Author

Anton Diaz

Ilocos

Stopover Surprises in your 14-hour Road Trip

Are you going on a road trip to Pagudpud? Download this Infographic Guide before you go…
Infographic: Your Awesome Journey to Pagudpud

Introduction
If this was your first time to go on a long road trip to the North, this article will save you a lot of time in being prepared for your roadtrip. This also documents all my key learnings based on my experience to avoid frustrations and mis-adventures during your tip. Although, I must admit that its the mis-adventures which makes the trip fun and memorable.

If you have been to Pagudpud or Ilocos Norte already, I do hope you learn a thing or two from this guide. I would also sincerely appreciate it if you can contribute your own learnings and perspective by commenting on this.

The best part of going to Pagudpud and Ilocos Norte is the long road trip. I enjoy it very much and I encourage you to plan it very well to make it enjoyable. I won’t be covering using public transportation to go to Pagudpud since I don’t have a lot of experience on this.


Make sure that you make a beauty stop over hear at Suso Beach, Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur. This will be the first beach you would see that is visible and near the national higway.

1. Stopover Strategy

It is certainly possible to drive straight from Manila to Pagudpud but you need to leave as early as 3am. The main reason is that you don’t have to arrive in Pagudpud at night because there are no street lights. It would be dark and it would be difficult to find your way going to the resorts. I did this once already and it was tiring, and you cannot enjoy the road trip.

On the way to Pagudpud, I would suggest that you stopover and stay for a night and take advantage of exploring one city in the North. Here are my recommendations:

  • You can either stay in Vigan, Ilocos Sur (3 hours away from Pagudpud), or
  • Fort Ilocandia in Laoag, Ilocos Norte (1 hour away from Pagudpud), or
  • Recently, I heard of this new place called Sitio Remedios in Currimao, Ilocos Norte. I have not stayed here yet but the pictures were great. You might want to check it out (mobile: +63917-3320217 or email: sitio_remedios@yahoo.com).

On the way back, my favorite stopover is Baguio which is the half way point between Manila and Ilocos Norte. You can easily get accommodations in Baguio without prior reservation and you get to enjoy the city’s beauty and its restaurants for a night. Most people would drive straight back to Manila since you are already familiar with the place even if you arrive at midnight.

2. Where is the best place to eat Breakfast and Lunch?

It would be sad if all you eat during your long trip would be fastfood from Jollibee, Mc Donalds or Max. I was surprised when I was in Vigan to find these fast food chain among the antique houses. You have to maximize you’re long road trip and there are three places that I would recommend that you eat:

A). Breakfast/Lunch @ Isdaan in Gerona, Tarlac.

Isdaan is the home of the tacsiyapo wall. Where you buy stuff to throw and shout “TACSIYAPO” which is “shame on you” in the local dialect. It serves very good Filipino Food since they are a sister company or the same owner as Barrio Fiesta. It is a floating restaurant concept where you eat in huts floating in the fish pond. One other unique thing about Isdaan, is that you can cross the San Kilo bridge which is a narrow cement bridge while bringing one pail of water. If you are able to successfully cross the bridge and come back, you get a free 1 Kilo of Fish!

Check out my blog post on this place –> Tacsiyapo Wall @ Isdaan, Gerona Tarlac. This is just along the national highway, you’ll never miss it once you are in Gerona Tarlac…

B). Lunch @ Cafe Leona in Vigan

The old house ambiance was great and sets the mood for a good lunch. It serves good filipino food turo-turo style where the food is displayed buffet style and you have to point the food that you like. Prices are almost the same as in Manila restaurants but still eating in capiz style vigan houses is quite an experience.

Cafe Leona is very popular and right in the center of Vigan. Just ask around and it is near the Max Restaurant along Crisologo street. I don’t have a full blog post on this but I have a more photos here –> Cafe Leona, Vigan Lunch.

C). Lunch/Dinner @ S.O.U.L Cafe in La Union

I have never been to this place but I’m hearing a lot of good things about this from different people. This is owned by Amboy Guevara, and located beside their family’s Shell Gas Station. This is the first shell gas station in La Union and the first one before going up to Baguio via Kenon road. S.O.U.L means Spice of Urban Life and people rave about the food which are priced reasonably well below P200. ( Check it out –> S.O.U.L Café Camp One, Rosario, La Union. Tel: (072) 712-0852 )

3. Road Trip Final Reminders

  • You need to make sure that you’re car is well tuned up, have the right tire pressure with a good tire spare, and with the gas HALF FULL all the time.
  • If you are going on convoy, I suggest that you agree on a meeting/ end point because it is useless to go on a convoy like a parade in this northern part of the Philippines.
  • Cash is King so 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 in the map. It is interesting to see where you are in the North. Also, this gives you added confidence that you will not get lost.
  • You should look at your trip as a two phase road trip: a 6 hour road trip to Baguio and another 6 hour road trip going to Ilocos Norte. Just follow the signs going to this places and you won’t get lost.
  • If you have short range two-way radio, bring them because this might be better for coordination between two cars or groups.

