Travel

The Trio in La Union

It’s been three years since I last went back to La Union (it was the trip that helped me launch this blog), and last June 10, I decided to go and get some R & R before I hustle for OJT and more mature roles (more of that in another post).

Originally, I was supposed to take my co-workers to La Union but due to unwanted circumstances, that didn’t push through. Luckily, I had Sam and GD to come travel with me. At first, it felt a bit unbelievable for the three of us since we’ve been planning to take a trip for so long, and now, even if it was on short notice, natuloy rin kami! 

I couldn’t wish for more, I was too happy to be spending time with some of the people that mattered the most to me.

Weather forecasts told us that we’d have to expect localized thunderstorms in the Northern part of Luzon, so we were really anxious that we may not have the chance to go to the beach. However, when we got to Pandan Beach, it was sunny and the waves were calm enough. It was as if everything went according to plan.

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It felt so nice to be back there, thinking that things were a lot more different than they used to be from the last time. Last June, everything was a blur– senior year was coming up, my OJT loomed, my career is taking off in ways I never have imagined, and being in La Union with my closest family and friends felt like a reward.

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Photo by Sam Somera

The trip was filled with road trips  and discoveries, as it was like rekindling an old flame. I never knew that in such a short span of time, La Union would progress this much and it would be better known now more than ever. La Union has been my secret gem, because it was a bit unheard of and low key. But looking at it now, La Union has bloomed, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We explored Luna’s famed “Bahay na Bato”, a place filled with wonderfully-made rocks and rock sculptures by a Korean artist commissioned by the place’s owners. Everything was literally rock, and each work of art was unique and meaningful. I didn’t know that much could be done with simple rocks we usually find just hanging around the shores, but these rocks sure are an exception.

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We also went to the local weavers of Bangar. The local weaving of “Inabel” fabrics that are turned into table runners, place mats and blankets are usually exported to different parts of the country and even abroad. Most of the local weavers in Bangar have carried the tradition of Inabel weaving and they are passing it on to the younger generation to preserve the rich, skillful and intricate art of Inabel– one that is genuinely and proudly Ilocano.

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And, of course, who would forget about the great food I always *LOVE* to come home to every time I’m in #elyu? The infamous tupig, the fresh AF seafood (of course, at Bacnotan’s Riverfarm Restaurant), and many, many more. A trip to La Union definitely isn’t complete without eating to my heart’s delight

Though I may not know when’s going to be the next time I’m gonna travel up north, one thing’s for sure– this trip is definitely one for the books. It may have been just a 3 days, 2 nights getaway, but everything that I’ve done and discovered definitely would linger in my head more than it should.

‘Til the next!

-Marla 🙂

 

 

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Travel

Postcards from Pagudpud

Hi!

So I’m back from my two days #DigitalDetox! Yayy for me! I didn’t know that taking such a long break from all the internet fuss can give me peace of mind, really.

Without further due, let me talk about how the 2nd day of our tour went. We headed for Pagudpud– a 1-2 hour drive from Laoag City, and we had lots of stops before reaching what is known as the northwestern-most tip of the Philippine mainland.

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First up, we dropped by at the Patapat Viaduct, a bridge built on steep slopes connecting Ilocos Norte to Cagayan Valley. It is not a bridge over a body of water, but instead, it is a bridge between a mountain and a body of water [West Philippine Sea]. It has the best view of the sunrise [and otherwise, if you get there at around sunset]. Here’s some snapshots:

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(The curbs of the Patapat Viaduct)

As we go on towards Maira Ira Beach, also known as the Blue Lagoon in Pagudpud, we stopped by a few picturesque sceneries that have been part of the town’s culture.

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The shipwreck, as shown in the photo above, ran aground the rocky and shallow sea floor of the area, and not one country ever assumed responsibility for it. With this, the town’s mayor decided to salvage the ship, leaving only this part of the wreckage. Imagine playing actual minesweeper!

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The boulder you see there, they call it “Babae”, simply because it has a hole in it. Pretty clever and nasty, right?

And now, to the main event.

I cannot describe the way I felt when I first saw a white sand beach. I felt thrilled to be able to set foot on such pristine white grounds. No wonder Pagudpud is called “Boracay of the North” because of its white sand and alluring waters.

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(The pristine white shores of the Boracay of the North, Pagudpud.)

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(Some snapshots with my cousin!)

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(My favorite bikini-ish shot! **Blog-exclusive, hahaha!)

