THE GREAT ILOCOS ADVENTURE PART 3: TIME AND (LOTS OF) TIDE

November 2, 2015



The day had just begun. If you've checked out part 2 of our epic adventure, you'd find we had the most adrenaline-filled start of the day. Yes, better than a venti black eye Americano!
We wished all days could start like that. :)

After the morning's sandy flurry, we were whisked away to somewhere a bit more somber.

Welcome to the Ferdinand E Marcos Presidential Center.


Now, I found it quite surprising that this presidential center--- a museum and the mausoleum that holds the former dictator's remains---is found in a very unassuming barangay, in a town called Batac. Tiny streets, old modest houses. It was just like being in one of the villages in Lahug, but way cleaner. For all the horrors of excess and stories of infamy Mr Marcos got in his lifetime, this sure was a relatively low-key place to be put to eternal rest.

They're still waiting for him to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.


Now, photos are not allowed inside the mausoleum itself. Also, I really wouldn't. It is kind of creepy.

You ever been in line to see an old religious relic, like in fiestas? Think lining up to see the image of the Sto Nino or Virgen dela Regla. But instead of the glowing, happy face of the Child Jesus or the Holy Mother, you get an old president, waxlike, lying inside a glass coffin smack center in front of a dark, dimly lit-room, the stench of formaldehyde in your nose and eerie opera music in your ears. 


What did I tell you. Creepy.

Perhaps the upside of this trip to see dear old Macoy is this:


Dragon fruit ice cream! We found out that Ilocos is home to dragon fruit plantations. Pretty badass, eh? The ice cream is Php25 and also comes with a few good scoops of the Malunggay Pandan flavor.


Yum. Nice way to beat the heat! Although it actually just tastes like any other dirty ice cream, you'll find the colors and the huge sugarcone just as enticing as I did.


We found ourselves in the city of Laoag for lunch.

It was funny to be back in the city, back to cables and cars. After so much time in the road, I can't tell if seeing a Jollibee sign was comforting or annoying. I wanted to get back on the road and see something I haven't seen before, bladders be damned. :)

Luckily, on our way exploring, we came across Laoag's Sinking Bell Tower.


It literally sinks an inch per year because it was built on sandy foundations. You could just imagine how tall this used to be back in the day. The street where you can find this belltower is named after Paco Roman, one of Heneral Luna's captains and one of the many unsung heroes of the revolution. In the movie, he was portrayed by Joem Bascon. Pretty cool, eh?



Later in the tour, I have this distinct hunch that Ilocos may be fond of old churches. And bell towers!


You'd also notice that the bell towers are actually detached from the church! They say its to prevent the tower from actually crushing the rest of the church in case of an earthquake. This one, the "Domeless BellTower" of Bacarra, lost its dome to an earthquake a few decades ago. 


Bacarra church is presumed to have the longest church aisle. One of the guides joked that brides tend to bring Gatorade with them on their wedding day, because the walk was too long. :) Ha. :D



The weather finally caught up with us as we were leaving for Pasuquin. It had started drizzling and my battery was already getting low.

Important: Always bring a spare battery for your camera on long-haul trips like this. DSLRs tend to lose a lot of juice when you use them for videos. And trust me, there are a lot of things you want to take videos of on this trip. Another reason is there are simply too many places to go! So make sure you come in fully charged with back up. 

Because they almost always save the best stuff for last.

We came to a stop by the roadside.

We saw a hut. 


I left my camera in the van, because I was saving my batteries.

I had to go back and get it.


When Kuya Richard, our guide, said something about saltmaking, I wasn't really excited until I saw it with my very eyes.


It looked like a native meth lab, full of smoke and steam and white crystal salts.


There were vats full of salt water. Underneath them, a happy furnace crackled as it "cooked" the water to perfect salt. They say the salts of Pasuquin are the best and purest in the country.



There were bags and bags of them. According to one of the kuyas there, their salts get shipped out locally and abroad.


How can Ilocos have really large hectares of land, and be so near the sea at the same time? I couldn't quite calculate it, my island girl heart ignorant of just how vast and how far up north we were. Back home, you can just circle Mactan literally in about an hour. Ilocos seemed so impossibly huge.

We were just about to see just how vast this great province is.

We made our way to Cape Bojeador Lighthouse and we got our breaths knocked out of us. 


It turns out, we were in the northwestern-most part of Luzon. You can't get any more northwestern than here.


