, then muster enough will power to "conquer" the spiral staircase and steep, steel ladder to reach the beacon light area. I did...well, almost... I finished climbing the spiral staircase but I didn't dare go further to the beacon light area because I was already very dizzy :(
When I went down the lighthouse, I explored the surroundings...quite a creepy experience for me, but that's another story ;)
The first time we went to Bangui in 2008, we saw the famous Bangui Windmill Farm only from the View Deck in Bangui and from Saud Beach in Pagudpud. From afar, it was a sight to behold, but we got so curious what it was like under those giant windmills. We vowed to go back and see it on site, and we finally did in June 2011. It was an awesome experience seeing the giant windmills during sunrise. ( I will post more photos and narrative in a separate travel page on Bangui.)
Bangui Windmill Farm is said to be the first source of clean energy in the Philippines, and supplies electricity to 40% of Ilocos Norte.
Pagudpud is a coastal town in the northernmost tip of Luzon, known as Boracay of the North because of its powdery white sand beaches. The first time we went there in 2008, we only went as far as Saud Beach. The second time we went there in June 2011, we returned to Saud Beach and went further up north to the Blue Lagoon. There's so much development in the area now. I hope it doesn't become "overdeveloped" and commercialized like Boracay.
I have posted a separate Travel Page on Pagudpud.
When we were in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, our tour guide talked in a soft voice about the town and the Church of Sta. Monica. Sta. Monica Church is considered the biggest church in Ilocos Region. It's red brick structure was built in neo-classical style, with hints of Baroque influence. Sarrat became popular when the church became the site of the lavish wedding of former President Marcos' daughter, Irene. I wouldn't dare write about some stories told us regarding the lavish preparations.
The Sta. Monica Church has more to its historical background than being the venue of the Presidential Daughter's wedding. Before it was named in honor of San Augustine's mother, Sta. Monica, it was formerly called Church of San Miguel to commemorate the first Augustinian missionaries' arrival at Sarrat on September 29,1721, San Miguel's feast day. Later, it was named Sarrat Church by virtue of government legislature to restore the town's original name. Actually,the first convent established in 1769 served as temporary church. The structure of the church and belfry were built in 1779. When the convent was damaged by fire in 1816, another convent was built and finished in 1817. It burned down again in 1882 so a new one was built anew and completed in 1896. A unique feature, the only one in our country can be seen here. A stairway connects the church to its convent. It is unfortunate that I wasn't able to take a picture of this and the altar. Hubby Willy was able to take pictures of the altar with his high tech camera.
It is a dream come true to be able to visit Paoay Church, the best known earthquake Baroque church in the Philippines which has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The cornerstone of the church was laid by the Augustinian missionaries in 1704 while the cornerstone of the belfry was laid in 1793. The people already used it even before completion in 1894, but it was formally inaugurated on February 28,1896. It is said that large coral stones were used for the lower level of the church structure,and bricks were used for the upper levels. The walls which were made of coral blocks, tree sap, lumber and stucco-plastered bricks are 1.67 meters (more than 3 feet) thick, and are supported by 24 massive buttresses of intricate design.The church was partially destroyed twice by earthquakes in 1706 and 1927. In the restoration, permanent columns were built to support the ceiling. Today, this uniquely beautiful church still stands, wowing tourists with its majestic structure of Oriental, Gothic and Baroque influences.
The belfry stands a few meters from the church. As in other belfries of Ilocos churches, Katipuneros used the belfry as watch point in the 1896 revolution, and guerrillas of World War II also used it to check out coming enemies.
Paoay Church is a dream photo subject, especially on a beautiful day. It could be hard to get good shots with so many people around; sometimes, someone suddenly blocks your view. Disregarding this discomfort, my Paoay experience remains to be something I'll always cherish.
St. William's Cathedral is one place you shouldn't miss to visit. It is older than Paoay Church, as it was first built in 1590 by the Augustinian friars. The church was originally built using lime mixed with molasses for added strength, huge stones, gravel and sand. Wood was used for trusses to support the roof made of thatch materials (cogon grass). Roofing material was later changed to galvanized sheet (called taleb) made of whole bamboos. The structure was replaced in 1612 with an Italian Renaissance design, its 2-storey facade supported by 4 pairs of coupled columns. The image of St. William, Patron Saint of Laoag City was placed on the recessed niche at the top of the facade. The church suffered structural damages caused by a hurricane in 1640, an earthquake in 1706, and fire in 1843. Repairs were made in 1873, and it was finally restored in 1880. The Revolutionists occupied the church in 1890, as did the American forces in 1899.
Equally interesting as the architectural details of St. William's Cathedral is its sinking belfry. The bell tower is located 85 meters away from the church. With its massive, solid and tall structure (45 meters high),the belfry is considered the tallest in the Philippines. It sinks an inch each year because of its weight and sandy foundation. With a very hot climate in Laoag, the soil has suffered desertification (soil degrades and is converted to sand). The tower had sank so deep that its entrance is already half-buried. Our guide said that before, the entrance of the belfry is so high that a man riding a horse could easily go through it. Now, one has to stoop to enter. Despite its sinking structure, to this date, the belfry is still functional
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