We had a really great time there, thanks to Hannah’s Beach Resort and Convention Center’s services. The few hours we had to bask in the sun and savor Pagudpud’s beauty wasn’t enough, but all in all, it was still worth it.

After hitting the beach, we headed to the famous Bangui Windmills, which supplies 40% of Ilocos Norte’s energy supply. It is also a renewable energy source and lessens the emission of greenhouse gases which is bad for the environment. It is also hailed as a megastructure, for its enormous height and its other significant attributes. Bangui Beach is really a site to see!

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Next stop, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation! I really marveled the scenery. It is really peaceful, and unadulteratedly natural. I also decided to do my #OOTD there! Here’s some snapshots:

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(#OOTD: Sunnies from Sunnies by Charlie|Top from Zara|Shorts from H&M)

Right after being in Kapurpurawan, we headed straight to Cape Bojeador, also known as the Burgos Lighthouse. It was built during the Spanish era to guide fishermen to safety. Unfortunately, its museum and the actual lighthouse is closed for renovation, but I’m sure I would be back to revisit the place again.

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Some cute and colorful handmade souvenirs of the Bangui Windmills and of the Cape Bojeador sold right down the Nagparitan Hill.

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After a whole day of touring, we returned to our hotels to prepare for tomorrow’s early check out and road trip to Vigan. We had dinner at Ravenden’s, a cozy place offering authentic Kapampangan cuisine [yes, Kapampangan cuisine, for a change, I guess.]

So, I guess that’s the end of this travel post, I hope you guys like it! I’ll be releasing “Bring Me Back to Vigan” later this week. Also, today I’ll be starting my driving lessons, so wish me luck!

On to the next one!

 

xx,

Marla 🙂

 

 

 

 

Travel

Lost in Laoag (Part Two of Day One)

Hi!

As promised, I finally had enough will power to write Part Two of Day One before I go and have #DigitalDetox in time for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday [and hopefully until Black Saturday]. Anyways, here it goes!

Third stop: Paoay Sand Dunes Adventures

As you all know, I’ve been quite a sucker for adventure in the recent years. I quite like being adventurous given the chance to do so. Because of that, conquering the Sand Dunes of Paoay didn’t give me any second thoughts, nothing held me back. And the next things that happened were epic. Here are some outtakes:

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(A jump shot with the fambam!) 

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(The 4×4 Sand Dune Riding Adventure!)

That 4×4 truck you see right there, is capable to do twists and turns and bumps on steep sand dunes and riding it will definitely make you scream your heart out! There were no safety equipment, no guaranteed casualty insurance, just constant reminders like: “Hawak lang, hawak lang!”— just pure, ultimate adventure [with danger!]  If you ought to try this, don’t worry though, because the drivers and aides are always there to assist you and assure your safety, because they’ve been trained and they’ve been doing this everyday for years! We were really fortunate we were safe after that ride, but riding it was really worth it, especially if scenes like these comes next! (Click the link!)

Sand Boarding (First Trial)

The next trial I’ve done was pretty much harder than the first one. Everyone else did great when they sand boarded while standing up, but me, well, nervousness took on me. Haha! Well, this is a “blog-exclusive” video of me sand boarding whilst standing up! 🙂

After the trip to the Sand Dunes, we headed back to Laoag City town proper for some much-awaited local dinner. On the way, little did we know that our bus transforms into a party bus— yes, a party bus [!] complete with disco lights, karaoke and great times with bus mates that are total strangers to us.

Once we got to the Laoag town proper, I started falling in love with the place. It feels like I’m just a few hours away from the metro, it felt like I was home. We got the chance to try the local cuisine, especially the Ilocos Bagnet [yes, the liempo thingy I told you], and the Ilocos Longganisa [a garlic infused longganisa that you’d definitely love] and Genuine Pinakbet Ilokano. Too bad I didn’t take pictures of it but they are really worth trying once you visit Ilocos Norte.

That wraps up Part Two of Day One of Lost in Laoag, hopefully you enjoyed watching my sand boarding adventures (and the blooper-looking second video) just as much as I do. I’ll definitely post “Postcards from Pagudpud” really soon and I hope that you guys will like it too! Thank you so much for reading my travel posts, it definitely means a lot to me. 🙂

I hope that your Lenten season may be fruitful and memorable. May God bless us all with His Unending Love and Mercy, as reflected by his sacrifice on the cross.

