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Entries about family travel

"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)

"Planning on How to Spend the Long Christmas Break"

A travel plan to Hundred Islands and Pagudpud Philippines

overcast 24 °C

Christmas is the most important event in our lives as we in the Christian world would commemorate the birthday of our savior JESUS CHRIST. Since it is a holiday, Christmas is always a family get together affair, a time for reunion, a time to celebrate Jesus birthday together as a family.

This Christmas season, is significant considering that it is a long vacation, I count it 8 days! Time to relax with our love ones. Where to spend it in a more memorable and significant way, that it what I intend to share you today.

I had long been thinking of spending holidays in the Philippines’ Ilocos region or region 1 . Originally, I was thinking of driving my family to this part of the Philippines starting with a day in Hundred Islands, Alaminos City in Pangasinan, then another day in Bauang, La Union, a day inVigan, Ilocos Sur, a day in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, another day in the beach of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, a day in Aparri, Cagayan then 2 days in Tuguegarao City – the birthplace of my wife.

However, we have to make adjustments when my youngest daughter told us that she has lot of cases to read during the Christmas break. You see, she is now in her second semester in the UP College of Law. Her professors told her to study their cases as there will be oral and written examinations upon the resumption of classes.

So instead of daily overnight stop over in significant places in the northern part of the Philippines, this is our new itinerary:

We will leave early morning of Christmas day ( that is on the 25th of December) and drive to barangay Lucap in Alaminos City in Pangasinan. I have browse the internet using google search to reserve for a room in a resort in Alaminos City. We hope to arrive in Lucap before 9 a.m. and after settling in our rooms, we will then hire a pump boat to have an island hopping in the Hundred Islands till about 5 p.m.

We will then have an evening in a resort in Alaminos. At 8 a.m of the 26th, we will drive to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. I will see to it to stop for an hour in Vigan and another hour in Laoag before we will finally settle in Pagudpud. We hope to arrive in Pagudpud by 3 p.m. We will then spend time on the beach and let the night pass in a resort in that beach town. I will also make a reservation on line for our accommodation.

We will then proceed to Tuguegarao City. We will meet my mother-in-law and other relatives. We will then go back to Bulacan on the 30th of December. I shall give you a blow by blow account of this trip to northern Philippines!

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Posted by E. Sandalo 05:54 Archived in Philippines Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

"Discovering Boracay, Philippines"

My First Visit to Boracay, January 2008"


About fifteen years ago, my sister Dot had a Boracay vacation and narrated to me how beautiful the place was. That time however, I took her description of Boracay like a grain of salt primarily because at that time I regularly traveled to Palawan at least once a month as part of my work with the Department of Agriculture to monitor a Foreign-Assisted Project that we implemented, and Palawan was simply amazing. Secondly, I grew up in a town facing Mindanao sea and our house was only 10 meters from the shoreline. So, swimming was part of my childhood like breathing and walking, I regularly swam and played on the beach. The beach though has black sand. Nonetheless, I cherished those moments on the beach with my playmates.

Last month however, our youngest daughter gifted me and my wife a roundtrip ticket for two to Boracay. According to her, it was her gift for our 27th wedding anniversary last 17 January. So, we did not have a choice.

I went through our pre-travel activities with some hesitation not only for the two reasons I mentioned above, but because of a more important reason: I heard that everything is expensive in Boracay! Anyway, weeks before our departure, I asked for a leave from my office since my daughter booked us for January 15 to 17 which were working days. I contacted an officemate whose parents own a resort in Boracay to book for a room for the days that we will be in Boracay.

My officemate told me that I should extend my stay because the feast of Sto. Nino will fall on the 20th of January and the town of Kalibo which is where the Cebu Pacific Air plane will land for our Boracay trip will be celebrating Ati-Atihan in honor of Sr. Sto. Nino. Realizing that I have not attended Ati-Atihan ever since, I revised our vacation schedule: We will stay in Boracay from 15th January to the 18th, and move to Kalibo and join the “sadsad” of the Ati-Atihan till the 20th.

I made arrangements with Cebu Pacific for the flight changes and had to pay penalties for it. I was given a four-day leave by my office. Likewise, I did not accept any taping/shooting commitments for the period. I missed a chance to appear in GMA’s Zaido, I got a text message for an offer to play the role of an environmentalist. But, because of the planned vacation, I declined the offer.

The flight from Manila to Kalibo, Aklan was a short one, only 35 minutes by Cebu Pacific Air’s Airbus. There are alternate flights Manila to Caticlan being served by Asian Spirit and SEA Air but smaller aircrafts are used. To compete this alternative flights, Cebu Pacific Air has already scheduled opening flights form Manila to Caticlan using smaller aircrafts too. That’s how large the volume of passengers going to Boracay is.


Edgar Sandalo

Posted by E. Sandalo 20:39 Archived in Philippines Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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