Category Archives: Pagudpud

Cathy’s Homestay | Feels like home indeed

As mentioned in my previous post, we’re supposed to stay in one of the beach front resorts in Blue Lagoon.  But because of the bad weather condition and distance from the places we plan to visit in our tour, we settled for Cathy’s Homestay in Saud Beach.  I cancelled our reservation politely and most importantly, ahead of our check-in time .

We bought something for our dinner before we check-in.  We went in a nearby mini grocery store because the wet market closes very early.  It only opens in the morning ’til noon.  Half day kumbaga.. Guess what we had for dinner?

A.  Century Tuna (Flakes in oil)

B. Lucky Me Chicken Noodles

C.  Eggs

D.  All of the above!

No guessing needed right?! haha Diet kami kaya diet rin ang bulsa!.. 😛 Time to leave because the rain is pouring again.  Cathy’s Homestay is a 10-minute tricycle ride from Sentro, where Kuya Arnel met us.

At 4:30PM, we arrived.  The first thing I did after putting our bags down is to check out the beach.  A couple of steps from our room is a glimpse of Saud Beach.  Cloudy are the skies and superior are the winds. Wala kang ibang maririnig kundi hampas ng alon at hampas ng hangin sa mukha mo.. 🙂

Rocky beach front

Alon kung alon!

Good thing the rain stopped completely and we had more time to explore the fine sands along Saud stretch.  There are quite a number of bigger beach front houses and Polaris is one of them – which BTW is one of the most recommended by travel blogs.

Few minutes later, nature gave us a fairer view of Saud with an almost awesome sunset.

Sun is setting

Sunset jumpshot

Too bad I forgot to change my camera’s ISO settings that’s why my shots appeared grainy.. tsk tsk ..

At 6:30PM we had our early dinner and Ate Cathy really cooked for us.  Parang nanay lang namin.. 🙂 Salamat po! At dahil gutom kami lahat, kain na agad sabay tulog.  Lahat bagsak, buong araw ba naman byahe ng byahe. 😛 Vigan to Laoag to Pagudpud!.. whew!

I woke up before midnight for some reason.  I planned to check the beach at 12 midnight.  It would be a good idea to shoot light trails again… B-U-T I had second thoughts.  Pag tingin ko kasi sa labas ng pinto eh ALL BLACK! Darkness all over and the winds are just crazy.  Coincidentally, Ate Cathy got out from their house as well.  She wanted to check us and thought that we might need something.  (That’s really thoughtful of her.) From there, we started a little conversation:

– her homestay is just a newbie.  It’s just a year old.  Keeping it up with bigger and more famous nearby resorts is a tough job as she shares.  Since it has the lowest rate among others, she’s being questioned.  But despite that, she was able to reason out that the rest of the resorts have complete facilities however in her lodging, she’s still working on it.

– she shared that there was a time that a certain old lady unexpectedly inquired in her lodging and inquired for rates.  She gleefully answered the queries and toured her guest around to show the rest of the place.  After they closed the deal, this lady shared that they were thrown out of their previous lodging because of some misunderstanding in the check-in/check-out time.  So she, along with her family looked for a better place to stay and settled in Ate Cathy’s.  That night, since Ate Cathy always offers to cook for her guests, this lady took over and cooked for them and had a good conversation with her.  Ate Cathy didn’t expect that they will have a little talk because this lady’s intimidating at first.  (Imagine a Bella Flores/Celia Rodriguez look.. ) 🙂

– that most of lots along Saud are owned by a rich couple.  Their kids inherited the lots and turned them into inns and resorts.  Most of them are working and living with their own families in Manila and only pay a visit once or twice a month.

– Ate Cathy has three children.  The eldest is in college, studying in Laoag and goes home during weekends only, and the other two are in grade shool.   Her husband drives their tricycle everyday to add income for their daily needs.  That’s when I knew that her husband is a relative of Kuya Arnel – there goes the connection. 🙂

– They live a pretty simple life beside the beach.  But Ate Cathy doesn’t allow her kids to go near the beach or even swim especially if there’s no adult to look after them.  As a mother,  she worries about her kids by the beach particularly during this time when the sea is not calm.

– She’s turning the place into a beach front resort but it’s still under processing.  She still needs to submit certain documents to DTI.  DTI is located in Laoag so she needs to travel 1.5 hours to make followups.

That little talk turned out not to be little after all.. It’s already 2:30 AM! She also didn’t notice it.  Maybe the growling winds outside did but I’m not sure.. lol

 

That's our room, 1st door, left

Cathy's Homestay - Feels like home indeed

Gepay, Giane, Rodem and Ate Cathy

For just 1,000php/night, we had a simple yet very neat room, 3 soft queen size beds, shared bathroom and fully air-conditioned.  On top of that, Ate Cathy will cook for you. That’s what sets it apart from other resorts nearby and that really made us felt like we’re home.  I want to pay her back by writing a post for her.  I know it’s just a simple help to promote her simple lodging.  So if you get to visit Pagudpud soon, please contact Ate Cathy.

Cathy’s Homestay, Saud Beach:  0919-5716680

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Ilocos Norte: Southbound Tour and way home

Finished our lunch a few minutes after 12 noon.  We went back to Ate Cathy’s to get our things then checked out.  Two vendors are selling some Pagudpud souvenirs for quite a low price. There are key chains and fridge magnets being sold 3 for 100Php which could be as low as 25Php each.  I got a shirt for 120Php from 150Php original price.  Wala talaga sa budget ang pasalubong pero syempre minsan lang mapunta dito, kaya kahit souvenir man lang eh makabili. I haggled with one of them, that for a hundred pesos, I can get a frog fridge magnet (I wondered why frog), white tree shell paper weight (which costs 60php) and another paper weight shell with Pagudpud imprint. Nasampulan ko ata si ate ng pagiging kuripot.. 😛 kinulit nya kasi akong bumili eh.. 😛 Salamat po!

First Stop: Pagudpud Ark

Where we at..

..that according to the elders is a deep Ilocano word which means soft sandy soil “kuppuoy” a kadaratan..

Umanggulo.. ang camera..

It took us 20-25 minutes going here from Saud Beach.  No other vehicles passing by and I wonder where the Ilocanos have gone.  I suppose everyone’s at work, in school or just at home?..

Second Stop:  Bangui Windmills

.. officially referred to as the NorthWind Bangui Bay Project..

.. windmills that I only get to see in pictures are right in front of me..

Travel time is roughly 20-30 minutes from Pagudpud.  I realized how tough these tricycles are for they can really travel loooooooooong distances.  Not to mention that it carries 3 persons with all of our bags inside but still managed to run 30-40kph.  Tough indeed!

The windmills are unexpectedly gigantic up close – there are 20 of them I think :P.  Each has three vertically oriented rotor blades on top of a 50m-high tubular tower.  Before I took pictures, I stared at this multi-million dollar project for a while.  I still can’t believe that it’s just in front of me.  Aside from its main environmental/economic purpose, it has become of the most sought after spots in the Philippines.

South China Sea lies just beside it.  The waves are much more active as strong winds hit the shore. Little pieces of rocks and sand are already hitting our knees but despite that, we still managed to stay for a few more minutes.

Locals are selling key chains and other windmill souvenirs.  Ever since I was young, I’m really fascinated with this huge windmills so I brought one home.  50Php for a windmill miniature – cool!

Third Stop:  Overlooking view of the Bangui Windmills

Windmills from afar.. start the count!

Rice fields of Bangui

Time Check:  3:20PM

I was just reminded that we need to be at Cape Bojeador Lighthouse before it closes at 4:30PM.  It’s still a few kilometers away and by this time, we really need to get going.

Fourth Stop: Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

This way..

We’re supposed to see Kapurpurawan Rock Formation next after the windmills but along the way, Kuya Arnel decided that we see the lighthouse first.  He might’ve thought that we might not make it on time.

At 3:45PM, we arrived.

Stairway to Lighthouse

Situated 160 meters on top of a hill named Vigia de Nagparitan, it serves as a station point for ships veering towards the Pacific Coast heading towards the Babuyan Channel.  Standing 160 meters above sea level, it is considered to be the highest elevated lighthouse in the country.

 

Faro de Cabo Bojeador up close

There is no entrance fee but to maintain the cleanliness of the place, a donation box is placed before you go up the lighthouse. The caretaker jokingly told me, “Okay na sa amin ang ISANG LIBO.. ” sabay ngiti.. Ang sabi ko naman, “Hindi ho ba kayo tumatanggap ng CHEKE?”.. natawa si Manong.. 😛

It’s my first time to go up a lighthouse and it’s freaking me out a bit.. hehe I know I don’t have any fear of heights, until this time 😛 The winds are so strong that the couple ahead of us opted to go out. With the winds blowing, I remembered how strong typhoon Milenyo and Reming was.  Some of the panels are already broken and missing and the wind’s pressure freaked me out more. A few more steps then I reached the top.

 

the light.. of the house.. still working BTW

 

View from the top.. with South China Sea at the back..

A few clicks is all we need and we went down.  The winds are getting more and more aggressive! 😛  It really is a good thing that Kuya Arnel dropped us here first.  We missed it already on Day 2 and I can’t afford to miss it the second time.

Fifth Stop:  Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

Along with the Bangui Windmills, this is also one of the spots I was looking forward to see in this trip.  Pictures I saw from travel blogs interest me to see it for myself. And I thought that the way going here is easy.  I guess I missed reading that part.  Rough road along the way baby!