On to the next one!

xx,

Marla 🙂 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel

Lost in Laoag (Part One of Day One)

Hi!

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:

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(From left to right: A golden bust of former President Ferdinand Marcos; a quotation of the late president)

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(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)

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(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:

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(The picturesque façade of the renowned Paoay Church.)

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(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. 🙂

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(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.

Here’s why:

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!

xx,

Marla 🙂

Travel

Traversing Tagaytay (A Long Overdue Post)

Hi! 🙂

As seen on this post’s title, this travel log is long overdue because me and my family went to Tagaytay all the way back in January, and if you’ll come to think of it, April is here, so roughly it’s been 3 months since this vacation actually took place.

Anyways, what happened in Tagaytay was so great and memorable that even if it’s long overdue it is still worth blogging about.

It’s my second time being in Tagaytay and the view and the food and the atmosphere there makes me feel like it’s always the first time. There’s always something new, something exhilarating, something refreshing about the place. But before we actually got there, we had our first stop in the South’s thriving lifestyle hub– Nuvali Evo Living.

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The fish feeding was so fun! Those tiny, bright orange fishes really fight for the food thrown by the tourists, which makes them very entertaining to watch. Nuvali is also a great biking spot for those of you who are biking enthusiasts [like me lol]. It also houses Solenad 2, a shopping complex that has different lifestyle shops and food hubs [yes!] that you usually find in malls in the metro.

Next stop after Nuvali, was the Good Shepherd Convent in Tagaytay.

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(#ootd: Chambray shirt and Navy Blue camisole from Forever 21, Red Dye Cutout Denim Shorts from H&M)

Well, it is here in this convent’s compound that I decided to do my outfit shot. I knew beforehand that we weren’t scheduled to visit The Picnic Grove, known for it’s prime view of the Taal Volcano,  and if you’re in Tagaytay on a January in shorty shorts  with a 19 degrees Celsius temperature, you’ll freeze to death [not literally but almost there].

The Good Shepherd Convent is known for its dairy products and other sweet and delicious treats. What we tried from there was their Guyabano Shake, and I am telling you, it’s a WINNER! 🙂

Next stop, we went to the People’s Park In The Sky. This structure was erected during the Marcos regime to serve as their vacation house [as what the locals have told us]. Unfortunately and honestly speaking, I find this place really sad and taken for granted. It should’ve stayed in its great splendor back in its glory days but lack of political will and rampant vandalism among tourists have damaged it so much. It is located at the highest point of Tagaytay [as far as I’m concerned], and from their you can see the entirety of Tagaytay and Taal in a whole new perspective. Here are some snapshots:

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We rented out an apartment called the “Foggy Heights Villas”. It was very cozy and very comfy! Too bad I didn’t get a few good shots of the place, but I’d definitely come back!

We also passed the Skyranch Tagaytay. I called it off because I was too lazy to line up in queue lines and wait for such an expensive ferris wheel ride [sorry for my straightforwardness]. But I took a moving snapshot of the glimmering lights of the humongous ferris wheel!

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Since Tagaytay is located in the highlands, and is also known for its banana and pineapple plantations. And given that the weather is cold, why not try the food that keeps the locals warm? None other than the famous Batangas Bulalo!

And speaking of bulalo, there’s this guy who stirred up TV and the social media because he caused a disturbance when he wasn’t served with what he drunkly requested, which was the “Bulalo na Sinusupsop”. Here is an e-card of him that I personally made in admiration of how bad he wanted to have a hot serving of the “Bulalo na Sinusupsop”:

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This guy,  also known to many of his ‘fans’ as “Bulalord”, now has Facebook fan pages and an app made for him. How cool is that?

Anyways, back to my weird appetite for Bulalo back in Tagaytay.

We explored the city market and the authentic Batangas bulalo restaurants nearby. We also bought locally-grown fruits and vegetables that are cheap and fresh. Nothing’s nicer than a hot bowl of freshly-butchered cow drenched in its own broth with temperatures that’ll make you want to cuddle with someone forever.

Since we stayed there overnight, the next day didn’t fail to convince me that I would never want to leave Tagaytay and enjoy its easy and breezy mornings. Immediately we headed to Sonya’s Garden, located at somehow the outskirts of Tagaytay City, and tried out the bread that they’re famous for—- a form of Spanish bread with what feels and tastes like creamy pastillas inside it. [At the time of writing, I’m actually craving for it!]

