Whenever I go back to the Philippines for holidays I always make sure that I get to do some island hopping. So far I have only explored over 10 islands (out of 7,100) so I still have a loooong way to go.
One of my favourite and most memorable trips in the Philippines is our trip to Ilocos. The Ilocos region is located in the northwest of Luzon and is composed of four provinces, Ilocos Norte (North), Ilocos Sur (South), La Union (surfing capital – Luzon area) and Pangasinan. Due to limited time however, we were only able to explore Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.
From Manila we took an overnight bus ride to Ilocos Norte. We stayed at a family friends resort ‘Pannzian Resort’ which was in the popular Pagudpud area (contact details posted below). The whole trip was actually organised by my friends travel agency so everything from our private van, driver, nanny (yes they provided us a nanny-slash-tour-guide that brought our homemade healthy breakky/lunch and I guess to also make sure we behave and don’t manipulate our driver to take us somewhere else), accommodation and itinerary were all included.
On our first day in Ilocos Norte, we were to explore this enchanting Anuplig Falls in Adams town. Adams town is like an isolated town and the only way to get there is by riding a motorbike. It just so happen that I am freaking scared of motorbikes, I think I was traumatised as a child when my grandfather (bless his soul) took my grandma, my auntie and my 4 or 5 year old self bike riding to church one time. All 4 of us on his tiny motorbike (no helmets) and I remember the bike falling sideways on the side street. We were all ok but I was mentally scarred by that incident and from then on, motorbikes was a no go for me.
Luckily my FOMO or my “fear of missing out” outweighed my fear of motorbikes and I decided to face my fear once and for all that day (true story). Turned out the 26 kilometre bike ride was not so scary. I guess it helped that there were literally no other pedestrian on the road, no traffic lights, just pure unadulterated dirt-bike-ride. Even then, I spent the first few minutes shouting at my drivers ear to slow the effing-down. When I realised it was actually quite fun, I was like shouting go faster 🙂
Adams town people are one of the nicest, most charming people I’ve come across. They are classified as indeginous people in the Philippines yet I find them so advanced and so modern. For instance they make (and i think export) wines made of beans and honey. Their men are also so naturally chivalrous and so respectful towards women. I was actually surprised when I found out that they believe and practice pre marital sex (for those of you who are not so familiar with the Filipino culture, pre marital sex is a big NO and is frowned upon especially by the Catholic church/Christian faith).
Anyho, the reason why I had a crash course of the Adams people background is because I got sick and we stayed in the town longer than we should. It was after we arrived in town and signed our names at the local police station that we were going to Anuplig falls that my stomach started to feel funny.
Being sick doesn’t stop me from making friends along the way 🙂
After 30 minutes of walking, I started vomiting on the side of the road and making unexpected embarrassing stops. My bestfriends Teresa, Cherry Bee and my cousins Chei and Joy were making make shift toilets for me but eventually the girls decided to stop the trek and go back to the town centre.
I was taken to the town hospital and basically the doctor said that if I don’t get better they will need to admit me and will give me an I.V. and as soon as she said that, I was like “I’m fine, just give me meds” which she did and I left the hospital and rejoined the girls.
While I was at the hospital, the girls stayed at this uber quaint native house where they were served the most amazing lunch which I didn’t get to eat because I wasn’t allowed to eat anything. Now the reason I was sick in the first place was because I got food poisoning from eating oysters from my hometown in Bacolod the day before. I remember Cherry Bee saying that I’m basically banned from eating oysters or any shell food the day before any trips we are doing in the future hahaha.
My beautiful cousin enjoying their afternoon merienda.
They served these yummy dishes which I never got to try
How intricate are these whole timber floors?
Some of the interesting wines they make
After sleeping for an hour, the girls decided to continue the trek and were planning to leave me behind to rest some more. I reassured them that I’m okay to continue the trek. Now obviously I haven’t fully recovered yet but my FOMO was in full mode and a tummy ache was not going to stop me.
Our tour guide told us it will only take 30 minutes to reach the falls, but it was a big fat lie. Every 30 minutes we would ask him if we’re almost there yet and each time he’d say we’re almost there. I think that it took us over 2 hours to get to Anuplig falls. Turned out we hiked almost half of the Cordillera mountains. We were not really dressed for hiking, lol. My cousin almost fell to her death due to slippery trails, hanging vines and weak branches, didn’t help that we were wearing slippers/flip flops.
My beautiful bestfriend, catching her breathe to enjoy the mountain views.
The water is super cool and fresh you can drink it 🙂
The next day we were up early to catch the sunrise at Bangui Windmills
A stopover at Burgos lighthouse
View from the lighthouse
At Pagudpud beach
Fisherman in action
I don’t remember the name of the beach but I think it is Paoay Beach
Our driver took us to the border of Cagayan before our long drive to the south.
A trip to Ilocos is not complete without trying their famous empanada
You can watch them make empanada from scratch
The Church of Saint Augustine or Paoay Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in 1710.
I love baroque architectures, but sadly the interiors of this church is not as well preserved as the churches in Europe
Best dirty ice cream I’ve ever had. Ube and mango flavour for the win!
We also visited Vigan zoo and I even dressed up like this big guy here.
Ilocos is the birthplace of a very famous person in the history of the Philippines. He is a dictator and for some, a hero. In his hometown in Sarrat, Ilocos, he is the latter.
One of my favourite pictures shot along Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Vigan is also listed as a World Heritage Site as it is one of the few Spanish Heritage towns left in the Philippines. Loving my tan here too.
I can shop anywhere 🙂
So many beautiful churches in Ilocos
Outside Saint Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral
To inquire about the same package trip, you may contact my friend Arvi Miguel via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to my travel buddies and photo contributors on this trip: Cherry Bee, Teresa, Christy Joy and Kreza May. Love and miss you heaps
Also huge thanks to Chou who helped organise the trip.
It really is more fun in the Philippines. Hanggang sa muli!