That’s it for now. I do hope by now, you would have an idea on what your Road Trip itinerary would be. I’ll update this entry from time to time based on readers inputs and as I remember them.

Other Places to Visit along the 14-hour Road Trip:

Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur – One of the Four Baroque Churches in the Philippines listed in the UN World Heritage Sites!

Do you have any other suggestions and comments?

Anton

Ilocos

8 Awesome Places of Ilocos Norte

Are you going on a road trip to Pagudpud? Download this Infographic Guide before you go…
Infographic: Your Awesome Journey to Pagudpud

These places are simply AWESOME and you should never miss to visit them on your trip to Pagudpud. Of course, it would be unrealistic to expect to be able to visit them all at once. You should be able to arrange your itinerary to go to the places that interest you the most. Here are the 8 Awesome Places in Pagudpud and Ilocos Norte:

1. Blue Lagoon or Maira-ira

Balesin of the North
>> Blue Lagoon, Maira-ira Beach Details

2. Bangui Windmills

Magnificent White Giants of Bangui
>> Bangui Windmills Details

3. Saud Beach Pagudpud

Anti-Boracay of the north
>> Saud Beach Pagudpud Details

4. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

One of the Oldest and Most Visited Spanish Lighthouse in Ilocos Norte
>> Cape Bojeador Lighthouse Details…

5. Fort Ilocandia

The Best Resort in Laoag, Ilocos Norte
>> Fort Ilocandia Details

6. Sand Dunes of Suba

Unique Desert Sand Dunes in the Philippines
>> Sand Dunes of Suba Details

7. Paoay Church

One of the Four Baroque Churches in the Philippines with an impressive buttresses.
>> Paoay Church

8. Patapat Viaduct

Amazing Elevated Highway on a Mountainside.
>> Patapat Viaduct

Other Places of Interest in Ilocos Norte

Marcos Museum & Mausoleum – The embalmed body of Ferdinand Marcos (1917-89) is laid out on a mattress and lit by floodlights with eerie choral music as the background.

Malacanang of the North – The opulent former residence of the Marcos Family. The house is impressive 🙂

Kabigan Falls – a scenic 30 minute hiring trek to a famous falls in Pagudpud.

Enjoy your Trip!

Anton

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Ilocos

Where to Stay and Eat in Pagudpud?

Are you going on a road trip to Pagudpud? Download this Infographic Guide before you go…
Infographic: Your Awesome Journey to Pagudpud


There are a lot of resorts in the Saud Beach area and usually, you can choose the resort upon your arrival. The rocky west end of Saud Beach usually offers affordable accommodation. If your intent is to just use the room to sleep and take a bath, then don’t spend too much money on getting a high end resort.


We have stayed in resorts just with basic amenities and just use it a base for traveling to the different awesome places within the area. We also stayed in Saud Beach report which is the high-end resort in Saud Beach owned by the Mayor and we decided to just stay and enjoy Saud at that time so it was worth it.

Here are some of the Pagudpud Resorts located in Saud Beach:

1. Saud Beach Resort — High End Resort amidst a coconut plantation with nice wooden floors and bamboo furniture.
Tel: +632-928 9853 Manila

2. Villa del Mar — If you want a deluxe cottage with stone floors and capiz-shell windows.
Mobile: +63 920 553-4161

West End Rocky Shore Resorts in Saud Beach

3. Apo Idon — One of the nicest resorts in Pagudpud with appealing rooms made of stone walls and good lighting.

4. Terra Rika Beach Resort — One of the popular relatively affordable resort with a nice restaurant.
Mobile: +63 918 937-1752
terrarikadiveresort@yahoo.com
5. Northridge Resort – Sister company of Terra Rika and Apo Idon located in the West End.
Mobile: +63920 220-5089

Pagudpud Resorts not located in Saud Beach

1. Pannzian Beach and Mountain Resort – located near the long, black sand beach of Pansian often beaten by strong winds.
Tel: +632 646-9020

2. Kapuluan Vista Resort – The resort possesses a distinctive, contemporary design and décor that creates both a high-energy and serene ambiance on a casual setting. This is located near Blue Lagoon.
Tel: (+6372) 888-2809
Cellular: (+63920) 952-2528
website: http://www.kapuluanvistaresort.com/

So, to answer the question of where to stay?
If you want a resort with all the urban amenities and expect to stay with first class accommodations, you should stay in Saud Beach Resort. For a romantic place, I suggest that you book in Apo Idon. If you are on a budget, canvass your way from the different resorts in the rocky-shore west end of Saud Beach. If it is your 3rd time in Pagudpud, I suggest you try Kapuluan Vista Resort.

