Trip to Ilocos Norte in 2017


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.

The Tour

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



Why you should not marry these women: Nurses, Police Women, Lawyers, TV Anchors, Politicians

When it comes to good wives, there are careers you should not consider marrying women from. There are shocking reasons why police women, TV news anchors, nurses, lawyers and politicians don’t make good wives.
A police woman carries so much power that when her husband tries to raise a hand, he is told.. “Unless you want to rot in jail”.
It is very hard to tame a police woman, unless you have some authority that can neutralize her powers.
Another obvious reason what these women don’t make good wives is the fact that they are rarely at home to cook for the husband. Just when you are about to sleep, a phone call rings, demanding that she must report on duty. And when you are about to settle in a city, your wife is transferred to hardship areas.

Nursing profession is a calling, just like NUNS. These people always attend to patients in critical conditions as well as stable conditions. The psychological torture they go through make them lose interest in bedroom matters, which is why they are cold in bed.

It is also reported that Nurses, on duty, befriend doctors. So-when the husband is warming the bed alone, the nurse is warming a room in hospital alongside her “lover”, doctor. Sometimes-I have witnessed before-some nurses sleep with patients.
——– LAWYERS———
Lawyers are powerful people in society. If you want to lose your home, property, your children and even your entire life, marry a female lawyer. If your wife is an activist, chances of leading a miserable life are very high.
One interesting thing about female lawyers is that they understand law very well; they can easily manipulate you when buying property or making any investment.
One common character about lawyers is that they are used to handling cases, so even when the husband tries to discipline her, he will be reminded that courts exist. A man will, therefore, be left living like a slave.
These are the worst people to marry.TV presenters are extremely beautiful, and since they appear on screens daily, chances of catching the eye of the high and mighty are high. You know one thing with women, they can’t resist power and a wealthy person approaches her, even if she is married, chances of her accepting the advances are almost 100 %.
The poor husband will be left dying of depression as a wealthy man elope with his wife.
You can only manage these girls if you have power and money.
Women politicians are all over. It is very hard to find a female politician who is happily married and faithful-if she is faithful then there is something wrong with her.
These politicians are also law makers, so chances of intimidating husbands are very high



10 Caribbean bush remedies

Before there was Buckley’s, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Antibiotics and Advil, there was orange peel tea and ‘zebapeak’.

Here are 10 bush remedies you may or may not have had the pleasure of trying:


1. Orange peel tea/Ginger tea

This doesn’t actually taste that horrible. Almost every Caribbean islander will be familiar with long strands of orange peels being hung to dry somewhere in Granny’s kitchen, which, when steeped in hot water, made a mild tea designed to cure indigestion and/or gassiness.

Ginger tea, meanwhile, is popularly known as a nausea/indigestion remedy.


2. Lemongrass/Fevergrass tea

This tea is supposed to reduce fevers in those suffering from the common cold and flu. It can also be used as an antiseptic.


3. Vervine

The tea is used to stimulate the production of breast milk of nursing mothers; or also for cooling and cleansing the body, the leaf juice is said to be used for rashes and worms.


4. Zepapique

The notorious Zepapique or ‘zebapeak’ tea is known for its horrible taste and reputation for curing your worst cold and flu problems. With a taste like that, it better.


5. Senna leaves

Older folks will be familiar with this dreadful remedy or ‘purge’, used as a de-worming remedy once or twice a year for poor unsuspecting children. Make sure your day is completely free when you decide to drink this tea!


6. Soursop Leaf

The humble soursop tree not only bears a delicious fruit but also has the secret to a good night’s sleep in its leaves, which is steeped to make a tea before bedtime.


7. Aloes

Another bitter concoction, suggesting that anything good for you tends to taste awful. The Aloe Vera plant is also said to have detoxing properties when blended and eaten.  To avoid the bitterness, it’s best to blend it up and mix into orange juice. Good luck.


8. Wonder Plant or Wonder of the World

This unassuming, slightly thick leafy plant is supposed to help with inflammation and headaches. Known as Bryophyllum Pinnatum in the plant world, the leaf is usually steeped in hot water than sipped as a tea to deal with a pesky cough.


9. Carailli 

While many will know Caraili or bitter melon for its fruit, but some say it can help with an itchy rash by steeping the leaves in water then pouring the water over the afflicted areas.


10. Paw Paw leaf

The Paw Paw tree is useful for more than just its fruit. Mashing and steeping the leaves of the Paw Paw tree is also said to be good for persons suffering with dengue as it is said to increase the blood platelet count.



Beyond Beyond – Movie Review



Beyond Beyond is a story about wanting the impossible. A story about a little rabbit boy not old enough to understand the rules of life, who takes up the fight against the most powerful force. While doing so, he learns more and more about life..

