Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Philippines – This is where our travel-back-in-time weekend began. As mentioned on the earlier post, we left Manila at around 9 PM and arrived the next day at the city center of Laoag at 6AM. Yes, we started the tour right after we arrived!
We were both too busy to fix everything ourselves for our first long weekend vacation in a long time. With a recommendation from a good friend, we were able to find a good tour package that already includes travel and accommodation in a short notice. Thus, we didn’t worry much on where and how are we going to go around the area. Check on A&A Express Travel and Tours for details.The first part of the tour covers the area of Laoag and nearby municipalities. Our first stop was the Municipality of Sarrat, birth place of the late President Ferdinand Marcos and the home of one of the beautiful church I’ve seen, Sta. Monica Church. Imagine a church facing the river, a long aisle and beautiful ruins for a nice photo background – a perfect place for a wedding.
Next, Sinking Bell Tower in front of St. Williams Cathedral, one of Laoag City’s most famous landmarks. Sinking because people believe that a man riding a horse can easily pass through the entrance in old days. At present, one must bent over to get inside (without the horse, of course).
Our next one was the highlight of our Laoag tour, Paoay Sand Dunes! Who said there’s no desert in the Philippines!? 😛 We rented a 4×4 truck for a roller coaster crazy ride through the dunes. It was such a great fun but you have to watch your balance for safety. You can rent a truck for 1500 PHP for 30 mins and 2500 PHP for an hour. With the hourly rate you can enjoy cruising down the steep dunes with a sand board. Promise, it’s fun! Tip: Avoid the afternoon sun!
After taking a break to have the famous Batac Empanada, we then proceed to the Malacanang of the North. Built during the late President Marcos Regime, the two-storey mansion served as the home of the Marcoses in Ilocos. After Marcos died, the mansion is transformed into museum. It is situated within an overlooking view of the Paoay Lake. A perfect place to just relax and appreciate the grandeur of the Spanish-Ilocano inspired mansion.
Paoay Church is another must-visit here in Ilocos. Designated as one of UNESCO World Heritage Site, the baroque church maybe old but with its 24 massive buttresses it can withstand the destructive forces of earthquakes. Few meters away is the three-storey bell tower which serves as a look-out place for the Katiponeros during the Spanish period and Guerillas during the WWII. Truly, it stood the tests of time.
To wrap our first day + the 9 hours bus ride, we visited the Marcos Mausoleum where the preserved remains of the late President Marcos is displayed. Yes, according to the care take it’s his real remains covered with wax. No pictures are allowed inside, though. Another than that, there are several memorabilia displayed but some of them are also displayed in the Malacanang of the North.
This post is part of the Ilocos tour packaged that we availed from A&A Express Travel and Tours for only 5,999 PHP per person. Check out our next posts for complete itinerary.