Sonya’s Garden is also known as an events place, a haven for single women who wants to know the ‘art of doing nothing’, and for its really alive and vivid gardens, organically grown and tended by the women staying at the place. Sonya’s Garden is indeed a tranquil escape for those of us who would want to escape the realities of the bustle and hustle of urban life. Here are some snapshots:

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Some of the signs that can be found inside Sonya’s Garden.

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The various flowers floating on miniature water fountains scattered all across Sonya’s.

Before heading home, we still had time to buy fresh cattle cuts, handmade bamboo blinds, and pay a visit to the Church. To top it off, who would want to miss out on the really delicious food offered by Tagaytay’s famous Mushroomburger? Even though they’ve branched out in different parts of the metro, for me it feels kind of different when you eat at Mushroomburger right in the heart of Tagaytay itself.

The ambiance is different, [I think] the taste of the food is different, and it’s just a really refreshing feeling to chew on really great and delectable treats in a place that’s so good, you’d never want to leave.

I can say that we’ve traversed Tagaytay with a different approach as compared to our first trip there. It made me feel like I should travel more this year, especially that I’d be turning 18 quite soon and to explore new things is a  great way to prepare to embrace womanhood.

‘Til my next travel post. I promise it wouldn’t be long overdue anymore. xx

Travel

Take Me Back to La Union

Hi. 

It’s been 2-3 days since I last posted here, and I can remember that I have an obligatory blog post right after my La Union trip. So, here it goes.

Each year my family goes to La Union every once in a while or at least once a year for different family events, most especially the All Saints and All Souls Day. It’s the time of the year to commemorate our dead loved ones and the memories we’ve shared with them when they were here with us. Being so, our family were able to spend quality time together within the 2-3 [or more, in some cases] days of our stay. It is a bit hard to narrate all of the happenings in one lengthy paragraph, so I might as well give you a rundown.

30th of October: Departure date. All packed, prepped and ready to go! It was an exhausting 6-7 hour drive from Manila, but once we got there, it was all worth it. We took a stopover at the municipality of Agoo, La Union the province’s oldest municipality. I really like it when we pass through the area, because it is really a heritage feast for the eyes. What I really marveled at [ever since I was a kid was Agoo’s Church, the Basilica of Our Lady of Charity. Like OLA Church (the church I talked about on my past blog post), the Basilica boasts a unique Catholic heritage and exceptional aesthetic appeal.

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Basilica of Our Lady of Charity, Agoo, La Union

31st of October: It was the day for some R & R. Early in the morning, me and my cousin went swimming on the beautiful shores of Paratong Beach (we fondly call it Pandan) in Bacnotan, La Union. Our entire family grew up spending time together by this beach. It was high tide, so we really enjoyed swimming! Here are some snapshots:

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(photos taken with a Nikon D3200) 

1st of November: Today’s the day when people swarm the cemeteries in order to remember their dead loved ones. First thing in the morning we prepared to stay for a short while at the cemeteries to bond together, light a candle by the graves and have really meaningful talks. Soon after, me and my cousins went resort-hopping. It was really great to be inside the best resorts in La Union. First stop was at Kahuna Resort, located at the municipality of San Juan, the surfing capital of the North. I mean it– the waves are really high and surf-legit! Just last October 24-27, the 8th La Union Surfing Break: Soul Surf happened right at this resort, and too bad we weren’t able to come.

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Got stoked in La Union! [Disclaimer: I really was, but unfortunately I haven’t experienced surfing yet. 😦 ] 

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The sea is the classroom and the waves are the teachers here at the San Juan Surf School. 

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Kahuna Resort (with my Ate looking over haha!)

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Surfing students braving the big waves at the San Juan Surf School. 

Right after Kahuna, we went straight to Thunderbird Resorts at Poro Point, City of San Fernando. This place really resembles Santorini, Greece!!!!

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Santorini feels! 

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Just within San Fernando, is another place to treat your taste buds. It’s at the famous Halo Halo de Iloko. All the food they serve and most especially their Halo Halo is simply to die for!!!!

This Halo Halo is really delectable and delicious! 

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I can say that my La Union trip was really worthwhile and memorable [and I’m still hungover]. It was a great way to end my semestral break and go back to school anew. I hope that I can still post more blog-worthy stuff as the 2nd sem [and all the busy school work days] starts on November 4.  ‘Til the next post! xx