To the North, To The North: The Road Trip To Ilocos Continues

It was still dark when we woke up the next day. Last night was very uncomfortable. The electricity went on and off. The watertank ran out of water and to be able to take a shower, I had to fetch some from a pitcher pump a few meters away from the bath room. And we weren’t happy with our nipa hut accommodation at Wally’s Home Stay either. The nipa hut looked unfinished and seemed rushed for the peak season. The walls were still rough it could possibly scratch the skin of those who would sleep close to them, if they’re not careful. The floor was made of tiny pebbles, not cemented, but were just scattered on the floor. The electric fan that was provided was rusty. All these for P2,400 a night. Wally was a nice guy, though.  He has better accomodations and some airconditioned rooms but these were already reserved before I got to talk to him.

After we had coffee that morning, we told Wally that there had been some changes in our plans so we wouldn’t be staying for another night. I apologized for leaving earlier than what we have agreed upon and he said we didn’t have to worry about it  and that it was fine.  He was expecting that there would be more tourists to arrive later that day.

The sun had just began to rise as we left Maraira-ira beach. It was lovely! It is always a joy to watch the morning sun by the beach, as it shines and rises beautifully above the horizon. We stopped for a while to enjoy the view. R and L asked me to take some pictures of them which they intend to use on their wedding day. They made me their instant pre-nup photographer that morning.

Along the way, a few meters before we reached the main road, we parked the car on the side and went down to Bantay Abot Cave. We passed by this spot yesterday on our way to Maira-ira beach but we didn’t stop because we had planned to visit it on our way back. I have no idea why they called it a cave. It was simply a mountain with hole. Bantay means mountain and abot means hole in the Iluko dialect.

The hole was said to be caused by the strong forces of the wind and water. It is a great place where one could just sit down, enjoy the scenery and be close with the sea. It is perfect spot for a pre-nup shoot too!

From the main road, we drove farther north all the way to the scenic Patapat Viaduct. J was probably the most excited among the four of us to see this amazing spot. Being an engineer, this was one of the places he had always wanted to see in the Northern Philippines.

The Patapat Viaduct is a 1.3-kilometer concrete coastal bridge built at the foot of the winding and rocky cliff of the north Cordillera mountain range. This engineering wonder rises 31 meters above sea level, offering amazing views of the lush Cordillera mountains and the enchanting Pasaleng Bay.

I thought taking our pictures at the center of Patapat viaduct was like a hit and run. We needed to carefully watch out for approaching vehicles to avoid getting hit. It was fun running and posing and jumping at the middle of the road though.

At the end of the viaduct are other tourists spots such as Paraiso ni Anton and Aqua Grandre, and farther down north, about 1.5km away from the main road is Kaibigan falls. We opted not to visit these spots anymore because we thought we might not have enough time to go to all the places we had in our itinerary that day. We made a U-turn and went to Saud beach instead.

There was an entrance fee of P20.00 for each person which included free parking. Good thing we got there early enough to find a good spot near the beach to park the car.

I personally enjoyed Saud beach more than Maira-ira beach. Although it was also crowded when we were there, it looked cleaner and much better maintained than Maira-ira beach.

While I liked the wider shorelines of Maira-ira beach with its finer, not quite white, but off-white sand, I thought the resort owners and local residents at Saud beach are more experienced in handling the large number of tourists during the peak season and are doing a much better job in keeping their beach clean than those at Maira-ira beach.

I could imagine both beaches to be so pristine and more beautiful though during the off peak season when they are less crowded. We stayed at Saud beach for a couple of hours and spent the time just lying on the sand, taking pictures and watching other tourists enjoying the beach and having a great time with their friends and families.

Before lunch, we were back on the road and were on our way back to Burgos to see Kaangrian falls. I have always wanted to go back to Pagudpud ever since my last and very short visit in 2004 but I had never really felt so enthusiastic about it until I saw pictures of Kaangrian falls online. (Note: The next three photos and the last photo of the falls are owned by Mr. Mon Corpuz and were copied from the DPP site)

I have never seen anything like it before. Nestled amidst the mountain of Barangay Agaga, Burgos, Ilocos Norte, this amazing series of waterfalls and lovely cascades flowing beautifully through the trees and over the big rock formations, is surely a sight to see and behold.

We dropped by Burgos public market to buy some fish and vegetables to cook for lunch. From there we headed south for approximately 15 minutes until we saw a road sign on the left side(right, if you’re coming from Manila) of the road leading to Kaangrian falls. From the highway, it was a 20-30 minute drive through a rough road going to Barangay Agaga. There were times when we couldn’t decide whether to turn left or right as we had not seen any road signs since we left the highway. Luckily, just when we thought we were lost, we saw two men riding horses and we took the opportunity to ask for directions. It turned out that one of the men is a barangay tanod (barangay police.) We asked him where exactly should we go to look for a guide that would take us to Kaangrian falls, and he said that he and his companion could guide us since they and the other residents of the barangay would usually take the tourists to the falls. He told us later that tourist would normally go to the municipal hall where town officials would willingly assist them arrange a tour to the falls by contacting the barangay officials of Agaga.

Mang Miguel Ignacio, the barangay tanod/guide requested to go home first so that he and his companion (his nephew) could change their clothes before we go to the falls. He said that they’d been chasing cows they found wandering around in their farm that morning and he said he was all sweaty and doesn’t smell good. He seemed hesitant to get inside the car and sit beside us. We wouldn’t have minded though. So we followed them and when we reached the barangay proper, he asked us to wait for him at the barangay basketball court. Before long, he and his nephew came back and all of us crammed ourselve into the backseat and drove as near as we could to the falls. When we thought we had reached a section of the rough road where it would be difficult for the car to pass through, we stopped, and parked the car under the shade of a tree where not a single house nor man was visible. R was quite worried and looked hesistant to leave the car at what looked to be the middle of nowhere, but Miguel assured us that the car would be safe there and that noone would touch it.

From where we parked, it was a 45-minute easy trek to the falls. At 12:00 noon, we were walking under the fierce heat of the midday sun. But I did not mind. I knew that our tiredness would all be washed away once we get a glimpse of the falls and swim in its cool and refreshing waters. This was why we did not go to Kaibigan falls in Pagudpud and why we did not stay long at Saud beach. We wanted to spend more time at Kaangrian falls. I felt more and more excited as we came nearer. The beautiful pictures of the falls that I saw online kept dancing in my mind. I was prepared for this. I normally do not bring a tripod with me when I travel, but this time around, I made sure to bring one so I could photograph the falls better.

Just imagine my reaction when instead of seeing waterfalls as amazing as those that was shown in the pictures online, what I saw was this.

I was speechless for a while. Surely, not because of awe and admiration. It was such a big disappointment, one real bummer as one of my friends would often say.

There was only one waterfall flowing weakly over a rock shelf. All the other cascades had dried up. I knew it was summer and that the water may not be as much as I wished it would be, but I was hoping to see at least something similar to Mr. Alford Ronduen’s photo below.

Miguel, our guide, told us that the best time to visit Kaangrian falls and see it in its best element would be from October to December, when the waterfalls and the river are surging with water because of the rainy season. I looked around me and imagined waters flowing over the dried rock shelves. It would be an incredible sight, for sure.

I promised to be back. I got as much information as I could get from Miguel specially his contact number ( 09394034836) For a DIY trip without a private transportation , there is only one public jeepney going to Agaga which would usually depart from the Burgos public market at 10AM every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday only. From Agaga, the jeep would leave for town at 6AM on the same days. I asked if we could use his horse on my next visit to go to the falls so I wouldn’t have to walk and he gladly said yes. Great! That would be a real treat! How much? P100 for the horse, and P300 for the guide.

We took a dip in the water after lunch. We needed to freshen up before we left for Vigan. Afterwhich, we went back to where we parked the car, changed our clothes, and then dropped Miguel and his nephew at the barangay proper. We bid goodbye and thanked them for their help. I told Miguel not to forget me because I would surely be back there and he would hear from me again in the last quarter of the year.

My friends wanted to stop in Batac, Ilocos Norte to see former president Marcos’ mausoleum so that’s where we went next. It was 4:15PM when we got there. The mausoleum closes at 4PM. I was peeking through the door of the mausoleum when suddenly the caretaker came and opened the door for everyone. We overheard from the other tourists earlier that someone had been talking to the caretaker to make a little consideration just for the holy week and allow us latecomers to see the remains of the late president. Luckily, he granted the request. We were the first to walk in. In the crept, is the refrigerated body which looked like a wax version of the former president. We simply walked around it, and then in just 5 minutes, we were out of the mausoleum. I am not a very political person, not even a Marcos loyalist, but being an Ilocano, I would always have great respect for Apo Marcos.

It was an hour and a half-drive to Vigan, Ilocos Sur from Batac, Ilocos Norte. We got there at 5:30PM. Since it was Good Friday, the whole city was so packed with people due to the influx of local tourists and visitors, including the local residents who were out to watch the procession later that evening.

There were so many people everywhere. I could hardly recognize and appreciate Calle Crisologo, Vigan’s main attraction, which had looked more like a market that day instead of the magical place that it should be which could virtually transport its visitors into the Philippine’s past.

After taking a few pictures at Calle Crisologo, we went to the city’s main plaza, where the kiosks are, so L could taste Vigan’s empanada.

I was craving for sinanglao (beef innards and skin soup flavored with bile and kamias) so that’s what I ordered for myself.

Just when we were ready to go, the Good Friday procession began, where antique floats or carrozas depicting the final days of Jesus’s life were paraded in the streets. It was quite a long procession. We had to wait for over half an hour before we could finally pass.

We drove back to our house in Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Sur, where we planned to stay for the night. As we got nearer, we noticed that there was no electricity in the street. I feared that it could also be blackout in the house. True enough, there was only one emergency light and a couple of candles that was providing light inside. That’s when R suggested that we’d rather go back to Manila that same night. He assured us that he still had energy left to drive and he’d be really careful. Reluctantly, since we thought that we wouldn’t be able to sleep well anyway because it was hot, we agreed with him. After taking a rest for an hour, we were back on the road again, on our way back to Manila. L, J and I took turns in talking to R so he would not fall asleep accidentally. It was such a struggle to keep my eyes open. After 6 hours of driving, with occasional stops at gas stations for coffee, I was finally back in my apartment just when the sun was about to shine.

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13 thoughts on “To the North, To The North: The Road Trip To Ilocos Continues”

  • Will take note of the best time to visit Kaaringan falls.

    Reply
  • this is one full-packed trip. gusto ko din sa falls na yun sama ko hehe! siguro mga july mas marami na ang water sa falls na yun. I remembered way back in 2008 may falls sa mismong patapat bridge, they used to call it Patapat falls, kaso dahil nagiiba ang environment natuyo na. Wish i could visit more falls in ilocos, i heard madami pa daw. 🙂

    Reply
    • The falls near the Patapat bridge maybe the Kaibigan falls. There is another waterfall, about a 30-minte hike from Kaanrian falls they call Tanap Avis. Gusto ko talaga bumalik kasi I’m sure, maganda yun pag madaming water 🙂

      Reply
  • @photoblogger. it was beautifully captured by mr. mon corpuz. i wasn’t fortunate enough to see the falls at its best element. i intend to go back there during the rainy season though. thanks for dropping by 🙂

    Reply
  • OH wow! Beautiful capture of the falls. I’ve always been fascinated with waterfalls considering where I live was once home to many falls thus the name “Busay”

    Reply
  • WOWOWOWOWaterfalls…. Ganda… i want to go chasing that waterfalls. 🙂 nice post. Never been to Ilocos. Its in the top of my list this year! Thank for sharing. 🙂

    Reply
  • Ang ganda nga ng falls, talagang nakakaenganyo puntahan lalo na sa mga photojunkie na tulad ko 🙂

    Reply
  • talagang detalyado. this would make a good travel guide to Ilocos Norte. daming attractions up North no? bitin ang 2 days. I wanna go back there one day.

    katuwa ang Saud no? I was surprised na maganda rin sya. at pwedeng maki-compete sa Blue Lagoon, that is, over-rated kasi ang Blue Lagoon kaya subrang mahal ng accommodation–ako rin–I thought 2,500 for a small room with no tv is outrageous. since nasa day tour itinerary naman sya I would really suggest to peope to stay in Saud nalang, 2,500 would go far na sa Saud. sayang di nyo nadaanan ang KABIGAN Falls, fun ang trail doon.

    Reply
    • thanks, anton 🙂 we would have gone to kaibigan falls if we were not pressed for time. sayang nga e. i would recommend saud over blue lagoon too. you’re right, better mag-day tour sa blue lagoon na lang and stay overnight sa saud beach

      Reply
  • aloha jessa salazar canda · Edit

    ganda tlga ng ilocos norte n sur

    Reply
  • Hi ure fron sra.cruz din..
    Were heading there po to ilocos on october.. we got a pkg. Tourbur kaaringan falls wasnt included..can we go there po but our accomodation is sa bnda laoag po..thanks for the help!! ☺

    Reply

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