Tuesday, May 20, 2008

WikiPilipinas: Java Hotel Accommodation

Strolling for 5 hours in various destinations of Ilocos is quite tiring, good enough there's a nearby hotel along the busy highway of Laoag. Truly, you have to stay at least 2 days in Ilocos to have treat yourself to the wonders of Ilocandia.

We arrive at Java Hotel by 5:38 pm and its like you've been transported to Bali, Indonesia. This hotel is an Indonesian-inspired and its architectural influence was a combination of Malaysia and Singapore. From a popular airline cliche, I can also say that "It is truly Asia".

The only drawback or big turn off, is the gasoline station that is blocking its facade. It cannot rectitude its architectural beauty if tourist see this kind of blockage that is very awkward to look at. Anyway, what is important for now is the kind of accommodation that we savor for a night of stay in this first class hotel in Ilocos.

While Jerry embarked our luggage in our room, I manage to room around and documented its facility. I have found out their unique Eagle's Nest bar as if I have not gone far from the white sands of Pagudpud. I refresh myself a bit while local beauties of ilocandia treat me with an ice cold SMB : ) haaaaah..sarap. Inside the bar, you can be entertained by 58 in TV monitor playing live concert series or play videoke with friends while chirping family of cute breed of parrots is an alternative view to look at. The Balinese style dining can be seen adjacent to it and for sure, we will have our dinner there. Wait, the hotel is a wi-fi zone and thanks to it, so i can have time to update this blog.

After awhile, I went to our room and Gus and George was taking a zip of brandy relaxing themselves while watching cable show. Our room was nice and its like any other hotel suits in Makati complete with bath tub and hot and cold shower. Mind you, rooms here are also card activated with mini bar and a veranda.

I woke up at 7:00 am and immediately went to veranda with George who is busy cleaning his DSLR camera. The back view of this hotel is lush green vegetation and you can see early farmers tendering the rice fields. I stroll again and navigated the other side of the hotel. I have found out that the back entrance is a more picturesque than its front. From here, you can really appreciate the place and its architectural design. I can see from its details and its structure was simulated as if you're in the beach front of the famous Bali resort.

The three of us decided to have our early breakfast while the staff are still on their respected rooms. After a brief chat and plan for our next stop, we decided to go swimming in a mini-pool at the right side of the hotel and experience the warm sunny morning and a bit of water massage to have my back ready for another long drive back home.

By 9:am, we packed up and decided to proceed to Vigan.

Monday, May 12, 2008

WikiPilipinas: Marvellous Cape Bojeador

This is a continuation of my pending blog series on WikiPilipinas Northern Adventure and I'm so happy that I have managed to squeeze a bit of my time to make this post...

As WikiPilipinas team drove its way to Burgos, we find time to drop by to another historic landmark in Ilocos Norte. Famously called as Faro Cabo Cape Bojeador, this lighthouse was already a century old and it set majestically on a hill overlooking the South China Sea.

It is located approximately 35 kilometres north of the City of Laoag and it is the most accessible of all lighthouses in the north of the Island of Luzon. It was built in 1892 and mind you, it is still functioning up to now, serving ships passing by the northern part of South China Sea. This is one of the famous historical landmark that you should not missed when visiting Ilocandia. It is the highest lighthouse in the Philippines above sea level on top of a hill named Vigia de Nagparitan with an estimated total height of around 160 meters high ( tower height = 17 meters approximate) .

We climb the stairs and see for ourselves the old remnants of locally made bricks. The Lighthouse at present, assists ships heading towards the ports of Salomangue in Ilocos Sur which is 87 kilometres south from the lighthouse, and Curmimao, which is 60 kilometres away in Ilocos Norte. According to local folks here, the light flash once in every minute. How I wish to see that in the evening :)

As we reach the entrance, I saw this little museum, which has collections of published articles about this place and some historical artifact. Directing your eyes to the physique of the tower, you can recognized its octagonal-shape which has an inner dimension of two meters and an exterior dimension of three and half meters. I just can't imagine that this light house was a product of a pre-hispanic era. I just can't imagine the structures of othe famous lighthouses in the country such as that of Capones and Cape Enga.

I see a photo of the caretaker in the musuem and I am trying to find out how he manage to maintain the mechanical parts of the light house. For sure, it's all manually configured specially the continuous rotation of the lens throughout the night.

This lighthouse is the most visited among other lighthouses in the country because of its accessibility. It has already a concrete roads and well maintained by the local government. Today, its pavilion although so old, was already converted into a mini-museum. The adjacent quarters is said to be lodging for people seeking basic accommodation. Its tower is quite accessible but our visit is not timely for the light keeper was not around at that time and the door that leads to it was locked. May be if fortunate enough, next time I would be able to have access to its lantern and feel the winds from the perch of its overhanging balcony.

