I checked out from Casa Victoria in Pagudpud at 8am. The employees there had been prompt and nice to me so until now I’m still bugged that I haven’t given them a single tip.
I had Kuya Rey take me to the bus terminal and he didn’t charge me anything. He then gave me a contact in Laoag, Kuya Wilson, who could tour me around there.
This posed a little problem. When I stopped by Laoag a couple of days before, the tricycle driver who took me to the Pagudpud-bound bus, Kuya Wilmer, gave me his contact number and I told him I’d contact him to do the Laoag tour.
While I was leaving for Laoag, both drivers were contacting me so I was torn between two Wils. Ultimately I had to go with Kuya Wilmer since he was the first one I spoke to.
During the entire bus trip from Pagudpud to Laoag, I felt confident assuming my backpack was in the bottom compartment of the bus. Imagine my horror when I didn’t find it there when I got down. I didn’t notice the driver placed it on the back of the bus. Kuya Wilmer almost called the police! So kids, always stay focused on your belongings.
It was almost 10:30am when I arrived in Laoag and since some of our destinations would be closing by noon, we had to hurry to get to them.
We started in the Ilocos Museum where there was an entrance fee of P50. I’m not a fan of museums but there were some interesting things there. A few items had the same names in Ilocano as they have in my Hiligaynon, such as dapugan (stove), kingki (lamp) and anteparra (goggles/eyeglasses).
Fun fact: I was named after Bongbong Marcos, the current senator and only son of Ferdinand, even though I was born a few months before the People Power Revolution, when most likely the popularity of the Marcoses were at a low. So I can’t help to think that my parents were Marcos loyalists. And Marcos fans out there are like “what’s wrong with that?”
Anyway, I got right into the mausoleum as soon as we arrived in Batac. They strictly do not allow cameras and phones inside the museum (you may take it inside but just keep it in your pocket or bag). It was great to see the remains of the former president. It felt solemn to be inside the mausoleum most likely because of the somber music being played. I would ask Kuya Wilmer later on if that was indeed the body of Ferdinand Marcos lying inside. He said the caretaker said that it was.
There was a museum next to the mausoleum. There was an entrance fee of P50. It was full of stuff and memorabilia of the Marcos couple.
The clock struck 12 so everyone was asked to go outside because the museum was closing for lunch.
In the neighborhood was the residence of the Marcoses. According to Kuya Wilmer, the former First Lady Imelda Marcos still goes home here from time to time. Since this was a private residence, people were not allowed to go inside.
Kuya Wilmer asked if I wanted to buy empanada at one of the stalls near the mausoleum. I immediately said I did. My cousin sent me a message a few days previously asking if I could bring her some. So I went and bought some at P40 a piece. They also gave me two empanadas for free, one for me and one for Kuya Wilmer. He must have known them.
Next up was the Paoay Church. I thought it was a beautiful church which is probably why it has been made a popular symbol of this part of Ilocos.
Kuya Wilmer brought me to Herencia Cafe, a restaurant in front of Paoay Church, for lunch. I thought it was a little expensive there but they served dishes that were good for four people at just about P250.
We next stopped by the Paoay Lake. Legend has it that it was formed after a large earthquake hit Ilocos in 1641, a “fact” that Kuya Wilmer really believed. But I did a little research and found this might not be true and the lake might have been formed thousands of years before 1641.
We then went to the Paoay Sand Dunes. Kuya Wilmer told me during lunch that it would cost P2500 to rent a 4×4 vehicle for an hour (driver included) or P1500 for half an hour to explore the sand dunes. I looked at my wallet on the way there and I wasn’t willing to spend that amount.
I was on a really tight budget while on this trip. I started this trip knowing that I was a little short on cash. But I managed to save on a few things so I ended up having extra money instead. I was not going to use any of that though to celebrate my savings, so I started exploring the sand dunes on foot. I was not very keen on joining other groups because that would be just too uncomfortable for me.
Maybe next time when I’m with friends, we’ll rent the 4×4 for an hour or maybe two hours or maybe even five hours. You’ll see! Bitter lang.
My emotions just went downhill after that disappointment to myself of not exploring the sand dunes. The rest of the day went slowly and exhaustingly.
We went to the Malacañang of the North after the sand dunes. It’s located on the shore of Paoay Lake. There was an entrance fee of P100, if I remember correctly. It was just another museum though with the Marcoses’ things on display.
We went back to Laoag for the last stretch of this tour. We stopped by the Sinking Bell Tower. Except to take pictures of the structure, there was nothing much to see there. The bell tower was located in the middle of the road so it was a little difficult to find a way around it to take a good shot.
Kuya Wilmer would tell me later on that the bell tower was sinking for some reason (I read this is because of where the tower is built) and that no one is allowed to enter it now due to the danger it poses. I asked him though if the bell inside would still ring. He said it would, so somehow someone must be entering the tower every now and then.
I then visited the nearby church and then the Ilocos Capitol building and then the Laoag City Hall. There was nothing much going on in these places.
My last stop was the plaza in front of the City Hall where I captured this nice shot.
Kuya Wilmer then took me to the airport where I waited for my 8:45pm flight. By the way, if you want someone to tour you around Laoag, you may contact Kuya Wilmer at 09083924063.
The people at the airport by the way were very friendly I had to take note of it. The guard stationed at the entrance kept updating me as to when the check in counter would open. Then the security person manning the x-ray kept apologizing to me when he was opening my bag for further inspection when it was just his job.
When I got to NAIA in Manila, I slept inside Terminal 3. I decided to just cancel my booking in a nearby hotel in fear of getting stuck in traffic and rebooked my flight to an earlier time. I got home just fine.
So that concludes my North Luzon trip. This was by far the longest trip I ever endeavored. It was both a fun and solemn experience. I hope I could take another time off this long again in the future.