have fallen in love with Laoag the first time I went there six years ago. We
had to finish a webmagazine for an international competition sponsored by the
SEAMEO- RELC. To be honest, I wasn’t much giddy to begin with because going
there by land means 12 loooong hours sitting inside the bus plus I have motion
sickness so anytime I feel nauseous, I’ll throw up. Yuck. But anyway, when we
got there, I thought it was one of the places to be. This year, because of
work, I had to go back to Laoag but this time, we’re going to use the office
van so it’s more comfortable plus I was able to overcome my motion sickness, so
I’m good to go. Hahaha.
4pm, our team left Manila. In prep for one long, arduous land travel, I had my
phone fully charged and my playlists updated so I won’t be bored. Well, it
turned out, I won’t need my playlist sa dame ng kwento ni Ate Fina at Ate Ann.
Plus, we’re too addicted with Temple Run *game face on*. Hahaha. By the time
the sun set and we’re still on the road, everyone’s asleep except Ate Fins who
kept Kuya Ariel company. She’s singing Whitney songs, by the way. What a
tribute, I say. Hahaha.
10pm, we stopped over Urdaneta City for a late dinner—Matutina’s! Yey. Food’s
great—we had sisig and bangus belly plus rice overload. Then we’re off the road
forward. At exactly 4am we arrived at Java Hotel in Laoag City. I thought we’re
just getting some gas for the car, yun pala yung front talaga ng hotel. Fail.
Hahaha. After checking in, we went ahead to our rooms and got ourselves some
sleep. I even set an alarm ng 7am so we could eat breakfast but we failed to
wake up. It’s already 10am when we got out of our beds and everyone’s preparing
to head off lunch at the City Hall. Hahaha. Anyways, we helped ourselves to
some nice lunch and then went on with the coordination meetings with Mayor
Mike. After that, we went back to Java to get our stuff because we had to
transfer to another hotel to give way to the mayors coming for the meeting.
Then, free time!
Fely and Ate Joy went to the market, Ate Fina took a nap and Ate Ann and I
explored the streets of Laoag. We decided to ditch the tryke and allowed our
feet to take us where it wants us to go. Hahaha. Our feet did not fail us, we
found ourselves in front of the Provincial Capitol counting fountains and then
we glanced inside the Pamulinawen Trade Fair. We also explored the city plaza
where they hold concerts and other city activities. Finally, while looking for
a place to eat, we found the Museo Ilocos Norte, a bricked building just beside
the Provincial Capitol. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go inside because
it’s already closed. 5pm na kase. Hahaha. Oh, we also stopped by to admire the beauty of the Laoag Sinking Bell Tower.
we found a bookstore called Samtoy beside it too. We went inside to take a peak
and wow, it is a very nice bookshop! We looked into their collection and I was
just like, wow. I even sat down the floor to flick through several titles and
tomes. They have books from UP Printing Press, ADMU Press and other cool titles
I don’t usually get to see in “mainstream” bookstores. They even have a reading
area where one can rent a book for 5 pesos per hour. The saleslady, a friendly,
geeky girl invited us to their Sine Sabado, one of their store’s activities.
She was speaking to us in Ilocano and we’re like black faced. And then she
realized we’re “dayo” so she spoke in Tagalog. I forgot the movie they’ll screen
but I remember telling her, “Sayang, kaso po pabalik na po kami nun ng Manila.”
Well, saying talaga. Mukha pa namang maganda yung movie.
Anyway’s Ate (I wasn’t
able to ask her name) recommended that I buy UP Press’ Ultraviolins—it was a
collection of short stories and poems translated in Tagalog by up and coming
writers like Lourd de Veyra. Cool. I bought the book for only 250 pesos. I
thought it was a good find since I wasn’t able to see it in local bookstands.
