Scenic drives, sumptuous Ilocano cuisines, rich heritage, awe-inspiring megastructures and stunning landscape are some of the reasons which makes Ilocos Norte an all-time favorite for travelers. Memories of Ilocos Norte goes way back to my childhood road trips with family. Even if I had been here countless times, its always a welcome visit to this northern region. The recent Lakbay Norte 7 had me revisit the familiar places again with new companions this time. In just a day, we had the exciting rides at the La Paz Sand Dunes, to marveling the gigantic windmills of Bangui and a fun swim at Saud White Beach of Pagudpud.
It was a night of the “super blue blood moon”. A rare celestial phenomenon that last happened in 1982. We were in the midst of our Lakbay Norte 7 tour in Tarlac that time that I firmly requested we hurry to our accommodation that evening to catch the “super blue blood moon”. The Farmhouse by EDL was our host that evening and I was ecstatic when we arrived on time. We hurried to capture the moon spectacle and after that I couldn’t help but look down at the attractive setting we have that evening. Inviting pool, lovely warmly lit garden and my companions starting their full moon party at the bar.
There’s a pleasant scent lingering in the air when you pass by Anao in Tarlac. The line of ylang-ylang trees (cananga odorata) along the national highway are a giveaway. Their blossom emits a natural aroma that’s both delicate and calming. Lakbay Norte 7 begins the day at the small town of Anao, Tarlac considered as the ylang-ylang capital of the country. Anao started extracting oil from fresh ylang-ylang flowers since 1994. They are dreaming big this year and hope to export more Ylang-ylang essential oil around the globe.
It was a long first day for Lakbay Norte 7. From an early call time of 4AM, we rushed to Malolos in the morning for the heritage walk. In the afternoon we rolled to San Rafael for some river adventure. Evening finds us in Tarlac for a brief museum walk at the Aquino Center. Shortly we found ourselves at Kart City Tarlac. Even with my head heavy and eyelids starting to shut by itself while having dinner, who wouldn’t pass up the chance to go karting? I know I still have enough fuel to last a few more hours and channel a bit more adrenaline for the night.
To travel is not only to see. It is to feel, to hear, and to taste. There is a compulsion to take a piece of every place back home. Hence, the thriving industry of souvenir items. Taking into consideration environmental preservation and sustainable tourism, there are certainly more preferable items than others. Fortunately, when you’re heading to the northern province of Cagayan, there are more than one pasalubong that does not only help sustain the community but also perfectly encapsulates the province’s identity. Here are three:
The rainfall that was repressed during our first day in Cagayan was now letting on. Dark clouds loomed overhead and followed us like vultures waiting to pounce. Everything was bleak and the air was heavy with the smell of ozone. But despite the less than cheerful weather, we put on our best smiles and bucked up.
Our custom Lakbay Norte Victory Liner bus shuddered to a stop and, with a noticeable soreness to my tushy, I woke. From the window, I saw that the weather had turned bleary. We’d been traveling for 12 hours, spanning the length of Nueva Ecija all the way to Cagayan. To here, in the municipality of Tuguegarao.
After shaking off sleep from our eyes and a round of pandiculation, one by one, my companions and I disembarked. It was past 7AM but it felt like the sun got lazy and was taking its time to get up. A light drizzle was underway and wisps of morning fog blurred the edges of things. There was a dullness to the scene, almost like it was painted with watercolor.