Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Grainy and Blurred

Out with former office colleagues one afternoon. I remember not pulling my mobile phone out of my pocket while at the table because this was playing in my mind the entire time: "Let's hang out and stare at our phones the entire time."
Sardinia
Sardinia

Grainy and blurred photos c/o my Sardinia film camera.

Writing this entry while watching the Chief Justice's impeachment trial. Yuh.


x Roan

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ilocandia Trip, Day 4: Blue Lagoon & Back to Manila

This update's pretty way delayed, but better later than never.

Woke up early for a morning swim at Blue Lagoon beach.

Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud
Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud


After an hour of sort-of swimming (I couldn't properly swim because of the strong current and had to 'anchor' into the sand!), we went back to the resort for breakfast and to prep.

Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud
Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud
Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud
Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud
Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud
Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud


We left Pagudpud around 10:00am, which was the start of our 17-hour commute back to Manila. It was the longest bus commute I've ever ridden. :((( We arrived at around 3:00am the following day and had another 20+-minute ride to Cavite where Ed's brother (and his family) lives.

La Union sunset
Sunset at La Union


I hope to go back to Ilocos and explore Laoag. This time, sand dunes!!!


x Roan

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ilocandia Trip, Day 3: Pagudpud Tour

Day 3 of the trip was dedicated for the Pagudpud tour. I got our tour guide/driver's number from travel blogs who'd been to Pagudpud and recommended his services. If you scour and read about Pagudpud tours and the like online, chances are you'll encounter a blog or two sharing their experiences with Kuya Arnel whom I've already mentioned in the previous post. He was the Good Samaritan on both stories.

A tricycle tour in Pagudpud has to two sets: the North and South Pagudpud tours for Php600 each, good for 2-3 passengers. We decided to take both tours which took up the entire day, from 8:30am to 5:30pm!

Kabigan Falls

There's a 30-minute trek to get to Kabigan Falls. The view on the way is fantastic! Mountains, river, rice fields, trees.

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Trail to Kabigan Falls

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Kabigan Falls. The water is cold!

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Rice harvest


We stayed there for approximately 30 minutes (Ed took a swim) and did another 30-minute trek back with a short buko juice break on the way. :D

Bangui Windmills

My favoritest! While we were still on the our way to Pagudpud, I got a glimpse of these giant mills at dusk and felt all sorts of excitementz! When we arrived there, I swear I wanted to run like crazy and hug each of them (and maybe declare love to all 20 of 'em) but that would synonymous to suicide! The sun's burning, even the sand was hot, and the strip runs in kilometers so I got to be ~mature~ about it, lol.

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I'm just so happy to have seen the famed windmills of Bangui!

Kapurpurawan Rock Formations

It was already noon and a long drive from the Bangui Windmills to the Kapurpurawan Rock Formations. We hadn't eaten lunch yet but somehow we didn't feel hungry. Maybe it's because of all the water we drank for hydration. Now I'm all sorts of excited my adrenalin's pretty high so upon learning that there's another trek (although just a short one) going to the white rock formations, I thought, "The hell with heat!" It was scorching I tell you, and all the walking and climbing in rocks can be pretty exhausting, but the mindset was "Go lang ng go!". The sights were all worth it.

Our tour guide/driver said puraw means puti, so Kapurpurawan means kaputi-putian. The main attraction, the ark-shaped rock formation, is already off-limits to tourists. It's been prohibited to climb on the rock to avoid vandalism and preserve the formation. Tourists of course have the habit of engraving their names on things to declare everyone they've been there, which is kind of stupid to do at the Kapurpurawan rock formations because they're made of hardened sand. Thus, they wither over time, and faster if visitors continue scratching on them. The guide driver said no humans have fallen from the rocks, fortunately.

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On our way back, I finally felt tired and thirsty. I even thought I was gonna collapse from the heat. One of the family of tourists at the viewing deck even joked they wouldn't go down and trek to the rock formations anymore because look at her (me)! She couldn't even speak anymore!

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Around this time, I was already feeling a bit hungry and exhausted. I was already imagining the beach at Blue Lagoon. There's another climb here, this time some stairs. The actual lighthouse was closed to tourists by the Philippine Coast Guard but we could still take photos at the deck.

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Bangui View Deck

We had a short stop at the Bangui view deck where you can have a panoramic view of the Bangui valley.

