Someone asked me to write about my Ilocano Road Trip and whether it’s worth it. Before leaving Manila, another friend already told me that the proposed road trip would be too taxing for the senior citizens. Better if the seniors flew to Laoag then the car picked them up there. Ok, my problem is my father and his Ilocano friends planned the trip and they are responsible for everything. I just had to provide the van and driver and the rest is up to them. To make the trip more comfortable, someone provided another car. Ilocanos and my father in one car, Cumaguns in another.
We left Makati after 9am coz one car was color-coded. After picking up our Ilocano host in QC, we stopped for lunch in Kenny Rogers along the highway. After one pit stop in the last gasoline station before the fork going to Baguio or la Union, we ended up in our host’s beach house in San Juan, la Union.
At the break of dawn, we all went out to check the beach and were amazed at the rustic beauty of the place. In ten years this place will be full of resorts, is what we thought. We all packed up as breakfast was to be on the road. And we thought the nearest Jollibee would be at most a half hour away. Boy, were we wrong! The nearest Jollibee was two hours away in Candon City. In the province, everything is thirty minutes even if it’s not. Remember that!
After breakfast and one pit stop along the way, we arrived in Vigan in time for lunch. We ate Ilocano food in a hot pot type of resto then we took a calesa ride around Vigan. Instead of sleeping in Vigan whose hotels are actually converted ancestral homes, we drove on to Laoag which was two hours away. Personally, I was hesitant to sleep overnight in Vigan coz I feared my wife may feel something, if you know what I mean.
Before reaching Laoag, we made a short stop in the Marcos Ancestral home in Batac. We saw Ferdinand Marcos’ body but unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures. We arrived in Laoag after 6pm and it was dark already. Luckily for us, our Ilocano host just opened recently an 11 room place called, Ziur Inn along Jose Rizal Ave. Place was comfy and located very near the markets and department stores. If we needed supplies, no problem getting them.
After breakfast, we took a road trip to the light house, Bangui wind mills and Pagudpud beach for lunch and a little swimming. Pagudpud is 127 Kms from Laoag. I didn’t realize it was that far coz the last time I was in this area was in 1985 for work. The beach was excellent in Pagudpud. If one can stay overnight there, that would be a good idea. But we went back after swimming then on the way back to Laoag, I realized there was still time to visit Fort Ilocandia and the Malacanang of the North. By the time we got back to our hotel it was getting dark. Dinner was again in our hotel as our hosts cooked more Ilocano food. This time they served the Imelda fish and I understand it’s like cod and quite expansive. It was tasty for me but the others didn’t seem to like it as much. Oh well, not everyone likes Imelda! 🙂
Good morning! It was the dreaded going home day from Laoag to Manila. I estimated our trip would take 13 hours and that would be the longest I will have ever taken. My longest before was 12 hours when my Uncle Joe drove from Las Vegas to San Francisco and I found it tiring. And I didn’t even drive at all! I volunteered to drive part of the way so the driver can get some rest but he refused. Maybe he was just Dyahe.
So after a quick stop to load gas we had breakfast in Marsha’s Delicacies somewhere after Vigan. The bibingka here is highly recommended and it’s a pasalubong place. After one more pit stop, we had lunch in an authentic Ilocano Lutong Bahay resto in la Union. Kilawin cows balls and brain, dinuguan paste with liempo, soup number 5…my wife could eat only the fried fish!
One more pit stop before the long highway and we decided to have dinner in the highway coz if we didn’t, we would arrive in Manila past 9pm onwards depending on traffic. The second gas station in the highway had the most number of dining choices and we chose KFC. Traffic was relatively light along EDSA as the rush hour traffic already waned. We arrived in our Makati home at 10pm and trip took us 15 hours. 15 HOURS! No joke!
Trip was fun and didn’t seem that long coz I was with relatives. Would I do it again? No more na. Been there, done that! I would have preferred tho we sleep somewhere nearer like Curimao or Bauang, la Union on the last night to make the trip back to Manila shorter. But I’m glad we did it. And I’m glad my wife came with me so she can see the Philippine countryside. Looked the same everywhere actually! But one thing is for sure, I’m not going to have Ilocano food for the foreseeable future! 🙂