It’s said that bread and salt are ancient symbols of hospitality. For some countries, greeting one’s guests with these two basic food items is a sign of trust and friendship. It’s only fitting that we got to experience how both are produced the same morning during our trip to Ilocos Norte where we were warmly welcomed as guests of the Lakbay Norte media tour earlier this year.
Our pit stop after the rough adventure at Adams Village was the elegant Ilocos Norte Convention Center (INCC) in Laoag City. The hotel is quite large and ideal for gatherings and business functions.
The night we arrived, there was a wedding taking place near the large swimming pool at the center of the courtyard, which we got a view from our rooms. Suites were simply decorated, but very clean and comfortable, with all the amenities you would expect from a business-class hotel.
The balconies lined with a trellis of plants and flowers overlooked the pool. The hotel also has several large function rooms and a small Chapel.
After a buffet breakfast at INCC, we made our way to the Pasuquin Bakery, famous maker of delicious biscocho, the “Pride of the North” as their sign read.
The smell of freshly baking bread filled up the tiny back kitchen of the bakery. Trays of the biscocho (bread rolls) were on display in all their various states. A huge hunk of dough covered in white cloth soon had dents, as people passing by couldn’t help poking it to feel its soft consistency. Flattened and curled into rolls, the bread was fired up in the heavy duty ovens.
We found that there were two kinds of biscochco – the soft chewy kind, fresh from the oven, and a crispy variant, with a longer shelf life, which are packaged as souvenirs. We got to taste both and found out why this bakery is a regular stopover for everyone visiting the province.
The town of Pasuquin is also known for its fine, sandy beaches and its salt-making industry. Salt-making is a source of livelihood for many locals, and we spotted many stalls where people were selling bags of coarse sea salt along the roadsides.
The sand and coral in the saltbeds along the seashore are said to be ideal for salt-making.
Makeshift huts serve as crude processing centers for salt, which is cooked in vats. According to this detailed guide on salt-making in the area:
“The salt makers of Pasuquin save on fuel by burning bags of sawdust during the cooking process. The sawdust, which are usually waste products in lumber yards, are now sold in sacks at minimal prices to those involved in salt making. In this cottage industry entire families are engaged in salt making, carrying on the traditional livelihood of previous generations.”
The stops were educational insights on some of the industries that support the locals people. It was an interesting prelude to the adventure that awaited us at the rest of the Ilocos Norte sites.