Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Highland Resort to a New Level


La Vista Highlands Mountain Resort is a haven for those who wanted to relax and get bonded with Nature.
La Vista Highlands Mountain Resort
I had the chance to Visit and Enjoy this place with my colleagues. Two hour bus ride from Bacolod City to San Carlos City via Don Salvador Benedicto.
Welcoming you to this place is a cool breeze telling you "its time to relax". The view is breath taking, the architecture is stunning and most of all the magnificent landscape. After our sumptuous Lunch we headed to our Villa and all I can say was "WOW" This place is perfect. Uniquely designed rooms were Modern Asian inspired built on top of the hill which boast a panoramic view of the surrounding Mts Kanlaon and Marapara. The colors were 64087_3231350056251_1041612830_3211608_421050508_nwell blended giving it a first class touch . On top of the resort you will find The ridge villas which has private lounge verandas and will be a great spot for new couples and growing families.

Of course part of the travel is photoshoot; which made this place great because of its perfect landscape. Every angle is captivating making this experience truly memorable. This brought Highland Resorts to another level.
LOL (one memorable but not soo good experience as well but better kept hidden)


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Traveling Around Laoag

The City of Laoag - "Laoag" (Ilocano for "light or clarity"), is a 1st class city in the province of Ilocos Norte, Philippines. It is the capital city of Ilocos Norte, and the province's political, commercial, and industrial hub.

A two hour bus ride from Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.
Welcoming you to the city of Laoag is its magnificent highway where you can see LAOAG spelled at a distance replicated from HOLLYWOOD. It stood loud and proud on top of the hill that would represent how people take pride to stay and live in Laoag City.

I hired a tricycle to tour me around the city..north/east/west and south bound… 

Marcos' Photo Gallery                                      Marcos Museum
It’s a museum where you can find the corpse of the late Pres Ferdinand Marcos but it was closed when we get there. So we move to out next stop which was the Marcos Photo Gallery.

Paoay Church
The Paoay Church (also known as the St. Augustine Church ) is a historical church located in the town of Paoay in Ilocos Norte, Philippines. Known as the “Earthquake Baroque” church in the Philippines, Paoay church was built of baked bricks, coral rocks, salbot (tree sap) and lumber, and has 24 carved massive buttresses for support. It is an architectural solution to the area's challenging, natural setting. Both sides of the nave are lined with the most voluminous stone buttresses seen around the islands. Large coral stones were used for the lower level while bricks were used for the upper levels of the church. The walls are 1.67 meters thick made of the same materials. Its bell tower, which is detached from its main building, is made of coral stone. It stands a safe distance away to spare the sanctuary in case of collapse. Paoay Church is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. It currently is a property of the Diocese of Laoag, Ilocos Norte. 
To cite the characteristics and traits of its people, Paoayenos (called the people of Paoay) are by nature industrious, thrifty, intrepid, daring, individualistic, peace-loving, adventurous, hospitable, and religious people.
PAOAY LAKE NATIONAL PARK The landlocked lake located 3 kilometers away from the sea in Suba, Paoay has an area of 470 hectares. Declared as a National Park under Republic Act 5631 on June 21, 1969, its environs has been turned into a sports complex including a world-class golf course.

Paoay Sand Dunes

Paoay Lake
I was able to drop by and take a look at the sand dunes area but I wasn’t able to explore the fun.. that’s one thing that I need to do when I get the chance to go back to Laoag. A desert in the tropics? Such is the geology and topography of Ilocos Norte -- a curious mix of plains and valleys, wild coasts and surreal rock formations, uplands, waterfalls and a desert. The Paoay Sand Dunes is part of the 52-square mile Ilocos Sand Dunes, a protected landscape (or should it be desertscape?) and if I may say, a rather beautiful anomaly that is recognized as one of the National Geological Monuments by the National Committee on Geological Sciences (NCGS). The Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes, as a whole, stretches from Currimao to Pasuquin. To put it poetically, it is the symphony of the wind, sea and river that created the sand dunes over eons.

The only 5 star deluxe hotel in northern Luzon is the Fort Ilocandia Resort and Hotel.
St. Williams Cathedral and its sinking Bell Tower, the city market,  and the MalacaƱang of the North located as well in Paoay.
You can tour Laoag City in 2 hours and your done… off to Pagudpod for a nature bond..

