I had one of the most restful slumbers I’ve had in a long time in that hotel room in La Eliana. The combination of fatigue, a full stomach and alcohol from the night before all contributed to a deep and uninterrupted sleep. And I didn’t even mind that among the four of us who stayed in that room (Dennis, Jill, Kristen and I), I was the one who got to sleep on the mattress.
The night before, there was an agreement that people needed to wake up at around 5am sharp, and Maricel emphasized this point by hilariously banging at our door at the appointed hour. We then assembled at the dining area for our complimentary breakfast. In the course of us giving our orders, there was a point where we were all speaking at the same time and the confused look on the waitress was priceless. Anyway, we settled down and began to engage in small talk while waiting for our food.
One funny moment was when Dwight, who has a third eye (as well as being a member of the third sex) mentioned to everyone that he saw and felt a “presence” in the room in which he, Maricel and Dante stayed in. This revelation didn’t have any obvious effect until when Dante needed to get back to their apparently haunted room to get something, and he was so insistent that Maricel accompany him. Maricel of course would not budge. (Later on, Dwight was required to not let Dante know of any “presence” anywhere… for the latter’s peace of mind.)
About an hour after breakfast, it was once again time to board the van. Our destination for today was further north to the municipalities of Burgos, Bangui and Pagudpud. I’ve been to Pagudpud before but never to Burgos and I was looking forward to visiting the latter for the first time.
As we were exiting Laoag, we first stopped by a roadside store to buy snacks and drinks because our activities for that day would include a lot of hiking. I stupidly bought for myself a bag of chicharon thinking that it was Ilocano-made. When I later on inspected the label, it was actually Lapid’s and it was made in Bulacan. (Lesson learned: Never underestimate the popularity of Lapid’s Chicharon.)
From what little I know of Ilocos Norte geography, we were passing through the towns of Bacarra and Pasuquin en route to Burgos. The road to Burgos has mostly the same features all throughout on both sides: farms, idle land and the occasional salt production huts with a roadside stall selling their produce. This seems to indicate what the cottage industry in that place is. Unlike the day before, we were awake all throughout the drive this time. Dwight opined that this was because we were well rested the night before, to which I completely agree.
Before long, we reached Burgos and the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse came into view. This was to be our first destination. The van had to ascend a steep road leading up to the lighthouse and we were pleased to find out that we were the first ones there that day. At that moment though, as I was getting off the van, I felt some pain in my right leg. I’m clueless as to what might have caused this and it certainly made climbing up the steps to the light house a bit more difficult.
So once I finally got to the lighthouse, I was a bit disappointed that, due to the position of the sun that morning, I was not able to shoot at a certain angle that I’ve seen a lot of photographers do. So I had no choice but to shoot other stuff in more favorable angles. We wanted to climb up to the top of the lighthouse but on that day it was not allowed, for some reason.
The lighthouse is over 100 years old and is still in use today, although the buildings surrounding it are slowly deteriorating and falling into disrepair. Our cue to leave for our next destination came when a new batch of tourists arrived. From there, we were to go to the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, also in Burgos.
Kapurpurawan was not actually included in our itinerary, but Raffy offered to bring us there anyway because it was just a slight detour from our route and would not disrupt our itinerary too much. To get to Kapurpurawan, one needs to take a left turn (there’s a sign so it can’t be missed) from the main road if en route to Pagudpud. What follows is a dirt road and the jump-off point is reached about 5-10 minutes later.
The jump-off point is actually on an elevated area, and from there, one has to descend to the seaside by means of the steps constructed on the gentle slope leading down to it. And then it’s just a matter of walking towards the destination. The ground steadily becomes rocky and sharp-edged as one nears the sea, so adequate footwear is a must in this place. The ground here can shred the underside of an expensive pair of Havaianas if one is not careful.
Once reaching the actual rock formation though, it’s quite the opposite. Its surface is white and smooth. It’s as if a giant wave washed off the rock’s dark outer layer and left its upper part spotless and white. Again, it was good that we were the first ones on this rock that day, so a lot of us were able to take pictures before it got crowded with tourists.
At this point, I encountered some good news and bad news. The good news was that the pain in my leg disappeared. But the bad news was, the autofocus mechanism of my kit lens began to work erratically…and later on, it just stopped working altogether. I was so pissed with this development that I completely forgot that I can still use it manually. Looks like I’ve grown to be too reliant on autofocus. Anyway, from that point onwards, I just used by 50mm prime lens.
Our next stop was the Bangui windmills. This was something I was particularly looking forward to see with my own eyes because at the time of my last visit, they haven’t been constructed yet. The Bangui Windmills are 20 power-generating windmills all lined up in one neat row along the coast of the town of Bangui. They’re reputedly the first in Southeast Asia and has decreased Ilocos Norte’s dependence on coal-fired power plants. Of course, it also had an added benefit of generating tourism for this quiet and peaceful town. It’s not obvious when one looks at it in the pictures, but these things are massive. In my estimation, each one is taller than the Quezon Monument in the Quezon Memorial Circle.
It was close to noon when we arrived at the windmills so we made a brief stopover to rest and have some refreshments at the Kangkang Windmill Cafe. I never got to figure why this was called “Kangkang”. So far, it has a monopoly on the iced coffee market for tourists going to the Windmills, but I see this changing in about 5 more years.
Despite the cool shade of the cafe, we were beginning to feel the noontime heat creep in, so we looked forward to again boarding the van just to make use of its air conditioning. So we boarded the van and drove on to the next destination.
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This entry is part of the Ilocos series dated May 29-31, 2011: