Ilocos Norte Pagudpud

Pagudpud Getaway

Thursday, December 22, 2011Ryan Mach

There are lots of places to go and see in Ilocos Region. In Ilocos Norte alone, you can find old churches, white-sand beaches, waterfalls, century-old structures, bell towers and windmills. It'll take you a couple of days to fully experience what this province has to offer. Travel time from Manila via land normally takes about 8-10 hours. The last bus bound for Laoag (10pm) in Dapitan (Farinas Transit) or Cubao (Partas) seems like the best option if you want a fast trip. The roads are almost empty during the dead hours of the night so you can get to your destination in a much earlier schedule. 
Paoay Church

Our journey to the North one pre-summer night was smooth and comfy. We were in Laoag before sunrise. From Laoag, we hopped on a bus bound for Pagudpud, which is a two-hour trip. It's such a visual feast to see vast verdant fields in a distance. 

There are several transient houses along Saud Beach in Pagudpud (if you're on a tight budget). The rooms are not fancy but you get to have the whole house by yourselves. There's a comfort room, which is what matters most because you don't really stay in the house during the day. There aren't many cafes or restaurants around the area, but I guess we didn't try harder to find a good place to eat. We made do of an obscure eatery beside the road. 

If you don't have your own car, you can rent a van that will tour you to notable spots around Pagudpud. A day's rent can cost you almost 2K but if you're travelling with friends, you can split the fee. Be sure to build rapport with the van driver as he also serves as your guide. They're familiar with every place in Pagudpud but they may not recommend one unless you ask. It'll help if you have devised an itinerary. 
Patapat Bridge

Our first stop was Patapat Bridge. If you've lots of time to spare, sundown's the ideal time of the day to go to this place. It's like standing in an open veranda with the ocean in front of you. No mountains to block the view in the west so you can have a full panorama of the horizon, with the sky awash in orange and yellow. A few kilometers down west, you can drop by at Paraiso ni Anton (a mystical spring reputed to have healing powers) and Agua Resort where you can hop on rocks and dip your feet down the river with surprisingly ice-cold water.
Cooling it off at Agua Resort

They say that Pagudpud is the Boracay of the North. Not entirely an accurate description in my opinion. Well, maybe, there are far more stunning beaches than Blue Lagoon in Pagudpud, I don't really know. What Blue Lagoon has that's akin to Boracay is its white sand. Not too fine like Boracay's but still white and clean.  After seeing the long stretch of white sand, I excitedly ran without slippers. Next thing I knew, I was jumping up and down, cursing, my feet burning. The waves were unfriendly too. At first, it was fun to glide along the current but when I swallowed a considerable amount of seawater, I gave up and never swam again. 
Trek to the falls

Next stop was Kabigan Falls. We were told that the trek to the falls wouldn't take that long. About a kilometer, the tour guide, a teenager who wore a T-shirt that bore the name of the place, assured us. So we began to walk past the electric-green fields, crossed puddles and rivulets. It was swell at first mainly because we got to hear the sound of the gushing water from a nearby stream while birds chirped in the distance. Poetic eh? But after what felt like hours, my legs began to ache from fatigue.

"Malayo pa ba?" we asked the guide who seemed to be operating on a tight schedule. He kept on motioning us to hurry and the look on his face as we stopped to take photos was unmistakable. He was impatient. "Malapit na," he told us. I didn't believe him, of course. 
It was worth the trouble and distance, really. Kabigan Falls is an  enchanting falls located at the eastern part of Balaoi. It's an 80-feet waterfall surrounded by thick forest which reminded me of Mt. Makiling. The waterdrop can hit you real hard and it's quite a challenge to swim toward the center where the downward current's strongest. Strangely enough, the water's not too cold despite the damp atmosphere. 

You may need to shout to be heard because the sound of the falling water is just overpowering. Surprisingly the trek back is rather quick. I didn't understand it myself. 
Saud Beach

We were back at the transient house before dusk, just in time to watch the sun set in Saud Beach, where beach combers frolicked in the water.

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