Hotel-Hopping in the North (Take 2)

The year is about to end and I still haven’t finished writing about Lakbay Norte 3, the 8-day media tour of the Northern Philippines. Aside from all the activities, the restaurants we ate in and hotels we stayed in played a huge part in making the trip so great. In the tradition of my hotel-hopping post for Lakbay Norte 2 (which kick-started my whole key collection), here’s a quick rundown of the different hotels we stayed in during the trip for LN3.

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How to Kill Time on a Long Bus Ride

Earlier this year, I went on a great trip around 11 provinces for 8 days aboard a Victory Liner bus.

The tour that passed through Bulacan – Nueva Ecija – Cagayan – Kalinga – Ilocos Norte – La Union – Baguio City – Pangasinan – Tarlac – Subic Bay – Clark – Pampanga was a blast. But in between all the fast-paced activities, hotel-hopping, and numerous food stops, the bus itself had its share of memorable moments. It was the only thing that remained constant those eight days. It’s where we slept on our first night, hung our wet clothes to dry, snacked on all you-can-eat Chumbos and shared lots of laughs while playing road games. The bus brought together a bunch of strangers. Continue reading

Sunset at Pantabangan Dam, Nueva Ecija

A few bare branches stick out from the dry earth, swaying with the ferocity of the breeze. The wind whips half-hearted waves and sends a spray onto the shores of the embankment of Pantabangan Dam where I stand. Loose earth crumbles beneath my feet and I walk back towards the gravel lined path near the center of the hill to admire the view. Continue reading

Board to be Wild

While they’ve been around for awhile, board sports like surfing, sandboarding and stand-up paddleboarding are quickly gaining popularity here in the country. If you’re based in Manila, you don’t even have to book an expensive flight to another country to try these out. You can actually try all three board sports up North in Ilocos Norte, which I’ve found is a haven for some of the greatest outdoor adventures.

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Lakbay Norte 3 Itinerary

Lakbay Norte 3, the 8-day media tour of the Northern Philippines was a blast! Gorgeous weather, great food, generous hosts, and a group that was willing to try all the crazy extreme activities thrown our way. It’s going to take a while to write about all the places, activities, food stops and hotels. Am currently sorting through close to 2,000 photos. In the meantime, here’s a quick look at the jam-packed itinerary we had. Continue reading

Trip Summary: Lakbay Norte 2

Day 1

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10 Tried-and-Tested Ilocos Norte Favorites

I promised myself that before the year ends, I would wrap up my Lakbay Norte 2 series, our 6-day whirlwind media tour in Cagayan and Ilocos Norte. Here are 10 of the most popular historic, religious, and culinary delights in Ilocos Norte which we got to visit and sample around the province.


1) Marcos Birthplace

The province of Ilocos Norte is popularly described as “Marcos Country” since it is the birthplace of former Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos. The Marcos family remains very popular in the province, which is evident in the number of museums and tourist sites devoted to the former president and his family. The ancestral house in his hometown Sarrat has been converted into a mini-museum that contains some memorabilia of Marcos’ early life.

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Currimao Gems: Playa Tropical and Sitio Remedios

There are hotels you stay in just to pass the night. Then there are places that have so much character that they stand out from the crowd and make you want to spend more time there. Two places in the coastal town of Currimao in Ilocos Norte, which was our last stop during the Lakbay Norte 2 Media tour earlier this year, showcase great character and style.

Playa Tropical Resort Hotel

The Balinese inspired Playa Tropical, where we spent our last night, is a relaxing retreat that evokes exotic beauty and pure relaxation.

Even though we arrived close to midnight after our socials at Balay da Blas, we saw a taste of things to come, with the carved wooden details, chandeliers in the hallways, and the tastefully decorated rooms. Continue reading

Sandboarding and 4×4 Ride in Ilocos Norte

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to riding the giant slide in local fairs or carnivals. There was something about sliding down from such a height that was so thrilling. Another favorite was the roller coaster, with it’s slow uphill ascents, loops, lurches, and sudden drops.

Trying out sandboarding and riding a 4×4 off-road vehicle around the La Paz Sand Dunes during the Lakbay Norte 2 media tour earlier this year brought back the thrill of these childhood amusement park rides, but amped it up to the next level. Continue reading

Kapurpurawan Landscapes

Surreal. Otherwordly. Almost alien.

These are just a few words that come to mind when seeing Kapurpurawan, a natural white sandstone formation carved by sea and wind,  in the town of Burgos, Ilocos Norte. Words can’t fully describe how I was amazed by the place and how it felt like I had just set foot on another world. Here instead are a few images of the masterpiece of Mother Nature in our midst.

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