June 9, 2006: We are ready for Tuguegarao City, our take off point to Callao Caves. It was my first time to drive from Ilocos to Tuguegarao City. While in Ilocos, we asked around how long would it take us by land. Some said about 4-hours, some 8-hours, and worst one said 24-hours! However long the drive will be, we were determined to go, afterall, that was the reason why we have to fly to Ilocos.
We left the house in Piddig, Ilocos Norte, at about seven in the morning. On our way, farther north, we had several stops. We checked out the belfry of Bacarra, which used to be called “The Leaning Tower” and some referred to it as “The Acrobatic Tower.”
(This used to be called the “Leaning Tower” or “Acrobatic Tower” because its brick-top portion that have been damaged by previous earthquakes and stood on top for several years until in completely fell due to another earthquake in the 80”s.)
I have noticed that in Bacarra, residential houses were huge! Indeed, I can only describe them as “mansions” and there are a lot still under construction, which reflects how progressive the town is.
Next stop is “Bangui Wind Farm” which have been subject to a previous post . It was so unfortunate that my driving alternate, John, did not see the windmills working out their fans, maybe because it was early in the morning when we got there, and the wind may not have been strong enough to propel its big fans. However, we saw a private residential house built on top of one of the hills which has a tower that resembles the shape of the “Burgos Light House.”
Private residence on top of a hill near the windmills:
After Bangui, we checked out “Maira-Ira Beach” in Pagudpud commonly referred to as the “Blue Lagoon” or the “Malingay Cove.” It may no longer be a “hidden secret” as alluded to, because it’s gaining popularity. On the way to the Blue Lagoon, you will pass these wonders of nature:
They call it “Bantay Abot Cave”; “bantay” meaning hill or mountain and “abot” meaning hole:
“Timmangtang Rock:” “timmangtang” because of its “bell” shape:
To the locals, the “bantay abot” and the “timmangtang rock” are collectively known are “Lovers Rock” not only because they are side by side but beause the former is believed to be a “female” and the latter, a “male.” Oh, I don’t need to explain any further…their shapes leave no room for further discussion. :)Upon reaching Blue Lagoon, you will be greeted by these signs which one can tell that the place is not yet fully developed.
We were lucky to have seen it before concrete structures are put up along the seashore. I hope the local government maintains it that way because I don’t think it will be as beautiful if there was development along the “lagoon’s” shore. The 2006 Edition of “Lonely Planet (Philippines)” reads: “In Maira-Ira, Luzon’s whitest sand and bluest water conspire majestically to be situated in one place. It’s also a good snorkle and dive spot…”
The ‘Blue Lagoon’:
The Floating Cottage:
The way I see it, the place is not for overnight stay (up to this moment at least), because only “sheds” are available, except one. Further down the road parallel to the shore, you can find “Kapuluan Vista Resort” which offers bed and board. However, the shore fronting the resort is full of corals which makes swimming unfavorable. You need to go up the road if you prefer sand over “coral rocks.”Kapuluan Vista Resort:
The resort just opened last April 2006, and just in case you experience some “below standard” service just like the watermelon and mango shakes served to us which nearly tasted as “water with crushed ice,” you know why. Aside from the shakes served, I personally do not have any knowledge of the other services they offer. I just hope its better because the place is the farthest best in appearance in the place so far. Check their site here.Our last stop before we reached Cagayan Valley is the “Agua Grande River Park” still in Pagudpud. It’s a classic example of “river meeting the sea.” The boulder-bed river crawls down from a mountain and to the sea. If you prefer fresh water over salt water, you might just find this place interesting. No overnight accommodation though.
Their version of the ‘Infinity Pool’:
When the river meets the sea:
By the way, do not be surprised if your local radio immediately turns Chinese. Understandable, because you are already at the northern tip of Luzon (well, at least before the Batanes group of islands).
We have been driving (and stopping) for about 5 hours already, and we have already reached the last town of Ilocos Norte. We did not re-visit some old favorites such as the “Saud Beach” popularly known as the “Pagudpud Beach” and the “Burgos Lighthouse” due to limited time. There are other attractions in the area which are the “Kabigan Falls” and the “White Rock” which entails minutes of trekking. Because of the trekking part which may take so much of our energy, and considering that we did not have a clear time frame before we can reach Tuguegagao City, we opted to forego with the last two.
In my next post, I will be publishing our experience of Cagayan Valley.