I’ve been very lucky to be able to travel more since the start of this year, and I have developed a sense of liking [and longing] to write about the places I’ve been able to visit; the people, their culture, the wonders.
Just last week my family and I embarked on a 3 days, 2 nights tour of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, respectively. With it being my first time there even though we come from a province just next to it [which is, you see, is La Union], I was really enthralled about what was in stored for me there. This trip would’ve not happened if we didn’t score a good travel package, thanks to my cousin’s great eye for cheap travel packages. Anyways, let me tell you about Day 1.
At about 11 PM on the 6th of April, 2014, our tour bus picked us up from Robinsons Galleria, and from their we went on a 12-hour trip to Laoag, Ilocos Norte. Of course, there were a few stops here and there to keep us sane from the boredom and “butt ache” we all could get from sitting too long, but let me tell you— all the “bus-lag [land version of jet-lag]” is worth it once you get from where you ought to be.
First stop: Batac, Ilocos Norte
Ilocos Norte is known as the bailiwick of former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos and his family. When the former president died in Hawaii in the late 80’s, his remains were transferred to the Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center located in Batac, Ilocos Norte. The place showcases the life, the works, and some belongings of the former president and his wife, former First Lady, now Congresswoman Imelda Romualdez-Marcos. Just beside the Presidential Museum is Pres. Marcos’ Mausoleum, of which his remains lie in state for public viewing. Outside the Presidential Center, tourists can indulge on native treats like the Dragon Fruit Juice and Ice Cream, made from Dragon Fruit that is native in the area [and is quite expensive here in Manila]. Here are some snapshots:
(From left to right: A golden bust of former President Ferdinand Marcos; a quotation of the late president)
(From left to right: Me and my mum at the entrance of the Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center; the facade of Batac Church in Batac, Ilocos Norte)
(The joys of indulging the Dragon Fruit Ice Cream! [It is so good, that you would forget everything you knew of fruit ice creams!])
Second stop: Paoay, Ilocos Norte
As the town’s slogan says, “Paoay, Kumakaway!”, it’s beauty will really wave at you and strike you with awe. The Paoay Church, also known as the Church of Saint Augustine, is located in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, one of the oldest churches in the country, and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built by the Augustinians during the Spanish Era , using the Earthquake Baroque Architecture for the church to be able to withstand numerous seismic activity during the time. Also, it is famous for its architectural design which resembles that of the Borobudur Temple in Java, Indonesia. On the inside, it has been retrofitted in order to still withstand different calamities, especially earthquakes and the onset of very unpredictable weather and climate conditions. Here are some photos I took of the beauteous church:
(The picturesque façade of the renowned Paoay Church.)
(The antique bell tower.)
DID YOU KNOW? Way before the use of cement to build large stone structures during the Spanish era, builders used egg whites to keep the stone blocks or coral blocks in place. It is durable during the time, but as time goes by, and as seismic activity gets weirder and weirder, it is pretty much not applicable and builders should fortify structures more, so that the people’s safety will not be compromised. 🙂
(The intricate buttresses on the sides of Paoay Church. As seen in the second photo, one buttress served as a staircase. The right side lot of the Church also serves as a prayer garden, and also houses a souvenir and refreshment shack [not seen in the photos].)
After paying a visit [and saying a little prayer] at the Paoay Church, we headed to the Ati-Atihan Restaurant and devoured on their special Ati-Atihan chicken [which tastes like the famous Chicken Inasal] and the local Ilokano favorite, “Poqui-poqui” [yeah, I know the name is nasty], which is an eggplant dish, often enjoyed with the special Bagnet (Ilokano version of Liempo/ Deep Fried Pork), or any other Ilokano viands.
HOTEL REVIEW: La Elliana Hotel
We checked in at the La Elliana Hotel, a stand out pink building at the heart of Laoag City, a few minutes away from the Ilocos Norte Capitol and the town plaza. If I’ll rate my stay there from a scale of 1-5, with 5 as the lowest and 1 as the highest, I’d say that it’s at around 3.
1. Room service was only a dial away, but it isn’t really fast and reliable as compared to other room services.
2. Facilities were quite old and faulty. Here are some reasons:
- I’d have to take note the odd experience that my dad had when he opened the bathroom faucet and manure looking water squirted to his surprise [he actually described it as the same as a scene from a horror movie].
- Another thing to note is that since the hotel was fully-booked at the time, some bathrooms weren’t flushing, water wasn’t running properly, among others.
- The cable TV connection in our room were said to be turned off by a switch located at the adjacent room, then I called up room service a couple of times regarding the matter, and at my last call they told me that cable TV connection wasn’t working in the entire hotel. The next morning, my cousin [who was checked in a different room] told me that they had cable TV connection. I was disappointed.
- Finally, the elevator’s maximum capacity was only for 5 persons, definitely not enough space for dozens of tourists with heavy suitcases wanting to get to their hotel rooms immediately after a long walking tour. In this case, I had to carry my entire luggage to the 6th floor of the building, where our room was located.
3. The hotel crew were courteous though, and I think that I would have to cut them some slack for that.
I promise the Part Two of Day One will be posted a few hours [or maybe days] after this post. I would like to keep my travel posts reader-friendly and not dragging to read, to keep you interested. I hope you like my travel logs so far, and hopefully we’ll share more travel logs together! Also, these kinds of travel posts doesn’t only recount the great time I’ve had, but it also aims to help promote the tourism in the area.
It’s more fun in the Philippines indeed!
On to the next one!