This place becomes a major tourist attraction in a politically powerful province, the lighthouse of Cape Bojeador should be ensured by its local government and pass a policy for its preservation and protection for years to come.

Getting There:

From Laoag/Baguio/Vigan or La union : Follow the northwestern coastal national highway that is commonly used going to Ilocos provinces until you've reached some dramatic and exhilirating view of the sea and upon reaching the town of Burgos in Ilocos Norte. There is a sign board at the right side of the highway indicating the entrance to the winding road leading to the base of cape Bojeador Lighthouse.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

WikiPilipinas: Bangui Windmill Stopover

One of the finest scene to visit if you're travelling from Pagudpud or coming from Laoag City is the pride of Bangui Bay in Ilocos Norte. A giant alien-looking windmills are its newest attraction after it was constructed in 2005. I just can't imagine that after two years, Ilocos had produced a truly a magnificent scene that you can't imagine and that can be found in the Philippines.

WikiPilipinas team make this as its 3rd stop and to take a glance of these marvelous structure. We had so much fun watching every 6-meter wind turbines spins above our heads. According to PAGASA, the Philippines wind power density can produce about 31 watts per square meter (W/m2). So, just imagine how many watts these 15 turbines can produce from this site.

Bangui Windmills stands more sexier than the model I manage to shoot :)

With this project, Ilocos for sure can have another portfolio to show not just in postcards. The results of my photos as shown here is a truly an assessment that Gov. Bongbong Marcos Jr have shown his leadership and political will to prove to the world that Ilocandia has something to offer. The 15 wind turbines that I call "Sentinels of Bangui Bay" is just a start and hopefully finished its phase 2 project by adding 5 more turbines to complete the natural and technological elegance of Bangui Bay.

Taking advantage of the wonderful backdrop, sky blue sky, the staff are so busy taking their pictures and having to embrace the 23 storey turbular tower. It's really a unique experience to hear the roaring 326 meters apart-turbines produced by the winds coming from the northeast of South China Sea. I can say that this place is must see by all tourist who visit Ilocos.

Lastly, I just hope that the marker that leads to the isolated area of Bangui Bay should be more visible from the national highway. A tourist attraction like this should be taken care of specially the rough and narrow street that leads to it.

Next stop..Laoag City
Related Post
* WikiPilipinas:Hanging Around Patatapat
* WikiPilipinas:Pagudpud Treat
* WikiPilipinas: The Road to Ilocadia
* WikiPilipinas:Summer Getaway

Monday, May 5, 2008

WikiPilipinas:Bantay Abot Cave

We almost had missed this place and thanks to the watchful eyes of George. He had been able to see the signage going to Blue Lagoon and so, we immediately went back to the place and find ourselves what's in there. Actually, we've been hunting the blue lagoon when we're having the boat ride in Pagudpud. If you want to see this place, and if you have your own vehicle its only 10 minutes away from Pagudpud .

Bantay Abot Cave based on my research means “a mountain with a hole.” A hole was found at the middle of the hill where the waves were free to flash into its walls just like an open shore until it was wrecked by an earthquake during the 80’s. It is also called “the underground sea” for on top of the cave is a lustrous vegetative cover. Inside the cave can hear the echoing sound of the waves, the chirping of the birds ameliorate by the cool breeze of the air. The cave is a very unique creation partly surrounded by the clear blue sea. The shore has white sand mixed with fragments of shells and rocks that can be made as a d├ęcor. Parts of the shore are forms of rocks where you can sit and relax and enjoy a lucid view of the wide sea and verdant mountains. My lens never missed this opportunity and I have manage to capture its beauty.

Bantay Abot Cave is located along the seacoast of Sitio Gaoa, Balaoi, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.
Few meters away, you can see the Timmangtang rock that stands majestically in the lagoon. It is located along the shore and partly by the sea. Bantay Abot Cave and the Timmantang Rock are like lovers. Because of its natural formation, the former being the female (because it has a hole) and the later is the male. If you are on top of it, for sure, you could see the calm blue sea and the enchanting view of Sitio Gaoa. And to those backpackers out there, Campfire is a very ideal at the foot of this stunning rock.

Personally, I was stunned by its glorious beauty and I was thankful for being able to capture the secrets of this place. My only regrets is that, we have no ample time to go to Malingay Cove (Blue Lagoon). It is a hidden bay found at Maira-ira Point, which is a half-moon in shape edifice, by the Nacatnagan Cliff in the east and the Dos Hermanos in the north. According to my informant, reaching the place is quite tiresome for it is around 2.5o kilometers away from the highway with rigged roads and it is found at the interior part of Sitio Malingay.

