Photo Tour Notes from Vigan, Sagada and Baguio

Clouds rolling in at the Kiltepan Valley in Sagada
Clouds rolling in at the Kiltepan Valley in Sagada

It’s the 3rd year for Jim Cline’s Photo Tour in the Philippines headed by none other than Karl Grobl himself. I was told that they were quite surprised that the tour filled up unexpectedly. I guess many foreigners are really interested in the Philippines lately. We had a full house this time. A French, an Australian, a few from England and the rest from the USA. Their 2-week journey in the Philippines started the first week of June. I stepped in at the 4th of June to for a 6-day guiding and photography assistance to 10 enthusiastic participants while exploring the historic streets of Ilocos and the breathtaking landscapes of Sagada, Mountain Province.

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Ilocos Norte: The Marcos Country

Ferdinand Marcos Mannequins at Malacanang Ti Amianan
Ferdinand Marcos Mannequins at Malacanang Ti Amianan

While Imee Marcos was speaking about tourism and Ilocos region during lunch at Ilocos Norte Hotel and Convention Center, I can’t help but feel the affinity I have with the Marcos Family. No I’m not in any way related in blood nor do I glorify whatever late president Marcos did. But growing up with parents who were Marcos loyalist got to me, more so that I’m named after the president with the same birthday. That’s why Ilocos Norte has that soft spot. And visiting places where the Marcoses used to live was like visiting a distant relative.

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Ilocos Norte: Bali in the Heart of Currimao at Playa Tropical

Playa Tropical
The Bali-inspired Playa Tropical in Currimao

For a moment, I thought I was lost in Bali as I stepped out of our hotel building. Having checked in past midnight coming from a night of entertainment at Balay Da Blas, our sleepy heads and droopy eyes were longing for a nights rest just gave our surroundings a passing glance. But now waking up, seeing the manicured garden, neat pathways and Bali inspired casitas and structures made me knock my head off why I didn’t take a moment to stop a moment in Currimao whenever I pass by the road from Vigan to Laoag or vice versa.

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Ilocos Norte: Sarrat Sta Monica Church, Paoay Sand Boarding Redux and Balay Da Blas Night

Sunset Road at La Paz Sand Dunes
Sunset Road at La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte

I thought I have seen most of the churches in Ilocos Norte but every time I go back here, more keeps adding to the list. After seeing the magnificent Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos, we head down back in south again to the municipality of Sarrat, the birthplace of the late president Ferdinand Marcos. Alongside the Pasdan River, which was overran by native cottages on the side stands the exquisite Sta Monica Parish Church, the largest church in the whole of Ilocos Region.

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Ilocos Norte: The White Rock Kapurpurawan and the Black Gold of Burgos

Kapurpurawan and the Gamet Gatherers of Burgos
Kapurpurawan and the Gamet Gatherers of Burgos

It seemed out-wordly this piece of landscape. It rises up like a giant sphinx cutting through the deep blue sky with all its whiteness. Truly an extraordinary site first time seeing up close at the rugged coast of Burgos, Ilocos Norte. They call it Kapurpurawan, which also means “Kaputian” or whiteness in the local Ilocano dialect. It’s fast becoming a favorite spot in Ilocos Norte in addition to its grand churches, delectable cuisines and wonderful beaches. It was our next stop from Pasuquin during out Lakbay Norte 2 tour.

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Ilocos Norte Hotel and Convention Center, Pasuquin’s Special Biscocho and Salt Making

A lady packing biscocho at Pasuquin
A lady packing biscocho at Pasuquin

We reached Laoag in the evening, that’s a couple of hours drive with a few stops coming from Adams. For dinner in Laoag, we were honored to join Mayor Farinas at the Laoag City Hall. It was my first time to enter that nice looking terracotta building which I used to admire outside. Presentation while dinner over tasty langonisa, chicken and bagnet was about the Tourism in Laoag and a short presentation from Cebu Pacific which is one of the sponsors of the Lakbay Norte 2 tour. We took an empanada each on our way to our hotel after dinner.

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Ilocos Norte: Hiking the Adam’s Trail for Anuplig Waterfalls

Chilling out along the Anuplig Falls at Adams, Ilocos Norte
Chilling out along the Anuplig Falls at Adams, Ilocos Norte

Just hearing about a valley with 18 waterfalls, 10 hanging bridges, intersected by a flow of crystal clear waters from a river already gave me a sense of fascination about the place. Adams, at the northern edge of Ilocos Norte, mid forehead of Northern Luzon, is one of the destinations I was really looking forward to during the Lakbay Norte 2 tour. No somber weather could stop us from coming as we prepared ourselves for the rain by waterproofing out gears and donning raincoats. From Kapuluan Vista Resort, we took a 15minute coach ride to Panchan Junction, just past a bridge where the Bolo (Bolu) River flows and a dump truck was waiting for us to take us to Adams.

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