I know a lot of people would ask, “Why the hell would you want to go to Basilan?” I mean, with all the bad publicity it’s getting because of the Abu Sayaff years back, the place had a negative notion of always being in a state of strife. I myself couldn’t believe stepping on this part of the country as it is the last place on my list. But since one of my travel buddy and fellow photography enthusiast wanted to visit this part of the region since he has seen most of the major areas in the Philippines, I thought, why not, so I tagged along with other 7 adventurous individuals and ventured where only the daring go.
Sightseeing at Valugan Bay
When you’re in Batanes, always expect the unexpected. This small region is governed by the weather and the people’s strong belief. So whatever plans you’ve layout here, prepare to change it, as every turn on its winding roads, every change in the wind’s direction and the changes in the tide of the sea holds a few surprises. This we learned in extreme ways during our stay in the region.
Light a fire for the souls
I noticed since I was young, Halloween here in the Philippines has been greatly influenced by the American culture. Adorned in many houses especially in subdivisions, are numerous decorations from pumpkins, spiders, cobwebs and the usual monsters we grew up liking to fear like Dracula, Frankenstein, witches and the local mix of Aswangs, tikbalan, manananggal and white ladies. Those talk of ghost and other supernatural phenomenon that seems to populate our TV screens and print media whenever Halloween approaches have waned my interest recently. I used to like them growing up.
Bangui Windmill, Ilocos Norte
I never get tired of seeing these northern steel structures at Bangui, Ilocos Norte. These windmills are well placed along the Pebble Beach, adding to the historic attractions of the North. Fortunately, on my second visit here, we were blessed with good weather, unlike my cloudy first visit.
Harry the friendly tiger
A new attraction around the Vigan area in Ilocos Sur is Chavit Singson’s Baluarte. If Ilocos Norte is Marcos territory, Vigan is where the Singson’s rule. The Baluarte is a 20 hectare land with a mini zoo, shooting range, and a chapel. It is also known as Chavit’s Fortress. Access to the mini zoo, where Singson’s numerous pet tigers and other animals are found are free for the public, as he considers this as a gift to the people.
Even if the place is still being developed, the place does look good. Harry, the friendly tiger is found at the entrance. Unfortunately, the handler isn’t around because I’d really want to touch that tiger. Seems like a giant stuff toy. I must warn though that if you are going to bring children, watch them closely as the cages for the wild tigers aren’t safe. The cages are too accessible and a child can easily slip their hands as the bars are too wide apart.
Maira-ira Beach at Blue Lagoon
My recent visit to the North finally gave us a chance to visit a more secluded beach beyond the Saud beach in Pagudpud. The scenic cove of Maira-ira beach also known as Blue Lagoon is a 20 minutes drive from Saud Beach. I don’t know why they coined the place as “Blue Lagoon” since it’s more of a cove than a lagoon. I guess the title has a more mysterious or romantic feel to it. Romantic may be a better term as this once secret beach has only one resort available and is perfectly tucked away from the crowds. There are exotic cottages there for rent for only Php 20 if you are not planning on staying by the nearby Kapuluan Vista Resort.
The beach has off-white grainy sand and really blue waters like a gigantic swimming pool. The depth could get deep short distance from the shore but the floor is all sand so it’s safe to swim on your bare feet. There’s a slight undertow as well. We really have fun at this beach since it’s not crowded and the water is enjoyable.
Fort Ilocandia Fountain
Spanning 77 hectares in area, Fort Ilocandia, the only five-star hotel resort in northern Luzon, is also considered as one of the largest resorts in Asia. This historical fort is adorned with terra-cotta brick walls highlighted by warm lightings in the hallways and numerous paintings on the walls. It will surely warp you back in the Grand Spanish era.