Experiencing Laoag City and its Hospitality

Our North Luzon Road Trip Leg #3
Experiencing Laoag City and its Hospitality

by Danny Tariman

The progressive City of Laoag is the third leg of our 5-day road trip to Northern Luzon. This is the capital city of Ilocos Norte where former President Marcos is from. We visited a number of interesting places in Laoag and its vicinity – churches, sand dunes, and others.

Laoag City by night, in front of provincial capitol.
Laoag City by night, in front of provincial capitol.

We arrived Laoag at about 7 in the evening, after leaving Vigan quite late in the afternoon.

I was a bit worried as it has been my practice or unwritten rule, that when I travel, I have to reach my destination before sunset, especially to places I haven’t been in the past, for a simple reason: for me to find a place to settle while it is still not dark.

When I saw a lighted signboard “Tourist Police”, I told myself “This is it!” I immediately asked the police officer the directions to the city’s hotels. He politely showed me the way.

I drove to a hotel, checked with the front office, and presto – it is fully booked! We checked another hotel but regrettably, it was also booked for the night. We spotted this economy hotel and tried to check it. There is a room available for us! However, upon checking the facilities, it didn’t pass our cleanliness standard. We moved on!

We prayed as it was getting late. Suddenly, a familiar-looking guy stepped out of a hotel – he was another Willy, friend from Manila. (The first “Willy” we met was in La Union – the first leg of this trip). He was talking to another man whom he introduced to me as the owner of this hotel. And so after exchanging pleasantries, we were able to get a clean and comfortable room from this friend’s friend. I believe that was the answer the our prayer; thanks be to God!

After settling down at our hotel, we explored the city at night. We walked towards the provincial capitol which was all lighted including its fountain – really beautiful for a provincial scene.

The sinking bell tower of Laoag.
The sinking bell tower of Laoag.

Farther we walked, we found this sinking church bell tower, which is actually a block away from the church – the St William’s Cathedral. Inside, the church has a very long aisle, I was wondering, a person to be wed walking towards the altar could be feel nervous with the “kilometric” walk. Hehehe.

The following day, we woke up early to cover as many places as possible. We first went Mass to St William’s Cathedral. Then we drove a bit southward to visit Paoay Church, a centuries-old baroque church where a  daughter of former president Marcos was wed. We were just amazed at how this old churches were made and are able to stand the test of time.

The baroque Paoay church.
The baroque Paoay church.

We continue to drive, and we passed by Paoay sand dunes! This is something new. We haven’t seen this kind of landscape anywhere in Luzon – a vast tract of land covered by all sand.

We passed Paoay lake where the Malacañan Ti Aminan (Malacañan of the North) stands on one of its side. Inside Malacañan we viewed the various rooms of the former president’s family. Wow, they were all grand – big and beautiful.

The Malacanan of the North
The Malacanan of the North

We will not complete the Laoag tour without visiting the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum. We visited the air-conditioned crypt where the body of the former president lies. The body is inside a glass enclosure, you may view it from any angle. The Museum houses many of the Marcoses’ belongings and bits-and-pieces of history.

The dining area of Malacanan.
The dining area of Malacanan.

Our lunch in Laoag is another feast courtesy of our friend Willy. Our meal was at least 10 various dishes, most of them Iloko dish. It was a gastronomical experience for the family. This was totally unplanned and came as a surprise to be invited by Willy to have lunch at their home.

The entrance to the Marcos Mausoleum.
The entrance to the Marcos Mausoleum.

We had been blessed with 2 Willys now since day 1 of this trip. We really had a good taste of local dishes at the house of this friend. Thank you, bro!

With our stomachs still full, we drove on to our next destination: Pagudpud Beach.

Join us as we explore this beautiful beach and the many fantastic places before reaching the beach – soon in my next blog.

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