Kapuluan Vista Resort

On my next trip to Maira-ira, this is where I am staying.  This road trip happened on a long weekend and we didn’t book early enough to secure us enough rooms.  The website photos lured me to this resort so even if we ended up staying somewhere else, we made it a point to have lunch here, just to see if we missed anything.

A far cry from where we stayed (that’s for sure!)

The entrance alone made me feel like weeping.  How could we have taken our sweet time, knowing that it was a long weekend?  Lesson learned – never underestimate even the remotest resort.  It was not so much the entrance (although it has a charm of its own, don’t you think?)

Great spot to laze around and finish your book

but the beach across the street almost tempted me to stay and savor my own solitude for a while.  But the tummy calls and so we ventured inside.

Once inside, we were greeted with modern minimalist lines, cogon (thatch) roofs and the use of bamboo here and there provided the local touch.

The pool invites for a dip and those lounge chairs lures us to laze around while we wait for our food.

No fancy fare but pretty good.

The outdoor massage area spells Tranquility (with a capital T).

Blue bancas on Blue Lagoon

Just a stone’s throw away from Blue Lagoon, Kapuluan Vista Resort is a haven for surfers really, the owners being surfers themselves.  The guests, while we were there were a mixture of locals and foreigners, surfers no doubt.

Still 1.5 hours away from Laoag and at least 15 km from Saud beach in Pagudpud, this resort out in the middle of nowhere is another hidden gem discovered.  And even if a surfer you are not, the cozy atmosphere is reason enough to stay a night or two.  A great place to recharge from the daily grind, if you ask me, and a return sometime in the near future is likely to happen.

How to get there:

There will be signboards on a spot where the road forks, also known as Gaoa (pronounced Gawa, I think).   It will be on the left side if you are traveling north.  Follow the road where the signboard leads, which will turn into a dusty stretch.  Before reaching the resort, there will be some settlements along the way.

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Maira-ira, Kiteboarding and Happy Memories

There’s something about white sand and strong waves crashing on the shore that evoke memories of my childhood.  Perhaps because my earliest recollection of the beach was when I was 4, living in the US with my family (of course), vacationing then in Miami Beach.  I played with the waves, trying not to get my feet wet by outrunning the waves crashing on shore.  Fun but futile because I think I ended up wet anyway.

Approach to our resort — Hannah’s (shhh… it looks better from afar!)

We arrived at Maira-ira point practically sundown and oblivious to how pristine the beach across the street from our resort was.  We woke up to an overcast morning, greeted with strong amihan winds.  Perfect for surfers, I thought.

Well, there you have it… it was the first time I saw kiteboarders in action.  I learned about this sport from a friend J a few years back.

And what do you know?  It was J surfing the waves on his kiteboard.  It was fascinating to watch and I’m sure more than thrilling to be on board.

That’s not J!  Tee hee!   😀

J’s been convincing me to try it… yeah, yeah!  Perhaps someday… for now, I’m happy wading through the waves.

The Blue Lagoon, as it is aptly known, is nestled around hills on a crescent cove that can be truly private and hidden from the mainstream beach-combing crowd.

I like my beach that way.

From the road, partly hidden from trees and other vegetations, a sign pointing to some stairs leads to the beach.

sand up close

Sand definitely not “Boracay” fine but I like it that the tiny white pebbles stay put in super strong winds.  God knows best, doesn’t He?

The Windmills of Your Mind

Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning, on an ever-spinning reel… kept playing on my head as we approached the windmills in Bangui, also known as… Bangui Windmills!   😛

Lunch noodles consisting of crispy pork (bagnet style), eggs (sunny side up) and liver

After a simple lunch of Pancit Batil Patung (a noodle dish supposedly unique to Tuguegarao and is strangely being served in a Kitchenette along the way to Bangui),

we drove a little further and followed a dirt road leading to the bay, the majestic windmills already visible growing more majestic as we got closer –

15 wind turbines arranged in a row on the shore of Bangui Bay facing South China Sea.

Each turbine is roughly 70 meters high with blades 41 meters long and spaced approximately 200 meters apart,

our smallness so apparent against its imposing structure.

It is the 1st “wind farm” project in the Philippines owing to the poor quality of power supplied to Ilocos Norte by the National Power Corporation back in the late ‘90s.

Built by the Northwind Power Development Corporation and inaugurated in 2005, this project provides 40% of the power requirement of Ilocos Norte today.  It is also considered the biggest in Southeast Asia.

A sight one must see in person to experience first hand its grandness.

A cafe in the midst of windmills

Before heading to our final destination for day 1, which is our resort, we saw signs that points to Kang Kang Windmill Café.

Brewing our coffee

Curious and at the same time badly in need of some caffeine in our veins, we had a go at it.

Best with Chef Tony’s Belgian Butter Honey Roasted Popcorn… heavenly!

Curiosity has its rewards – freshly brewed Kalinga coffee in a small café named after their small sitio… our 3rd best find of the day!

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Scenic Sunday

Kapurpurawan: A hidden gem

Got its name from the word “kapur” which means white in Ilocano, I am guessing that Kapupurawan means “whiteness” if I got my grammar right.   Correct me if I am wrong, anyone.

