2900: Lively Laoag

I never had thought that I would ever get to visit Laoag in my lifetime. The plan to visit Laoag has been in the works for almost three to four years. I initially planned to visit while I was still in Cebu but I was fortunate in landing a supervisory role at work. I felt at that time that it was rather too early for me to ask for a week-long vacation. I decided that I will eventually visit and had to let go already paid roundtrip tickets. *sniff*

The dream finally came to fruition by 2015! Yes, this is a very late travel post. After a few weeks of planning, I boarded a bus one early December morning and headed up North. This is a 4-day journey from Laoag to Vigan and back home. It came as a surprise how lovely traveling during December was. The passing cities were lit with holiday lights and some plaza showcased holiday trees made from recyclable materials. I feel that there is a sense of peace when you travel during the holidays.

Laoag Ticket Fare
Regular Trip: PHP797 (as of December 2015) 

Partas Bus Liner from https://biyaheroes.com 
  • First Class (45 Seater) 9AM/7PM/10PM - PHP888
  • Deluxe (28 Seater) 12NN/10PM - PHP936
  • Luxury (26 Seater) 7PM/10PM - PHP1152
  • Terminal to Terminal - Cubao Terminal to Laoag City Terminal

The bus left Partas Bus Terminal at 09:56PM MLA and it was the start of our long journey up North. It is going to be a long trip and it's a comfort knowing that there were stops in between. I have trained my bladder to last to the next stop and if you have little to no control over your bladder - might as well avoid drinking teas, soda, and water during the trip. Each stop is about 2-2.5 hours in between. 

During said break, you can do one of the following: eat at the bus terminal or bring food to the bus in case you feel you might not make it in time. In a recent trip when the person failed to return back after the break - the bus left him at the station. The liner called someone on the phone and informed the passenger to meet on the next stop. Why he was not able to come back on time is still a mystery to me. There is a sense of relief knowing that your stuff / bags and all will be safe during the trip. The bus liner will be required to keep your belongings safe until you get it.

Welcome to Laoag!

Another tip: Know your bus number when you hop off to avoid confusion when you see a line full of buses parked outside.

During the 10-hour trip, I enjoyed the onboard Harry Potter marathon. I slept/ate in between of course and enjoyed the view. When the bus finally halted, I hopped off and headed somewhere to find a place to stay for the night. We arrived at 0800AM MLA - it's a full 10-hour trip.

I also went over the plaza and took a few shots of the place - the weather was warm yet cool. Also had to find a place to eat and hopefully find a decent lodging nearby.

I was offered to book a room at Star Light Lodging House at Php600/night (AC) while Php400/night (Fan). After booking my stay, I needed food to eat so I left and ventured to the unknown. I found a Tapsilog place (near the Fariñas Bus Terminal) and ordered the Laoag Silog which had rice, eggs and of course the Laoag sausage at Php60. Food was just enough to satiate my hunger.

Upon check-in, I was given a brochure of the things you can do in Ilocos. Since I like to customize what I want to experience and visit, I opted to take some time and read every location and see if it will fit the few days I have here in Laoag. I still have to move to Vigan to visit other spots too. So I opted out of the Sand Dunes and other items that did not really tickle my interest.

Please note that this decision was made due to the fact that I did not plan well enough on what to do during my quick visit. I also love the ability to customize what I want to go and experience. It would be amazing if you can plan out your stay and where to go - or if you are gutsy as I was, go ahead and do what you please.

Paoay Church
Paoay Church was once declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the Philippine government in 1973 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the collective group of Baroque Churches of the Philippines in 1993. The Saint Augustine Church has a striking architectural feature with its enormous buttresses on the sites and the back of the building.

The Paoay Church has 24 huge buttresses of 5.5 feet thickness at the sides and back of the church building. These buttresses were built to avoid massive damage from earthquakes. It also serves as an easy access to the roof.

We went to Paoay by hoping on a jeep from the Plaza terminal to Brgy San Agustin at Php34. Upon arrival, the Paoay church is a few walks away.

The church is a sight to behold, you can see how the locals take care of this treasure for years and years on end. I encourage you to come inside and check the decor. There's not much to do within the area, but since you are here try to light a candle and say a little prayer.

Also, there's this ice cream vendor that sells Dragonfruit ice cream. A good treat on a hot day. 

Malacañang of the North
From Paoay Church, we rented a tricycle heading to the Malacañang of the North which is now considered as a National Park. The building was built by the Philippine Tourism Authority which is now called Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority or TIEZA. 
The mansion is well-maintained and walking around the vast space gives you this nostalgic familiar feeling. It was said that Marcos has a fondness for the number seven - hence the mansion consists of 7 rooms. All rooms are themed to historical events during the Marcos era: Study, Agriculture, Diplomacy, OFW, Culture, Nation Building and Family.

I love how the mansion was made in a way that it balances both form and function. There's this amazing spot where you can overlook the lake and the racetrack below. Makes you wonder how crazy luxurious the Marcoses were back in the day.

I only visited a few sites in Laoag as I only decided to visit those that I have a keen interest in. On the next installment, I visited Vigan.

What are places I failed to check out in Laoag? Any activities I should have done?

Check out my food-venture while I was in Laoag:
2900: Lively Laoag | Food

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