Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Northern Exposure The Second Time Around

Ilocos Province. Eleven years ago, I visited Ilocos Region and had my first taste of bagnet, chichacorn and the local longganisa. So this time, I came back to relive that trip together with my friends. We started at the far north where I also started before. But this time we have a car with us so we can really get in to all the places we really wanted to go.

This is the Saud Beach in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Right at the northernmost tip of Luzon Island. This place has never changed. Still surrounded with wooden fishing boats, seaweeds and clean white sand.

Not far from Saud beach is the Bangui Windmill Farms. It was only about 20 windmills situated on a mooncrest beach of Bangui when I first came in 2006 but now it has quadrupled. They are everywhere in Bangui and some are in Saud beach area.

Further up north towards the Cagayan province is the Patapat Viaduct. An elevated road which connects the Pan Philippine Highway from Pagudpud in north east towards Cagayan Province in the north west.

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When the Spaniards came more than 400 years ago, they have build lighthouses all over the Philippines to guide the ships travelling from around the world. The Cape Bojeador Lighthouse was the second oldest lighthouse built by the Spaniards using forced labor from the locals. This light house guided the economic highway of the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade.

The following day, we went south to the capital city of Ilocos Norte, Laoag. We visited the old churches, bell towers and the capitol hall. We only spend a short time in the city before we head down to the Malacanang of the North. This was a stunning piece of land with the still standing house of the Marcoses, now formerly owned by the local government. IT was still the same place as I have seen it the first time.

A new place we added to the list is the Paoay Sand Dunes. These sand dunes has been there since Tom Cruise did the movie "Born on the Fourth of July" and the famous "Himala" of Nora Aunor. But this place has also been recently resurrected with sports and recreational activities riding a 4X4 truck, ATV and sand boarding.

The highlight of this trip is a visit to the world famous Paoay Church, a baroque church listed as one of the gems of Catholic Churches in the Philippines and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The next day brought us to the heritage city of Vigan. This is my third time here. It was a Sunday and a hoard of local tourists flocks through the famed Calle Crisologo. Shops and hotels uses the old heritage houses on this quaint street. The cobbled-stone streets still remain in tact. And the rule of no any other building can be built higher than the cathedral church is still fully implemented despite the development of the capitalists to earn more from the thousands of tourists visiting this city.

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During Day 1, we also stopped over this lovely yet less visited heritage church of Santa Maria, Vigan. This is such a stunning church sitting on a hilltop away from the over crowded capital cities of the north. Very few tourists passed by it yet it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Well it was great to beack and see this amazing northern part of the Philippines. We visited the north from June 29 to July 2, 2017. Will be back again maybe after 11 years? Why not.

27 July 2017

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