Captions: Top to bottom (1)Bantay-abot cave, (2)The cave shot along the highway, (3)Gus and Richard, (4&5)View of Sitio Gaoa shoreline, and (6)shell abundance in seashores of Bantay-abot Cave

Next Bangui Windmills

Related post:

* WikiPilipinas:Hanging Around Patatapat
* WikiPilipinas:Pagudpud Treat
* WikiPilipinas: The Road to Ilocadia
* WikiPilipinas:Summer Getaway

Saturday, May 3, 2008

WikiPilipinas: Hanging around Patapat Bridge

Painted blue sky seems a road to heaven

After our lunch, I requested to visit Patapat Viaduct before we proceed to Laoag City. From Pagudpud, its about 16 km zigzag road before you reach the famous bridge going to Isabela.

Upon reaching Patapat, we have seen lineup of vehicles parked on sideways and for a brief right turn, the 1.2 kilometers long Patapat bridge that I saw in my friends photos was finally witnessed by my naked eyes. This elevated bridge can be found at the foot of the cliff of the North Cordillera Mountain Ranges. Residence here and some tourist often referred this as the “French Riviera of the North”.
The Patapat road from our car's windshield

I have seen tourist like us who are also very busy taking group pictures and the picturesque view that encompass the whole scenery. Just like them, we also have our photo-op without noticing those vehicles who passed by our location. Motorist were already familiar with this particular scene so they manage to drive for about 40 kph.

group pix again...

After a brief photo shoot, we decided to go back. When we reached the end of the bridge, behold, we have found out the Mabugabog Falls. It is said that it serves as a source of power for the mini hydroelectric plant. Residence there said that, it's only during the rainy days when you can see its splendor with its water dropping rhythmically to precipice on the rocky shore of the sea facing north bay.

While standing at the middle of the bridge, me and George watch the amazing view of the sea and the luxuriant mountains that is 200 meters above sea level. The bridge itself is a superb craft of men and the fabulous scenery that surrounds it makes it really a breathtaking to behold. According to Jerry, who once passed by this area during his heydays of deliveries said that they use the old road that is 20 feet above us. Drivers who passed here use to sing to enliven them while passing this very tricky and hazardous roads that is compared to the roads going to Sagada.

The exit-entrance point of the old road of Patatapat

This viaduct was constructed to solve the problem of landslides in the area which have caused so many vehicular accidents in the past. Footed on the rocky seashore just several meters from the mountain side it gives motorists a spectacular view of Pasaleng Bay.

Next..Bantay Abot cave

Friday, May 2, 2008

WikiPilipinas: Pagudpud Treat

Warm turquoise water of Pagudpud

WikiPilipinas and FilNet Team was treated by Gus Vibal, executive director of Vibal Foundation to the northernmost tip of the Philippines. It is a yearly adventure trip he gave to his staff as his token gift after the hurdles of projects he initiated for the foundation which he tagged as "knowledge sharing initiative".

PinoyExplorer was there and a witness to their merry making and island adventure in the comparatively perfect charms of Ilocandia. Gus who lived in New York for 25 years was amazed by the luxuriant hills, mountains and the very productive valleys when we're on Pagudpud. For your information, this marvelous tip of Ilocandia lies 45 miles north of Laoag City, its provincial capital and about 350 miles north of Manila -- about the equal distance between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Cinematic sunrise of Pagudpud

From the Laoag International Airport, we drove one and a half hour last night. Immediately, after our dinner we have some sort of recreation and treating his staffs with bottomless beers and delicious pulutan while some of them have befriended other visitors and treated the night with hip-hop music.
Gus with FilNet/Wiki team

The following morning (our hut is by the beach) we are treated by the powdery-like white sand, the tranquil blue water and the beautiful sunrise landscape of blue sky-tinted with warm pinkish color. After a toast of coffee, Gus and George proceeded to the beach and hang-up with the early fisherman's catch. They curiously tickle those big fishes that I can't recall its name.

Hoping to get more clues on what's on the other side of the island, I decided to walk by the shore lines with my Canon DSLR and took some photos. Facing the northwest, I saw the famous Bangui Wind Mills aligned like aliens patrolling the beach. The scene is very unique if compared to Boracay. Along its coastline you can see the coral rock formation over a turquoise water. The scene is very dramatic that if I am a cinematographer, this particular spot would be perfect for a romantic love scene :)
Another cinematic view in Pagudpud. Perfect for relaxation.