Vigan Domination

Conquering fears, winning over life.. Vigan City..the heart of Ilocos Sur captured my heart with its amazing treasures.. From its people to its Heritage Places.. truly a captivating and charming place that will always curve a smile to anyone who visits it…
About 400 kilometers from Manila is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vigan. It is the capital city of Ilocos Sur located on the west coast of northern Luzon. One can see precious remnants of old Spanish architecture throughout the center of the city. Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia with a unique European atmosphere. Several museums exist for the many national heroes that were born here. Vigan is the oldest surviving Spanish colonial city in the Philippines. The name Vigan was derived from "Biga", a giant taro plant that grows abundantly along the banks of the Mestizo River. 
I had a once in a lifetime chance to visit this place and discovered how wonderful it is. Here it is….
Baluarte Open Zoo - This is a mini-zoo owned by Chavit Singson. The Baluarte stands on a h429861_3185962041579_1041612830_3192693_1559760783_nill and has an excellent view of the city and is open to the public.
Burnay Jars – Burnay Pottery in Vigan - Jars made from Vigan are much sought-after by foreign and local visitors. This earthenware is called burnay The making of burnay is done with just the use of the potter’s skillful hands and use of pottery wheel and kiln. Fine sand is used to temper the clay, which once fashioned into the desired shape is placed inside high-temperature ground kilns made from brick and clay. But of course I didn’t let the chance pass without me doing an actual pot. Success!! I made a heart Shape Vase. 
429002_3185590672295_1041612830_3192465_109460356_nHidden Garden - If you are visiting Vigan, you shouldn’t miss to visit the Hidden Garden. Especially if you are a flower and plant lover. Experience the beauty of the garden. For sure you will fancy the floral collection, air plants growing on driftwood, and bonsai tree. It is a garden of lush tropical plants and coffee shop. They serve coffee, coconut juice, orange empanada, and fresh fruit shake. I loved the landscape of the garden, too! A lot of celebrity and prominent people have visited this place. You are next to discover this lovely garden of Vigan, too. 
Burgos National Museum. - Its closed so I wasn’t able to take a look on whats inside..:( 
St. Paul’s Cathedral Built in 1790-1800 by the Augustinians, this impressive Baroqu424972_3185991962327_1041612830_3192718_353813842_ne cathedral has most of its interior walls well preserved. The 12 altars and 3 naives only enhances the church beauty and grandeur. 
Sinking Bell Tower The bell tower is octagonal and is located 10 meters south of the cathedral. It is a place not to be missed when visiting Vigan. Located at Bantay, Ilocos Sur this magnificent three century old bell tower is situated only a few minutes from Vigan and is standing on top of a hill. 
Old Vigan Colonial Houses -The ancestral houses were built mostly by rich Chinese traders. These great big houses are made of thick brick walls and plastering with red clay. Tile roofs are made to survive earthquakes. The Mestizo district where more than a hundred houses line side by side along Calle Crisologo. Of course, I had the chance to ride the Calesa and tour the entire Crisologo St and nearby places.. 
Palacio de Arzobispado - Built in 1783, it is the official residence of the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia. The palace was the headquarters of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. Included in the palace is the Museo Nueva Segovia with a collection of paintings, manuscripts and religious articles accumulated through the centuries. 
Syquia-Quirino Mansion The ancestral home of Dona Alicia Quirino, the Syquia mansion was a venue of official and public functions during the administration of the late Pres. Elpidio Quirino. Soon to be a museum, it will feature an impressive collection of presidential memorabilia. 
Crisologo Museum -The Crisologo Museum contains the memorabilia and antique collection of the Crisologo family. 
Discovering treasures ...Philippines is truly amazing!!