We almost missed the turn off on the left side of the highway.  The road sign was somewhat faded and didn’t seem to lead anywhere.  But we took the road anyway armed with only instructions gathered from the net and different blog sites.  As the road got rougher and narrower, we decided that walking might be a better option.  It was a short unremarkable trek to the make shift shed, nothing that would prepare you for what lies ahead.

From the shed look to your right and you will see a tiny speck of white rock formation, waves dramatically splashing against its base.

We are facing the South China Sea and suddenly I understood why this hidden gem got into the pages of travelogues and travel blogs.   Unaware of such a site until a few months ago, it was a discovery that made our long drive to Ilocos worthwhile… thanks to the world wide web.  We traveled this road some 12 years ago and had no idea that there was such a treasure tucked away from the main road.

We carefully trekked the spiky corals until we reached the limestone formation made more dramatic with each step.

We stayed atop for a while trying to keep steady from the strong winds.

I could stay there forever marveling on God’s great creation but we have more on our agenda.

Going back, we were discussing how this place would be great for fashion pictorials.  I can imagine the gowns blowing against the wind with water splashing in the background.  Then we saw people with cameras, lenses, tripod… the works walking towards us.  I heard my name and lo and behold, it was a friend.  They were doing a pre-nuptial shoot.  Those who know of the place apparently have the same thoughts.  We left them to do their shoot wondering how long this gem will be kept hidden from the majority.

Credits:  Frame by KPertiet

A Century-old Lighthouse

After a hearty breakfast of longganisa in Vigan, we wasted no time and found ourselves back on the road heading towards the northern most province on the western side of Luzon.  At some point along the narrow coastal road in Burgos, a big brown marker on the right lead us to a winding road up a hill.

Sitting on top of the hill is a Spanish-era “parola” or lighthouse overlooking a dramatic view of the northern-most tip of Luzon.

Cape Bojeador, it is called, is one of the famous historical landmark of Ilocos Norte.

This 19th century lighthouse is still standing today serving ships passing by the northern part of South China Sea.

One off the list of many must sees of this road trip.

A Taste of Ilocos

Credits: Papers by Pou You from the Pink & Me Kit.

Food can be a landmark as surely as any monument ~ Patricia Volk

If food can get a landmark status, I bet Bagnet will surely be it for the Philippines.  A favorite of many and if you are Filipino, more likely than not, you’d know what it is and where to go to get it.

One long weekend a few months ago, we ventured on a road trip up north to have a taste of Ilocos.  An experience involving more than the sights and activities, our taste buds had a feast as well.  Here’s a short list of our flavor adventure.

Vigan Longganisa

Breakfast from our hotel – Hotel Salcedo de Vigan

Vigan, Pampanga, Lucban, Cagayan, Bagiuo… all proud of their version of longganisa, a Filipino pork sausage which I also posted a few months back here..  The Vigan version is a mix of ground pork, garlic, vinegar and spices.  Some like it sweet, I like it a bit sour with loads of garlic flavor, just how Vigan makes theirs.  We arrived at Vigan in time for breakfast just as we planned it.  Longganisa, rice and eggs (sunnyside up for me) – is breakfast hard to beat.


Bagnet from Cafe Uno

Sometimes called Ilocano chicharon, it is essentially double-deep fried pork belly that is crispy on the outside, tender and juicy in the inside and certainly heart attack material.  Double fried because after boiling the piece of meat, it is dried in the oven before it gets deep-fried in low heat.  To serve, it gets deep fried again, this time in high heat.  Forget about healthy eating when in Ilocos, this crispy pork meat is hard to resist especially when served with a side dish of tomatoes, fish sauce and onions or what locals call KBL.  Every bite sends me (literally) closer to heaven.  Teeheehee!   😀

Ilocos Empanada

Simply delicious!

My first experience of this crispy empanada was 10 years ago, bought in a stall along Plaza Burgos.  Didn’t leave much of an impression except that it was on the oily side, the fact that it is (again) deep-fried.  10 years later, walking along Salcedo St., we stumbled upon Irene’s Empanada, an unassuming eatery that boasts of their empanada (of course).  Hungry after a visit to the Syquia Mansion, we decided that this was a good time to have lunch.  Best decision ever.  Now I know why Ilocos proudly boasts of their empanada.  The shell was light and crispy, stuffed with grated young papaya, which perfectly compliments the skinless Vigan longganisa.  The best part was the egg inside, the yolk still soft.  With a sprinkle of sukang iloko (local vinegar), it was super.

Tongson’s Royal Bibingka

This one I read about and was on the top of my list.  A street away from the plaza and easy to spot.  After our delightful lunch of empanada, we decided that dessert was to be Tongson’s Royal Bibingka.  We bought a box and headed to our hotel’s coffee shop to pair it with coffee.  This got mixed reviews; some didn’t think much of it expecting a more traditional kind of bibingka.  This Royal Bibingka is more like native rice cakes, stickier and heavier than the bibingka we are familiar with.  I happen to be one of those who think it’s fabulous because I adore sticky rice cakes.


Perfect with the Tsokolate!

Something like mamon.  I’m not quite sure if this is a native if Ilocos but this one coffee shop called The Perfect Cup, served us torta and native chocolate receiving a high rating from all of us.  Yum!

More on Ilocos… stay tuned!