Mementos From Ilocandia

(Our Ilocos Norte Sojourn, Last of a four-part series)

Pagudpud is one of the least spoilt real getaway places, with superb, empty beaches. But over-all, Ilocos Norte presents its unique charms. My highlights were hiking the sand dunes of La Paz, running along the beaches of Pagudpud, taking a bite of the special Ilocos empanada, chilling out under the wooshing sound of the Bangui windmills and going back into time in Vigan (Ilocos Sur) which is well worth visiting for the Spanish architechture alone.

Ilocos province is made for adventure, leisure and a feel for history. And as the nearby flapping of the bangui windmill blades mezmerizes you beneath them, we agreed that it was worth the long travel!

Having our breakfast at the hotel resto

With ladies at the Reception counter

Tobacco Monopoly Monument, Laoag City

Ilocos Norte Capitol Building

Blue Lagoon beach

Old Marcos house at Batac

Another part of Marcos' home in Batac

Marker at Marcos' Mausoleum. At right is Gingili, known as the "bankrunner" at the takbo.ph forums who i would find out later was a former classmate of mine at the Ateneo Grad School of Business

Paoay Church

With the Takbo.ph gang

Vigan at night

Front of souvenir shop--Vigan

Naughty T-Shirt for sale

Preparing the famous Ilocos empanada

At the Cape Bojeador lighthouse in Burgos, North of Laoag

The corridors of the lighthouse

Posing at the tower's door

At the Bangui windmills

Running thru strong winds at Bangui

Running In Saud Beach, Pagudpud

(Our Ilocos Norte Sojourn, Part 3-B)

When we left Maira-Ira Point (Blue Lagoon Beach) and headed to a wider and longer stretch of beach shorelines, as Faivo describes it, we knew we were in for another treat.

Saud Beach, located in Brgy. Saud is actually Pagudpud’s main beach where many resorts are situated, the coastlines much longer and the water much calmer than that of the Blue Lagoon. From Laoag City, Saud Beach actually comes first before the Blue Lagoon although the latter has breath-taking views from the uphills and that was maybe why Faivo chose to bring us to this beach first.

All the same, Saud Beach has its own charms. Its shorelines are lined-up with more coconut trees, the beach is pristine with its beige-white sand ever present in its long stretch. It has more than a dozen resorts, ideal for families who would like overnight stays or longer.

Curved trees

I haven’t been to Boracay so i wouldn’t have a basis to compare the two but when i asked guests who were staying at the nearby Polaris Resort and have experienced both beaches, they could not give a definitive comparison–but are only able to say that each have their own charms as they both cater to certain groups like the younger crowds who would want a nightlife might choose Boracay while those that prefer a quiet and serene stay would probably prefer Saud beach. To each his own, i guess.

Here are the picture runs we had at Saud when we arrived there at about 11:30am.:

To the waterfront of Saud Beach

On the downhill again

Saud Beach

Dennis taking it easy

Left side of the beach

Right side view, 11:50am

Faivo, Dennis & Wilnar

Western part of Saud beach

Cottage on top

With the Mac man

Kind of blue

Most photographed coconut trees in Pagudpud

Running between them

Zoom shot of Dennis

Souvenir stands near beach area

Polaris Inn, Saud Beach. It's where we had lunch

Full view of Polaris Inn

Lunch consisting of sinigang na blue marlin, sautéed squids and chicken barbecue!

Our stay was too short and we were just getting into the swing of wandering the shoreline, skimming the souvenir stands and chilling out, when it was time to go. The calm scenery and the relaxed mood was a breath of fresh air and a contrast to the fast-pace life of city living.

We were sorry to leave but look forward (hopefully) to our return. Maybe by that time, our hosts, Faivo and Babette Bartolome will have already organized the next great race in Laoag City.

Running Along The Beaches of Pagudpud

(Our Ilocos Norte Sojourn, Part 3-A)

When we set out our trip to Laoag City, we certainly didn’t anticipate the adventure side trip to Pagudpud and that was definitely a highlight of our tour. Under overcast skies but cool Monday morning, the four of us– McCoy, Wilnar, Dennis and myself hopped inside Faivo’s new black sporty pick-up truck with a rough idea of how the beach resorts would look like.

As runners, you would think we would have prepared a plan on where to run, what to wear, what drinks to bring to our destination. Not so. Most of us just wanted to see the place, run if there was an opportunity and swim at the beach, most definitely – to wash off the hang-over we had this morning after downing two bottles of brandy.

After a few minutes on the road, Faivo stopped by a bakery store in Pasuquin town which was selling their famous biscocho bread. The bread came in two kinds: the soft, bun-like type and the toasted one that tasted like ‘machacaw‘ only, it was better. It has a peculiar taste and aroma which i assume was the ‘anis‘ flavoring that was added to it.

The bun type biscocho

It rained intermittently during the trip and the wind was strong that you could see the branches of coconut trees blowing in one direction. We thought it was bad timing for us to come this morning but Faivo assured us that the light rain would stop in no time.

Eventually, after driving through more than an hour of light drizzles, we arrived at Pagudpud at about 10:30am and Faivo was right, the rain stopped as soon as we got off from his pick-up truck. After an hour chatting, exchanging running experiences and stealing cat-naps in the truck, all we wanted was to flex our muscles, run a bit and splash in the beach– and this is exactly what we got.

Strong winds didn't dampen us to run towards the blue lagoon

Nice and windy

The view at my back

A view at the rock formation below

Taking a break

With Dhentz, McCoy & Wilnar (got it right this time, Wil):-)

The road ahead

Nearing the beachfront

Reaching the Blue Lagoon

Ahhh...finally!

The Blue Lagoon

The first beach we headed to is the Maira-ira beach or better known as the Blue Lagoon. Because of the high winds and intermittent drizzles that enveloped the area that morning, the water was not so bluish as the waves were high and strong. But on any ordinary sunny day, Blue Lagoon is like a  large half moon shaped blue swimming pool, the water bluish like the pictures we see of beaches in Bermuda or Monte Carlo. The sand is very fine, whitish brown and your feet dips down when you run.

McCoy can't wait to take a dip!

Trying to run 100 meter sprints on sand

This is what you get when you run with your shoes on

Now running barefoot

What dah... water too cold?

Dhentz joining McCoy

Up towards the cottages

With Faivo on left

View from the cottages above

As we now knew what paradise is suppose to look like, we had time to stroll around the vicinity, first looking at the simple cottages and then to the beach front–it was during this walk that we realized we were like in our own private beach as we were the only ones enjoying the waters!

Just when you think you’ve seen all Pagudpud has to offer, Faivo suddenly blurts out, “Oh, you’ve seen nothing yet.  Come, i’ll bring you to the Boracay of Pagudpud!”