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The North Side Of The Philippines
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My buddy and I went to Ilocos Norte sometime in December. The bus left the Metro at around twelve midnight and we reached the city proper at eleven thirty in the morning. Unfortunately, it took us almost twelve hours to reach its capital, Laoag City, though this is just quiet normal.

We paid Php850.00 each in exchange for an exciting yet tiring one way trip. Well, you have to endure this if you want to get the most out of your journey. I love being with nature. That’s my weakness. I can actually forget just about everything and I am not exaggerating. But if you are not patient enough to see the beauty of the so called “heaven of the north”, say goodbye to Manila and fly high for an hour and a half to greet the airport of Laoag!

Along the road, we enjoyed gazing at some wonderful endowments of the nature. I knew I already escaped from the congested world of rat racers when big mountains and the greens welcomed us. The bus will stop three times either at a gasoline station or at a mini-store. This is to help you out temporarily on your petty needs like running out of snacks, water and maybe cigars.

Ilocos Norte, from the name itself, is situated in the north western region portion of Luzon in the Philippines. This is part of Ilocos Region which is bounded by the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Cagayan Valley to the east, Central Luzon to the south and by the South China Sea to the west. We call the locals as Ilocanos and they have native language different from tagalog. Many structures are found to be evidence of Spanish settlement during the 16th century. These are prominent in Ilocos Sur specifically in Vigan City.

From the bus terminal in Laoag City, we rode a tricycle going to Java Hotel. This is one of the first class hotels in Ilocos Norte. When we initially came across this hotel, we were a bit hesitant then only to find out that the rates are so reasonable and affordable. I was impressed by the cleanliness of the place and efficiency of its staffs and facilities.

There is another hotel located near Laoag Airport, the Northview Hotel which is half cheaper than Java. Other accommodations within the vicinity of Laoag include Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel and two newly established hotels namely Ilocos Norte Hotel and Convention Center and Rio Grande de Laoag Resort and Hotel.

Tricycle is the main vehicle transport around the city. By the way, the city proper is a typical city found anywhere else with a big bunch of people walking to and from, smoke and noise. The city offers a lot of native products. When you penetrate the market, you can see a lot of foods to choose from. Our two most favorites are “bagnet” and “longganisa ilocano” a must-try especially with their locally produced vinegar!

The Sinking Bell Tower is located here. It’s a massive 45-meter bell tower which is said to be one of the tallest bell towers in the Philippines built by the Augustinians in 1612. Honestly, the tower is not that noticeable as there are a number of commercial establishments constructed right beside it. So I guess its historical spirit became at large somehow.

We were off to church a little late in the afternoon. From Java, we spent almost an hour going to Paoay Church. This is a long, straight tricycle trip so be sure to put your bandanas on. It was worth the noisy ride anyways. Apart from the city proper, the place speaks a lot about serenity. Paoay Church, also known as the St. Augustine Church in Paoay, is an exceptionally old church started by the Augustinian friars during the 16th century. I appreciated the church because it has preserved its baroque and gothic inspired structures up to the present era.

Prior to Paoay Church, we passed by Malaca


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