Monday, October 15, 2007

Once Upon a Time Last Summer - Part I

==================A farm scene that never stops to elicit nostalgia==================
Finally, a blog about my summer vacation! My summer vacation was capped with a 4-day tour of the northern provinces in the Philippines. While touring I would often talk loudly about my problem in remembering places and names and added that I might not be able to write about the experiences. My goddaughter Princess (yes, her mom named her after me!) heard me and offered to "recall” things for me. So mostly in her own words, this is how those 4 days went
==============================Patapat Bridge======================== July 19, 2007 One hour past midnight, we left Batangas and headed for our long trip to the Northern regions. Passing through the cities of Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan and Nueva Ecija, we approached Nueva Vizcaya after cruising along the mountainous roads of Santa Fe. The cool, crisp morning breeze and the rays of the morning sun greeted us as we approached Solano, Ed’s hometown. Because they knew we would arrive just in time for breakfast. Roben, Ed’s youngest brother, and his wife Mafe, were ready with a hearty table of fried local longganiza, eggs and tomatoes and of course, rice. After some catching up with lost time, and visiting Ama, everybody took a short nap, had a hearty lunch and were off to Cagayan.. After 3 hours of driving through long paved roads sandwiched between carpets of green rice fields, rolling velvety hills, undulating mountains, towering trees and whispering creeks, we reached Tuguegarao. We were worried we wouldn’t find a good place to spend the night but Ivory Hotel didn’t disappoint any of us.
July 20, 2007 After a sound night rest, we packed and headed for another long trip ahead. But first, we had to eat! But where? Well, where else but at a Filipino’s favorite – Jollibee. After finishing the last drop of our piping hot coffee and some Kodak moments at the rotunda, we’re off again to the other side of the North – the Ilocos Province. The trip to Ilocos will not be complete without cruising through the Patapat Bridge. It is a suspended bridge where you see the vast ocean on one side and the mountain wall on the other side. I learned from my bro-in-law, Seibert, that military men built this bridge. It is quite a sight. By lunchtime we reached the famous virigin beaches of Pagudpud, Ilocos Sur. We had lunch at Saud Beach Resort (quite expensive, I think) after which we hit the blue waves. Indeed, it was a traveler’s dream destination . The sight of the powdery white sand against the white foamy waves on blue waters as the wind brushes against your face was very soothing and relaxing enough to put one to sleep. No wonder local and foreign tourists want a glimpse of this breathtaking scene. A memorable moment occurred when giant waves lashed at Ed unexpectedly forcing him to fall on his knees. Unfortunately, it happened so
quickly my camera couldn’t capture it. For the night we stayed in a “Homestay”. A house, more often that of a retiree, is rented out for a day or a week while the owner stays in a back room or with a relative. During our stay, a lady “entrepreneur” even came to sell necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings that she painstakingly handcrafted from local stones and shells. Dida, Tet and Marivic had a great time trying the trinkets!
July 21, 2007 Today seemed to be a very very long day. Woke up early, had breakfast and started driving towards the town of Bangui where we saw 15 generating windmills that provide hydroelectric power supply to nearby towns and provinces. Through Tet’s research work, I now know that this is the first generating windmill farm in the country. Amazing! Against the shoreline, those white giant windmills were a sight to behold! (Unless you are on your way to San Francisco via Hwy 101 or 5)

After enjoying the spectacular sight and picking some shells and stones, we then proceeded to a historical landmark in Burgos, Ilocos Norte – the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse – the highest lighthouse in the Philippines above sea level and built from locally made bricks. There are about a hundred steps to the tower and once there one gets a panoramic view of the beach and mountains below. Climbing the steps is not for the faint hearted.

From the lighthouse we proceeded to Laoag City where we saw the sinking Bell Tower of St. William’s Cathedral. Then off we went to Batac to visit the ancestral home of a former President, and the Marcos Mausoleum where he is laid to rest. Then we went to Paoay to see one of the oldest churches in the country, St. Augustine Church. A church wealthy of historical inheritance and distinctive architecture, it has been named in one of UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Moving on, we hurried to our next destination, the Malacanang of the North. Formerly the official residence of Former President Ferdinand Marcos in Ilocos Norte, it is now a museum open to the public. Vigan completed our tour of the Ilocos Region. Vigan is unique in that it is able to maintain its Spanish culture and heritage as in their churches, houses and public buildings. The only sign of modernization is the presence of fast food chains in the plaza. Calesas or horse drawn carts still attracts tourists to click their cameras. It was sunset when we decided we should make a side trip to Baguio since we were already “there”. We ran through a number of Ilocos and La Union towns and cities, then scaled through Naguilian Road until finally we could feel the cool weather and the smell of pine trees and we knew we were in Baguio City. We spent a restful night at the Prince Plaza Hotel in preparation for another day’s trip.


Heart of Rachel said...

Beautiful photos. Nice to see more pictures of your trip. I've never been to Ilocos. I could see the long trip was worth it.

Thank you for helping me in my quest for my own domain name. I appreciate it!

Princess said...

You're always welcome, Rachel. Parang naaninag ko na ang domain mo(ngiti)!!!
Kilitiin mo si Jules para ipasyal ka sa North. Worth anything, talaga.
Papisil kay Yohan.....

chona said...

anganda! kainggit!

Nina said...

great photos tita! ang ganda pala sa parteng to ng pinas...hehe...postcard ang dating...:)

Nina said...

great photos tita! postcard quality...ganda pala ng pinas sa parteng to...just have to explore it...:)