Invading Northern Luzon–Welcome to Pagudpud

From Laoag City, bus ride to the Municipality of Pagudpud where I spent overnight, recharge my energies for the next days’ escapade… navigating Northern Part…its exciting!!!
First Stop… Blue Lagoon..its a long stretch of Ivory Colored sand beaches and by the name itself, “blue” water beach resorts. Truly a virgin Paradise..
While moving to the next destination, I was able to see from a distance “Dos Hermanas Island” on the east side of Pagudpud. According to Manong Ruben (tour guide). The islands are two identical mountains. Legend says long ago there were two brothers who were very close to each other. They had made a vow to remain together until death. There came a time that they were out fishing when they were caught out at sea by a powerful typhoon. They stayed together and drowned in the tempest and as a sign to all of their loyalty to each other they were transformed in death as two nearly identical cone shaped mountains. Below the island rocks are caves where a diverse range of colorful tropical fish swim and these are best observed at low tide .The Dos Hermanos rocks also have many submerged smaller rocks where famous and delicious gourmet seaweeds known as gamet are found during the rainy season. But since this is a road trip I didn’t get the chance to take a look at the underwater beauty of Dos Hermanas.. Till next time… 
The lover’s rock of Pagudpud. Before reaching the Maira-Ira Cove or the Blue Lagoon, we passed by a couple of rock outcroppings opposite each other. The first one we passed was the Timangtang Rock. It was separated by dried coral rocks and wild waves from the more popular Bantay-Abot Cave. Bantay Abot Cave is a misnomer as it is not really a cave but a large hole in the middle of the rock, but it seems both locals and tourists has embraced the name.The pair is collectively called Lover's Rock. Bantay Abot Cave is supposedly the female. It took me a while to figure it out but found myself giggling when I eventually did. These two natures of wonder once again highlighted how nature blessed the province of Ilocos Norte. I went first to Timangtang Rock, which actually offered the best view of the Bantay Abot Cave since the panorama showcased the rushing wild waves from the China sea crashing against the bed of long-dead corals. The same waves were crashing against Timangtang Rock as well. Whether individually or collectively, these beautiful formations are definitely wonders to behold. Looking at the strong waves, I thought of how nature's wild passion formed the amazing scenery before me. And just watching the rocks and listening to the waves gave me some feeling of peace and tranquility.
At the foot of the cliff of the North Cordillera Mountain Range is the 12-km winding bridge known as the Patapat Bridge, popularly known as the French Riviera of the Northern Philippines. At the upper part of the cliff, one can still see the etched footbridge that was the only link between Ilocos and Cagayan Valley in the 1960's.While at the middle of the Patapat Bridge, one can take a look at the awe-inspiring panoramic view of the verdant mountains and the sea below. A glimpse of the old footbridge adds grandeur to the breathtaking view.
While at the scenic Patapat Viaduct, one can get an enchanting view of Pasaleng Bay, its beauty unmarred by a shipwreck dating from the Japanese occupation. It is believed that the other half of the ship lies eight fathoms at the depths of scenic Pasaleng Bay, while the other half is at 20 fathoms at scenic Agua Grande. Here, treasure hunters and other adventure seekers, or even simple divers are treated to a wonderful diving experience.
The little–known northwest Philippine beach Saud Beach at Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte was recently named as one of the ten best beaches in Asia by Australia’s Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun newspaper. Saud Beach was chosen on the basis of its pristine condition, rustic appeal, relative isolation from the usual tourist crowd, its “untouched by commercialism” quality, and the variety of water sports activities it offers.
Located at the northwest coast of Luzon, Saud Beach is a 2-kilometer arc of pure sand bordered by the blue of the South China Sea. It is an uncluttered beach devoid of all commercialism and crowds that usually spoil the appeal of a quiet beach destination. It is a haven for swimmers, snorkelling enthusiasts and wind surfers, and it is fast becoming another surfers’ paradise in the Philippines. This picturesque beach is renowned for its crystal clear waters, fine white-cream sand and underwater sceneries of multi-colored corals and iridescent fish. Saud Beach is definitely one of Philippine tourism’s best-kept secrets…. Be back for a Splash…
One destination that I shouldn’t miss in this trip is to be able to go and take a closer look at the majestic windmills and it didnt disappointed me. They are huge, powerful and indeed breath taking. It’s the largest windmill in Southeast Asia. Each windmill has 236 meters apart on shore. These beautiful structures has 41 meters blade and the its height is roughly equivalent to a 23-storey building. I am so lucky I was able to see them for real.. its really great nd I cant explain the feeling as I get closer to it, I just smiled, WOW!! and jumped for joy appreciating the scenery.
I thought I am done with the amazing feeling when I saw the Bangui Windmills not really anticipating that there’s another astonishing scenery awaiting for me to discover. I was brought to Burgos town to see the famous Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. 
After taking a short hike down the cliff where we parked our vehicle, a scenic view of rocks, hills, pools of sea water and small patches of vegetation greeted us. Aside from the scene in general, what is more remarkable are the details of the area. On top of the rugged coast of Kapurpurawan are patches of bonsai mangroves. A sign saying that taking of mangroves and other form of vegetation's from the area is prohibited under the Philippine law indicates that the pristine beauty of the place is being threatened by tourists and outsiders. The word kapurpurawan means kaputian or whiteness in Ilokano. The place was named as such due to the different majestic white lime stone formations in the area.  The formation of these structures of lime stones is due to sedimentation and weathering. The strong winds coming from the sea contributes a big part in the deposition of minerals and the mechanical and chemical weathering of this rock formation. The sight of these natural rock formations was really amazing which made me realize that I need to have better lenses for my Camera to better capture landscape sceneries. 
Also known as Burgos Lighthouse, is a cultural heritage structure in Burgos, Ilocos Norte, that was established during the Spanish Colonial period in the Philippines.
The light marks the northwesternmost point in Luzon. The northeasternmost being Cape EngaƱo Lighthouse in Palaui Island, Santa Ana, Cagayan.
The 65-foot-tall (20 m) octagonal stone tower, the most prominent structure in the vicinity, can be seen from as far away as Pasuquin town in the south and Bangui on the east on a clear day. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the highest-elevated or tallest lighthouse in the Philippines. Corregidor Lighthouse is higher at over 600 feet and among the Spanish Colonial lighthouses, the tower of Cape Melville Lighthouse is the tallest at 90 feet. In Mindoro Strait, the recently erected modern tower at the Apo Reef Light Station rises to a height of 110 feet.
It was an amazing and self satisfying trip, not only that I get to discover wonders of nature and its beauty but also I was able to accomplish something and I can say...