It’s the ultimate test of the ATT (All Terrain Tricycles) and surprisingly, it didn’t hurt a bit. 😛

 

Trekking begins here..

Hello there South China Sea..

See the rock formations?.. Ayuuuuuuuuunnnnn!

.. All of us should wear a shirt like this..

Some say that for you to achieve something great, you must work hard for it.  Apparently after 20-25 minutes, it held true.

Kapurpurawan at last!..

Hard to believe that there is something like this in our country.  These rock formations are truly amazing.  Nature-made.  *speechless*

The waves are hitting high..

Though Kapurpurawan originated from the Ilocano word, “puraw” which means “white”, the rocks are not as white as it is during summer. That probably is because of the changing weather during the first quarter.  Nevertheless, it’s still majestic.

Group pic as the day wraps up

We spent the remaining minutes taking pictures and just suck in the experience.  It isn’t everyday we get to see something awesome like this.  That’s why I’m also thankful.  Ilocanos are very lucky to have all these unbelievable places near them.  They truly have a lot to be proud of.

It’s 5PM.  It’s the perfect time to conclude the day as the sun sets right before my eyes.

It's a wrap..

As we left the tricycle, we thanked Kuya Arnel and his friend who served as our guides during the tour.  I know Ilocanos are kind, hospitable and humble but he’s awesome! And I cannot say goodbye without taking a solo picture of him.

 

That's Kuya Arnel and his friend at the back (09186890723 | 09265880666)

If you get a chance to visit Pagudpud and the rest of Ilocos Norte, contact him.  He has both a tricycle for groups of 2-4 and a van for bigger groups.

He brought us to the bus stop at the highway right outside Kapurpurwan where we can catch a trip back to Laoag.  Lucky us, we’re just in time for one.

At exactly 7PM, we set foot in Laoag again and had our dinner.  Our flight back to Manila is at 9:30PM.  While we still have a lot of time to spare, we roamed around to buy some goodies to bring home.  We’re still craving for empanada and good thing we found one right across Laoag Wet Market.  This looked different and more stuffed unlike the one we had in Hidden Garden.  For only 40Php, you’ll get a special empanada with egg, monggo, bean sprouts and longganisa right off the pan. Not to mention that I enjoyed eating it more.

We left the city and arrived 8:45pm at the airport.  At exactly 9PM, the flight back to Manila started boarding and 10 minutes after that, we left Laoag.

With this kind of experience, I can’t be more thankful for the 72 hours of tiring yet a lot of F-U-N adventure.  My travel year has kicked off with a bang!

Ilocos Norte: Northbound Tour in 5 drizzly hours

Move over ATV's, here's the All Terrain Tricycle

I was really surprised with the flexibility and endurance of these tricycles.  From rough and steep roads to kilometer long highways, it’s just unbelievable.

Our Southbound tour should’ve began in the afternoon.  We left Laoag at 11:30PM and we’re supposed to arrive at 2-3PM in Pagudpud but we came 45 minutes past 3.  That’s beyond the normal 2 hour travel time.  We’re supposed to stay at one of the resorts in Blue Lagoon but Kuya Arnel, our friendly (the owner of the red tricycle above and not to mention, also a travel blog sensation :P) Pagudpud tour guide informed us that it’s 20+ kms away from Sentro and the weather is worse. Though he implied that it’s still up to us, I asked him for other options.  He introduced Cathy’s Home Stay in Saud Beach which is not only nearer but the rates are more affordable! We’ve made a good decision to change our lodging and you’ll find out why on a separate post. 🙂

Took us 5-10 minutes to our lodging and  we just enjoyed the sunset at Saud beach.

Beach waves + fine sand

Rocky and Wavy

A better view of Saud with fine sand is just a few steps away so it didn’t matter to us if it’s all rocks that we see in front of our lodging.  Besides, we felt
at home during our stay because Ate Cathy was so accommodating.  She even cooked our dinner that night.  Ilocano hospitality at its finest.  I’ll create a separate post only for her, as promised. 🙂

Almost perfect sunset view

Could have been perfect if the clouds were clearer.  This wraps up Day 2.

Day 3 dawns..

Time check:  7AM| Temperature: 14-16 degrees Celsius | Weather: Windy and Cloudy

Northbound tour kicks off.

First stop:  Patapat Viaduct. From Saud, it took us  nearly 30 minutes to get here.

Patapat Viaduct

Fast Fact: It is a winding bridge found at the foot of the cliff of the Cordillera Mountain Ranges. It connects Barangay Balaoi and Barangay Pancian which around 1.2 km long.

Like!

