Thursday, December 31, 2015

Journey to the North during Family Christmas

Our family sojourn kicked off at dawn of December 25, 2015, literally a Christmas Day.

Bantay Bridge, Batay, 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.

Antique Shop, Vigan Heritage City 
Vigan City

A Heritage City

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.

Calle Crisologo, Vigan City 

We checked in at Cordillera Inn and my family had a first-hand experience of the old Filipino community. And of course, we did not miss out the long queue for the famous empanada in the city's luneta park.

White Beach and Surfing Point, San Juan, La Union 
San Juan, La Union

Sands and Waves

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.

Sunset and Sands, San Juan, La Union
We checked in at the Costa Villa Resort and had closer feel of the sandy beach.

Thunderbird Resort and Casino, San Fernando City, La Union

City of San Fernando, La Union

Thunderbird Resort

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 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 did the latter in my first entry. But when I brought my family there, it was closed to public and non-guest.

So we had instead a hearty dinner at Halo-Halo de Iloko.

Paoay's Baroque Church at sundown

Paoay, Ilocos Norte

Baroque Church

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.

Inside Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte
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.

Paoay's old convent ruins

Laoag City

La Paz Sand Dunes

T'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.

Sand Dunes in the Philippines

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!

Sand Surfing and more
Burgos, Ilocos Norte

Before proceeding to Kapurpurawan Rock Formations, we climbed the Cape Boajero Lighthouse and tasted delicacies at Dragon Fruit Farm all within Burgos, Ilocos Norte.

Dragon Fruit Farm

I had plenty of memories in this farm. First, I never thought cactus could bear some edible fruits and that this breed of cacti could produce some sweet pinkish dragon like bell-formed fruits. Second, I was in awe to know that dragon fruits could come in various by-products, from ice cream flavor to lumpia. Third, a friend of mine made the biggest faux pas in her life when upon entry she thought that the lumpia on a center table was served for free-taste and so she picked one and encourage me to take another, then later she realized it was ordered and paid by the people sitting around it.

A very natural thing!

Rock Formations and Windmills all in Burgos, Ilocos Norte
Kapurpurawan Rock Formations

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 environ had shaped the rocks into natural sculptors. It's nature at its best!

Bangui, Ilocos Norte
The pioneering Bangui Windmills

The northwest is very windy and it is appropriate to harness such natural phenomenon to produce renewable and sustainable energy. It's 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.

Our little Wan was enjoying the wind
Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

White Beach

With its prestine white sandy shoreline, it 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.

Feels good to walk on bare foot

Windy and freezing!

Include all the destinations in your itinerary when doing tours in the northwestern Philippines.                                    

My mini-me!
A 7-day family tour was priceless. We were back to base at the dawn of December 31, 2015, a New Year's Eve.

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