Ilocos Norte: Sarrat Sta Monica Church, Paoay Sand Boarding Redux and Balay Da Blas Night

Sunset Road at La Paz Sand Dunes
Sunset Road at La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte

I thought I have seen most of the churches in Ilocos Norte but every time I go back here, more keeps adding to the list. After seeing the magnificent Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos, we head down back in south again to the municipality of Sarrat, the birthplace of the late president Ferdinand Marcos. Alongside the Pasdan River, which was overran by native cottages on the side stands the exquisite Sta Monica Parish Church, the largest church in the whole of Ilocos Region.

Sta Monica Parish Church
Sta Monica Parish Church in Sarrat is the largest church in Ilocos Region

This neoclassical-style red-bricked Sarrat Church took 10 years to build from 1669 and finally finished in 1679. I really like the design of the church, especially the white lines and swirls at the facade of the church. We weren’t able to get inside since it was closed but I heard the interiors looks magnificent with around 500 hardwood molave logs used as the church framework. This church was also put into the spotlight on what they call the “Wedding of the Century” when Gregorio Araneta and Irene Marcos took their marriage vows inside this church last June 1983.

The Sta Monica Parish Museum
The Sta Monica Parish Museum is housed in the ruins of the old Trial/Court Building

It’s also worth taking a look at the adjoining Sta Monica Parish Museum housed at the ruins of what used to be the trial/court building during the Spanish Era. Again the museum was closed that time but from the marker, it says it houses some antiques dating back from the constructions of the church. Both these structures, the Museum and Church are declared important Cultural and Historical heritage that the Ilocanos are actively preserving.

Vast Paoay Sand Dunes
A 4x4 drives through the vast landscape of La Paz Sand Dunes

We had a quick late lunch at Herencia Cafe in front of another magnificent church in Paoay, the San Agustin Church. From there we head the La Paz Sand Dunes for the Sand Boarding activity. The Sand Boarding at Paoay Dunes proved to be one of the most popular activities during the first Lakbay Norte tour that it deserved a repeat this time around.

Isladida Sandboarding
Isladida Sandboarding on the Devil's Drop

They call it the Devil’s Drop, the steep slope of sand where we’re gonna do the sand boarding this time. It was much higher than the last time we went to. From above that hill of sand I could see the large expanse of sands in this region of Ilocos stretching out to the sea. Like one of my readers said, Ilocos really have a very diverse landscape I definitely agree to this. This sand dunes is quite unique to Ilocos Region. And it alarmed me seeing a few dump trucks scavanging some amount of sands to be sold somewhere out of the country.

Catching what's left of the light
Catching what's left of the light at the sand dunes

The sand boarding like I said before was as fun as I remembered, even the exhilarating 4×4 ride. But this time around while some of the folks were having fun, I stole some time to capture the sunset landscape which was admirable. Made do of where I was before I could here people calling me that we’re leaving.

The living room at one of the executive rooms
The living room at one of the executive rooms at Balay Da Blas

It was the last evening of our Lakbay Norte Tour so tonight, the organizers wanted the evening to be special. We were hosted by Balay Da Blas Pensionne. As we were scrubbing of the grime and sand from the sand dunes at one of their rooms, we were surprised with the beautiful pension house’s dainty rooms for a really good price. Imagine their large executive suite with a living room aside from the bed costing only P3500 that’s good for two. Their lowest rooms, which is a standard Double costs only P1200 for 2 pax and P2000 for 4pax.

Chill night at Balay Da Blas
Chill night at Balay Da Blas

At their top floor is a dining area with nicely ornate lighted ceilings and views of the city. It was a fun night of songs, games and laughter. It was a good night to cap off our last night of the tour.

The dining area of Balay Da blas
The dining area of Balay Da blas at the top floor

For Sand Boarding at Paoay La Paz Sand Dunes contact LEAD Movement

Balay Da Blas Pensionne House
#10 Giron St, Brgy 7-B
Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
Call: (077) 770.4389, 0917.570.2110
email: [email protected]