Asia, Philippines, Travel

Ilocos Norte: Pagudpud and Surrounds

When one place’s landscape resembles that of another from a different country, it makes one think that maybe, both were parts of the same whole. That’s how I felt when, a family road trip to Ilocos ushered us to the northern most part of the province.



First on the itinerary were the rock formations of Kapurpurawan. At once, the scenery brought me back to the home my husband and I share on the east coast of Australia. Back there, the same rows of limestone stood ruggedly along the coastline, guarding against raging waves.
Just like the ones at home, the rocks of Kapurpurawan wore its battle scars proudly, white against the raging sun. We scaled through the rock faces, palming an entire history of how the rocks withstood the harshness of the elements. What with strong winds, sweeping up waves that got angrier and angrier at each lap.

Together with the husband’s nephews, Basti and Marco,  we explored Kapurpurawan by horseback. I picked a chocolate brown horse and a shy horseman who industriously took me on a very enjoyable, au naturel, all-terrain adventure.


Next in our agenda was the unmissable splendour of the Bangui Windmills, standing proud along the bay of Bangui, facing the West Philippine Sea.

Reminiscent of the wind turbines on the mountain ranges of New Zealand’s Lower North Island, the sight of windmills lined up, were for me, emblems of progress. I wondered if the people of Ilocos felt the same sense of accomplishment I used to feel whenever I drove past the turbines of Manawatu.

While there, we noticed more construction going on in nearby areas, rendering the locals busy with new-found jobs. It was impressive how the local government was able to make the most of the area’s strong winds and making a wind farm to power the region out of it.


By the time we reached the Patapat Viaduct, I was already convinced how deftly the Ilocanos were able to make tourist spots out of public infrastructure.

More than a kilometre long and at around 30 metres high, the Patapat viaduct snaked around the sides of the Cordillera mountain range to connect Laoag’s Maharlika Highway to the province of Cagayan.

My husband was quick to quip, “Grand Pacific Drive!” in reference to a similar coastal highway about an hour south of Sydney.

But you see, that’s how Patapat was made more admirable, because it could only be compared to structures from first world. Arguably even, that faraway spectacle in the country’s north, had far better views.


We culminated our family road trip to Ilocos in Pagudpud and checked in at Hannah’s for a much needed rest and recreation.

The 7-hectare resort was over-crowded even during the rainy weekend we were there. But we craved for comfortable sleep and their family suite was perfect for our party of 8. Inside the complex was an infinity pool that overlooked the Blue Lagoon. So even with intermittent rain showers, we enjoyed a dip in the pool and camwhored to our hearts’ content.

As the older folks retired for the afternoon, we, the younger ones, made the most of the torrential rain by going on an ATV ride around the area’s muddy and rugged side streets.

In stark contrast to the concrete and tacky insides of Hannah’s, the beachfront was lovely. We even had enough adrenaline left afterwards to play some beach volley.

Pagudpud travel tips

On the foreshore, there were also eateries offering home-cooked meals. We chanced upon an eatery manned by a young couple, who cooked seafood and other Ilocano delicacies before us. It was akin to being invited in one’s humble home, the kind of Filipino hospitality that has grown scarce in the metro.

It was heartwarming to realise that in a nipa hut eatery in the north of the Philippines, I saw the same brand of hospitality my southern upbringing was so abundant of.

This post is part of a travel series featuring a six-week journey around my home country.

Published by Rain Campanilla

Born under the star of Sagittarius, the centaur of adventure; and in the year of the Rat, the ever curious--- Travel is my birthright.

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