This day being the last we spent in Ilocos, the only significant item in the itinerary was the journey back to Manila. Upon waking up, there was no rush at all. No lining up by the bathroom to have a quick shower, no feverish packing of stuff to bring to the next tourist spot. There was just the house breakfast and a lot of beach bumming at nearby Saud Beach.
Before breakfast, and while waiting for the others to wake up, I walked towards Saud Beach to see what it’s all about. One thing I forgot to mention in the previous entries is that I’ve actually been to Blue Lagoon before when I last went to Pagudpud. This day however was to be the first time I’d be seeing Saud Beach, reputedly the prettier one between the two. Well, it was indeed a lot nicer than Blue Lagoon and the water looks calmer. It doesn’t seem so in the picture but the white sand has a golden tinge to it. In the far off distance to the west, one can see the 20 Bangui Windmills lined up along the coast..
At any hotel or resort in Ilocos, you can expect the complimentary breakfast menu to always include the longganisa that the region is so proud of. The same is true in the Polaris Beach House. Other than that, it’s much like the “silog” combos that we see here in Manila. As for the drinks, it’s a choice of either 3-in-1 coffee or Milo.
So after breakfast, everyone had a last run of beach bumming at Saud. Everyone except me, that is. I had a good dose of laziness that morning and I spent it just watching cable TV within the air conditioned confines of our room at Polaris Beach House. Before long, the group came back and we then began to pack up for the trip back to Laoag and then ultimately Manila.
The idea is to get to Laoag by lunchtime, have a final Ilocano lunch and then drive back to Manila (where some of us actually had a work shift that night.) As it turns out, things got a lot more interesting than that.
First, we stopped by the famous Pasuquin Bakery to buy pasalubong. This bakery is known for its anice-infused Soft Biscocho (the exact recipe of which is a tightly-guarded secret.) Prior to this, I wasn’t aware that there was such as thing as soft biscocho. Anyway, I bought 3 bags of this Soft Biscocho and a small pack of Pinipig Polvoron. Upon leaving and already miles away from the bakery, I tasted the Pinipig Polvoron. It turned out to be soooooooo good that I immediately regretted buying just one pack.
Also en route to Laoag, we made a slight detour and passed by the town of Sarrat (birthplace of Apo Ferdinand himself) to see its famous church – the Church of Santa Monica. This church is unique among the Spanish-era churches in Ilocos Norte because it was predominantly made of red brick.
Its bell tower has recently been fully restored, being damaged by an earthquake a few decades ago. Its convent however still lies in ruins for the most part. I’m guessing restoration in this case would be difficult because of the extensive nature of the damage. The non-ruined part of this building is being utilized as a museum and was once also used as a trial court by the Spanish authorities. It even has what is called the “Guillotine Room”. Church authorities however have walled up this room as it does not want to perpetuate a morbid image of itself. The church, bell tower and the convent are deemed culturally important by the National Museum.
BACK TO LAOAG
Upon arriving at Laoag, the planned grand finale of an Ilocano lunch actually went pffffffffttt because we had the misfortune of choosing Bolusan Restaurant. I tweeted about this when we were there, as evidenced below:
What happened was that we were made to wait for more than an hour for our food that didn’t really taste good. (For one thing, their Dinengdeng seemed like tasteless sinigang.) The saving grace would have been the bagnet that we ordered, …..except that somebody forgot to tell us that they already ran out of bagnet.
Worse, when Maricel complained about the whole thing (and nobody can sound more terrible than Maricel when she’s pissed off, …except maybe Kristen, haha) she was told that we would just be given a discount to make amends. The problem was that the quoted “discounted” bill was actually higher than the actual bill. I can’t imagine why this restaurant is still in business.
So the whole episode left a bad taste in the mouth (literally and figuratively) and we resolved to get our bagnet fix in one way or another. Luckily, we would still pass by Vigan on the way back to Manila.
(To be concluded.)
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This entry is part of the Ilocos series dated May 29-31, 2011: