Today, I woke up in Tuguegarao again. Tonight though, I’ll be sleeping in Laoag, Ilocos Norte.
Our call time this morning was at 5:30am and everybody in the group made sure (or at least tried their hardest) to get some much needed sleep. We started the day with a hearty Cagayan breakfast at Director Bless Diwa’s house, of the Department of Tourism Region 2.
From there, we set off for Cagayan’s treasured heritage churches. The first stop was Iguig, where the Stations of the Cross on Calvary Hill was. It was beautiful landscape overlooking the Cagayan River. Next was the Alcala church, a beautiful red brick architecture said to be the widest church in the region. We rushed over to Camalnuigan, where the oldest Catholic bell in the Philippines is (forged in 1595), then over to Lal-lo, the former Nueva Segovia with the 300-year old cross overlooking the Cagayan River. Our last church stop in Cagayan was at Pamplona, another beautiful red brick structure.
One and a half days was not enough for Cagayan, but lunch was waiting for us in Ilocos Norte. From the northeastern tip of Luzon, we made our way across to the northwestern tip. Passing through the Patapat viaduct, we saw the North Korean vessel that ran aground near Ilocos Norte’s beaches last December. It was very close to shore and the locals fear that oil must be starting to leak from the ship, which poses a huge threat on Pagudpod and the nearby beaches.
It was almost 3 o’clock in the afternoon when we finally rolled into Hannah’s Beach Resort at the Blue Lagoon. We were running behind schedule and 3 hours late for lunch, but we couldn’t stop ourselves from taking photos of the gorgeous blue waters and sparkling white beach.
After a quickie lunch of bagnet, shrimp, lobster and dinengdeng, we were back on the road and racing towards Paoay to try to catch the last rays of sunlight at the sand dunes. We barely made it, so we ended up bouncing about in the sand dunes at the back of 4×4 trucks in the dark. Much to Bong’s (the official trip photographer) dismay, the most terrifying moment in the entire 4×4 drive to the dunes was being caught in the middle of a group of girls giggling and squealing over Derek Ramsey.
We decided to cancel the activities in the sand dunes (in exchange of having another go at it tomorrow morning at the cost of waking another hour early). We were brought to the new Robinson’s Laoag for a performance of Ilocano cultural dances and songs.
I’m writing this from the Saramsan Cafe Too, which is the annex of the original cafe with an added feature: a karaoke! After feasting on Saramsam’s specialties (the poque poque pizza and the Saramsam pasta is an instant favorite), the organizers gave an impromptu game: videoke singing contest! With a North Face jacket at stake, everybody’s giving their all. Hey, after a couple of beers and not enough sleep, we all need a way to de-stress!