Ilocos Norte · Philippines · Travel Tales

Northern Ilocos Norte: Bangui, Burgos, and Pagudpud

Windmills on the coast of Bangui, Ilocos Norte
Windmills on the coast of Bangui, Ilocos Norte

It was only some twelve hours after I arrived home from Palawan, and I was already at the domestic terminal of NAIA for my next summer trip. It also meant seeing the same barkada of colleagues/friends only a few hours after we’d parted ways. It felt like a school day, almost.

We were on our way to Ilocos Norte, where we were going to spend some four days sightseeing. We’d been invited by Sir Rolly to stay in Villa Ambrosia, a resort in Bangui right along the Pan-Philippine Highway. Bangui, of course, is home of the famed wind farm. I’d thought we wouldn’t go beyond Ilocos Norte in those four days, but we were all adamant about seeing Vigan —  so somehow it turned out to be a whirlwind tour of the Ilocos provinces.

(Segue: I’d been so amazed by those huge windmills from the moment I saw them in a Wow Philippines ad starring Regine Velasquez, and right then and there I’d always wanted to do the thing she did with the breeze and the white cloth. I’m sure a lot of you have felt that way!)

The day after we arrived, we woke up early to see the Bangui windmills at sunrise. We rode the resort’s van (driven by none other than the owner himself!). We actually got to the coast a little after sunrise, but we were the only sightseers then.

The huge windmills were arranged in a neat row facing the sea. They were so picturesque. I also felt a little disjointed because I was reminded both of Regine Velasquez and Don Quixote.

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Obligatory jump shot from the gentlemen

The wind farm in Bangui consists of 20 windmills, each about 70 meters high, with 41-meter-long blades (!).  It provides sustainable energy to Ilocos Norte, making the province less dependent on NPC and non-renewable energy sources.

We decided, then, to head south to the town of Burgos to see a couple more tourist attractions: the Kapurpurawan Rock Formations and the Burgos Lighthouse.

Kapurpurawan Rock Formations
Kapurpurawan Rock Formations

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“Kapurpurawan” means white in Ilocano, which is exactly what the rock formations are: chalky white limestone carved by forces of water and wind. Touch them and notice the fine, crystal-like powder on your fingers.

They are situated on rocky grounds which are also picturesque on their own:

My Ilocos travel companions
My Ilocos travel companions
A sculpture of Lam-Ang battling a crocodile.
A sculpture of Lam-Ang battling a crocodile. A very-real tourist strikes a pose.

Next was the age-old Burgos lighthouse on Cape Bojeador, the highest-elevated lighthouse in the Philippines.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

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It was back to Villa Ambrosia in Bangui for brunch after an eventful morning. There wasn’t time for a shower, though, for we soon got back into the van and headed up to Pagudpud.

We stopped for a while at the Patapat Viaduct, a bridge constructed during the Marcos era. It’s a thing of beauty weaving between mountains and the sea. (For a while I wondered if Ilocos has a thing for putting grand man-made monuments next to its shores.) We spent a fair bit of time taking pictures here while cars and buses drove past us on the highway.

Patapat viaduct
Patapat viaduct

Soon, we were in Pagudpud. We went to Pannzian Beach Resort first — it’s further north of the town proper.

The shore fronting Pannzian Beach. Serene surroundings. Great food.
The shore fronting Pannzian Beach. A resort with character. Serene surroundings. Great food.

Now I’d been to Pagudpud, so I knew what to expect: huge waves I really have no power against. Thus we hung out on the shore, getting out legs wet. The boys played volleyball (I had to quit after injuring my thumb) while Sir Rolly read a book and Grace and I took pictures around.

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Playing volleyball in a place nestled between sea and mountains

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We headed to Maira-ira Beach afterward — the famed white beach of Pagudpud. It stood on a cove so the waves here weren’t as large. There’s a huge hotel on the shore now, complete with Hollywood-esque sign on the mountainside and a zipline, and there were a lot of people already there. It was like a smaller Boracay. I enjoyed the serenity of Pannzian’s beach better, but at least here, we could swim in calm, clean waters.

Agua Grande, on the way south
Agua Grande, on the way south
Maira-Ira Beach
Maira-Ira Beach

I walked a little ways off the crowd. Just a few minutes’ walk from them and the current quite suddenly got stronger. I sat on the sand, taking pictures, watching as the waves slowly climbed up to my feet, and mostly thinking.

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We were back in Bangui before nightfall. We continued our swim in the pool in our resort as we serenaded (?!) the group in turn with the videoke machine. Happily for the residents, we stopped by dinnertime. 🙂

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