The North Remembers: Ilocos 2015

[Originally published on aynbernos.net on November 27, 2015]

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The last time I was in Ilocos, I was 8 years old. I wore unflattering crop tops, Snoopy-patched jeans, and baseball caps you could get embroidered at SM stalls. I rode a kalesa with my sister Elyn and our then-newborn brother Owen, got all muddied up in pottery attempts, and got crazy with fine, fine white sand after our even farther up north drive to Pagudpud. It was the trip I threw morsels into on my childhood friend’s eyes *evil biatch* and got scared out of my wits because of Marcos’ “body.” Pretty much the adventure for any 8-year old. Or maybe it was just me.

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Thirteen years and more or less 20 family road trips later, we find ourselves back on the road to the great North. It took us this long to go back because time never did permit us. With Elyn occupied with pre-med woes, Owen with his varsity training, and me with ~fixing my life~, my parents have long postponed this long-awaited comeback. So when the APEC suspensions (AND flight cancellations – goodbye Coron trip) blew up, my mom had immediately sent a group message (#techie), confirmed our attendance, and booked accommodations to Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. And soon, there we were: marching (or overspeeding) to the north!

I can no longer carry my brother – he’s a giant now – and like him, Ilocos too has had her own share of upgrades. Ilocos is even more beautiful now. With the Bangui Windmills adding to the list of attractions, Ilocos has become a sight you just have to see up close. Honestly, no photo can do them justice. I stood under then humongous yet skinny ass propellers (not actually what they’re called), and I felt so small. I felt small in a good way, though, as if a masterpiece had come alive to acknowledge my presence. It was majestic.

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So much so, that I could not stop posting photos of the windmills on Instagram. It’s embarrassing, really, but my feed my rules. I’d post one more if I had enough. Haha.

As for recommendations, I suggest you look up Hotel Luna for your Vigan stay. It’s a picturesque hotel, literally a couple of steps from the famous Calle Crisologo, that exudes the best of history and aesthetics. The hotel is a view on its own – no ragrets.

For Ilocos Sur, you can check out Hannah’s Beach Resort in Pagudpud, a stretch of white sand embezzled with theme-park vibes and cute little accommodations. It’s not as nature-y or quiet as I had hoped, but really, the zipline adventure was more than enough to compensate for the little hooha. Just imagine flying across the sea like Iron Man or Superman or Peter Pan, whatever tickles your fancy.

I wish I could’ve experienced the sand dunes, though, but otherwise Ilocos was a big success! Can’t think of any other way to spend that 5-day vacay. At least next time I know where I’m headed first. More sand, less white, more dunes.