Baguio to Laoag
Upon arrival at the terminal, we were informed that the 10pm bus is already overbooked and was recommended to take the 8pm bus instead. So my wife and I decided to take it. It was a smooth ride, my wife slept through 7 hours of the ride unlike me, I was not able to sleep.
Arrival in Laoag City
We arrived in Laoag around 4am. We decided to wait till its brighter to start walking to the nearest fast-food restaurant for breakfast. Around 5:00 am, we left Farinas Trans terminal and starting walking south to the Tobacco Monument. It was a sight to see. Then we walked north to where the local fast-food restaurant is located.
When we finished eating around 6:00 am, we decided to walk and follow the map I have downloaded of the city in search of a hotel. While walking down Ilanes Street, according to the map, we saw a guy (John Mariano) washing down his tri-cycle and decided to ask for directions to the hotel we saw on the map. He then explained to us that all hotels are booked due to a joint conference of Couples for Christ and Youth for Christ, but said he will help us find one, because it was Saturday and the conference should be on its last day. He offered us a tour of the city and environs for around 700 pesos. It includes all sites within the city and the historic sites outside which are in the municipalities of Paoay and Batac, approximately 30 minutes from Laoag City. We decided to take the offer since it was already early and I did not sleep proper on the bus. After a good 30 minutes of going around Laoag City looking for hotels. We decided to ask him to start the tour on the outskirts of town and then maybe by the time we finished outskirts, rooms may become vacant. He loved my suggestion and asked that he returned home to change his clothes since our meeting was spontaneous; he needed to change from home attire to tour guide attire. He was very hospitable, he even offered us to use his bathroom to freshen-up for the tour. He advised us to buy water and stuff for hydration since Ilocos Norte is very hot.
We left Laoag City around 8:00am for Paoay, where the UN Heritage Site, the Paoay Church, which is one of the oldest church in the Philippines. He assisted in taking photos of us. He even gave us private time to explore the church’s gardens.
After Paoay Church, we went to Batac City, the home town of the Late Ferdinand E. Marcos. There, he brought us to the Photo Gallery Building, where we saw the life of the Marcos Family from his wife’s beauty pageant days to the children’s growth and Marcos’ educational and military accomplishments. It was an eye-opener to see all these historical photos. We also visited the Marcos Museum which is on the compound where the late president grew up. I was told by the tour guide that his wife, Lady Imelda, still lives on the compound in the family house adjacent to the museum.
The next stop was Malacanang Palace of the North. It was a wonderful experience seeing all the beauty of this place. In the library of the palace was the history of the social, infrastructural and economical development projects like schools, hospitals, specialized health care centers, farming innovations and international airports that the late president undertook during his controversial reign of the Philippines.
After the Palace of the North, as I call it, we went to the newest monument which is on the outskirts of Laoag City on a rotunda (roundabout). It is called the Ilocano Migrant Monument. It is new and most people ignore it because it is not of historic value, but to our tour guide, he believes this monument though new is significant to Ilocos Norte, because Ilocos Norte, is the birthplace of all ancestral Ilocanos. Therefore, everyone who is of Ilocano descent can trace his/her roots back to Ilocos Norte. Its good to hear this from our tour guide and I realize it was new because while taking out photos, there was no signs indicating what this monument is about.
Next, the inside city tour. He brought us to the Tobacco Monument, Marcos Hall of Justice, Laoag City Hall, the Provincial Hall, Sinking Bell Tower and the St. Williams Cathedral. He even showed me how to angle myself to take out the entire tower. He also offered to bring us to the Ilocos Norte Museum and the Heritage Pottery but we declined and requested to continue the search for a hotel. After 20 mins of searching we final found one. We thanked John for assisting us and also tipped him.
I recommend tipping your tour guide if he/she has done well as a tour guide. The bible states: “Those who work deserve their pay!” (1 Timothy 5:18b).
Laoag Evening Walk
After a couple of hours rest, my wife and I decided to explore the inner parts of Laoag on foot. Though John would have brought us there, we believed that the best pictures for the city tour would be at the evening. So we walked from the hotel to the Tobacco Monument, Marcos Hall of Justice, Laoag City Hall, the Provincial Hall, Sinking Bell Tower and the St. Williams Cathedral to do an evening photoshoot. We were not disappointed with our evening walk around Laoag City Center… The historic buildings are more beautiful at nights.
About John Mariano (Our Tour Guide)
He was an excellent tour guide. Friendly, caring, concerned and puso ng Ilocos Norte (Heart for Ilocos Norte). History is his strong point for me, because every where he brought us, he would share with us something historical and even myths and tales of some of these places. As a foreigner, I am very hard to please, but John has impressed me well with his knowledge and love for Ilocos Norte.
If anyone is interested in a tour guide, I recommend John Mariano. His contacts are below.
Cellphone #: +639474997256 or +639159171038
Facebook: John Lakwatsa Ilocos