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April 02, 2012

PAGUDPUD: Your Awesome Journey to Pagudpud (Infographic)

April 02, 2012

PAGUDPUD: Your Awesome Journey to Pagudpud (Infographic)

Our Awesome Planet in partnership with Caltex Philippines presents Awesome Journeys Infographics:
Your Awesome Journey to Pagudpud
(Download: Your Awesome Journey to Pagudpud PDF File for Printing)

Awesome Journey Infographics Series:

written by Anton Diaz for the Awesome Life Planner 2012

The road trip to Pagudpud is often the initiation for first-time road trip travelers. You can just decide to go, throw caution to the wind, follow the appropriate sign at every crossroad and drive all the way for 12-14 hours until you see the “Welcome to Pagudpud” arch.

There’s an adrenaline rush you get from seeing the northern towns for the first time. It is best to experience it with no expectations, just with the utmost appreciation for all the surprises that come your way.

Road Trip Tips (On the Way to Pagudpud) 

Leave as early as you can – even as early as 3 a.m. – so that you can quickly pass through the North Luzon Expressway and the province of Tarlac without encountering any traffic. The goal is to arrive in Pagudpud before sunset (without sacrificing time for a good lunch).

Make sure that you have a full tank of gas before you embark on your trip and keep track of your fuel consumption all throughout. Pagudpud is 560 km from Manila; so if your fuel consumption is 10 kilometers per liter of gas, your full tank of 50 liters is not enough to reach Pagudpud. It would be wise to gas up when your fuel gauge needle reaches the halfway mark.

Stopover Strategy

In general, the strategy is to just drive relentlessly and stop for occasional restroom breaks at gasoline stations. Although time is an important factor in this road trip, you must include these two in your schedule:

Suso Beach. Take a breather at Suso Beach when you reach Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur. This will be the first beach you will see visible on your left and near the National Highway.

Santa Maria Church. This church, officially known as the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, is one of the Four Baroque Churches in the Philippines listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Take a photo with its massive brick facade, cylindrical columns, and octagonal bell tower. While there, say a prayer for a safe journey all the way to the north. 

You can stop over in Vigan for lunch before you make a final push to Pagudpud, which is three hours away.



Here is a list of the must-visit places and must-eat food in Vigan:

Calle Crisologo. The most beautiful street in the Philippines was thankfully restored to its pre-war beauty with its cobblestone road, old Spanish houses and charming kalesas. Visit the antique shops along the street and pop in pasalubong stores to buy the Abel Iloko weave, which is a signature product of Vigan. Simple hand towels are made elegant because of the weave. Most Filipinos buy the table runners, hand towels and the blankets.

Cafe Leona. This restaurant is located on the ground floor of a traditional Vigan house with mortared brick and stone walls and large, sliding, capiz shell windows on the second floor. It is a popular establishment because it is found at the starting point of Calle Crisologo. Cafe Leona serves decent Filipino and Ilocano food but most people eat here because of the classic Vigan ambiance and convenient location.

Bagnet. An Ilocano pork dish that is well-loved because of its double-fried crispiness. It is cooked in lard (note: its own mantika) in a big kawali over an old-school, wood-fired cement oven. Kasim is the part of the pork that is used for the Bagnet. It is deep-fried with salt for 2-3 hours until it softens and becomes red. The oil is removed afterwards. Then, the fried pork is allowed to settle for 15 minutes before putting it back and frying it again for maximum crispiness.

Longganisa. It is basically pork meat and fat stuffed in an intestine wrap. Vigan's version is salty and best paired with Ilocos Vinegar. It has a ratio of 20 kilos of meat to 10 kilos of fat. The meat is mixed manually with Sinait Garlic crushed in San Esteban Almeres. Sugarcane vinegar is added along with Atsuete and soy sauce (to give it color). The mixture is then packed inside the small intestines and sealed with an Astra 20 thread. Vigan Longganisa is sold in packs of 12 versus Laoag's Longganisa, which is sold per kilo.

Vigan Empanada. A light brown, fried pastry turnover that is super crispy on the outside. It literally crackles with every bite. The special version comes with egg, longganisa and papaya. The secret to the yumminess of the empanada can be found in the rice flour used. It is a bit oily, though, so you can choose to follow it up with soft drinks.

In Vigan, there is an empanadahan (a series of street food stalls) in the plaza near the Church. But the best place to eat empanada is in the original ones along Calle Salcedo (either Insiang's or Irene’s Empanadahan).

