My last stop in this 4-day vacation is Laoag, still a part of the Ilocos Norte Province. Kuya Jayson from Pagudpud contacted his friend Kuya Rommel to take us around Laoag, Paoay and Batac, for Php 800.00 for half a day’s tour, which is slightly more expensive because again, everything is more expensive here than Pagudpud and Vigan since it is a more progressive city with an airport to boot.
Laoag means “light” or “clarity” in the Ilocano Dialect, and that’s where the city got its name. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laoag)
I got in Laoag in the morning, around 8 so I can maximize the time since I was headed for Manila that same night anyway. So I didn’t bother getting a room. The tourist spots were a little far from each other. We started at the Laoag Tobacco Museum, with a PhP 50.00 entrance fee.
The old Paoay Church (designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, for being one of the best Baroque Churches) proved to be very humbling, as it withstood years of war, storms, earthquakes and political changes in the area. The church took 16 years to build, which was completed in 1710 (as of now, the Church is 302 years old).
According to the official website of Paoay (http://www.paoay.gov.ph/), Paoay originated from the phrase “Makapaway Kami” which means we can live alone.
We then went to the Marcos’ House (Malacañang of the North) / Museum in Batac, before it closed. Batac is known as the Home of the Leaders, since this happens to be the birthplace of Pres. Marcos, Philippine Independent Church founder Gregorio Aglipay and Artemio Ricarte – Father of the Philippine Army (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batac,_Ilocos_Norte). Batac got its name from a local word that means “pull” and is said to have referred to the people’s pulling their efforts together.
The wealth and vanity can be seen once you’re already inside. This man and his family are very well loved in this part of the country and I dared not say anything while we were there. There were even replicas of the former president, some antique figurines, expensive paintings and preserved furniture maintained and showcased in this place.
Then we moved to the Mausoleum where his remains are kept and more memorabilia of his administration are preserved. I did not take pictures there because it felt…weird.
Below is the National Park Paoay Lake (declared Republic Act 5631 on June 21, 1969) in its vastness, where bird-watching is done on a not-so-rainy day like this. Boating is also one of the activities that people can do on dry days.
Then finally we headed to the Paoay Sand dunes, I heard there’s another one in La Paz but that the one in Paoay is better. This is where they shot Bong Revilla’s Agimat movie.
But because I was running out of time — and budget (rate was PhP 2000 for the ride regardless of the number of passengers and I didn’t have anyone to split the charge with), I didn’t get to try the 4×4 ride anymore, which could have taken me to the gray sand dunes of Paoay.
Finally, I visited the Laoag Cathedral (St. William Cathedral), before Kuya dropped me off at the Terminal. Beside the church is the sinking tower, which sinks an inch every year (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laoag_Cathedral).
A meal before boarding bus has concluded my 4-day Manila-Vigan-Pagudpud-Laoag-Manila trip, and sad though as it sounded, I said:
“Goodbye Ilocos, Hello Manila!!!” Back to work, footloose!