The three places that we visited going back to Manila completed our itinerary for our Ilocos trip.

1) Pasong Diego-Gabriela Silang

The now-named Pasong Diego-Gabriela Silang served as a strategic choke point and It was here where Gabriela Silang and her men made their last stand and against the Spaniards in 1763.



2) Narvacan, Ilocos Sur

We then continued south to Narvacan, where Sulvec Beach is located. The rocky shore of Sulvec Beach in Narvacan is a favorite stop-over of commuters and provide a nice view of the rock grotto that is a favorite subject for a lot of photographers traveling in this part of the country.



3) Nuestra Señora De La Asuncion Church

The church is located in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur. The construction of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción began in 1765. The church is located at the edge of the town and a stairway of 85 steps leads up a hill where the church is perched like a citadel and fortified by a retaining wall of stone.

The church elevated location is uncommon for Spanish colonial churches of the period, which were usually sited in plazas.  A massive octagonal bell tower, added in 1810, stands nearby.



Our five-day road trip to Ilocos and back was a bit tiring but it was all worth it as it provided us with a glimpse and an appreciation of the way of life during the Spanish colonial era. We were able to visit places that previously we would just normally see in travel magazines. Given the chance, I would like to go back and explore the other sights that we were not able to visit on this trip. There are still may places that are less advertised but worth visiting in the Ilocos region. And while the five days we spent on our road trip seems long, it is actually not enough to fully explore all the sights that the region has to offer.


To cut a little bit on travel time going back to Manila, we decided to spend another day in Vigan. Traveling back to Vigan, we took a westerly route that allowed us to visit some of the places that we still had to go to.

First stop for the day was a visit of the Fort Ilocandia Resort and Casino.

DSC_1800 DSC_1777 DSC_1784 DSC_1791

From Fort Ilocandia we then went to the Malacanan Palace of the North, built during the Marcos Era. It was a birthday gift of the former first lady Imelda Marcos to the late Pres. Ferdinand Marcos 6oth birthday. It became the first family’s official residence in Ilocos Norte. The property was sequestered by the government when Pres. Msrcos was removed from power after the EDSAQ revolution. The property, after 20 years in sequestration was eventually turned-over to the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte.

DSC_1840 DSC_1805 DSC_1813 DSC_1819 DSC_1822 DSC_1836

We made a brief stop at the Paoay Sand Dunes and took some photos. The dunes are better appreciated by going on a 4X4 san dune ride or by sand boarding which we did not have the time for during that trip.

DSC_1859 DSC_1857 DSC_1858

In Vigan, we checked in at Hotel Felicidad and after a brief rest took a kalesa ride to Baluarte.

DSC_1885 DSC_1879

After our Baluarte visit, we then went back to town and did pasalubong shopping of some of the province’s delicacies.

DSC_1934 DSC_1932


On the 3rd day of our Ilocos visit we drove from Laoag to Pagudpud and back.

Our first stop  was the town of Bacarra where we visited the Bacarra Church (St. Andrew’s Parish Church), Bell tower and Museum.

The Bacarra church was originally built by the Augustinians and was dedicated to St. Andrews. The church is a National Historical landmark and is famous for its centuries old dome less bell tower known as Torre Ti Bacarra (Wikipedia). The bell tower is detached from the main church building,  towering magnificently by the road. The structure is three stories high and like many churches and belfries built during those days, was built out of coral bricks.

DSC_2979 DSC_2934 DSC_2991

The church museum, Museo de Bacarra is housed in the adjoining two-story old  convent. The museum  showcases religious artifacts from archival photos and documents and church relics and cultural artifacts that were mostly contributed by the residents of Bacarra

DSC_2973 DSC_2947 DSC_2952DSC_2954 DSC_2955 DSC_2960 DSC_2963 DSC_2964 DSC_2968

From the town of Bacarra, we then proceeded north  to the town of Burgos where we visited another cultural heritage structure, the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.  The lighthouse is located high on Vigia de Nagpartian Hill overlooking the scenic Cape Bojeador. It is 66-foot-tall (20 m) and is considered the highest elevated still original and active Spanish era lighthouse in the country. From the parking lot, visitors would need to climb a flight of concrete stairs to the perimeter wall which offers a good view of Cape Bojeador and West Philippine Sea.

DSC_1513 DSC_1519 DSC_1536

After the Bojeador Lighthouse, we next visited  the Kapurpurawan Picinic Site.

DSC_1595 DSC_1654  DSC_1601

DSC_1621 DSC_1623 DSC_1612

then the Bangui Windmills

DSC_1707 DSC_1662 DSC_1668-2 DSC_1669 DSC_1672

and reached the northernmost point of our journey at the Patapat Viaduct.

DSC_1712 DSC_1721

Before going back to Laoag, we stopped for a very late lunch at a restaurant along the Mayra-Ira Beach road. Fronting the restaurant is the Timmangtang Rock Feature

DSC_1754 DSC_1742

and less than a kilometer away to the west is the Bantay Abot Cave

DSC_1735 DSC_1770 DSC_1757 DSC_1762 DSC_1764

Because we got back to Laoag early, we decided to visit the Church of Sarrat.

DSC_3059  DSC_3023 DSC_3069 DSC_3027 DSC_3051

And the ancestral house (turned into a museum) of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. However, by the time that we got there, it was already past 5 pm and the museum was already closed for the day.



Woke up early the next day and had our buffet breakfast at Hotel Luna. Food selection was not that many but what’s available taste great.

Armed with a heavy breakfast and a  good night’s rest, we were on the road again by 8:00 am off to Laoag on our 2nd day of our 5-day trip. When we planned this trip, we thought that it would be good to incorporate a Bisita Iglesia and so we included several church stops along our route.

