1st Stop: Historic Ilocos

When I learned that the cruise will have a day stop in Laoag, I was so excited.  It will be my first trip to the North!  I didn’t go with my family a couple of years back when they did a road trip, and I wasn’t able to attend a friend’s wedding in Paoay so yey, finally.

The cruise has available tours arranged for the stops, but we’ve decided to do a free and easy – that is, go on our own.  My sister made arrangements with a friend of a friend so we got ourselves a van and a customized itinerary.

We arrived in Currimao, Ilocos Norte at mid-morning and we were transported to shore via a smaller boat upon disembarkation.  Maybe because the waters’ not deep enough near the port? I don’t know, but we had a thrill riding the smaller one nevertheless.

It was a warm welcome as there were revelers as soon as we reach the port.  Actually it’s only in the Philippines were the guests were treated with performances and welcome leis.

We had to walk to get outside the port as they didn’t allow vehicles.  I am not sure why as there’s enough parking space.  Weird!

Our first stop was at Paoay Church.  It was what I imagined it would be.  It was like I was looking at pictures, the only difference is it was super hot and I was sweating!

We had our usual photo-ops.  My kids were happy because they had a place to run around on, but got tired of the activity easily because of the heat.  We went inside the church, and it was like being transported back in time. I can so feel the Spanish influence.

Then we ran to the nearest resto – Herencia, which is just right across the church complex.  Good thing we ordered early because the place sure filled up fast.  We had a hearty lunch of longganisa rice, sinigang and lechon kawali.  All good!!!

After that super yum lunch, we wanted to go to Bangui but was dissuaded by our tour guide/ driver because of its distance.  He said we might not make it in time for the voyage.  So we decided to visit the places near Laoag only like the “Malacanang of the North”.  This was built during the Marcos times as their summer house.  Remember the former president’s an Ilocano so no surprise that he will have something built in his province.  The place is relaxing because it’s across a lake (not sure if man-made) and under the shade of so many trees.  I could totally dig why the former First Couple loved it!

Then we drove to the downtown area where the plaza, capitol and church are. I hoped we stayed a bit longer and had more time to really explore the city because Laoag has a certain charm.

Since it seems we can’t get enough of the Marcoses, we went to Batac where his remains used to lie.  We didn’t enter the chamber anymore because for one, I felt there’s nothing to see and also, because it seemed eerie for me still even if his body’s no longer there.  We just contented ourselves with taking photos inside the museum, and discovering that just a short walking distance away was the best empanada in Ilocos Norte!

Our tour guide led us to the original empanada maker.  It was actually in a row of stalls, like your usual hangout place where grilled food’s being served.  And true to its claim, it was really good!  So good that we went back to it on our 2nd trip to Ilocos the month after!

Then we headed back to the ship to meet the cut-off time.  We had to be back 1 hour before the voyage, and waited for the voyage eating. We had a bbq party at the upper deck before going to the main theatre to watch a magic show.

Then we’re off to Kaohsiung!


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