I was so thankful that our hotel was just few walks away from the church, our meet-up point for the Day 2 of Lakbay Norte Media Tour. As usual, I woke up early and went down to the hotel lobby to meet Izah of PDI Online who also stayed in Candice Hotel.
After all baggage’s were finally loaded and the team was already comfortably seated, a Police convoy guided us to Director Blessilda Diwa’s house. Upon arrival, Director Bless Diwa toured us around her house while her staff prepares for our breakfast. Inside her house, a room was dedicated for her Tourism related memorabilias. I was amazed on how she arranged her souvenirs, recognitions, head dresses and garlands from various destinations she have visited.
Much like coffee, various destinations has their own version of “native cacao” or chocolate drink and for me Tuguegarao’s version is definitely one of the best. Its not as thick as the one from Batangas but its equally flavorful.
We all enjoyed their local food and delicacies like the Sinanta Soup, Pinakufu, ifun and of course their famous Tuguegarao’s garlic longganisa. Bless Juice is definitely the bestseller – Its a special fruit drink recipe of Director Bless Diwa which everyone loved.
After our huge breakfast we headed to Iguig to visit one of Cagayan Valleys oldest church. We also visited the Calvary Hills where fourteen life-size Stations of the Cross can be found. Calvary Hills is located right at the back of the Iguig Church and fronting the Cagayan River.
We were still enjoying the place when it suddenly drizzled so we decided to head to our next destination – the Alcala Church. Aside from their famous Carabao Milk Candies, Alcala is also known for having the widest church in Cagayan Valley. The Saint Philomene Church of Alcala measures 30 meters in width and 90 meters in length.
Our next stop was in Camalaniugan, a town famous for having the oldest Catholic church bell. The old belfry survived from fire in 1719 and strong typhoon in 1845. The new church right beside the belfry was named after San Jacinto de Polonia – a replacement of the original church which has been ruined and is slowly slipping into the Cagayan river due to massive erosion.
Camalaniugan is also the home of one of the few remaining “Horno” in Cagayan Valley. Horno (Brick Kiln) is an area were the red bricks are being produced for Church and Government offices construction. Workers in the Brick Kiln are not being paid since the “Polo” system is being implemented. Polo is a forced labor being required to the menfolk aging from 18-40, each qualified men will need to complete 40 days in the service of the church.
Another interesting heritage site was the church of Lal-lo. The town was once known as the Ciudad de Nueva Segovia before the seat was transferred to Vigan. As one of the first four cities in the country (the others being Manila, Cebu and Naga), Lal-lo became the kabisera of Cagayan Province until 1839. The first Bishop of Lal-lo diocese was non other than Miguel Benavidez who also founded the University of Santo Tomas – the Philippines Pontifical University.
Before leaving Cagayan Valley, we visited the church of Pamplona. Also known as the Chruch of Masi (Pamplona’s old name), this red brick made church was completed in 1617. Considered as the oldest church in Cagayan, this church undoubtedly posses the most beautiful facade among all the churches in the province of Cagayan.
Stopover in Patapat Viaduct – Photos by Nina Fuentes
After visiting the heritage churches of Cagayan, we headed to Ilocos Norte passing through the scenic Patapat Viaduct. Most of us was saddened after seeing an abandoned North Korean Vessel near the shoreline. According to reports, the vessel contains more than 100 tons of crude oil and is feared to destroy the pristine beaches of Pagudpud due to possible oil leak.
We finally arrived in Blue Lagoon after a short stop. Its my first time in this part of Pagudpud and I must agree, Blue Lagoon is much beautiful than Saud Beach. We were supposed to be in Hannah’s Beach Resort at around 12 noon but we were behind the schedule for almost three hours.
Our lack of time did not prevent us from enjoying the place, food and the fantastic view. After taking photos of the seascape, we went straight to their function room for our lunch and short presentation. It was probably the best lunch so far, Imagine a gigantic lobster, fried fish, dinengdeng, steamed shrimps and the super crunchy bagnet.
The resort marketing manager toured us around the resort after the hearty lunch, too bad we cant stay longer since we are expected to arrive in La Paz for another adventure packed activity. We arrived in Laoag after sundown and with the area covered by darkness, the team finally decided to move the activity the next morning. The tour operator was so kind to rearrange the tour for us but before we head back to the City proper, we had a short exhilirating 4×4 bumpy tour of the sand dunes.
Our next stop was in Robinson’s Ilocos Norte for a short cultural presentation then we headed to Saramsam for dinner. It was another interesting feast, gastronomic one this time. An intriguing pizza named Poque Poque was served – It was is topped with an Ilocano eggplant dish called Poque Poque. To add more flavor, the pizza was also topped with fresh tomatoes, onions and scrambled egg. It was not impressive enough on the first bite but the orgasmic flavor will come out after your palate gets familiarized with the taste.
Pasta Saramsam is undoubtedly everyone’s favorite. It’s Italiano – Ilocano fusion, Picture spaghetti with medium shrimps, cilantro, green and red peppers, fresh tomatoes, onion, diced green mango and Parmesan cheese cooked in olive oil.
Its a night of camaraderie, getting to know more each team mate by their choice of songs in our mini karaoke competition. Yup, most of us tried to compete since the highest scorer will take home a brand new North Face Jacket.
I’m still trying to finish this story while in my room here in Mira de Polaris. I’ll probably retire in an hour.. Call time is 5:30am. I must admit, the long travel is really tiring but given a chance – I would like to have this tiring activity forever…. Yes I said Forever:)
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