My View

I believe this movie has a strong christian theme. From the soundtrack being a lot of christian songs in the background to even the idea of the Mora who is the one who makes everyone’s destiny. In the movie, the Kingdom of the Feather King has floodgates and only those who Mora (the being acting as God) issue a ticket would be able to enter. The tickets can be symbolic to salvation, because without the ticket, no one can enter the Feather Kingdom. There is also theme of new birth, when people of the feather kingdom started to disobey the rules of Mora. Mora started to flood the place and the feather king had to sacrifice his life to talk to Mora on a possible resolution (forgiveness) that would bring back peace and harmony to the kingdom. When the feather king came back to life, he told the people who Mora did not issue tickets for that he would help them get back on earth until Mora issues their tickets. And those whose tickets were already issued, would have to stay.

I recommend this movie for everyone. Though the christian theme may seem hidden, if one look at the movie properly, they would see the sense that we as humans cannot understand what God is doing when a loved one is gone and when things bad happen to us.




“Freetown” – Movie Review



This film depicts six missionaries and a driver cramming themselves into the cramped space of a small car that took them to Sierra Leone to continue their missions. Along the way, the men encountered rebel leaders who held them at gunpoint, and many times, they physically ran for their lives. It’s 1989 in Liberia, West Africa, and these six missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints find themselves caught in the midst of a war and are forced to flee to neighboring country Sierra Leone to continue their missions.

My View

This movie has made me think a lot about my faith in Christ. I was amazed that the car survived on one tank of gas and had little damages on the poor roads they had to travel. God had really worked things out. Even in the midst of doubt, God showed his face in every encounter with the rebels. The lesson that we Christians need to learn from this movie is never to doubt God. After all the miracles that God has worked in these guys life, when they arrived to the border, they did not have passports and they started to doubt God. But the driver, whom was a new believer, said, despite the lack of faith, he has seen God worked miracles. And he believes God can get them across the border without passport. And God really did make a way. It was on a ferry that usually cross the river between Liberia and Sierra Leone. Watching this movie reminds me of a song written by Deitrick Haddon but sung by Darwin Hobbs titled “He’s Able”. See link below for the song.

I recommend all faith-based, die hard believers to watch this movie. It really shows how God works and takes care of his people, like the children of Israel in the book of Exodus.


Darwin Hobbs – He’s Able:


“Just The Way You Are” – Movie Review


While journeying back to Baguio from Manila. I got a chance to watch this movie compliments Genesis Transport Inc. Despite, there were four other movies that were shown, I preferred this movie, or should I say, this movie stood out from all the other American movies that was shown on the bus… I love tagalog or taglish movies and so far i have never seen a bad pinoy movie. My favorite Filipino movie for now would be “Maybe This Time” with Coco Martin and Sarah Geronimo and “A Second Chance” with John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo.

The film is based on the best-selling Pop Fiction book ‘‘The Bet’’ which was originally published on Wattpad by Kimberly Joy Villanueva.


The story follows a popular guy named Drake Sison (Enrique Gil), who makes a bet with his best friend Andrei (Yves Flores), to make the nerdy transfer student, Sophia Taylor (Liza Soberano), fall in love with him in 30 days. Once she falls for him, he must confess that it was all a bet. However, Drake ended up falling in love with Sophia.

Christian Perspective

Though the movie is a secular movie, I found that the themes of Forgiveness and Reconciliation were present. On Drake’s side, he could not forgive his dad because he would out that his dad is cheating on his mom and could not even stay in the same house with him. Then there is Sophia, who found it hard to forgive her dad who destroyed their family through his gambling addiction. At the end, they both realise they have something in common and Drake when he realise how this unforgiveness is holding him back, he confronted his dad. Sophia too had to confront her dad because he came to drop off her little brother because Drake had paid their airfare for the little brother to visit her and her dad must accompany him because he is a minor. So in the process, Sophia had a heart warming reconciliation with her dad. And then there is the forgiveness and reconciliation of Drake and Sophia after she found out that Drake started to pursue her because of a bet.

I recommend this movie. Not because its Filipino, but because it is a good movie to watch. And hope that everyone who watch this movie would practice Forgiveness and Reconciliation…

“Freedom” – Movie Review

This movie is one of the most inspiring, yet non-christian movie which has a lot of christian themes.



Synopsis from IMDb

Two men separated by 100 years are united in their search for freedom. In 1856 a slave, Samuel Woodward and his family, escape from the Monroe Plantation near Richmond, Virginia. A secret network of ordinary people known as the Underground Railroad guide the family on their journey north to Canada. They are relentlessly pursued by the notorious slave hunter Plimpton. Hunted like a dog by Plimpton (A bounty hunter) and haunted by the unthinkable suffering he and his forbears have endured, Samuel is forced to decide between revenge or freedom. 100 years earlier in 1748, John Newton the Captain of a slave trader sails from Africa with a cargo of slaves, bound for America. On board is Samuel’s great grandfather whose survival is tied to the fate of Captain Newton. The voyage changes Newton’s life forever and he creates a legacy that will inspire Samuel and the lives of millions for generations to come