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I was already feeling hungry so I asked Kuya Arnel where our next stop is. He said he'll take us to Saud Beach so we can compare it to Blue Lagoon where we're staying. I told him to just forego Saud Beach and take us to the nearest carinderia. During lunch, I was tempted to ask him about the solo female tourist he helped once (she blogged about it) but held back. I learned though that he has 2 children, one's already in college and the younger one's in grade school (if I remember it correctly, haha).

Patapat Viaduct

When stopping at the Patapat Viaduct, one has to be watchful and quick to avoid passing vehicles. It's a long bridge along the mountains that can pass off as "just a bridge" to locals and frequent commuters in North Luzon. But for tourists, it's an amusing sight.

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A short drive from the viaduct is Paraiso ni Anton, small spring coming from the mountains whose water, according to Kuya Arnel, stays cool even in hot weather. We also stopped by Agua Grande Picnic Park but didn't go inside anymore.

The 'Walang Hanggan' Hills

The next stop was not in the printed itinerary of Pagudpud tour and a pleasant surprise. The hills, according to Kuya Arnel, was used for a shoot by the teleserye Walang Hanggan, thus I call it the Walang Hanggan Hills. Ed and I realized we passed it during our morning jog but just didn't notice it.

There were a group of kids with their dog playing at the top of the hill when we arrived. The view's breathtaking and we could already see our next stop, the Bantay Abot Cave, from there.

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Before we went down, I had to take jump shots with the kids!

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Bantay Abot Cave

I call this the Mentos Cave because it has a hole at the center of it. We stopped by this during our morning jog but didn't go down to explore it. This time, of course, we did.

The cave originally didn't look like this, according to Kuya Arnel. Seawater passed and streamed through the cave walls, and due to strong current, the walls eventually gave in and collapsed creating the hole we see today.

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Timmangtang Rock

This bell-shaped rock formation got its name from the local dialect's word for bell and the imitation of the sound of the bell.

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Dos Hermanos Islands

Our last stop was the twin islands of Dos Hermanos.

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We ended the tour at 5:30pm and it was tiring as much as it was awesome. There was another guide/driver parked at the hotel's facade who's friends (or maybe he was a relative) with Kuya Arnel. He struck a deal with former to fetch us the next morning because we're already going back to Laoag (then to Manila). We were amused when the said driver handed us a calling card! I mean, have you encountered a tricycle driver handing you a business card? I hadn't until then!

The rest of the day was spent lying relaxing by the beach, swimming in the pool, and watching the sunset.

The trip is about to end. Last installment, next!

x Roan

For Pagudpud tricycle tours, you may contact Arnel Aguila at 09186890723 and 09265880666

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ilocandia Trip, Day 3: Morning Jog

Just a quick post on our early morning jog at Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud.

Morning Jog at Pagudpud
Morning Jog at Pagudpud
Morning Jog at Pagudpud
Morning Jog at Pagudpud


We're so lucky to have caught a perfect sunrise. Such beautiful scenery while jogging! The hills, the sun, the sea!

x Roan


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ilocandia Trip, Day 2: Heritage Vigan Tour & Pagudpud-bound

After our 7:00am breakfast at the hotel's restaurant (I quite like Ilocano longganisa, not greasy!), Ed and I prepped for our calesa tour. A very tourist-y thing to do, yes, and the slowest, chillax-est way to get around Heritage Vigan and its must-see spots. The cuchero fetched us at 8:30am and told us that the tour would be for approximately 3 hours with 6 destinations.

Heritage Vigan Tour


It was a bit challenging climbing up and getting out of the carriage the first time but you'll get used to doing it maybe after another couple of drop-offs.

The first destination was the Burgos Museum. It was Padre Jose Burgos' (He gave the bur in GOMBURZA. Ermm...) residence-turned-house of old things.

Heritage Vigan Tour
Padre Burgos' bedroom

Heritage Vigan Tour
Gallery of distinguished and famous Ilocanos

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Portrait of Ilocos' early inhabitants / Old telephone (R2D2 look-a-like!)

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Dining table display

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Kitchen entrance

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Vessels display


The museum had a lot of photographs and memorabilia on display, to name a few: early weapons and farming tools, hanging refrigerators, old clay jars, a vintage printing press, pairs of baro't saya, liturgical photo collection, and an execution device (this one gave me the creeps).

Next stop, St. Augustine Church and the Bantay Bell Tower. This time, around 9:00am, it's already getting pretty hot and sweaty.