Okoy. Another Vigan favorite, which is usually the sidekick of the empanada. It is made of rice flour, tomatoes, chives and shrimp. The empanada resembles a big fried dumpling while the okoy looks like a flat shrimp tempura. Both snacks go quite well with the Ilocos black vinegar and are best eaten while hot.

Royal Bibingka. This cupcake-sized bibingka is made from a mixture of galapong malagkit (ground glutinous rice), egg yolk, cheese or margarine, evaporated milk and white sugar. There are three popular brands of this Ilocano delicacy: (1) Tongson’s, the original maker (found beside Cafe Leona); (2) Marsha’s Delicacies, currently the most popular because it has a store along the National Highway; and (3) Sikatuna Royal Bibingka, considered the best by the locals.

After Vigan, you'll pass by many interesting places on your way to Pagudpud. You can decide to explore Ilocos Norte if you have enough time or you can opt to do that on your way back.



Here is a list of the must-visit places and must-eat food in Ilocos Norte (by town):


Marcos Museum and Mausoleum. Former President Ferdinand Marcos' numerous photos, awards and letters are just some of the memorabilia on display in the museum. His preserved remains are also housed here. Take note that photography is not allowed in the mausoleum.

Ilocos Empanada. Batac has its own take on the popular empanada. This version is achuete-colored and uses bean sprouts, an entire egg (both the white and yolk), the saltier Laoag longganiza and a more sour Ilocos black vinegar with sili. The best place to try it is in the original Batac Empanadahan, where it is usually eaten with the special Miki Noodle Soup.


Sand Dunes of Ilocos. This is the only place in the Philippines where you can find a desert in the seemingly endless coastal sand dunes of Suba. An awesome place for reflection and meditation, it is about an hour's walk along the beach from Fort Ilocandia. I suggest that you walk to the sand dunes early in the morning on a clear day.

Sandboarding. There are two sandboarding areas in Ilocos: Paoay and La Paz. Your adventure starts with a 4x4 drive and then you stop at a dune with a steep slope -- this is where the fun begins. When sandboarding, think of it as just surfing on the slopes of the sand dunes. You have to conquer your fear before you can get the hang of it. The experienced sandboarders don't just slide down, though, they can already do jumps and stunts.

Paoay Church. The San Augustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site alongside the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur. Both churches have a unique architectural style known as “Earthquake Baroque”, in which much focus is given to the structures' buttresses and foundations for stability and safety during an earthquake.

Cafe Herencia. Right across Paoay Church is the birthplace of the yummy Pinakbet and Dinuguan Pizza of Ilocos. You can also order Bagnet with Kamatis, Bagoong and Lasona (small, local red onions) here.


Laoag Market. Located in the center of town, this is the place for bagnet, longganisa, and Ilocano goodies. Also, this is where you can buy the popular Ilocos garlic and Chichacorn (super crunchy fried corn bits).

Ilocos Empanada. This favorite Ilocano snack can be found in the Dap-Ayan ti Ilocos Norte empanadahan near the plaza. You can also buy it from Mang Cely of JM’s Empanada Canteen while waiting for your flight in the Laoag airport.

Saramsam Cafe. This is Cafe Herencia’s sister restaurant, which is also known as the “Home of Poqui Poqui and Dinuguan Pizza”. You can order your Ilocano favorites here and end with a Bilo-Bilo Fondue for dessert.

Fort Ilocandia Resort and Casino. This Spanish-inspired resort was originally constructed by the Marcos family for their daughter Irene's wedding reception. Although it mainly attracts Taiwanese gamblers now, first-time Filipino visitors are still charmed by the place. You can decide to stay for a night to enjoy its facilities and take an early morning walk to the sand dunes.


Sitio Remedios. You can find transplanted and restored Ilocano houses with vintage furniture in this heritage resort village by Dr. Joven Cuanang.  A quaint church with a plaza stands as its centerpiece. It is a nice place to visit to enjoy Ilocano food, appreciate Ilocano hospitality and stay in a re-created Ilocano village.


Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. Right after Laoag, make sure to drop by this lighthouse for a photo op. It is one of the nicer Spanish colonial lighthouses in the country. It is still operational and its structure allows tourists to climb all the way to the top to see its magnificent view of the jagged coastline facing the West Philippine Sea (formerly known as South China Sea).


Pasuquin Bakery. You must try the famous soft biscocho rolls from this bakery.

Iodized Salt. The town is known for its iodized salt-making industry. You can buy the salt from roadside stalls.


