We’ve been planning to go to Ilocos for some time… but it never seem to push through for one reason or another. Luckily, this June… we made it. All throughout the year, airlines have seat sales… and with enough luck, a round trip plane ticket to Laoag would cost about the same (or even less) as a bus ride to the same destination. But we opted to drive through 5 provinces to reach Ilocos… and touring the Ilocos Region entailed more driving. We were a party of six of not-so-crazy individuals… who were travelling together as a group for the first time.
My flight to Manila from Bacolod was at 8:25pm. Fortunately, there was no delay for this particular flight whatsoever. By 9:30pm, I was waiting for Doc to pick me up outside the arrival area of NAIA Terminal 3. We then headed to Quezon City to meet up with four other friends. We parked Doc’s car in Leezl’s garage since we will be taking Leezl’s SUV to Ilocos. After loading all our stuff, it was time to take off. We left Metro Manila a quarter before midnight. I found it hard to sleep during the trip since I was resting and sleeping for the last three days because I got sick two days prior to this trip. I was beginning to regret not bringing a jacket since it got really cold inside the vehicle. For most of the trip, I closed my eyes and talked myself into sleeping because I didn’t want to have relapse while we were in vacation even if we had a doctor in the group.
For the four of us: Doc (who was celebrating her nth birthday during the trip), MP (who was persistently and anxiously asking for an itinerary every so often), Imee (another OC who was due to be back in Davao as soon as we return in Manila) and myself… this was our first time to go to Ilocos. Leezl (our travelguide/designated driver) and Lani (the co-pilot/translator/”foodie guide”) arranged for everything including hotel reservations. And the prankster that she is, Leezl wouldn’t tell us the details of the trip. Whenever we asked what was our itinerary she would simply tell us whatever we wanted to see in Ilocos. We had no idea where we were going or where we were staying for the next two nights… or which town or province for that matter. I was trying to calculate in my mind how many hours away we were from our next good bath.
So our Ilocos adventure begins…
With several stops for coffee, bathroom breaks, switching drivers and stretching our legs, we reached the town of Candon, Ilocos Sur at around 7am… just in time for breakfast. I realized that the last meal I had was in Bacolod, a couple of hours before my flight. We ended up in a fastfood chain to start off our day.
- Santa Maria Church or Iglesia de Nuesta Señora de la Asuncion in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur
- St. Augustine Parish Church or the Bantay Church in Bantay, Ilocos Sur
- lunch at the Empanadahan in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
- Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
- The Marcos Presidential Center at Batac, Ilocos Norte
- Paoay Church or the St. Augustine Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte
- Herencia Restaurant in Paoay, Ilocos Norte
- Laoag Church and the leaning Bell Tower in Laoag, Ilocos Norte
- Java Hotel in Laoag, Ilocos Norte
- dinner at Eagles Nest Resto at Loag, Ilocos Norte
Wake-up call was suppose to be 6:00am so we can start touring Ilocos Norte by 8:00am. I did wake up at around 5:30am because I wanted to watch the sunrise, which fortunately can be viewed from the terrace of our hotel room. I quietly slipped out to the terrace and took photos. Looked like we were going to have good weather. I took a bath while everyone else was still sleeping. By the time I was done, most of my companions were up and preparing for the day. We had breakfast at the hotel. We were in Ilocos… we all had the famous Ilocos longganisa, sinangag (fried rice) and itog (fried egg).
Before heading out of Laoag and further north of Ilocos, we made a few stops to buy some water, soft drinks, ice for the cooler, chips and some bread that Lani was craving for (unfortunately I forgot what it was called). The bread must have been good, they finished it off in no time.
After a good night sleep at the hotel, we were all recharged and excited to see more of the province… especially the rock formations in Burgos and windmills in Bangui. Everyone was giddy and chatting while on the road until Leezl announced that we were having German for lunch. “Does anyone like German Shepherd?” she teased. (My apologies to dog and animal lovers.) And no, we didn’t have any dog meat.
- Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Norte
- Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos, Ilocos Norte
- lunch at Berg Blick in Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte
- Patpat Viaduct in Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte
- Bagui Windmills in Bangui, Ilocos Norte
- sunset at Cape Bojeador in Burgos, Ilocos Norte
Our last day in Ilocos. Woke up quite early and found Atty. Lani all dressed up. She whispered that she was going to visit some relatives before we head back home. I went back to sleep since my legs and probably the rest of my body was aching from the trek the previous day. When I woke up, Leezl was already taking her bath. I started packing my stuff and took out some fresh clothes that I will be using for the day. By time Atty. Lani came back we were all ready and packed.
Breakfast was again at the hotel’s resto… and it was still Ilocos longganisa for all of us. While waiting for our food, Atty Lani brought out something wrapped in an aluminum foil, which was given to her by a relative. Leezl was sheepishly smiling at all of us and exclaimed, “Ipis!” Unwrapping the foil, I’ve got to agree with Leezl, it was quite close. But Atty. Lani explained to us it was some variety of bug. I couldn’t remember what she called it.. but it looked like what we Ilonggos call “labug-labog.” So this was appetizer. Atty. Lani showed us how it was eaten… taking off all it’s legs and the head… and pop it in your mouth. Imee, who was the most adventurous among all of us, just ate it whole… and asked for seconds. So now, we all have had to try it (with the exception of Leezl)… even just to say that we had a “fear factor” moment in Ilocos. I was hoping this was going to be a similar experience with tamilok in Palawan… but unfortunately, I couldn’t just swallow it. It was too big and I had to chew. In fairness, it had no funky taste… it was actually garlicky. Too bad, I had no photos for this one.
Off to the market we went after eating breakfast. We couldn’t possibly leave Ilocos without taking home longganisa and bagnet. Checked out of the hotel after lunch and there was still more to see before going back to Manila.
- Laoag Public Market in Laoag, Ilocos Norte
- lunch at La Preciosa in Laoag, Ilocos Norte
- Malacanang of the North in Paoay, Ilocos Norte
- back to the Empanadahan for more empanada in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
- Marsha’s Delicacies in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
credits: some photos were taken by Argie Villajin
LESSONS ON THE ROAD
We always look forward to going to certain places… getting to our destination in the shortest time possible. But when travelling with friends, it’s always about the journey… the company… the chance to bond.