Heritage Vigan Tour
St. Augustine Church

Heritage Vigan Tour
Bantay Bell Tower

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Look Ma, I got bum! / Not sure if he could see anything in there

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View of the Vigan Cemetery from the bell tower


Third destination was the Syquia Mansion along Calle Quirino. This huge luxurious residence was given to Pres. Quirino and his wife by the latter's wealthy parents as a wedding gift. It's pretty unassuming when you look at its exteriors but when once inside, all I could think was 'Wow!' I mean, the house is huge and spacious, and filled with vintage goodness - the furniture, china, ceramics, and even perfume bottles!

Heritage Vigan Tour
The spacious, airy and pink dining room. See those hanging cloths? Those are old-school ceiling fans.

Heritage Vigan Tour
Highlights: Painting of Quirino's daughter, male ceramic figurine, gold-framed mirror, Spoliarium copy, and the paw-shaped table pods/stand!


Next stop was the Vigan Pagburnayan. When we arrived, there were only I think 2-3 groups of tourists including us checking the place out. Our cuchero acted as our tour guide telling us how the earthen jars are made until the jar-making demonstrator arrived. Ed shot a video of the demonstration.

Heritage Vigan Tour
This carabao's job is to walk on clay/earth to give it the desired consistency for pottery-making

Heritage Vigan Tour
I think this is where they heat the jars

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Drying jars on display

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Souvenirs being sold in the Pagburnayan compound


Apparently this was already our last stop because at around 10:30am, Ed instructed the driver/guide to return to the hotel already. Ed thought the Pagburnayan was already our 5th stop and that we can forego the last one to prepare for check-out. We paid the cuchero Php300 for the 2-hour tour (calesa tour in Vigan is Php150/hour). I was a bit bummed to be honest (I told him we only got 4 out of 6 destinations!) but realized that 1.5 hours was just enough time for lunch and to prepare for check-out at 12:00nn.

From Grandpa's Inn, we hired a tricycle to get us to Partas terminal to start another commute to Pagudpud via Laoag. The bus parked to get passengers to Laoag was already full when we got there so we had to wait until 1:30pm for another Laoag-bound bus.

Upon arrival at their Laoag terminal, we hopped in another tricycle to get us to a terminal whose buses pass Pagudpud. Some dude (I don't know if he's a worker in that terminal, a tricycle driver or what!) told us to get in that St. Joseph bus parking at the roadside. Tough luck because it had some mechanical trouble so the driver wouldn't accept passengers yet. While Ed was charming his way with another tricycle driver, I sought help from Kuya Arnel, the tour guide and driver for our Pagudpud tour the following day, who was confirming our reservation at that time. He told me what buses to take and what to do which was really quite helpful. The tricycle driver Ed was chatting with had similar advice as Kuya Arnel so we were really getting a lot of help. This is the time when I confirmed (and Ed agreed) that the Ilocanos, at least those we've encountered, are the nicest, most helpful folks.

The earliest bus schedule was leaving 5:30pm, which meant we'll be arriving at Balaoi, Pagudpud around 7:30pm. The idea of arriving at some unfamiliar place during those hours made me nervous but I thought we can always think of it as an adventure. Charge to experience na lang! Haha! The positive side of leaving late was we got to catch the sunset along Ilocos' coastal countryside.

Ilocos sunset
Sunset and farm

Ilocos sunset
Sunset and South China Sea


I know that this has been very long but I just have to tell you one more:

So Ed was chatting up with this tricycle driver in Laoag, right? Okay, so he gave us a contact in Pagudpud who would supposedly fetch and drive us to Kapuluan Vista Resort. But this contact was waiting for us at some location we don't know of (read: a location I hadn't read up when I was researching for this trip). All I know was we had to get off at Brgy. Balaoi Police Outpost and hire a tricycle there. With the help of GPS (I can't even...) and Hannah's Resort's conspicuous advertising, we got off the police outpost. That meant, no contact/tricycle driver for us where we were. The roadside vendors and some parked tricycle drivers there were telling us that our contact's location is kilometers away from there. There was some texting/calling done by one tricycle driver and just maybe a couple of minutes, another tricycle driver arrived and told us to hop in. I thought he was our original contact/driver but when Ed was about to pay him for the fare, he refused and told us to just give it to our supposedly driver for that night! Ed insisted because it was already late and for the trouble but he just wouldn't accept the money! I mean, really.

So, there! We arrived in Pagudpud safe and sound, albeit tired. The following day was spent trekking and sunburning! Next!


x Roan