Ilocos Traveller’s Notes

My brother had work to do in Ilocos Norte, and he asked me if I wanted to go with him. Fact is, I’ve been wanting to go back to Ilocos since I wanted to take pictures there, most especially in Vigan. I was there several years ago with the family, when we went and did a bisita de iglesia in the Ilocos region.

We got ready Thursday evening, and the car and company we were with was courtesy of my brother. I won’t go on elaborating the details of that, since its mainly the reason why I decided to go travelling solo, taking pictures, basking in this newfound, and glorious travel fix.

Day 1

From Bulacan to Laoag, Ilocos Norte, we only did a stop over in one gas station for my brother to get some shut-eye. I was complaining about my lack of charged batteries, since I did bring an mp3 discman to provide me with some audio-sanity, since I was in someone else’s car, and would not have a say on what everyone would listen to. We arrived in Laoag just when the sun was kissing the clouds, and had breakfast. My brother went to work, and I was left off to go to Pagudpod with the rest of the pack. I found myself in a car accident several minutes later, with one tire flat, and the car’s bumpers and muffler damaged. The car spun twice on a curve, and fell on a dry rice patty. I’ve never had any automobile-related accidents so far, and I had to experience it with company I barely know. No one was hurt, and oddly, I was completely calm,

*View a slideshow of my Ilocos pictures here.

We went past Pagudpod, not knowing where to go from there, and found ourselves in Cagayan, the province directly next to Ilocos Norte. Had an atrocious lunch. Turned back, possessing proper directions now by asking townsfolk, and found ourselves in the beaches of Pagudpod. It was hella stormy, but I never saw such pristine sand and water. I readied my cameras, and shot silly videos with the digicam.

After about an hour, we were off to Vigan. Night fell, and I didn’t notice it, since I was sleeping in the back of the car. I woke up and notice we were in the vicinity of the Vigan town plaza. We ate another atrocious meal. I then suggested we stay for the night, since plans were to head off to Baguio after dinner. The search for overnight accommodation ensued, but they appeared to have the common idea that sleeping in the car is the most budget conscious decision to take at this point.

I snapped. I decided to get into ambitious lonely traveller mode, and decided to go solo from hereon. After a big halo-halo dessert I ate alone, I went back to the car, got my bags, and left. There was a fancy place that had 200 peso per person accommodation we came across earlier, I’ll go for that. Unfortunately, Grandpa’s Inn didn’t have any more cheap packages, only the 1,200 peso room for two. I’ve had enough crap for the day, so I went for it.

There wasn’t any of the promised hot and cold shower, but there was cable tv and air conditioning. This was apparently a pseudo-vintage, bahay-na-bato vibe to the room. I took a needed bath -another reason why I will not budge into the sleep-in-the-car idea- and slept before midnight, with the alarm clock set to 7AM, when breakfast starts.

Day 2

I woke up 10 minutes before the alarm. Dressed up, went down for breakfast, and found myself the first one to take it. I downed two meals, since it was included in my room rate: Vigan longganisa, egg and sinangang for the first meal, and daing na pusit, with the same egg and sinangang accompaniment. Ahh, real, sumptuous, bellyful meals this time, and none of the garbage I took in yesterday.

My original plan was to take off after breakfast and shoot pictures of the town, but then, I still wanted to plan the day a little more thoroughly. Should I stay for another day? Go back to Pagudpod, since its a bit sunnier today than yesterday? Locate myself in Laoag, since it does have its share old houses, too? I also do have to consider that I don’t have housekeys with me, and I wouldn’t want to wake up my relatives who have the spare key at midnight.

With my head cluttered, I just bummed around and watched parts of Eminem’s 8 Mile, until about 11. Noontime is check out time, so I packed my stuff and did so. Walked a bit around the town plaza, took pictures of the church. Found myself in the preserved street of Vigan, where motor vehicles weren’t allowed to pass. This was where some souvenir shops are located, and some inn’s as well. Got around some more, and decided to get into a kalesa for a town-wide trip. For someone overly familiar with the rural provincial corners of Bulacan and Quezon, Vigan is typical, and not at all rustic, nor developed. The kalesa driver showed me the bell tower where FPJ shot most of his Panday pictures, a pottery factory, and Villa Angela, where the recent film Maruja was shot. The promised 1 hour town-wide trek lasted only half-an-hour.

It was past 12 already, and I made some rounds of the nearby plaza stores, bought burgers for the bus ride home, and batteries for the discman. I did not entertain any more thoughts of staying for another day. Hitched a tricycle, which brought me to the bus stop. At the bus stop, I saw a man preparing a just-killed dog, with its throat slit wide.

The bus trip offered more shot-worthy scenes, so I had my digicam prepared. There were frequent stops, which annoyed me initially, but upon reaching Munoz after 10 hours, it made perfect sense. Never ate at the stops, none of the carinderia food I saw was interesting. I wanted effing Chickenjoy, which I had before waiting for a Cabanatuan-bound bus to get me home. Funny thing is, it didn’t even take me 30 minutes from Munoz to Guiguinto.


The bathrooms at Grandpa’s Inn had mirrors built for tall people. I was already standing on the picture below.

The Pagudpod houses were teeming with satellite tv dishes. I guess its because of the ‘Homestay’ signs they had outside.

The La Union coastline did have considerable surfer’s waves, which explains the surfer-themed inn’s I saw on the bus ride home.

*MORE ILOCOS PHOTOS can be found here. Some were considerably edited, especially the ones I took from the bus.

8 thoughts on “Ilocos Traveller’s Notes”

  1. i must say i enjoyed reading your blog =)recently had a roadtrip up north and shared some of your experiences. Also stayed at the quaint but a lil creepy Grandpa’s Inn. The bathroom was nuthin. U should have tried sleeping in their calesa beds =)

  2. serendipity: Thanks for the kind words 🙂 Would’ve been creepier if I stayed at the authentic old houses, like Casa Angela, since I was by my lonesome.

  3. Interesting…i’m off to ilocos this Friday and I haven’t decided if i’ll book a place to stay or just look for one when we arrive there. haay..i’m already in panic mode. i don’t know how long it will take to visit the famous places in Ilocos Norte and Sur. Any thoughts? would really appreciate it.

  4. Hi Doi. This post is 3 years old! I believe its best to make reservations, to avoid the hassle, as it is the holiday season. How long? Always depends on how much time you have, but for 2-3 days you’d probably get the highlights already.

  5. Thanks for the reply Rain. Yeah, I figured the date of this post after I submitted my comment since it wasn’t shown on top. I guess it was due to my desperate need to find anything about travelling to Ilocos. And yes, we’ll spend 2-3 days for the tour. Anyway, I’m now trying to look for places to stay in Laoag. I’m just sad that the information on the web is not that sufficient. Thank you again and Merry Christmas!!!

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