This was the time of year when holidays were too long: Dec 24 & 25 fell on Thursday and Friday, while Dec 30 & 31 fell on Wednesday and Thursday. There were 2 working days left in December, so my sister En had filed leave of absence to join the whole trip.
Bantay, Ilocos Sur
Right before entering Vigan Heritage City, a wild adventure is catered to you by this bridge - the zipline ride - where fun is enjoyed more because of the green surroundings, luscious green silhouette of Bantay (local term for mountains) above and the deep emerald waters of the river below.
Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Preservation of heritage is the greatest challenge we Filipinos face day after day. We aren't just citizens of the Philippines but of the world and so our customs and traditions easily evolve in the constant change of time. We are so adaptive that we keep abreast with latest trends, hips and chic. We are so creative that we fuse olds and news or transfigure old into new with ease. We are so resilient that we are able to stand the test of time. We are so forgiving that we have the propensity to forgetting the past.
Fortunately, some labored to keep it. And Vigan succeeded in one aspect - preserving the heritage houses.
En overlooked the distance over hotel booking and so Ilocos Sur was the first destination instead of La Union. We got reasonable room rate at the Cordillera Inn inside the heritage site.
San Juan, La Union
Sands and Waves are abundant in the area.
Known as the surfing capital of the north, the place offers beyond riding a surf board, standing willfully on it, and cutting waves by it. The fine sand shoreline is already a treat so conducive for a morning and/or afternoon stroll. The marvelous sunset view is another treat that you shouldn't miss. Dipping, picnicking, camping, drinking, and more definitely are must-dos 'round here.
We stayed for a night at Costa Villa Resort before heading back north.
San Fernando City, La Union
It is a wonder that maximizing nature and creating something out of it could result to a beautiful infrastructure. With Mediterranean as its architectural inspiration, the Thunderbird Resort exudes a European cum Middle Eastern beauty that blends in the Philippine climate. Perched on top of a hill, the design of the hotel cascaded down the cliff towards the West Philippine Sea. And the sunset, a nature's marvel!
One word to define it, Luxury. One word to describe it, Beauty. Well, Luxury and Beauty is definitely expensive. Therefore, it only caters to rich people or to not-so-rich but can afford individuals.
Security is tight here. Gate is always closed to onlookers. If you want to gain access to and have a feel of Mediterranean ambiance? Check in or get a pass from local government officials.
I wished the Thunderbird Resort was open for non-check in guest so that I can show the expensive resort to my family.
Paoay, Ilocos Norte
I don't wanna dig the history of the church here but know that Paoay's is one of the 3 old baroque churches in the Philippines.
The interiors is so cozy that one might think nothing has even been done since time
immemorial. The exterior design is already a treat, and with natural aging, its endurance to the test of time, has become even more wonderful. Be there before sunset to witness the color of the walls changes with the sun's hues.
Visit Paoay Church when you make a tour to Bagac and San Nicolas for the Marcos Museum and the Sand Dunes.
Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
The La Paz Sand Dunes in Laoag City was a surreal experience of a desert! I never thought Philippines has it... If you dreamt of a middle eastern sand dune experience, head to north. The desert-like land mass stretched from Paoay, Ilocos Norte to Laoag City; the aerial view (while the plane your taking is landing) would confirm its vastness.
Known to be the set of Panday Films, it now offers various adventure to enjoy the place: sand boarding or surfing, sitting or standing on the surf board, and the extremely wild 4x4 drive (up, down and around).
Another natural wonder!
Our room accommodation was actually located in the next town, Pasoquin, reasonably away from the city.
Burgos, Ilocos Norte
Never miss the Kapurpurawan Rock Formations, Burgos.
Best known for its white stone formed like a lion king pedestal, one could find the place more than limestones. Getting there is already an adventure, the way is adorned with giant windmills, the pathway is crammed with shops.
Experience a dramatic entry by riding a pony which footsteps cadence with the slapping of the waves against the rocks of different colors - yes, there's black, white and pink. The movement of the tides and the windy environment had shaped the rocks into natural sculptors. It's nature at its best!
Bangui, Ilocos Norte
The northwest is very windy and it is appropriate to harness such natural phenomenon to produce renewable and sustainable energy. The windmills has been there before the governments of the world intensified its drive against climate change. What made it more amazing is the way these giant fans were planted along the Bangui coast curve. The site is so beholding, a testament to preserving and maximizing nature and thus produce one natural wonder.
Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
With its prestine white sandy shoreline, Pagudpud's beachfront is indeed living up to its monicker, the Boracay of the North. The absence of bars and clubs, hordes of people, loud music, blinding lights, cafes and food stalls, is fully compensated by the presence of very affordable resorts, flocking of fishermen after the usual catch, slapping of waves, a beautiful sunset, and strange closeness to nature.
Include this destination in your itinerary when doing tours in the northwestern Philippines.
It was a very far vacation destination and a long ride, but it was a perfect family week.