Travel Journal: Ilocos 2013 | Laoag

Our last day in Ilocos was insane! The first day of our three-day trip was spent in Vigan, while the second was a beach day in Pagudpud. Saving the best for last, we reserved the third day for our 4×4 ride and sand boarding adventure in La Paz Sand Dunes in Laoag.

We headed off to the sand dunes at around 7am, albeit a bit frustrated that it has started to rain. We were worried that we might not be able to do sand boarding because the sand will definitely harden. But when we got to the sand dunes, the sun was shining brightly and the sand was oh-so-perfect for sand boarding. Too bad I failed to grab our GoPro Hero 3 camera before leaving home to document the 4×4 ride.

Anyhoo, here are some photos from our La Paz San Dunes 4×4 and sand boarding experience:

4x4 ride, sand dunes, la paz sand dunes, ilocos norte
These 4×4 rides greeted us in the entrance to the sand dunes. Cool!
4x4 ride, la paz sand dunes, ilocos
Nah, I didn’t drive it. I wish I knew how to!
4x4 ride, la paz sand dunes
The ride lasted for an exhilarating 30 minutes where I screamed, laughed, and felt that adrenaline rush through me.
paoay river, 4x4 ride, sand dunes
On the highest point of the sand dunes, the view was spectacular – the Paoay River
4x4 ride, la paz sand dunes, ilocos
This 4×4 truck is really made of tough stuff. I want one!
sand boarding, la paz sand dunes, ilocos
Ready for sand boarding!
sand boarding, fun, la paz sand dunes
So it’s very obvious that I’m screaming. I’m glad I didn’t ingest sand. Sand boarding was absolutely fun!
sand boarding, la paz sand dunes
Prepare to get dirty as the board slowly moves down the sandy slope and you’ll come tumbling down.
sand boarding, la paz sand dunes, adventure
Cindy and I tried it a couple of times only, but our 4×4 adventure package comes with unlimited sand boarding.


After getting ourselves dirty, shouting at the top of our lungs in that exciting 4×4 ride and sand boarding activity, we headed off to Gertes Hotel to take a bath, get our stuff, and check out. However, the Laoag tour has just started. We also went to the tourist stops around the town before going back to reality. I mean before going back to Manila.

Paoay also has its own sand dunes, but according to our guide the slopes and terrain in La Paz are much more exciting for 4×4 rides.
ferdinand marcos birthplace, sarrat, ilocos norte
Our second stop is Ferdinand Marcos’ birthplace.
It has been transformed into a gallery which houses memorabilia of Ferdinand Marcos and his family in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte.
It has been transformed into a gallery which houses memorabilia of Ferdinand Marcos and his family in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte.
sta. monica church, ilocos, irene marcos wedding
We also went to Sta. Monica Church where Irene Marcos was wed.
sta monica church
There’s a museum right beside the church, which unfortunately was closed during our visit.
malacanang of the north, ilocos norte
We also went to Malacanang of the North, which used to be residence of the Marcos Family.
malacanang of the north, ilocos norte
The bed shared by former President Marcos and Imelda Marcos.
bongbong marcos, room, malacanang of the north
This used to be Bongbong Marcos’ room.
imee marcos, irene marcos, malacanang of the north
While these are the four-poster beds of Imee and Irene Marcos.
malacanang of the north
This is their spacious dining area, with a long table which sits about 20 people.
paoay lake, malacanang of the north
The veranda of the sprawling property has a nice view of Paoay Lake.
paoay lake, malacanang of the north
If our house is overlooking a sight as wonderful as this, I’d never leave home. This is the Paoay Lake.
malacanang of the north
I guess I fell in love with the view, with the house, everything in it. Including the large capiz windows, yes.
marcos photo gallery, ilocos norte
We also stopped by the Marcos Photo Gallery to marvel at thousands of photos of the family.
Marcos photo gallery
Numerous photos are available for public viewing in the gallery.
marcos photo gallery, ilocos norte
In fact, the whole wall was covered with photos from family events and other gatherings attended by the Marcoses.
marcos photo gallery
I wonder what might have happened to our country if we were still led by this genius.
ferdinand marcos, marcos mausoleum
A visit to Ilocos would seem incomplete if we didn’t see the body of Ferdinand Marcos. No picture taking allowed inside the mausoleum.
paoay church, ilocos
One of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen is the Paoay Church, which is also a UNESCO Heritage Site.
paoay church belfry, ilocos norte
The Paoay Church Belfry
paoay church
There is a prayer garden beside the Paoay Church where you can reflect while staring at the pretty flowers and plants there.


Ilocos is known for gastronomic delights, and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to taste some of their local dishes. Thank God for my high tolerance for pain, I was able to taste these Ilocano dishes at La Preciosa despite my increasingly painful teeth (it was my third day with braces). Cindy and I just can’t help but smile while ordering because of how they called their tortang talong.

vigan logganiza, seaweed omelette, gamet omelette
The famous Vigan longganiza and gamet (seaweed) omelette
puqui puqui, tortang talong
This is tortang talong, cooked the Ilocano way. I love eggplant so I had to try it. By the way, this savory dish is called puqui puqui.
la preciosa, carrot cake, ilocano food
La Preciosa serves delicious desserts, too! You have to try their luscious carrot cake.


At around 4:30pm, we were dropped off by our tour guide Jao at the bus station, so we can catch the 5:00pm bus bound to Manila. It was sad to leave after three days of enjoying the sights and sounds of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. I wish I can stay longer but hey, I can always come back. And that is a promise, because I think I just fell in love with Ilocos and its museums, churches, beaches, sand dunes, and of course, the food.

See Ilocos for yourself by booking a three-day tour package with your family and friends. You can check out Ilocos Adventure Tours page on Facebook for more information.




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