A Travellerspoint blog

January 2009

"Pilgrims of Our Lady of Piat"

religious tourism

overcast 25 °C

Me-an of Polaris Rest House told us that the travel time from Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte to Tuguegarao City in Cagayan is four hours. We calculated and managed our time on the road. After checking out, we went to the Wind Mills of Bangui and had lunch in the nearby KangKang Café before we finally traveled to Tuguegarao at 2:30 p.m. We arrived Tuguegarao at 7:30 p.m.

My wife is from Tuguegarao that was why we included a stop over in this City not only to visit my wife’s relatives and friends and to visit the grave of my father-in-law but to pay homage and pray at the Basilica Minore de la Nuestra Sonora del Piat in Piat, Cagayan, the shrine of the miraculous image of the our Lady of Piat.

Church records reveal that the image of the Our Lady of Piat arrived from Macau in the year 1620.Since that time, she had moved around Luzon and according to the account of numerous devout faithful countless miracles and prayers were answered and were attributed with the intercession of the lady of Piat.

My wife myself and my mother-in-law attest to their answered prayers made with the intercession of the miraculous image.

That Sunday when we made a pilgrimage to the Lady of Piat, we traveled some 37 kilometers from Tuguegarao City to the town of Piat. We passed by tracts of lands planted with sugar. The Basilica of the Lady of Piat was filled with devotees when we arri ved. It was the mass that started at 8:30 a.m. that was going on when we arrived and the church was overflowing with people having mass. Even the patio and the streets leading to the church were all crowded.

After the final blessings for the 8:30 a.m. mass, we inched among the crowd towards the front portion of the Church. We heard the 9:30 a.m. mass. The was a fully crowded again with devotees.

Joining the crowd of devotees of the Lady of Piat for mass was a different experience.

The next day, we left early at 5:00 a.m. for our trip back to our home in Bulacan province. The maintenance works going on for the national road across the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Viscaya and Nueva Ecija were almost completed, thanks to EVAT, it made driving a lot faster. However, what is more annoying is the presence of numerous public motorcycle cabs which are plying along the national highway specially in the portions of the cities of San Jose and Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija. I thought that these traffic hazards are banned in the national highways. I have never seen as numerous public motorcycle cabs before in my whole life as numerous as what I had seen in these two cities!

We were finally home at 6:00 p.m. We were so thankful to God for giving us a wonderful family bonding moments together throughout our travel!

Posted by E. Sandalo 05:26 Archived in Philippines Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

WindMills of Bangui, Patapat Viaduct of Ilocos Norte, Phils

man-made infrastructures attracting tourists

sunny 25 °C

One of the famous jokes during the time of President Ferdinand E. Marcos who was born in Batac, Ilocos Norte was that almost all kinds of infrastructures that can be funded by the government were already built in Ilocos region. The region has the Don Mariano Marcos State University, the Fort Ilocandia, the (Balay Ti Amianan) Malacanang of the North to name a few.

However, the latest man-made structures that have been drawing tourists in this part of the Philippines are the Wind Mills of Bangui. These were constructed long after the death of former President Marcos. Viewed from afar on Pagudpud beach, the wind mills are very prominent and awesome. Looking at these structures from a distance, one is naturally urged to get close to it. So after spending the whole morning on Pagudpud beach, we checked out Polaris Beach House only a few minutes before the cut-off time at 12:00noon.

We drove back to the next town of Bangui (coming from Manila, Bangui comes first, then Pagudpud) to get close to these new man-made structures. It took us only twenty minutes to reach the wind mills of Bangui.

Twenty wind mills which are 23-storey tall are lined up along the windy shores of Bangui bay. The shore line is directly facing the South China Sea where the strong winds are coming from.

A few minutes ago, while I was writing this blog, I google searched the Wind Mills of Bangui and was able to get these information from a website site named waypointdata.com:

”The Bangui Wind Mills were built by the NorthWind Power Development Corporation to take its share in reducing the emission of harmful greenhouse gases (GHGs) causing global warming and to accelerate the rural electrification of the government.

In this area, wind mostly comes from the north-east, from the sea towards the land. To optimize the full benefit of the winds, turbines are installed along the shore facing the sea effectively removing wind breaks and achieving a terrain roughness of class 0.

The ‘Wind Farm" as it is aptly called consists of 15 wind turbines (Egay’s Note: there are now 20 turbines). The turbines are on-shore and arranged in a single row spaced 326 meters apart. The turbines hub height (ground level to center of nacelle - that part holding the blades) is 70 meters high (roughly equivalent to a 23 storey building), each blade is 41 meters long (just 9 meters shy of a Olympic sized pool) giving a rotor diameter of 82 meters and a wind swept area of 5,281 square meters.

Every body is welcome at the wind farm (you will not see any fence) and wonder at the beauty of the wind mills. Visitors are reminded, though, to — Take nothing but pictures (and/or videos), leave nothing but footprints and retain nothing but memories.

