Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Ilocos Norte Road Journal (Part 1)

The northern part of the Philippines holds a very special spot in my heart. I don’t know why but when my mood’s not on a high and I need to think of feel-good scenery, the places in the North are a staple part of the picture–Baguio, Sagada, Banawe, Baler, Pangasinan, La Union, Tuguegarao, Aparri, Isabela, Vigan, Pagudpod, and my most-fancied destination–Batanes. I even feel sad whenever I hear storm news greatly affecting that part of the country.
Could it be that in my past life I was an Ifugao, or an Igorot, or maybe an Ivatan? Okay, scratch that! I don’t even believe in that past-life thing.
Maybe it was more because both my mama and papa’s families hailed from Bulacan, which is in the north. Even when I don’t fully grasp the idea of traveling yet, I already had wanderlust encounters with some part of the North as a child. The long bus rides or drive in North Luzon Expressway going to Bulacan, Bataan or even Baguio left a happy and remarkable mark in my thoughts which I’m carrying on until now.
As a child, I could only glance at most places in the north through my Sibikabook, which was of course, in news print so I couldn’t even picture the real image of those places in my head. Good thing God blessed me with good jobs that could pay for my travel expenses now and a wayfaring heart that seeks to see the the beauty of those places in the pages of my Sibika book come to life before my very eyes.
I seek to travel and see all the beautiful places in the Philippines, not only the northern part, but ALL. And that ALL meant I have to be a millionaire –or a hundred-thousandnaire if only there’s such a term since I don’t think it would really cost you millions to travel the whole Philippine island, especially with my‘payak na pamumuhay’ way of traveling.
Alright, so since I’m not a hundred-thousandnaire yet, I decided to travel the Philippines a little paycheck at a time:-)
I’m already done with Anawangin and Capones in Zambales, Pangasinan, Baguio, Benguet, Sagada, and Ilocos Sur. Now it’s Ilocos Norte’s turn:-)
I decided to make this travelogue about Ilocos Norte in two parts since there are a lot of things to say about this place.
The first part of the Ilocos Norte diary: PAGUDPOD
The white sand and pristine Pagudpod beach
My friends and I went to Ilocos Sur first before we headed to Pagudpod. It was a quite long, almost 2-hours ride from Vigan to Pagudpod. But it was worth it. Pagudpod’s really a piece of heaven.
To make the most of our time in Pagudpod and visit the tourist spots there, we decided to avail of the tricycle tour offered by the tricycle drivers of Pagudpod. The tour is actually divided into two parts–the Northern (Pagudpod) and the southern tour (Bangui and Burgos). The usual rate is Php 600 for a minimum of 3 pax for each tour. We didn’t have ample time to tour the whole place so we asked Manong driver to give us a package fit and cheap enough to accommodate all four us with only some parts to tour. After a few haggles, we agreed on a P1000 tour package.
Our first destination was the Patapat Viaduct.
It was only then that I came to know that Tuguegarao  is farther than the Ilocos region. All thanks to the bus with the Tuguegarao sign which passed by the road while we were having our photo sessions.
Next, we headed on to Timangtang Rock.
Timangtang Rock formation
And then, the Bantay-Abot Cave.
Bantay-Abot cave
I don’t know if it’s true but I read in a blog that these two rock formations were called the Lover’s Rock–Timangtang is the male and Bantay Abot is the female. I didn’t actually realize it until today while I was searching on information about these places, Tumangtang rock is like the missing piece in Bantay-Abot that’s why the latter has a hole in it. One blogger, Yodisphere, even called Timangtang Rock the Prodigal Rock. The writer even creatively made an interpretation of the rock formation:
“He left the cave for foolish adventure, only to get stuck a few kilometers away from the protection of the cave, now immobilized along the shore and partly by the sea. This sad rock is now looking at the cave, longing to fill that hole he foolishly created when he left, longing to come back but he can’t, even if he is so near. That is the prize he pays for the poor choices he made. ” – Yodisphere
Okay, I was too engrossed with the story. I’m really a sucker for romantic stories–kahit pa tungkol sa bato yan!
Back to the tour, the last stop in the northern part tour was the Blue Lagoon. It’s a  u-shaped stretch of white beach, shaped pretty much just like Dakak.
And now, the southern part! Actually, we only went to Bangui to see the Bangui Windmills since it’s a must-see in Ilocos Norte.
Well hello lhei! :D
We finished off the tour almost past 5pm. We didn’t want to be traveling on the road in the dark so we asked Manong driver to bring us back to the resort already.
It was a very tiring but happy day all together. I was seated at the back ride of the tricycle driver the entire tour and all the time we were traveling on the road to go to various tourist spots in Pagudpod, I only have all praises and thanks to Father God for blessing the Philippines with such abundance of nature. God must have love our country so much to be pouring out all these natural wonders to the Philippines.
Photo credits: Ms. Lulu Nario , Leah Piamonte, and Thie Calderon:-)
********SIDE COMMENTS*****
In most of my travels with friends, I’m always the one looking for and searching online for cheap but nice accommodations and everything about the place we’re going to. In this particular tour, the cheapest but nicest accommodation in Pagudpod I found in the net was the Arinaya White Beach Resort.
The place was cheap, alright, as compared to the other resorts in Saud since we only paid P2000 for the room (good for 3 pax) plus P200 for additional person–but it isn’t highly recommendable. First off, the resort manager–COLEEN (not sure of the correct spelling of her name)–was nosy and snob. When we ate in the resort’s restaurant for lunch, almost everything that we ordered were not available and she kept looking at us with a snooty face. Her staff, whom she’s been talking with while we were eating, even asked us if we were in-house guests. In all fairness, the rest of the staff were nice naman, especially the atein the reception area and the ate in charge of the kitchen and restaurant at night. She even gave us hot water for one of my friends who was suffering from stomachache that night. It was only that Coleen who’s discourteous. One of the staff told me that Coleen’s the wife of the owner of the resort so maybe that’s why she’s that arrogant.
Their room was a little dirty with a not so nice smell and a faulty bathroom’s doorknob. I think it’s better to book in another resort if you want to enjoy Pagudpod more.

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