2. What and Where to Eat?

I need to level your expectation that the food is ridiculously Expensive and not also that good. This is contrary to the belief that the provincial resorts offer more affordable food. Specially in Saud beach, they want to earn as much from the food and the source of ingredients are scarce. More than P200 for every dish and don’t be fooled by the label good 2-3 persons. By the way the menu below is from one of the low end resorts in Pagudpud…


Click here for a Larger Size


Ilocos Bagnet (P300! ), Grilled Fish (P220) and Pinakbet (P200)!!

Recommendations:
1. To save on food expenses, I suggest that you bring your own gallon of water or buy one before entering into the Saud beach resorts. Also, you can buy your own canned goods or instant noodles if you really want to save.

2. Pick the best restaurants to eat from. Unfortunately, I don’t have a recommendation since most of them looks the same. Maybe, you have any suggestions on where to eat in Pagudpud?

3. Avoid the Ilocos specialties like Bagnet which is not healthy and at the same time, they would charge more for these.

4. Btw, there are no nightlife in Pagudpud. People usually spend the evening singing the night away or drinking and enjoying the time with friends. So make sure that you savor your dinner and just relax.

Do you have any other recommendations?

Anton

Ilocos

Pasalubong and Delicacies from the North

Never-to-be-missed Empanada

Staying in Ilocos Norte will never be complete if you have not tasted these fried empanada. Although, these empanadas are available in special outlets in Manila, it is different eating this in Laoag.

I recommend eating dinner in Dap-Ayan ti iLocos Norte food court which is located just near the Provincial Capitol building. As you enter Laoag, go straight in the Tres Martires plaza and turn left along Rizal Ave where the provincial capitol is located. The next corner would be V Llanes St and Dap-Ayan ti iLocos Norte is located in the corner.

If you go further down Rizal avenue you will arrive in one of the famous restaurant in Laoag, La Preciosa . This is another restaurant that you should consider eating when you are in Laoag.

Best Pasalubong from the North

1. Royal Bibingka


These royal bibingkas are the best pasalubong from the North. They are available along the main highway near Vigan. These bibingkas are different from the ones we know here in Manila. It is a mixture of ground glutinous rice, eggs, cheese or margarine, milk and sugar which is cooked in an oven at a high temperature for 30-35 minutes.


You won’t miss this sign along the highway. Make sure that you buy one for me if it is not a hassle 🙂

2. Longaniza (native sausage),
There is a constant debate about which is the best longganisa in the North — Vigan Longganisa or the Laoag Longganisa? I decide to stay away from both for healthy reasons but this is a great treat / pasalubong for those who love this.

3. Garlic – Make sure that you buy your amulet of garlic which are available at a cheap price in the Laoag market.

4. Chichacorn — Super Crispy Corn Bits.

5. Bagnet — Ilocos’ version of Crispy Pata. I don’t find this any different.

Do you have any other suggestions?

Anton

Attractions, Manila Life

The Need for Speed in City Kart

We just hosted our regional teammates two weeks ago for a teambuilding experience that they will never forget. Last September, I already treated my team to a City Kart racing session and that is why we know that it would be a memorable event. We decided to do it again for 42 people coming from ASEAN, Australasia and India. I personally had fun because the racing format was 90 minutes of non-stop endurance race.

We divided the team into 8 groups of 5 and we let them decide their strategy on how to change racers to complete the entire 90mins race. The only requirement is that each team member should race for 6 minutes at a minimum. The team who completed the most laps wins the race! Before the actual endurance race, we conducted a race leveling where we let every one have their test run for 6 minutes. Their lap times will be the basis for creating the group and we want to make sure that each group has a mix of fast and slow racers. After the leveling, the teams chose the main racer who would run the qualifying round to decide the pole positions at the start of the endurance race.

It was really fun. I actually got sick after this race because I was drenched with sweat in my suit and I did not change my shirt.. We started at 6pm and ended the race at 11pm. Overall, we spend about P150k for the entire teambuilding session for 42 members of our regional team. After this, it would be difficult to think about the team building for next year since the expectation was to top this one. If you have any bright ideas, let me know. Thanks to Jeff and the City Kart Team!!

Here is a glimpse of the endurance race team building we had two weeks ago.

Related Posts:
City Kart Racing, First Indoor Go Kart in the Philippines!

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Food

Shawarma Center – Malate’s Mediterranean Favorite

I love Mediterranean food specially the authentic ones which gives you a different and unique taste aside from the filipinized mid-east food you find in the malls. One of the shawarma place favorite in the Malate area is Shawarma Snack Center (SSC) near Hyatt Casino area. I’m sure most of you would know this already and I just want to share the secret to other people who haven’t been to this place.

This is frequented by tourists and makati people who wants to eat authentic mid-east food. There are a lot of hole-in-the-wall shawarma places in Malate that you can get confused on which one to go to. This place is packed night after night. In fact, the owner of the SSC bought the space across which was formerly a chinese restaurant and decided to expand so he can cater to more people. You can order in both places but I prefer to eat in the original shawarma snack center. Hopefully, you get to find a table in the original place because usually this gets packed more easily than the one across.

Overall, the taste is quite unique and delicious but sometimes inconsistent. Although some people might find mid-east food to be dry and the meats mostly hard in texture. I like it because of its unique flavor. You might want to check this out.

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#Travel, Food

Eating Turtle, a slice of Snake and a Water Bug in Guangzhou, China



WARNING: Please don’t read this post. The pictures are disgusting but I wanted to blog about this to serve as a blog memory for me on my exotic adventures in Guangzhou, China. Hopefully, it will never happen again.

In my post, Snake, Water Bug, and Centipede looking Shrimps

Q. What do these animals have in common?
A. I ate all of them for dinner in Guangzhou, China.

This was the second time I ate snakes in China. It was tolerable, and the Guanzhou locals loved it. It actually taste like lamb ribs with fish bones. It looks slimy but is is not. The skin is tender instead of rubbery and if not for the stripes you will forget that you are eating snakes. But still, every time I look at the picture above, I want to throw up and I can’t imagine eating these disgusting snakes.

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Musicals

“The Good Body”, Review

I must admit that I was not able to relate to the show.

Don’t get me wrong… the entire show was very entertaining from the moment Pinky Amador started her monologue and showed her belly button to Eve’s last entry #18 in her diary about Afghan Women eating ice cream illegally. The performances by Monique Wilson, Pinky Amador, and Juno Henares were excellent with their eloquent delivery with the right accent to the emotional facial expressions. Pinky Amador played the role of Eve, she was very funny. Her timing was excellent and her confidence showed through out the entire show. Monique played the role of Woman 1 which means, she would play a lot of roles and have to transform herself through the different woman she portrayed for 2 hours. What was memorable for me was the time she played an aggresive Indian woman in the gym — it was a hilarious scene! Lastly, this was the first time we saw Juno Henares in a play. She has a very beautiful expressive face and a not-so-slim body which fits very well with the role. The highlight for me was her performance on the “spread tuck” — I can still imagine the spread until now…

There was no dull moment except for Entry #13 on Isabella Rossellini portrayal that we ask what was the point of that monologue? This was an adult show obviously and it was very vulgar. I originally thought it was all about women’s obsession on her stomach but it attacks issues on women’s obsession in conforming to society’s standard of beauty defined by a slim and young body. The show is an essay and a deep dive on these issues and provokes the audience to reprogram their minds and love the body they are in. This reminds me of Olay’s tagline “Love the Skin you are in” and Dove’s Natural beauty campaign.

Now, this is where I can’t relate: why women around the world have been “programmed” to hate their body for what it is and always strive to make it a “good body” as defined by society. I guess this would remain a mystery to me and a subject of debate between me and my wife. There was no mention of the Filipina in the show but I bet these issues are also prevalent in our society brought about by the “Kris Aquino” generation. For me, a Good Body is a Healthy Body and that is the standard that we should aim for.

Anton

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Ilocos

[Fort Ilocandia #3] The Sand Dunes of Ilocos


To end my Fort Ilocandia series, I would like to share with you my experience of going to the famous Sand Dunes of Ilocos. This is about 45 mins to 1 hour walk along the beach from Fort Ilocandia. Yes, I endured the walk just to get these photos. This Desert in the North is famous because this is the setting of Fernando Poe’s Panday desert scenes and you can just imagine it when you are already in this place.

There were no people in sight but I was surprised to see bahay kubo/ shanties hidden in the small sand hills. I also took a self portrait above and this one is my favorite! I experienced for the first time what they call the “presence” walk where you don’t think about the future nor the past but just think and be grateful for the present. It was such a nice experience visiting this desert.

This is not for everyone so I’ll leave you with the photos to enjoy this place. These photos are very special to me so please ask permission if you want to have a copy of it. I only ask for proper acknowledgement and my special request is not to use it for commercial purposes.

Lastly, imagine your favorite saying or think of inspirational messages as you look through them.

Enjoy!!

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