Why Ilocos Will Always Be a Good Idea
Ilocos is among the best places to go to in the northern part of the Philippines especially during the summer season. It is where history and culture collide and has a natural charm that is truly Filipino. I went to see this beautiful region on a glorious month of February when the weather is great and the tourists are few. So let me share to you my short trip to the home of the Ilocanos. The journey started in Manila where I took a 45-minute plane ride to Laoag City in Ilocos Norte. I arrived a little late in the evening so I was starving. My cousin picked me up from the airport and took me to one of the famous places to eat empanada, Dap-ayan ti Ilocos Norte. One thing you should know about Ilocos is that they are serious about their empanada. In case you don’t know, empanada is a pastry turnover stuffed with a variety of savoury ingredients which are either baked or fried. The Laoag Empanada is flatter than most and uses papaya as stuffing. It is also filled with longganisa (a breakfast sausage traditionally made from ground pork or beef), lots of garlic and other seasoning. When you take an order, it is freshly assembled and cooked in front of you, making the experience tastier. After the lovely welcome dinner, we had to take a forty minute ride to Currimao, a few towns away from Laoag City where my cousin and her family live. Since it was dark, I couldn’t really appreciate the sceneries until I woke up the next morning. Lo and behold, what beauty woke me up the next day! As it turned out, Currimao is a lazy seaside town facing the West Philippine Sea where you can suck in the freshest air! On my first day, I decided to do some sightseeing of some of the famous attractions of Ilocos Norte.We drove up north to Burgos to see Cape Bojeador on Vigia de Nagapartian Hill which was established during the Spanish colonial era. It was first lit on March 30, 1892 to guide the early galleons coming into Northern Luzon from China and East Asia. Despite the eery atmosphere I felt when I was there, the stunning view of the West Philippine Sea from the balcony was enough reason to go here.The next order of business was Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, still in Burgos. It was a struggling walk from the road to the site, but boy, what a view! The ivory white and streamlined limestone formations were naturally sculpted by different oceanic and weather forces. Seeing the white rock formations was magical. It was like being transported to a different dimension!Just a little bit farther is one of the things Ilocanos are proud of–the Bangui Windmills. The view of these large electric fan-like structures was quite astounding. This project was launched to push for an alternative and green source of energy in the Ilocos region. Today, it is not surprising to note that the Ilocos Norte has one of lowest carbon footprints in Asia. There are about 20 towers which are 60 metres high, with each turbine capable of producing electricity of up to 1.65 megawatt.We drove over 20 kilometres and reached the famous beach destination of the North, Pagudpud. We went to one of the resorts called Hannah’s. It has a long stretch of white sand shoreline and clear waters. We had lunch in their resto and roamed around the resort. For me who have seen a lot of beaches in the Philippines, I can say that the beaches of Pagudpud are quite average.Since we were already in Pagudpud area, we drove up to the Patapat Viaduct. I was told that it was the fourth longest bridge in the Philippines. Aside from experiencing the long and winding road, people come here for the view of the Pasaleng Bay and the mountains of North Cordillera. After exploring the North, we decided to take the long journey back to Currimao. Before heading home, my cousin was nice enough to take me to Paoay to see the magnificent Saint Augustine Church or more commonly called as the Paoay Church. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its well-preserved Baroque architecture. On my final day in Ilocos, I excitedly went to Vigan in Ilocos Sur which was a two-hour drive from Currimao. I have seen its views in many postcards growing up so I made sure that I was ready to explore the town. Upon reaching it, the first thing I did was–guess what–eat empanada! As I said above, empanada is such as celebrated delicacy in Ilocos! I noted that the Vigan empanada’s crust was much crunchier and thinner than the ones I tried in Laoag earlier. The vinegar that came with it was tastier as well.After that food fare, I finally went to Calle Crisologo, the infamous street of Vigan. It is a half-kilometre cobbled-stone street that greatly depicts Filipino-Spanish architecture. What used to be a village where rich Filipino families lived, is now a marketplace where you can find souvenirs and other knick knacks. Vehicles are not allowed to enter the area and calesas (horse-drawn carriage) are the only mode of transport. That’s how I ended my trip to the Ilocos region. I wasn’t able to visit other places such as the Paoay Sand Dunes and Anuplig Waterfalls so I’ll make sure that I’ll go here the next time I visit in the near future. After all, Ilocos is always a good idea!