Bluewater Resorts

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ilocos Region | 3-day Road Trip Up North

Months after my graduation in 2008, with no idea on what the “real world” was, I unexpectedly found myself entangled into the web of corporate life. I began longing for a short breather. In what seemed to be a most opportune time, my cousin requested our presence in his forthcoming wedding in Badoc, Ilocos Sur which was coincidentally scheduled on Ninoy Aquino Day. Alas! The vacation was set and a 3-day road trip was planned.

A visit at the bailiwick of Ferdinand E. Marcos on a holiday celebrated in memory of Ninoy Aquino’s death? Ironic it may seem but, what do I know about them? Born exactly one year and a day after the first EDSA revolution, I was left with only history to reckon with.  I had this certain respect for both men but the enigma of President Marcos was more beckoning to me than that of Ninoy’s. Maybe it was because at that time, while so much had been said about Ninoy, my only recollection of Ferdinand E. Marcos was vaguely associated with what they called martial law.

On our way to the wedding, we chose to drive through the road less travelled. We passed by the provinces and municipalities of Tarlac, Lingayen and Dagupan, had a glimpse of the mountain silhouettes of the Cordillera region and visited numerous old churches constructed by the Spaniards. After 10 long hours of driving through paved asphalt, we finally reached our main destination: Ilocos Region, the province known to many as home to one of the most powerful families in the Philippines

Waking up for the second day was quite exhilarating. We agreed to go directly to Pagudpud but my mom fortunately decided to make stopovers on almost all the famous landmarks of the province. The old church of Badoc was not that memorable as for my experience but the visit we had at the house of Juan Luna was one of a kind.

Like a kid in a toy store, I was awed by its magnificent façade. With meter-wide brick walls and carefully placed wooden floors, having a house exactly like this suddenly became a fantasy of mine. Even without air-conditioning, the interior of the mansion was cool and comfortable. It may be attributed to its stone-walled structure blocking the sun’s heat from outside. It was truly astounding.

We had a short tour of the place walking through every nook and cranny we could find. Having a chapel, a deep well, great staircases and a spacious azotea, this house is absolutely an embodiment of a well-to-do living during the Spanish times.

After recounting and reliving Juan Luna’s history, we set out to traverse one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. With its gigantic exterior and astonishing history, one can always be overwhelmed by the sight of the St. Augustine church of Paoay.

We strolled through its historic garden and walked in awe beside the church walls. Dwarfed by its huge structure, taking photos beside it was quite challenging. Nevertheless, we had an enjoyable time trying to fit the huge structure of the church as backdrop to our pictures.

After the multiple photo opportunities, we finally boarded my brother’s car and headed to the destination I was really looking forward to. Driving for just a brief moment, we finally entered one of the most famous mansions of the region.

Built as a fortress for the Marcoses, in the middle of which was an edifice that houses the fallen body of the once most powerful person in our country. Awaiting permission to be buried at the “Libingan ng mga Bayani”, Ferdinand Marcos’ wife decided to have his corpse preserved and displayed on a refrigerated glass coffin.

As soon I entered the darkly lit chamber with the illuminated glass box deftly positioned at the centre, I did experience goose bump. Aptly serenaded by “March” music complimented by the cold gust of wind coming from inside the room, it really had an eerie and almost freaky atmosphere. However, once I saw the body of the former president, all of that feeling suddenly disappeared, replaced by questions bursting out of my head. Was it really him? How come such a powerful man succumbed to this kind of defeat? Did he really do all of the things he was accused of? As I had stated, I was born exactly one year from his downfall that’s why the confusion in my head was so severe.

We stayed for a while and walked through the insides of the establishment. Displayed atop tables and glass cabinets were the different kinds of equipments and paraphernalia used and notes handwritten before, during and after the 2 decades of his overwhelming administration. It was really astonishing seeing all them stacked up for more than 20 years.

At noon however, we opted to have our lunch at a restaurant situated near the Windmills of Bangui. We were supposed to trek to the Kapurpurawan rock formations but having a sedan as our mode of transportation, we ultimately decided to skip the rough road to keep the car as fixed as possible.

While eating lunch we were astounded. Not only were we served with delicious Ilocano meals, we were also given the majestic view of the 21 monstrous edifices.

After the hearty lunch, one by one, we demonstrated how we were being dwarfed by the humongous fans that powered the municipality. It was definitely a splendid experience.

Before sundown, after all the stopovers, we were truly ecstatic having reached Pagudpud. Dipping in its cool sea water and playing with its white sands, it was a nice end to long day of road adventure.

Saud beach resort had a swimming curfew of 6 in the afternoon so after dinner, we were all lying on our beds, thanking God for giving us strength to reach all the destinations we had touched. 

We all woke up early in the morning to catch up for the wedding and at 9:00 AM, we were all back at Badoc just in time for the ceremonies. Mouth-watering food served from humongous plates was hovering right in front of my face. One by one, I got a taste of the sumptuous and delicious Ilocano delicacies. 

After the reception, we waved goodbye to our cousin and his new family, thankful for the warm hospitality they showed us during our stay in their province. However, the vacation was not completely done. Vigan was supposedly the first destination we planned to visit in Ilocos but the downpour that happened 2 nights ago made us decide to skip it.

Now, with sunshine all throughout the day and rain clouds not in sight, we enthusiastically continued with our planned visit to the world heritage site of Calle Crisologo.

We walked through its scenic street, being constantly reminded of the olden days were the Calesas were considered the king of the road. Nostalgic and old-fashioned were 2 words that described what I was feeling as I hiked through its brick laden path. Old houses and Spanish architecture were scattered all throughout the road.  

We stayed for a while as we savoured the atmosphere of the well-preserved road. We relished and admired the stunning beauty of the place. It was a bitter-sweet experience as we were about to finish the 3-day adventurous road trip we just had. Capping off our wonderful sojourn, Vigan really caught our hearts off-guard.

After about 2 hours tramping “Calle Crisologo”, we waved goodbye to the proud province of the north, promising that one day, we will come back for a longer and more fruitful adventure. Ilocos may only be reached by a gruelling 10 hour drive, but it is all worth the suffering once you enter the plush and proud province of the Marcoses and the resilient Ilocanos.

You may also like my mom’s blog about this trip:  

*Credits to my bro and my mom for most of the photos in this post


  1. truly, Ilocos Norte and Sur has a lot to offer! I al enjoyed my trip there last year! thanks for sharing your experience! :)

  2. This is cool Dane, hope to see you around ;-)


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