The continuation of our Ultimate Ilocandia Adventure! This second part will show you the destinations you should visit in Ilocos Norte. (Read the first part here – The Ultimate Ilocandia Adventure – Part 1)
Ilocos Norte (Ilocos North)
Batac Tour (Marcos Museum and Mausoleum)
Batac is known as the “Home of Great Leaders” as it is the hometown of some of the significant people in the history of the Philippines. It is the home of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, who is famously known for declaring the Martial Law in year 1972.
The Museum and the Mausoleum are added attractions for tourists or locals whenever they visit the city. The Museum holds the memorabilia of the late President; from his story during his military days, his love story with the former First Lady Imelda Marcos, up to his Presidency.
The Mausoleum holds the body of the late President; where it is preserved by an Egyptian embalmer every 10 years. His body lies there for decades already, hoping that the government will let him be buried in the Heroes Cemetery. The current administration has allowed this to happen already, but many Filipinos are opposing this because of what happened during the Martial Law era.
Paoay Church (St. Augustine Church of Paoay) is like love at first sight. I was seriously blown away with how stunning this church is. It’s stunning in the morning and even so at night! This is another UNESCO World Heritage Site that you should not miss when you’re in Ilocos Norte.
Made up of coral stone and bricks with 24 enormous buttresses on its side, it is perhaps the most admired “Earthquake Baroque” design of the church that withstood the test of times. From wars, countless tremors, typhoons and destructive earthquakes, Paoay church remained strong and proud. Even if it was damaged by the earthquakes before, the restoration made it look like nothing happened.
The bell tower on the side of the church is said to have been used as a watchtower of the Katipuneros during the Philippine revolution in 1896 and again by the Filipino guerillas in World War II. The interior was under construction by the time we went there, but I was floored knowing that I was able to see the grandeur of this church that makes me fall in love with it over and over again.
P.S.: Don’t forget to try the famous Pinakbet Pizza (or you can also try other peculiar flavors like Ilocandia, Chicharon and Dinuguan Pizza) at Herencia Restaurant located just in front of Paoay Church.
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Malacañang of the North
“Malacañang ti Amianan” is a two-storey grand mansion which served as the residence and workplace of the late President Ferdinand Marcos during his regime. This house was a gift from the former first lady, Imelda Marcos on his 60th birthday.
Sitting on a beautiful ground overlooking the Paoay Lake, it is a perfect place to hide away from all the chaos in a city. It showcases the old structure of Philippine houses which is a mixture of Ilocano and Spanish influences. Every detail of the house is impressive — from the living room, the master bedroom, the rooms of the children of Ferdinand and Imelda, to the guest rooms are so elegant.
It is one of the properties sequestered by the Philippine government when the late President was removed from power. For 20 years, this place was under the ownership of the Philippine government. It was then given to the care of the Ilocos Norte government and after series of restorations and renovations; it was opened to public as a museum in January 2011.
Paoay Sand Dunes
My personal favorite of all the things we did in Ilocos!
Definitely a must-see and the sand boarding is even a must-try!! Ilocos will not just teach you about its history and show you historical places, but it will make sure you have the time of your life as well! I didn’t know any about what would happen in the Sand Dunes; all I know is that we are going to ride a 4×4 and that’s basically it! I didn’t know that I was about to embark a hell of an adventure!
The package of this trip costs Php 2,500 maximum of 5 persons. It includes the 4×4 ride and unlimited sand boarding. To start the Paoay Sand Dunes adventure, you will be toured in a massive area of the sand dunes. It includes sudden curves and a rollercoaster-like drops so make sure you hold on to your life when standing at the back of the 4×4! Haha! It will make you scream like there’s no tomorrow, I warn you.
The driver will not inform you on what he’s about to do during the ride but he will make sure you’re okay after he does all those things. Photo sessions are included as well; there are stops where the driver will gladly offer to take a picture of you and your friends / loved ones.
After which, you will arrive at the sand boarding area where you can try it until you get bored of it! They will teach you the basics and even guide you through it. It was definitely fun and scary at the first try. You can try sitting at first, but they will encourage you to try standing up but make sure you know how to keep your balance ☺
It’s exhilarating and the perfect adrenaline rush you needed. For the final stop, you will be escorted to the beach area to catch the sunset for more photo sessions! An amazing, amazing way to end this activity. It was surely an adventure to remember.
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
Also known as Burgos Lighthouse, Cape Bojeador has been guiding vessels and international ships away from the rocky coast of the town for over a hundred years since 1892 until this present time as they enter the Philippine archipelago. This lighthouse was declared by the Philippine Government as a National Historical Landmark on August 13, 2004, and was also declared a National Cultural Treasure on June 20, 2005. It is one of the structures established during Spanish colonial era, designed by Magin Pers Y Pers in 1887 and was finished by the Lighthouse Service under Guillermo Brockman in 1890.
The lighthouse was originally fitted with first-order Fresnel. The intense earthquake of 1990 that hit most of Luzon damaged the lenses and displaced the mechanism alignment of the original first-order apparatus making it inoperable. The beam now comes from a modern electric lamp that is powered by solar panels. The light before was provided by pressurized kerosene lamps very much like “Coleman lamps”. In 2005, the old pressure vessels and wicks for the light could still be found in the shed. (Source: Wikipedia)
It is one of the places that will educate you and will make you want to learn more about the town and what more it can offer. The overlooking of the sea when you go up will surely take your breath away. They said that it is not recommended to visit during the months of November to January because the weather is wet and cold due to Siberian Winds. I can very much attest to that for we went there in January; it was extra windy and you can notice that the sky is somewhat getting dark for it rained a little by the time we went up there.