Ate Ann bought a Freud book for 200 din ata. We learned that Ate saleslady was
a LegMa grad from USTe—sabe nya kase she thought she knew Ate Ann—classmates
pala sila on one class whatever. Small world, I say.
rumbled. Grrrrrowl. Hahaha. We went down the stairs and found Johnny Moon Café
which serves local favorites like the famous Ilocano Empanada. Since it’s
already 5.30pm and we have to get back to the City Hall for dinner ng 6.30pm,
we just ordered something for takeout. I had the Special Longganisa Empanada
and Ate Ann had Tupig con Chocolate. We ordered Special Bagnet Empanada for Ate
Fina because we’re kind friends. HAHAHA. Then we saw they have ice cream cups
so I bought for the three of us. I had papaya and Ate Ann chose Saniata or
Dragon Fruit flavor for them ni Ate Fina.
walked the streets of Laoag again on our way to the hotel. We ate our takeouts
inside the room—the empanada’s a winner. And also the ice creams. Yum yum!
Challenge/ Amazing Race Day
next day, the mayors and other guests were toured around Ilocos Norte. Since we
have to facilitate the preparations for tomorrow’s meeting, we’re left at Java.
But that doesn’t mean we’re losers.
went back to the museum and had tons of concept pictures. Then we also rode the
calesa because, why not. Haha, fun ride that is. Horses enjoy the King of the
Road status in Laoag—motorists are banned from beeping when calesas are ahead
of them because they’ll get startled and might run amok so they had to slow
we arrived at the hotel, we tried biking but the bike’s too high for a “petite”
girl like me so after 30 minutes we went wall climbing. I never thought it’s an
easy feat but I guess I have to try for my Bucket List. Yun. Ate Ann passed
because she’s wearing a dress so ako nalang and Ate Fina. She went ahead
because she was able to try it before. Cool! She was able to reach the top
part. On my part, I wasn’t able to do so. While climbing, I have to exert every
effort to carry my body to reach the next stone. I tried my best to get on the
top stone but my arms are already aching I had to rappel down. We tried for a
second round and I still wasn’t able to reach it. Ambigat ko talaga. Hahaha.
Because of that, I plan to lose weight. Hahaha.
that night was sponsored by Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos at the Malacanang
of the North. Again, as part of our duty to facilitate the whole event, the
three of us went ahead to the venue with some staff from the city hall. That
was a good thing din because we had the chance to see the sunset at the Paoay Lake
plus we toured ourselves inside the mansion. Tons of concept pictures nanaman.
Also, we had the chance to shake hands with Gov Imee and listen to her speak.
Galing lang. Haha.
Day Meeting. Blast by the Evening.
meeting day so no adventure stories for that. I just sat down and took the
minutes of the meeting. Hahaha. Dinner was at the City Hall again, it was some
sort of a fellowship night. We watched in awe as the Laoag City Gymnasts danced
acrobatic moves in front of us. They were last season’s grand winners of
ABS-CBN’s Showtime. We’re equally entertained with the vocal prowess of the
high school choir from Ilocos Norte National HS. Mayor Mike proudly told the
audience they’ve won competitions internationally. I really loved their funky
rendition of Lady Gaga’s Edge of Glory. Dub
du pop pop. Dub du pop pop. A local band called The Edralins also gave
their best covers of alternative rock anthems. They even had mayors singing
onstage and the guests dancing merrily to Buttercup. Hahaha. The night’s a
Found Fun in a Hopeless Place
barren region is considered a bleak place to be in. Sun’s scorching hot and
there’s no water everywhere. But, but, but. Ibahin ang La Paz Sand Dunes ng
Laoag. The place boasts of a nice landscape perfect for “concept” desert
photos. It is also a good place to do adventure-filled activities like sand
sledding, sand boarding and off-roading.
Jun Musni, the astig driver, told us that the sand activities in La Paz started
out as a group hobby. Because they have these giant four-wheel drives, he and
his friends started off-roading there. Then, the rest they say was history.
Tourists and hobbyists started flocking in. Soon, they added sand boarding and
sledding, patterned after those activities done in Dubai. An hour’s ride on the
four-wheel drives plus sand boarding costs 2,500 for a group of four people.
was one heck of a ride. We tried it twice. Well, the second was a shoo-in.
Hahaha. Anyways, I find it a thrilling activity—it rivals the roller coaster
ride. Hahaha. The video below would tell you just why:
Trivia: We learned that two foreign films: Mad
Max and Born on the Fourth of July, have shot several scenes here.
definitely go back. Promise. Yun lang. Nuff said. Hahaha.