Our first stop was the Masingal Church (St. William the Hermit Church). The church was built in a baroque architecture and is one of the 26 Spanish-era churches declared by the National Museum as a National Cultural Treasure. The church is known for its wooden altar adorned with an intricately carved retablo.

DSC_1479 DSC_1483 (2) DSC_1491

A short distance from the church is the old rectory that was built together with the church in 1676. The rectory was later restored and transformed into a branch museum of the National Museum of the Philippines in 1982. Unfortunately the museum was closed when we visited so we just took satisfaction in taking pictures of the structure.

DSC_2587 DSC_2599

In front of the museum is the centuries-old belfry towering magnificently by the side of the main road.


Our next stop was the Catholic Church of Cabugao. The church is officially named as the Church of St. Mark the Evangelist. The initial construction of the church was finished in 1696. The succeeding reinforcement of the church was completed between 1817 and 1834. Seriously damaged in 1870, by the earthquake in 1880 and a fire in 1965, the church has been restored each time ( Towering by at the left side of the church is  a five-storey belfry while at the right side is the church convent and office.


The next church that we visited was the Sinait Church. Enshrined in this church is a 17th century image of the Black Nazarene known as “Apo Lakay”, a life-size image of the crucified Christ  found floating in a sealed casket along the coast of Sinait in 1620.

DSC_2641 DSC_2631

Proceeding with our journey, we passed-by the  boundary maker of Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. Trip to this region with not be complete without having some photos taken on this site so we made a brief stop to take some souvenir photos.

DSC_2644 DSC_2648

We resumed or journey to town of Badoc where we visited the St. John the Baptist Church and the Juan Luna Museum. The revered 400-year old La Virgen Milagros de Badoc is enshrined in the Church and is about 200 years older than the church itself. The white color of the church façade however, diminished the nostalgic appearance of the structure and does not match the stone belfry at its side.

A few blocks away from the church is the Juan Luna Shrine and Museum, the birthplace of  a great Filipino painter, sculptor and together with his brother Antonio Luna, was a political activist during the Philippine revolution in the 19th century. The shrine is a reconstruction of the the original house that was totally burned in a fire in 1861.


DSC_2683 DSC_2684 DSC_2685

From Badoc, we then drove to Batac and visited the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum. The museum showcases the late president Ferdinand Marcos ‘memorabilia while the the large and solemn mausoleum contains the glass-encased coffin of the embalmed body of the late president that has been on public display since 1993. Some people believe that what is on display now is just a wax replica of the late president’s remain. Taking pictures inside the mausoleum is prohibited.

Across the bridge past the Museum is the Batac Church, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church that was built in 1587.

DSC_2707 DSC_2721 DSC_2692DSC_2695

From Batac we headed west to the Church of Paoay also known as the St. Augustine Church of Paoay. The cornerstone of the church was laid in 1704, that of the convent in 1707 and that of the tower in 1793. The church was used by the people even before its completion and was kept in repair  by the people under the joint auspices of the church and town officials. The church was damaged by an earthquake in 1706 and was repaired. It was finally inaugurated  on 28 February 1896. Adding color to the church history is the fact that the church tower was used as an observation post by the katipuneros  during the Philippine Revolution and by the guerillas during the Japanese Occupation.

The Paoay Church was declared a National Culture by the Philippine government in 1973 and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993.

DSC_2753 DSC_2770 DSC_2737DSC_2783

From Paoay Church we decide to get a little adventurous and  drove through an arterial road to get a different view of Paoay Lake.

DSC_2845 DSC_2843 DSC_2847

Continuing our trip to Laoag, we passed through the town of San Nicholas where we visited the St. Nicholas de Tolentino Paris Church. The church has a baroque façade bearing the Spanish coat of arms and a three-storey bellower on the right. Originally built in 1584, the church was reconstructed in 1693.

DSC_2885 image

In Laoag, we first went to its famous sinking bell tower and to the St. William Cathedral before checking-in at the Balay da Blas where we would be staying for the next 2 nights.

The sinking bell tower of Laoag is easily spotted upon entering the city proper. The bellower is a massive 45-meter structure was built by the Augustinians in1612 and is said to be one of the tallest bell towers in the Philippines. At the time it was built, it is said that a person on horseback could easily enter the tower. Now, a person of normal height would need to bend down just to enter the vaulted entrance. The structure is so heavy and was built on sandy foundation resulting in its sinking into the ground (supposedly at a rate of one inch per year). The bell tower is part of the St. William’s Cathedral property located 85 meters to the south.


The St.William Cathedral was originally in 1612 to replace a wooden chapel that the Augustinian erected when they establish the parish in Laoag in 1580. The cathedral was damaged by a fire in 1843 but was restore between 1873 to 1880. The church was occupied by the Philippine revolutionists in1898 and by the American forces in 1899 . The façade of the church has been renovated in 1936 with the addition of lime plaster and became a cathedral in 1961 when the Diocese of Laoag was established (Wikipedia).

DSC_2927 DSC_2914

Balay da Blas Pensionne House is near the Capitol of Ilocos Norte and is accessible to many of the local attractions and public transportation. Bed and breakfast package is available and lunch and dinner is available from the Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant and Bar adjunct to the pensionne house.

20150331_064924 20150331_064943

Later in the evening we decided to walk along the plaza at the kapitolyo…

IMG_2232 IMG_2233 IMG_2243


The underground cemetery of Nagcarlan is identified by the National Historical Institute of the Philippines as the only one of its kind in the country. It was built by the Franciscan missionaries in 1845.

The cemetery was used as the secret meeting place of the leaders of the Filipino revolutionaries in Laguna during the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish regime in the late 1800s.

The cemetery was declared a National Historical Landmark through Presidential Decree 260 in August 1, 1973.