Traveling to Ilocos

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The beautiful church of Paoay. Another UNESCO world heritage site for my memory
If there is one place that I rarely visit or go to it would really have to be the north. For quite some time most of my travels have often been situated down south. This is of course understandable since Tricia is from the south, my dad’s province is in Batangas, and he used to work there as well. So it was but natural that most of our family’s vacations would be in that area. But when I visited Sagada back in 2013, and then Baguio in the same year as well, the trips were an education into the northern provinces. In Sagada I was amazed by the hanging coffins and astounded by the way my body (despite all the weight) flexed and contorted as I did the cave connection. After having not been in Baguio for a decade, it was nice to go back and see what has changed. At the same time revisit places and visit new ones as well.

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The beautiful landscape opened up before my very eyes

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Castilian architecture at its finest

At the tail end of 2014 Tricia’s family decided to pack up their bags and headed further up north. At that time Sagada was probably the farthest in Luzon I have ever been. But as we made our way along the expressways and highways and all manners of provincial roads. The north was slowly opening itself up to me. I had been in Ilocos two decades ago and could barely remember my Vigan trip. But it was in Vigan I got to appreciate Castilian architecture and preservation efforts in the city.

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The beauty of the bell towers

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We’re not leaving without tackling at least one bell tower
But it wasn’t just in Vigan but all around as well. If in Manila historical places like the El Hogar are being threatened with demolition in Ilocos bell towers as old as the country itself are still standing. Their majestic glory a landmark anywhere you look. And just seeing those bell towers was truly interesting because of how long they have withstood the test of time. They were also a testament to the fact that people haven’t thought of building a condominium to blot the landscape, which for some weird reason is the norm in Manila’s urban planning.

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The rolling hills

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The rock formation of Kapurpurawan
As we moved further up north and along the coast I was enthralled and captivates by the beauty of the region. Coming from the south it is pretty common for me to encounter beaches and coastlines in Batangas. In Ilocos I was delighted by the sight of rolling hills where the grass wasn’t cogon and cattle grazing in the field. I was astounded by the sheer cliffs and how the sea slammed against the cliff wall. I most especially loved how the sea breeze was so deafening that I would have gladly set up my own hammock and slept there.

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Behemoths of engineering. Beautiful windmills dotted the breezy coastline

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Taking an alternative ride in the countryside
I may not have been there long but I was truly taken away by the landscape. Along the way I would see windmills dot the horizon and see them up close. Giants of mechanical engineering that made me wonder why we can’t have more of these behemoths in the country. I hopped on an ATV to enjoy the coastline of Pagudpud to enjoy the waning sun and the fresh sea breeze. Of course the same can be said when I took the roller coaster 4×4 ride in the sand dunes of Paoay (but that story has already been told). I was just totally in love with the nature that unfolded before my eyes and I wanted more.

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I would gladly want to see all of this again
Despite the intense traffic we had to go through just to go up North. It was all worth it, the sights, the sounds, the flavors were all worth it. There was a charm there that made the culture of the region unique. There was a sense of pride and wonder that made it worth exploring. If given the chance to come back I would but this time I would take a plane and pick an auspicious date. I would like to have an Ilocos adventure where I wouldn’t be jostling with fellow tourists. But more than that I would like to have just more time to explore this wonderful province and its cities north of the Philippines.
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