I remember how my friend Xiela would lovingly spell this hometown of hers as phawaii when we were in college. Haven't been to this northern part of the Philippines back then so I just assumed that the beaches here can be compared to that of Hawaii's. It was only after this trip when I realized why she's so proud of its beauty. I mean why wouldn't she? This place has got lots to offer for tourists.
We availed the services of a group tour referred to me by a friend who visited here a month earlier. The driver picked us up from our hotel around 9 AM in the morning. And our first stop is - the Paoay Sand Dunes.
Why go to Dubai to experience sports in sand dunes when we have it right here in our country? Saveeeh??? Haha! Obviously, for some people this was the highlight of their Ilocos trip like what my friend Randolph told me. The thing is, yeah I think its fun to try sandboarding and everything but prolly not under the scorching heat of the sun around 10 AM when we are still fresh from shower and kitted out in our carefully picked clothes for the tour for the rest of the day. Jeez.
Not that we have something against the tour schedule or the driver. As a matter of fact, I quite feel bad for him that we didn't get to experience it (you know how enthusiastic they are during tours). But the 88km stretch of pure sand of landscape which is used as a shooting ground for some local films didn't offer a single inch of shading for us. I mean, yes of course what do I expect? We're not just ready to go down and dirty when we've got a whole lot (and I mean a loooot) of things in store for us that day. In the end we just quickly posed by some nice backdrops and by the 4x4 vehicles that cost Php 2,500 to rent. Sigh, it would've been such a thrill to ride that.
Our next stop is the so-called Malacaňang of the North - the former residence/ mansion of the late president Ferdinand Marcos which is now turned into a museum of his memorabilia.
Upon entrance, a tour guide will happily assist you to the two-storey mansion's seven rooms : the Study (contains the late president's book collections), Agriculture (his programs on boosting rice production), Diplomacy (about international trade relations), OFW (a tribute for overseas workers), Culture (a program strongly upheld by then first lady), Nation Building (infrastructure programs including some scale models of the bridges he built) and Family (the late president as a family man, there were no Borgy sighting in here, hahaha!!!). Each room provides the tourists with a glimpse of history and iconic images of the Marcos era. Being Imeldific myself, I was hoping to catch even just an image of the first lady's erm shoe collection. Haha!
But you know what my favorite part of that mansion is??? The veranda that overlooks the legendary Paoay Lake!!! Aaaah, so lovely!!! What I wouldn't give to have a house with a terrace like this?
We also learned about the mystery of this lake,
"As the story goes, the lake was once a place called San Juan de Sagun, the Philippines’ very own Sodom and Gomorrah. Due to the materialism of its people that angered God, an earthquake sank the town thus, the birth of the lake. Up to this day, Ilocanos still believe that the fishes and creatures in the deepest part of the lake are decorated with earrings and crowns because these were ones the materialistic people of the vanished town."
We were also told that congresswoman Imee Marcos (who we personally met on our Day 2) is looking at turning the lake into a water sports complex. Since I haven't tried wakeboarding myself, I would really love for this to happen. I can't wait to go back and see this beautiful lake again. :)
A favorite picture by the veranda:
Click below for more pics:
Guest rooms where famous local celebrities stayed at:
Marcos family portraits, no Borgy sighting in here. Hahaha!!!
By the staircase:
Group shot at the veranda: