Last weekend, I took my Photojournalism students around Ilocos for a photowalk. It was my students who decided on exploring Ilocos for their final requirement and it’s easy to tell why the region was a hands-down choice for the task. Ilocandia boasts of history and vistas that are worth immortalizing in photography and its myriad colors and textures make for a very appealing canvass among photographers.
From Pagudpud to Vigan, we scoured for that distinct flavor that makes Ilocos one of the country’s most exciting destinations. We left Baguio at 9:00 pm on Friday. The ride to Pagudpud, our first stop, was smooth and fast, my students were already busy taking photographs as early as 5:00 am. We were fortunate the weather was cooperative that day, the first rays of sunrise emanating from the mountainous side of Cagayan were promising.
At 5:30 am, I snapped a photograph of the Patapat Viaduct, considered as the French Riviera of the Northern Philippines. The bridge, which connects the city of Laoag to the municipalities of Cagayan, is known as the country’s fourth longest bridge.
After sunrise and when the quintessential first group picture had been snapped, we continued to head north and had breakfast in one of the bus stop overs in Pagudpud at 7:00 am. The town’s bucolic calmness is an added attraction that should not be taken for granted.
Our next stop was the famous Blue Lagoon, a cove so named because of its resemblance to Brooke Shields’ 80s movie hit Blue Lagoon (well, this is according to my former student who lives in Pagudpud). On our way to the cove, my students found a charming coastal village that has an enthralling seascape, so we made a quick stop. Perhaps as a testament to Pagudpud’s claim as the next surfing capital in northern Philippines, we spotted this local boy playing with the waves.
We started exploring Blue Lagoon at 9:00 am. I have already been here in 2009 upon the invitation of my former student when she graduated from college and I was surprised to see how the area has rapidly developed through the years. More resorts are in operation now and the beach seemed to be busy even when one considers September as a lean month for beach-hopping. But even so, Blue Lagoon continues to fascinate.
By 10:00 am, we were on the road again and was headed to Bangui for its striking windmills. This wind farm, officially named as the NorthWind Bangui Bay Project and is said to be the biggest “wind farm” in Southeast Asia has become an added attraction in Ilocos Norte.
I was having trouble with my lens and was short from giving my camera a rest when I chanced upon this two young boys cycling near the windmills. I have a bias for cycles (please don’t ask me because I don’t know why), I knew I needed to force my lens to work.
We left Bangui in time for lunch in one of the bus stop overs in the area. After which, we proceeded to the town of Burgos to see the worn-out beauty of Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, also known as Burgos Lighthouse. The lighthouse tower was closed during our visit but I got the chance to talk to its caretaker who told me about strange Spanish noises at midnight.
We were on the road again by 1:30 pm and because I hadn’t have enough rest from my previous Bicol-Manila-Baguio trip, I decided not to get off the bus when we stopped in Pasuquin to take a look at their Asinan (salt-making factory of sort) and to buy the soft biscocho which is surprisingly popular among the locals. I actually regret not going inside the asinan because the place makes for a very striking photograph but I will show you some pictures of it as taken by my students. 🙂
At 3:00 pm, everybody was busy capturing stories in Laoag, the capital city of Ilocos Norte. Vintage houses can be found anywhere here and kalesa is still one of the main modes of transportation around the city but it is obvious that commercialism has already arrived in Laoag. A big supermarket has recently opened and I found it disgusting how the kalesa and some of the old houses were “decorated” in tarpaulins announcing the opening of such establishment.
I walked around hoping to capture “the Laoag I knew,” having been here in 1999 for my History 1 class field trip, and chanced upon this view.
Our next stop was the Malacanang Ti Amianan or the Malacanang of the North in the town of Paoay. Originally a Marcos mansion, it is now a museum that is frequented not just by tourists but by History students as well. The lavish lifestyle that once defined the Marcoses is still evident in this former official residence of late Pres. Ferdinand Marcos.
When I saw this gigantic portrait of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, whose penchant for grandness awed the world, I just had to have this picture taken.
It was time to get some action by 5:00 pm, so for PhP80 per person, we embarked on a 4×4 adventure around the Paoay Sand Dunes. The sand dunes were just breathtaking during golden hour so i highly encourage you try this ride during this time.
The dips and turns during the ride that lasted for almost 20 minutes were exhilarating and had everyone rip-roaring, I wanted to ride one again but because we were running out of time already I just settled to try sandboarding which was offered to me for free! The sandboarding experience was threatening and funny in so many levels, I will have to devote an entire post for this. 🙂
To cap off our first day around Ilocos, we proceeded to Paoay Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church, known for its baroque architecture, continues to lure visitors who cannot help but be impressed by its grandeur.
We were obviously tired from exploring Ilocos Norte but nobody was complaining. Ilocandia, with its texture and color, was a fitting playground to novice photographers that day who were just too eager to capture the region’s rich tales.
Love and light, everyone. Go, juanderlust! 😀
- Photograph of Juanderkid with Imelda taken by H. Domingo; photograph of Juanderkid on the beach taken by C. Lemence.
- All other photographs taken with a Canon 550d in September 2012.
Tagged: 4x4 ride, Bangui, Bangui Windmills. Laoag, beach, Blue Lagoon, Burgos Lighthouse, Cape Bojeador, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, Ferdinand Marcos, Ilocandia, Ilocos, Ilocos Norte, Imelda Marcos, juan;, Malacanang of the North, Pagudpud, Paoay Sand Dunes, Paoay. Paoay Chruch, Pasuquin, Patapat Viaduct, Philippines