It’s been a year since I, with my family, explored the Ilocos Region, Philippines. I can vividly remember how we rode the extremely cold sleeper bus for the first time and endured an almost 10-hour long trip. I’ve been to Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte a long time ago but I didn’t mind traveling back there to show my parents and sister how lovely the cities and towns are. Plus, I got the chance to visit what I have missed before. Too bad my other sister who just given birth to a cutie baby boy that time was not able to join us. Must’ve been lovelier if she were with us.
Tasty empanada and longganisa (local sausage), a fun 4×4 ride on the sand dunes, indeed it was a Christmas vacation well spent with my family. Here are a few of personal photos of the amazing cities/towns of Ilocos Region, Philippines.
Ilocos Norte (North Ilocos)
1. Ruins of the Bacarra Domeless Bell Tower
This century-old Augustinian church was damaged by a strong earthquake way back in 1980’s beheading the belfry. It was then known as the Domeless Bell Tower in Asia. Beside the this old tower is a church and a museum as well as a scaled replica of the original bell tower.
2. Paoay Church
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Iglesia de San Agustin de Paoay is one of the iconic structures of Ilocos Norte’s tourism and history. Amazing architectural design, this church built in 1700’s is indeed instagram worthy with hashtag #architectureporn.
3. Sand Dunes of Pay
No need to fly to Dubai or countries in the middle east if you’re hungry for that adrenaline rush brought by surfing or 4×4 wheel drive on the sand dunes. Ilocos Norte is known for this too. There are different sand dune locations for different difficulty level. So as not to scare my old man and woman, we chose the easiest one. The smiles on their faces and the wild screams are already enough to say they have enjoyed the sunset ride.
4. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
Simply known as Burgos Lighthouse, this old construction built during the Spanish Colony to overlook the Cape Bojeador does not function anymore and locals said it is kinda haunted. There are several horror tales buzzing around said to have been experienced by locals. So to those ghostbusters in real life, you might like this one.
5. Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
Another iconic view of Ilocos Norte is this unique enormous white rock formed along the rocky coast of Burgos town, could’ve been millions of years ago. I swear it used to be creamy white when I first saw it around 2010 or 2011. Commercialism has presently won it hence the famous streamlined limestone formation is now barricaded for its own good against delinquent tourists that may have contributed to gradual spoliation of the natural wonder. Windmills were also built around the spot.
6. Pagudpud Beach
Despite the gloomy December weather during our trip to the North, I still wouldn’t want to miss spending a night or 2 at one of my favourite beaches in the Philippines, Pagudpud – a town located at the north tip of Luzon. A day to just relax with beers and seafood while watching how the sunset colors paint the sky was oh so lovely.
There were other places that we visited in Ilocos Norte, like the home-turned-to-museum of the very controversial former-President Marcos, the Malacanang of the North, downtown Laoag and the sinking bell tower. Truly Philippines has a lot of historical spots to see and learn.