Waypoint narrative by: Dino_T 2007 and EPPGarcia 2007…”

After having lunch at the KANGKANG Coffee Shop and Restaurant located a kilometer away from the windmills, we were already on our way to TuguegaraoCity in Cagayan province.

An hour later, we passed by the Patapat viaduct which is a remnant of the Marcosian infrastructures in Ilocos region. According to the explanation from our friends in the Department of Public Highways, it is more expensive to construct the portion of the highway by side-cutting the mountains. So instead, a viaduct was constructed on the mountainside which looks like a skyway but with pillars constructed on the portion of the seawaters.

I am not an engineer, but my simple mathematical calculations could not convince me that the viaduct is the cheaper alternative to a mountain side cutting!

Posted by E. Sandalo 21:41 Archived in Philippines Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

"Pagudpud, A Hidden Treasure"

Fine white beach

overcast 19 °C

We were already travelling for seven hours but we were still in Candon, Ilocos Sur. I grossly underestimated the distance and the travel time from Lucap, Alaminos City in Pangasinan province to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. I thought that the 450 kilometer distance can be reached in seven hours. We left Lucap at 7:00 a.m. there were times when I was stepping the gas of my Ford Lynx at a speed of 80 km per hour while my eldest daughter who substituted me behind the wheel sometimes hit 90 km per hour but we could only reached in the middle of Ilocos Sur province after seven hours. The reason being was that in populated cities we experienced heavy traffic.

We had a late lunch at a Max Restaurant in Candon, Ilocos Sur at 2:00 p.m. It was also the longest rest that we had (an hour) after spending seven hours on the road. I have to attest to the fact that the national highway from Pangasinan to La Union and then to Ilocos Sur and finally to Ilocos Norte is well-maintained as we were able to travel at a faster speed with some exception of slowing down in cities like Dagupan City and San Fernando City where we experienced heavy traffic.

It was already getting dark at 6:00 p.m. when I had a full tank at a Petron station on the highway near Laoag City. The gasoline boy told me it will take another hour and a half to finally reach Pagudpud.

It was refreshing to finally meet Me-an, the manager of Polaris Beach Resort in person. We were only texting and talking over the cellphone for our booking arrangements after I got her contact number from a website which I google searched for Pagudpud accommodation. Me-an led us to our rooms and was very accommodating to our needs. It was a wise decision that we had an advance booking as there were many guests who arrived at the same time that we arrived. I witnessed how Me-an politely referred at least 5 vans full of guests to the other beach resorts which are still vacant. However, unlike Polaris which is a beach front resort, the others were located several meters away from the beach.

Since it was already dark at 8:00 p.m., we could no longer see the beauty of the beach line of Pagudpud. We had dinner at the restaurant of Polaris Beach Resort which was reasonably priced, the same way that our air-conditioned rooms where priced fairly. We got two separate rooms (one room for me and my wife and the other room for our two daughters) each room was only at P1,500.00 per day.

After dinner, we slept early, tired from the 13-hour drive that we had. As I closed my eyes after my evening prayer, I could not wait for daybreak to come so that I can finally see for myself the hidden treasure named Pagudpud.

As soon as I realized that the sun was already up I left my wife who was still in bed and I walked to the beach of Pagudpud, only 20 meters way from Polaris Beach Resort. The sea wind from the great South China Sea was blowing strong and even with my jacket I could still feel its coolness.

Facing the sea, I stood on the highest cliff of Pagudpud beach and I saw the shimmering South China Sea with a few fishing pump boats approaching the white beach from a night of fishing. As I slowly moved my head to my left, I saw the long white beach of Pagudpud with the wind mills of Bangui lining the horizon. Slowly moving my sight to the opposite direction, I was delighted to see the stretch of white beach lined with tall coconut trees. Several fishermen are busy removing their catch from the fish nets that they had thrown into the sea.

I went back to the resort to wake up my wife and my daughters. We had an early free breakfast which was included in the room rate package. As soon as we finished breakfast, we went to the beach for a morning frolic with the sea! A van owned by the Municipality of Pagudpud was parked near the highest cliff. It was designed with a buzzline: Pagudpud, Asia’s Number 1 White Beach Destination. I could not help but agree with this buzzline considering that unlike Boracay which is already very commercialized, there are no rows of commercial establishments on the shoreline. What I saw was the white beach with white sand but the particles are bigger than the powdery sand of Boracay. Also I saw the busy fishermen, their fishing boats, tall coconut trees and the local residents who watching us swimming!

Its accessibility from Manila could be its weakness. Although there are several bus companies (RCJ, Farinas, Partas etc…) plying from Manila to Pagudpud, a lot of guests does not have the patience of travelling more that 8 hours on the road. There are flights from Manila to Laoag City. But from Laoag, it will still be another one hour and a half drive to Pagudpud.

But for me and my family, travelling 13 hours just to reach Pagudpud was worth it. We finally saw a hidden treasure!

Posted by E. Sandalo 07:24 Archived in Philippines Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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