When I came back, the staff decided to walk the southern part of the island and to take a peek of other fine beaches of Pagudpud. From there, the staff and Gus who joined us for a walk goes swimming while George and myself decided to hire a boat to take us to the other side of the island. The boatman told us about the blue lagoon which excite us. So, we fetch the team from their 2 kilometer walk and we proceeded to our next destination. The water gets rough so we decided to drop by in a nearby beach shore and and coral garden mesmerize our eyes with its clear water and live seaweeds.

A walk in the beach :)

We return to our quarters around 12 noon and eat our lunch. Serve with their house specialty- pinakbet with bagnet plus other native Ilocano foods, our stomach can no longer find its way to digest our crave. After a while, we pack our things and we headed for Laoag.

lunch time with native Ilocano foods

Pagudpud is still unspoiled and tourist like me are treating it as a place for complete relaxation. It has a wide shore lines, the place is peaceful and not yet invaded by commercial establishments. Unlike Boracay, the beach is not overcrowded and you can really enjoy the water. Its powdery-like sands are its main attraction. The water are calm even during high tides.This is my second time to reach Pagudpud and if permitted, I will be coming back here for a more extended vacation. This time, I hope, with my own family.

Next...Patapat Viaduct

Related Post

* WikiPilipinas: The Road to Ilocadia
* WikiPilipinas:Summer Getaway

Thursday, May 1, 2008

WikiPilipinas: The Road to Ilocandia

Everyone was excited to this year's summer adventure and before we left, Team WikiPilipinas were in a hurry finishing their chores to prepare for their week long vacation. And as planned, the first group already left by 7:30 pm while my group stays a night at Gus' residence, planned our tour, a bit of WikiPilipinas projects assessments and a decision to wake up early in the morning.

Gus will be taking the plane in the afternoon with George while Christine, Cris and myself will have a long drive from Manila and meet with them in Laoag International Airport. His personal driver, Jerry would be our pilot with his jet-powered Fortuner :) Since, we recessed the night at 2 am, we woke up late and left by 9 am already. Jerry promised us that we will be on time and he had already estimated the travel time.

Late breakfast...late lunch

The 9 am drive to the north is easy and there's no traffic in EDSA. Rush hour seems to start by 7 am going to Makati and glad that we are on the opposite lane. Realizing that we have not have eaten our breakfast yet, we decided for a stop-over at Shell station along NLEX where every motorist drop by for an early breakfast. I have noticed group of teens and for sure they are also going to the beach. I'm not sure in which part of the north but probably they would prefer beaches of the nearby Subic and Zambales.

Soon after we finished our Jollibee breakfast meal, we drove again and passed by Pampanga, Zambales, Tarlac and Pangasinan. It's amazing to see the lush green surrounding , fresh air, unique designs and color of tricycles and the fiestas we passed by in different towns.

Lunch in San Fernando, La Union. (L-R) Tin, Butch, Me,Jerry and Christian

After 5 hours, we reach San Fernando, La Union. I remember a former colleague who leave on the place and decided to give him a ring. Surprisingly, he never change his number and we've able to talk and managed to join us for a lunch. He's happy now as teacher in a public school in La Union and at present is on a training when we fetch him at Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University. The foods are great and we have tasted seafoods cooked in traditional La Union way.

Sidetrip Surfing at San Juan

While on the way, I have seen beaches on our left flank. Jerry told us that if we want, we can have a 20 min stop over in San Juan, La Union to see the surfing and buri capital of the north. And of course, who doesn't want to see the action. San Juan became famous because of its waves that can be at par with the other surfing destinations abroad. This place became one of the venue for an international surfing event next to Siargao. This place is also a favorite hangout of actor Jericho Rosales who loves surfboarding and consider the place as his next home.

May be the waves was ashamed when we reach the beach and it was not so perfect. Trainors there told me that summer is not perfect for surfing exhibition and waves are very minimal during summer but perfect for new comers. You have to wait the months of July to September where monsoon winds push up waves for surfer's fantacy. I have taken few shots then we go.

Touchdown Laoag International Airport

Around 7:20 pm we were in Laoag International Airport to fetch Gus and George. They will be with us on the way to Pagudpud where we will stay for a night. This is my first time to reach this airport but I have no idea what's inside it 'coz it was already dark. The vicinity has no ample light to illuminate the entire airport that's why I can't appreciate the place.

Anyway, the way to Pagudpud according to Jerry could be reach in one and a half hour. We drove around 8:25 pm and we passed by the well-lit entrance bridge of Padsan River in Laoag City- the first class city in the province of IlocosNorte . While we traverse the city and its nearby barangays, I can see the foothill of Cordillera mountain range to my left while the South China Sea on my right.

by 10 pm, our dinner are ready, welcome drinks were served and for sure Vista del Mar resort of Saud beach can provide us a night to remember.

Next..Pagudpud experience

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