And that, is the West Philippine Sea, my friends.



Inside the lighthouse is a museum, but it was currently under repair and renovation when we went there. You can find whitewashed walls with red trimmings, a steep staircase and a mini courtyard/terrace...if there were such a thing. :)



The view--and the strong wind---is amazing.



The photos won't ever do justice. Although I must say, Kuya Richard's photo skills are killer. :)


At the foot of the lighthouse one can also find....guess what? Souvenir items!!!
You can buy mini-windmill fridge magnets and key chains at 3 pieces for Php50. For Php200 you get 13 of em, make sure you can get a bargain if you have many friends waiting at home. :)

To be this close to the sea only meant one thing now.

We were close to the cream of the crop.

The cherry on top of this crazy day.


We were going to see the windmills.

Of course, it only takes a simple glimpse of these babies for us to go on full, fangirling #stupidtourist mode again.


We should have had a reaction video. :)

One needs to be emotionally ready to see the windmills. 


Look at them, peeking out of the mountains like massive alien structures. It's not hard to imagine that you're in War of the Worlds when you first lay your eyes on the great windmills.

Now, there are two windfarms in Ilocos: One in Bangui, and this one, in Burgos.
Collectively, these windfarms are the largest in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia. Personally, I think this is what beauty with a purpose looks like.

Unfortunately, the weather had taken a turn for the worse as we approached out destination.


But, as we were #stupidtourists, we really couldn't give a flying fudge.
Because we weren't only going to see the windmills.

It just so happened that these windmills....


....share the same turf as the Kapupurawan Rock Formation!!! 

**cue tears of joy**


We practically leapt off the van. It's a moderate walk to get to Kapupurawan, but it only built the excitement.


And truthfully, I have never been this excited in my whole entire life.

If you're one of those folks who want to cut to the chase, or are in the mood to be a Dothraki for the day, you can always ride some awesome horses. For a fee of Php50, you can be Khal Drogo for the day. Cool, innit?



But nothing will ever beat that long walk. Just makes getting to the destination better. And there's nothing--not my photos, not my words, not any other person's photos no matter how good they are--- that can compare to the sheer experience of seeing this view as well.


On your left, the overcast day made the greens of the hills stand out. On your right, the ocean with its roiling waves that crash onto the rocks. It was as if nature was giving us a sampler on how these white rock formations were made.

Stunning.


Along the path is a statue of Lam-ang of legend, battling a crocodile with his bare hands.

There has never been a more appropriate place for a mythical hero than here.



If you're bladder is being a joy-killer, never fear, there are tiny restrooms along the way. Be mindful to not bring any food. Of course, littering is an absolute no-no, too.


For safety purposes and to preserve its beauty, local government has forbidden visitors from actually climbing onto the rock. But you can actually still get close to it. The rocks aren't slippery, too, so if you want to take lots of pictures, you can go right ahead. Your bigger problem would be the tide. It literally comes crashing.






I think God was extra inspired when His hands created the Kapupurawan. The peaceful and graceful white curves of these rocks were made by the crashing chaos of the sea. For something so brash to create something so delicate, maybe He was being ironic too. :)


Scientists call it sedimentation, I call it #GodTheArtist. (And yes, our friends from TheManuelsPH have a  #hashtag for that)


Take it all in, #stupidtourists. Make a mental note of that beauty.

Once, you've had your fill and somehow got your sanity back--- which takes about a  good 30-45 minutes to reload, get ready to wo/man up and walk back the way you came.

You'll be famished enough, so there are Ilocano empanadas for Php50 (the special variety) waiting to be devoured once you reach the entrance.

I wish I could have taken a photo of it, but between a dead battery and a hungry stomach, I couldn't really manage. Perhaps I can find a photo of it somewhere. It's like the best softshell taco you have ever had in your whole entire life. With eggs and Ilocano suka! Oh yuuum.


Believe it or not, we still had ONE more destination before we finally called it a day. Can you believe it? And can you guess what it is?

 But I'll tell you all about it on part 4. :)

For now, let that image burn into the back of your mind.

Ilocos is full of amazing things---from history: funny bell towers, churches and dictators---to awesome feats of nature and man. This place is a treasure trove, we're already neck-deep into its magic and still we're on DAY ONE.

Can you imagine that?

Well, stay tuned for part four, where we battle bagyong Lando for reals and eat bagnet!

PS here's us


Til then,

K x










@krishafromtheisland

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