Bangui Windmills. These huge, 23 storeys-high, white structures (which look like "giant electric fans with three blades") are used to generate power from the wind to supply the requirements of the Ilocos region. There are 15 windmills located along the Bangui coast, which is a black, pebbled beach with a fishing community along its shorelines. It is quite a walk from one windmill to another. The best time to go is before sunset, when you get an awesome sunset sky as the backdrop for your shot of the windmills.


It is recommended to stay for one to two nights in Pagudpud to enjoy the beach and the eco-tourism destinations around the area.

Saud Beach, Pagudpud. When people mention Pagudpud beach, they usually refer to the popular Saud Beach. It is often called the "Boracay of the North" because of its beautiful white beach with rows of coconut palms (but minus the noise and nightlife of Boracay). It is one big cove that transitions into a rocky coastline on its west end. Most people visit just to hang out on the beach and have a picnic.

A lot of accommodations are available in the area. On the eastern part of the coast, you can find Saud Beach Resort with its nice wooden structures and bamboo furniture. There's also Villa del Mar, which has deluxe cottages with stone floors and capiz-shell windows.  On the west end, the popular resorts are Apo Idon, Terra Rika and Northride Resort.

There is no nightlife in Pagudpud, so take the opportunity to bond with your companions in a quiet setting. Don’t expect too much from the food selections at the different restaurants, though. Most are just grilled but have Manila prices.

Blue Lagoon, Maira-ira Beach. This once-secret, beautiful cove is home to an off-white grainy beach where the water is bluish, the entire sea is calm and the underwater floor is deep but purely made of sand. Unfortunately, new resort developments threaten the natural beauty of the place.

If you're looking for a place to stay, Kapuluan Vista Resort is the best option in Blue Lagoon. Its distinctive, contemporary design creates a serene yet high-energy ambiance in a casual setting. A young family from Hawaii owns this resort. They relocated to this part of Pagudpud because of the surfing quality of the waters in this area.

Patapat Viaduct. In the northernmost section of Ilocos Norte, motorists can get a spectacular view of Pasaleng Bay from this winding, concrete highway constructed on a mountainside. This viaduct was built to solve the problem of landslides in the area, which have caused so many vehicular accidents in the past. Patapat is the farthest you can go before turning around and returning to Manila.


Road Trip Tips (On the Way Back to Manila)

You can decide to extend your trip by staying an extra night in the cool region of Baguio. Your other options are San Juan in La Union (for surfing) and Thunderbird Resort in Poro Point. Whether you choose to stop along the way or head straight to Manila, it is recommended that you drop by this place: 

Isdaan in Gerona, Tarlac. This “floating restaurant” is actually made up of huts floating on the fish pond. It is a favorite stopover for lunch or dinner not just because of the very good Filipino food but also because of the Tacsiyapo Wall. Here, people buy stuff that they can throw at the wall while shouting “TACSIYAPO!” (which means “shame on you” in the local dialect). One other unique thing about Isdaan is the San Kilo Bridge challenge. You need to cross this narrow cement bridge while bringing one or two full pails. If you are able to successfully cross it and come back, you get one kilo of fish for free!

Before making that trip back to Manila, here are some final Road Trip Tips:

  • Make sure that your car is tuned up, your tires have the right air pressure, you have a good spare tire, and that your gas is HALF FULL all the time.
  • If you and your companions are riding in separate cars, I suggest that you agree on a meeting place/end point instead of traveling in a convoy. That would be the more efficient way of getting to the northern part of the Philippines.
  • Cash is king -- make sure that you withdraw enough money for your trip. P1,500/day is a good rule of thumb.
  • Buy an atlas so that you can follow your road trip on the map. Plus, it gives you added confidence that you will not get lost.
  • If you have short range two-way radios, bring them with you for better coordination between two cars or groups. 
  • You should look at this journey as a two-phase road trip: a six-hour road trip to Baguio and another six-hour road trip going to Ilocos Norte. Just follow the signs leading to these places, and you'll be fine.

Pagudpud never fails to surprise us every time we visit. There are always new places to see and new food to discover. I got addicted to road trips after my experience of driving all the way here, and I have Pagudpud to thank for this newfound passion! :)

Awesome Journey Infographics Series:

Live an Awesome Life,

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Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com

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Full Disclosure: The Our Awesome Planet's Awesome Journey Infographic Series is in partnership with Caltex Philippines. We are not connected with the establishment featured in this infographic or any organizations promoting it.

P.S. Feel free to repost this Infographic, just credit the source by linking back to this blog post.


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