Second Stop:  Agua Grande

Agua Grande Picnic Park

See the big blue waves at the back? Pwede ng mag-surfing.  It is a pretty natural picnic park with the Pacific Ocean as its backdrop.  We didn’t stay long because it’s already raining and the winds are strong.  Entrance fee is 20php per head.

Third Stop:  Kalbario-Patapat Natural Park

FKA Paraiso ni Anton

The rain poured hard so I have to spare my camera from being wet.  Good thing the trees served as our  shelter.  It was believed that the water flowing down from the mountains can heal sickness and are always cold even during summer.  An image of Virgin Mary can be seen inside the grotto.

Along the road we saw the shipping vessel which caused the oil spill in Ilocos Norte.  It was travelling from North Korea when suddenly it experienced engine problems and got stuck in this part of the north.

NK Shipping vessel

Fourth Stop:  Bantay Abot Cave

The famous Hole

Bantay-Abot rooted from Tagalog origins.  Bantay means bundok and Abot means butas. Technically, this is the fifth but I skipped Timangtang Rock.  Nothing much to see but a giant rock that could be seen from the shore.  Littering is strictly prohobited in Pagudpud.  No wonder it’s orderly and noticeably clean.

Fifth Stop: Blue Lagoon Beach

Blue indeed

Taken from a wide angle perspective.. 🙂

 

Finer Sand

Twigs scattered at the shore

Due to the unpredictable rains and winds, the beach is not as clean as it is during summer.  Probably because it’s off peak season and no one’s around aside from us.

One of Blue Lagoon's finest beach front houses

Twin mountains?

Not far from Kapuluan is a view of the twin mountains.  Well not really a mountain because it’s small.  Okay, small mountains.. 😛

Sixth Stop:  Kabigan Falls

A tour guide is needed to reach the amazing falls.  100Php for the guide and 10php/per head as entrance fee.  We took a rest for a while and saved energy for the next 30 minutes trek to the falls.

Kuya Neil - our friendly and singing tour guide

He’s fond of telling stories as I walk side by side with him.  Not to mention that he sings some Ilocano songs from time to time. Yeah, I can hear that from a few meters away.  Kasunod nya lang naman ako palagi, yung tatlo laging naiiwan.. hehe..

Short chit-chatting with Kuya Neil.  He shared that:

– there were 67 other tour guides in Kabigan Falls.  He’s lucky to have 1 group to bring to the falls in a day during off peak.

– he also works in a check point going to Blue Lagoon beach.  I’m not exactly sure what it’s called.  He takes his duty there every after 15 days.

– that when he was younger, they encountered NPAs on his way to the falls that he thought were farmers. This was way, way back and he assured that no rebels are hiding in the mountains at present. Whew! (nagtanong pa kasi ako… hehe)

– he toured Koreans, Japanese, Indians, Chinese and Americans.  He’s been a tour guide for quite sometime already.  He’s able to speak and understand English but he confesses that the hardest tourists to speak with are the.. *guess who*.. It’s because they speak English too fast.. Literally fast.. he adds.

– there was one time that he accompanied a couple, a Pinay with his American husband.  He informed them that the way to the falls is steep that they need to be extra careful.  The husband preferred to wait for them in a nipa shed.  He’s quite a big man as Kuya Neil described, so there goes the reason.  Minutes later, he decided to follow them on his own and on his way up, he held on to a branch which suddenly broke and the next thing he knew, he was slightly bruised on the ground.  No serious injuries though but they had to call for first aid.  “Sinakay sya dun sa hinihila ng kalabaw pababa ng bundok kasi nahirapan na syang makalakad.” Kuya Neil added.

The tour guide’s job is not easy.  They are responsible for their guest’s safety since they are the ones familiar on the way up.  Guests, on the other hand should also be responsible for themselves and listen to the guide’s instructions.

Here’s our 30-minute journey before taking a glimpse of the falls.

Trekking begins..

Ang Babaeng Lakwatsera

Tekamots

Bloggingpuyat

Havaianas ka pa ha! 😛 bundok to hindi beach!..  hehehe

Not mine.. 😛

Then the view of the falls surfaced.  I was stunned.

All sweat paid off..

I wish Hinulugang Taktak falls in Antipolo is as clear and pristine as the one I’m staring at.  The water’s cold and relaxing.  If I wore my board shorts that time, I could’ve taken a dip in the water.  Nature’s freshness right in front of us.

On our way down, I heard more stories from him about what is it really like to live in Pagudpud and told me that he’s been longing to have a vacation in Manila.  Before we had our lunch, I thanked and handed him his fee.  I added a little to it as a little help coming from me.

Aside from the places I’ve been seeing in this tour, it’s much more enjoyable to have a short but worthwhile conversations with someone who was a complete stranger to you.

There goes the 5-hour Northbound tour.  Next is southbound but first, we’ll have lunch.  Tomjones na eh!