In Ilocos Norte, Marcos, Hollywood, nature and more
Thanks to Ferdinand Marcos, its illustrious son, Ilocos Norte always has good roads so going there is a cinch. Staying there, of course, is a challenge.
Ilocos Norte is an out-migration area way before Marcos but then, maybe, that’s just the nature of the nomadic Ilocanos.
“What do I do in Laoag?” a friend texted. “At least you’ve seen the light,” I answered, because “Laoag” means “light” in Ilocano. Another texted, “What do I do in Bangui?” “Look for the demarcation line between Pacific Ocean and West Philippine Sea.”
To guide them and future visitors, here are some specialty tours for Ilocos Norte, especially if you have a weekend to spare.
Hollywood Tour. Gov. Imee Marcos last year unveiled in Paoay the statue of actress Nora Aunor as “Elsa,” the tragic faith healer in the 1982 movie, “Himala.” Paoay was also the site of “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Mad Max I,” the “Ang Panday” series of Fernando Poe Jr. and the recent remake of “Temptation Island.”
The Ilocos Norte Trimedia Incentives Act was passed to give filmmakers discounts and other incentives toward making their movies in the province.
Culinary Tour. The “longganisa” (native sausages) of Ilocos Norte are long and less oily as these are steeped in strong Ilocos vinegar. You can find these in all markets in the province.
Also try other meat dishes like “imbaliktad,” “kilawen nga kalding,” “sarabasab,” crispy “dinardaraan,” “buos” (ant eggs), “callente,” Soup No. 10 and “bagnet.” Semivegetarians can try “pinakbet,” “inabraw,” seaweed salad and KBL (“kamatis, bugguong and lasona”).
Ilocos Norte is also known for its rice desserts like “tupig,” “dudol,” “bibingka” and “patupat.” Places to go to are Gian’s Restaurant (empanada pizza) and Riverside (empanada and miki) in Batac City; Mino’s in Badoc for pizza; Herencia Café (pinakbet pizza) in Paoay; Original Pasuquin Bakery in Pasuquin for biscocho; and Refmad-V Farms for everything dragon fruit like ice cream, candies and even Shanghai lumpia using dragon fruit stalks.
Laoag City and Pagudpud have the best restaurants like La Preciosa, Johnny Moon, Red 8, Saramsam Ylocos, La Moda Panciteria, Bergblick, Evangeline’s, Kapuluan Vista, Cloud 9, Pannzian and Hannah’s. For that selfie with a breathtaking background, try Kangkang Windmill Cafe near the windmills of Bangui.
Marcos Tour. “Ground Zero” is the City of Batac. The Marcos Museum has been jazzed up and for P50, you can view the terno of Imelda, the whirlwind romance of “Malakas” and “Maganda,” Marcos’ war exploits, amulets and his political savvy.
At the mausoleum, you can see the strongman’s “body,” but still no selfies
allowed. In front of the Marcos mansion is the Aglipayan Church where Ferdinand was baptized and the guerrilla priest, Bishop Gregorio Aglipay, reportedly bequeathed his amulet to the future president.
Then go to the town of Sarrat where Apo Marcos was born.
The Sarrat Church, which was destroyed by an earthquake, was rebuilt in the 1980s so that youngest Marcos daughter, Irene, could have her wedding there. Later, the church would again be destroyed by another earthquake.
There is also a whole town named after Marcos and some of the villages are named after Ferdinand and Imelda and the Marcos siblings. Lastly, there is the Malacañang of the North (Malacañang ti Amianan) in Paoay, which used to house part of the Imelda Marcos art collection. Now there is a nine-hole golf course and a casino inside.
Nature Tour. Many years ago, buses refuse to stop in Pagudpud at night because of robbers. Now all buses stop there because of the beach. Try to stay at Saud beach, Pagtarusan Lodge, Hannah’s, Blue Lagoon and Evangeline Resort but there are other cheaper and secluded spots there as well. The towns of Bangui, Solsona and Pasuquin also have remarkable beaches.
Ilocos Norte have long lost its forest because of tobacco production but trek the inland towns of Adams and Dumalneg, which host the only primary forest reserves of the province.
History and Art Tour. Recently, archeologists were able to uncover the lost town of Nagrebcan in Sarrat. There may be other ruins in store for you in Ilocos Norte. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos is a significant relic because the cape waters there are treacherous. Submarines and Spanish galleons are said to have been sunk near that area. Also look for the Tobacco Monopoly monument in Laoag and the Basi Revolt shrine in Piddig.
For museums, try the Museo Ilocos Norte and Samtoy Bookstore in Laoag, Marcos Museum in Batac and the Museo de Bacarra.
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