The plan was to have lunch at this beach-side eating place in Pagudpud and then drive around to see the places of interest. Then we were to check in at this inn called Polaris Beach House and spend the night there, before going back to Manila the next day.
On the way there, we passed by these two distinctive rock formations called Timmangtang and Bantay Abot. It was drizzling by the time we got to this point so we were not able to get off the van to take pictures. Basically, Timmangtang is a half-oval shape of a rock jutting out from the shore, while Bantay Abot is much the same thing, except that it has a hole on one side that goes through the other.
According to sources, an earthquake in the 1980s damaged the latter, but I couldn’t quite visualize what it would have looked like before the damage. Like in Paoay Lake, Raffy had a story about these two rock formations, the details of which I again could not recall. But what I did remember was that these two supposedly represented the male and female sex organs. (Okay, moving on…)
Pagudpud actually has two beaches that are popular to tourists. These are: (1) the Blue Lagoon (which isn’t actually a lagoon but a cove); and (2) Saud Beach. Between the two, Blue Lagoon seems to be the one further away if you are coming from Bangui. This was where we had lunch.
Blue Lagoon looks impressive from afar, if you are approaching it from the road that goes up the mountain. The famous Hannah’s Beach Resort is located here and one can see the large “HANNAH’S” letters on the side of the mountain from here. There’s this elevated vantage point that enables one to see almost the entire cove and the water really does look very blue. However, once you actually get to the beach itself, it doesn’t look as pretty. The sand isn’t fine, the resorts are cramped together and it no longer looks pristine at all.
The place where we had lunch didn’t look too impressive either, and I would have dismissed this as forgettable were it not for the fact that we only paid P88 each for our lunch and we had a feast of Crab, Sinigang na Bangus and Ginataang Tilapia. (In contrast, we paid around P200-P300 each when we dined at Saramsam the previous day.)
Since the water didn’t look too inviting, I just contented myself in walking around until I reached the other side of the cove where it was rocky, then I went back. After lunch, we then moved out to get to a few more destinations before we called it a day.
Next stop was the 4th longest bridge in the Philippines, i.e. the Patapat Viaduct. This replaced the old mountainside road that connected Ilocos Norte to the province of Cagayan in the east. Unfortunately, it began to rain hard just when we reached this place so we were very limited in terms of our shooting angles. However…
The easternmost point of our destination was a place called Paraiso ni Anton. From the roadside, it just looks like a small waterfall. It might have led to better-looking surroundings inland, but we were not able to explore it further because of the rain, and the fact that it was close to mid-afternoon and we had one more destination to get to.
Even Raffy was unsure who “Anton” is and why exactly this place was named after him. What he did say though was that the water that flowed here was miraculous. There was even a small grotto built on one side as if to signify this point. Personally, I found the ambiance ruined because the locals placed makeshift plastic tubings in an effort to force the water to a more controlled flow. I hope they dismantle those and leave the place in its natural state.
Finally, we reached the Kabigan Falls jump-off point, our last destination for the day. For me, this was the highlight of our Pagudpud trip. When one talks about Ilocos Norte, oftentimes, the picture that enters one’s mind is ether its Spanish heritage, its beaches, or the fact that it is generally a hot and dry place. A trek to Kabigan Falls affords one to see a different face of Ilocos Norte – one in which there is lush greenery, forested areas and a moist environment.
The 15-20 minute trek is mostly on flat ground (with the occasional stream crossing) so it’s not hard for even children and old people to make it to the waterfalls. The local government requires visitors to have a local guide and provides raincoats for those who need them. (It was still raining at this point.) In our case, since we planned to take a dip by the falls anyway, we didn’t ask for them.
Along the way, we passed by people who were going in the opposite direction, no doubt they already came from the falls. I really liked this part of trekking (more of hiking) in the rain while admiring the surroundings. We first came across rice fields before the terrain shifted to a forest. There were wide and well-established paths, making it difficult for one to get lost here. The only drawback about walking in the rain is that I could not take pictures without risking my camera getting wet.
There were still other tourists at the falls by the time we arrived there, but they were already in the process of packing up to leave. And so once again, we had the place all by ourselves. Since it was raining, the water was extra cold, and it does take a few moments to get used to it. It was a nice way to relax after the whole day’s activities. Thanks to our local guides, we were able to take photos when they almost mechanically shielded our cameras from the rain so we could take photos. I remembered that I still haven’t eaten my Lapid’s Chicharon so I took it out and shared it with the others, and our guides.
After about an hour, it’s was time to head back to the jump-off point. By this time, the rain has slowed down to a light drizzle and we were all eager to relax at Polaris after a very productive day. But first, we figured we’d help the local economy by buying all the Buko we could consume and also all their stock of this fried and sugared dessert on barbecue sticks. (I forgot the name.) And since I ate a lot of Lapid’s Chicharon before, my stomach was almost bursting already at this point.
We reached Polaris just when it was about to get dark. Polaris is located near Saud Beach, which is reputedly the prettier-looking beach, as compared to Blue Lagoon. However, we wouldn’t see this for ourselves until the next day. That night, our business was to settle in, wash up, change into clean clothes, have dinner, and get drunk on our last night in Ilocos.
So in short, the after-dinner socials went like this: We had…
On a not-so minor note, the urge to smoke got the better of me while drinking and I broke my 5-month nicotine-free span (damn it!) So I just resolved to beat the 5-month mark after that.
It’s been a while since I last got drunk and I consciously made an effort to enjoy the feeling and the company… and tried not to think about the morning breath and hangover I’ll get the next day.
At around 1am, I finally retired to the bedroom. What a day.
(End of Day 2.)
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This entry is part of the Ilocos series dated May 29-31, 2011: