On board a cebu pacific flight, we arrived 9pm of march 11 in the beautiful city of Laoag. The night was ripe for adventure and soon after we checked our bags and had a brief dinner, we started the exploration. Armed with our cameras, we clicked the night away. First stop was the Sunken Bell Tower. On the corner of A. Bonifacio & Paco Roman Sts. stood the majestic tower. It was a sight to behold with its square-shape over sized pillars and the plaster walls, standing with the starry night as its background. The night gave the tower an eerie touch not to mention its rich wartime past. I wondered how many lives had been lost inside its walls. As we strolled through the streets, I cant help but notice the silence that fills the empty streets. Not like the bustling life of the Metro. We continued towards the hotel happy and optimistic of what tomorrow has in store for us.
12th of March, 6:30 am and the sun was shining brightly on the windows when I woke up. Not wanting to waste a perfect day, I woke everyone up and called an acquaintance to arrange our day tour of Laoag City. At 8:30 everybody was all set to go. We first visited St. Williams Cathedral and the Tobacco Monument in Aurora Park. It was erected to mark the abolishment of the tobacco monopoly of the Spaniards. Adjacently located was the City Hall, Hall of Justice and the Provincial Capitol of Ilocos Norte. We had a lot of fun taking pictures and unmindful of the locals who are busy with their business at the city hall. Even traffic had to yield to our photo barrage of the area. Good thing the Ilocanos are so nice and friendly.
Shortly our bus arrived which will take us to the more exciting sights which is a few minutes away. After 10 minutes of drive sans the traffic we experience in Manila, we arrived at the Malacanang of the North. It was the local version of the president's residence and surely it is a residence fit for a head of state. The estate has a grand entrance hall and is a stone's throw from the Paoay Lake. The veranda can cater to a grand banquet and the rooms are spacious with living rooms adjacent to it. The guide showed us the President's office, bedroom, as well as the First Lady's. We couldn't resist taking a wacky photo in of the living rooms scattered around the house. On the way out, we got some snacks from a mini mart outside and proceeded to the famed Paoay Church. The sun was high and beating down on us ( thnx to El Nino ) but this was not reason enough for us to complain. We are having so much fun on a strange new place, photographing awesome scenes that we don't mind a bit of the summer heat. A glimpse of the Paoay church made me jump off the bus as soon as it skidded to a stop. Ever since grade school I wanted to visit this place which I only saw on my textbooks. There is nothing more so fulfilling than to be in a historical church and admiring the architecture and its beauty. How can something so big, be made of coral stones, plaster, tree saps and lumber. As we took photos, I cant help wonder how good it is to have my wedding on this church( we can always wish ). We joked around and took some "pre-nup pics" just in case and it came out quite nice.
As much as we wanted to stay and take more photos, we couldn't. There are still more places to see and the day is not enough for us to see them all. Time is not on our side and we consumed a lot of our time already for taking photos. We again boarded the bus and went to the Marcos' territory, the town of Batac. Unfortunately, the museum was closed and as if it wasn't enough, there was power outage and the mausoleum was automatically shut-off from visitors. We had no choice but to be content in taking photos of the mausoleum facade and with a little bit of creativity, had some quite nice pics of the inside of the museum ( what are my long arms for? :). In here we tasted the delicacy called "tinubong" made from sticky rice and coconut cooked inside a bamboo shoot.
It was 12noon and it was also the last scenic spot we visited on the tour as we headed back to the hotel to check out and head up north to the pristine beaches of Pagudpud. Continuation of the trip will be on the next post.....