A Fine Way to Spend Undas :)

Schedule was already a bit too tight with the semester coming to an end, and with me trying to do as many make-up classes as possible before I left for the US. Add to that all the other stuff that I had to prepare for the trip, plus the responsibilities I had to settle at home before leaving and a gazillion friends who wanted to see me before I flew. You would think that the most sensible thing to do is to pass up on gigs and other gimiks that would come so close to flight day but, the crazy in me overruled the logical side and I agreed to a trip to Laoag just for the heck of it! This is an invitation for an adventure and I will not pass up on an invitation like this. I have gone to some places on the Northern part of the Philippines such as Bagiuio, Vigan, Candon, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Tarlac, Olongapo and Banaue. Laoag seems a nice place to add to my list, so I went for it. Our host for this trip is my good friend Ralph, who generously offered his home to us.

So the adventure began the moment we set foot on the Maria De Leon bus which brought us straight to Laoag. The bus ride was fast and smooth and within a matter of minutes, we were already in Tarlac.

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We spent most of the travel time, sleeping. The buses were quite comfortable but since we got the last seats on the bus, we weren’t able to recline the seats as much as we liked because the bathroom was right behind us. There was a bit of legroom, but if you are seated with someone, who sleeps like he owns the place, with his legs propped up in the air….extra legroom is just moot point. The driver drove smoothly and I only woke up once in a while because I either got kicked, nudged or when I had to pee at the pit stop. By the time I actually woke up, morning has already broken over the Philippines and we were already in Laoag. (The sign said it clearly!)

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Ralph’s family were already waiting for us at the bus stop and we dumped our stuff at the back of the spacious Innova van. I was feeling a bit woozy from the bus trip but hearing the word beach, snapped me back to my senses and I readied myself for some sun. We hit Ralph’s home in a matter of minutes where breakfast was already waiting for us. We had the famed Vigan longganisa, eggs and fried rice for breakfast. After we’ve had our fill, we changed into our swimwear and readied ourselves for the trip to the beach. But, this weekend being UNDAS, we decided to visit their departed loved ones first in the cemetery before proceeding to the beach. We went to three cemeteries where Ralph’s grandparents and cousins were buried. My family was never really the cemetery-going type. We hated the traffic enroute to Manila Memorial and the heat plus the hunger usually lead us to a bit of fighting in the cramped van. The UNDAS experience here is lot different. There were no traffic nor long car lines going inside the cemeteries. There were only a handful of people offering flowers or prayers or cleaning the niches. There were police assigned at the entrance of each memorial park and the visits were quick. There were no picnics or gambling on top of the niches. But there were the usual kids who scraped off the candle wax off the niches and roll them into huge wax balls. I only heard this practice in stories but never actually saw them being done.

It was quite a treat! 🙂

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Our first stop is the Bangui Wind turbines which is one of Laoag’s source of electricity. The wind power in this place is truly amazing and we were literally blown back by the sheer force of it. The waves came crashing hard towards the shore and it made the most beautiful sound ever. The sight was so breathtaking that pictures cannot do justice to what my eyes have seen. Of course, being the tourist that I am, I could not resist having my picture taken in front of famed turbines. 🙂

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Nothing bums me more that a trip to the beach that is spoiled by rain. By the time we brushed to sand off our slippers and got back into the car, rain started to pour heavily as we made our way to the beach. So we took a picture of how bummed we are about the rain. Roxanne by the way was oblivious to all this because she fell asleep right away!

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The rain let up a bit just as we were turning towards Hannah’s, the resort where we will stay for the rest of the afternoon. We got all excited again as the sun peeked behind the clouds and the smell of the sea wafted towards us. The pristine blue ocean and the cool water called to us, as soon as we found a place to park. We chased the waves, attempted to build a sand castle but settled for burying Albert with sand instead. For lunch we had a nice typical beach meal of grilled fish, grilled liempo and rice. After we’ve had enough of the ocean, and the threat of rain came back, we quickly showered and changed and went to the next stop in our itinerary.

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We went to the lighthouse where we could see the whole of Ilocos. We were literally at the highest point on land in the Philippines. The breeze started to get really cold in a matter of minutes as dusk came.

Dressed in a flimsy shift dress and lacking jackets and warm clothing against the cold, we decided to cut our lighthouse trip short.

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On our way to Saramsam’s for dinner, we were surprised to find ourselves caught in traffic. Turns out, there was a halloween parade on the streets called, “Parada ng mga Multo” Instead of griping about being stuck in traffic, we turned off the car’s engine and joined in the festivities. There were ghosts, goblins, witches and all things evil of all shapes, sizes and yes, of all genders, too. 🙂 It was in this parade, too that I saw the scariest face I have ever seen in my entire life!!!!

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To cap off the night, Ralph’s family treated us to another Laoag must-do: a meal at Saramsam’s which serves Vigan Longganiza Pizza, Bagnet Pizza, Pinakbet Pizza, Dinuguan Pizza, Dinakdakan and Poque-Poque.

The last one sounds a bit crass but actually tastes good! Poque-poque is actually made of eggplants. The food was so yummy that the memory of the dishes will forever be emblazoned in my memory.

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