My view

When I first started to watch the movie, I thought it was like the ordinary slave story movies I have heard. However, after continuing watching it, I realise a lot of the “so called” negro-spiritual songs were used like “Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Coming forth to carry me home” and a little modern song written by Smokie Norful “I Need You Now”. For me, the major Theme is forgiveness. Looking at the main character, Samuel, a slave, who is trying to run away from the Munroe’s plantation. He constantly judge or brand every white/Caucasian person like Garrett (a white abolitionist in American History) that wants to help them get to freedom. Even when he was captured with Fredrick Douglas (Freedom Fighter in Black American History), he was going to kill the bounty hunter, but Fredrick reminded Samuel that, by killing this man, Samuel would never be free. And Samuel listened to Fredrick. Only when Samuel truly forgave, he really saw the deliverance and reached the border of USA and Canada where he then became a devoted Christian.

I recommend all to watch this movie. It is historic yet educational yet mystery, because at times, when the bounty hunter was in the same town as Samuel, I wonder how would they escape. But God always made a way for them to escape.





2 1/2 cups coconut milk or skimmed milk
1 cup thinly sliced okras
1 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper or hot pepper
Paprika for garnish
4 tbsp butter
2 pimentos minced
1 stalk celery minced
2 cloves garlic minced

Bring milk , pimentos, celery, garlic, 2 tbsp butter and okras to the boil; lower heat and cook until the okras are tender.
Remove from heat and stir in the cornmeal gradually, beating until mixture is smooth.

Season with salt and pepper, return mixture to low heat and cook, stirring continually until thickened.
Spread in a greased dish and allow to cool. Smooth with remaining butter over the mixture. Garnish with a little paprika and serve.

*Cornmeal is very popular in the Caribbean, particularly in Trinidad and Tobago. Cornmeal coo coo originally comes from the African influence in Trinidad and Tobago, but everyone in the twin island republic has adopted this dish!




1 onion, strung,
24 ounces pasta sauce (340 g)
8 ounces lasagna noodles (226 g)
2 cups cottage cheese (452 g)
5 ounces fresh baby spinach (141 g)
1⁄2 zucchini, sliced
1⁄2 squash, sliced
8 ounces mushrooms (226 g)
2 carrots, shredded
oregano, to taste
basil, to taste
8 ounces cheddar cheese (226 g)
8 ounces mozzarella, strung (226 g)


In electric skillet, place onion and 1⁄4 of the pasta sauce.
Layer dry noodles over onion and sauce. Add 1 cup (226g) of cottage cheese, spreading across the noodles, making sure to cover all of the exposed noodles.
Add spinach, zucchini, squash, mushrooms and carrots. Spread across top of cottage cheese and sprinkle with oregano and basil.
Add cheddar cheese, another 1⁄4 of the paste sauce, and layer with dry noodles. Add remaining cup (226g) of cottage cheese, spreading across noodles, making sure to cover all of the exposed noodles.
Add the remaining pasta sauce on top of cottage cheese, spreading evenly.
Cover with mozzarella cheese and spread evenly across the top.
Set electric skillet heat control touch pad to 325°F/163°C. When Vapo-Valve™ begins to click, reduce temperature to 200°F/93°C and set timer for 35 minutes.
Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting. Serve.

Hide Nutritional Information per Serving
Calories: 332
Total Fat: 8g
Saturated Fat: 5g
Cholesterol: 26mg
Sodium: 919mg
Total Carbs: 38g
Dietary Fiber: 4g
Sugar: 11g
Protein: 28g



Source: Caribbean Pot

You’ll need…
4 cups cooked rice (day old)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 bird’s eye pepper (or 1/4 scotch bonnet)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 large onion (diced)
1 bell pepper (1/2 yellow + 1/2 red)
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1 scallion
1/2 carrot (diced finely)
1 stalk celery (diced finely)
1.5 cups pineapple (1/4 inch pieces)
1 tablespoon veg oil
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon curry powder
optional – toasted coconut flakes – topping.


Notes: If you’re using freshly cooked rice (or leftover), may I suggest that you allow it to cool in the fridge for a few hours. This will give you a lovely grainy finish to the rich dish. I used parboiled brown rice, but you’re free to use any rice you like.

Start by prepping all your vegetables as this is a very quick dish to put together. Next heat the vegetable oil on a medium heat in a deep pot (I used a non stick pot to cut back on the amount of oil I use) and add the diced onion and garlic. Reduce the heat to low and let that cook for a couple minutes. Then add the diced celery, carrot and bell peppers and allow it to cook for 3 minutes (low heat).

Toss in the bird’s eye pepper (whole), grate in the ginger, add the black pepper, salt and curry.. raise the heat to medium and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes to toast the curry powder to bring out all the flavors of the spices in the curry powder. Then add the diced pineapple (you can use drained canned pineapple if you want) along with the soy sauce, sesame oil and hoisin sauce. Stir well.

Raise your heat to med/high and toss in the rice (note – if the rice was in the fridge as I suggested, take it out about 15 minutes before you start this dish) and mix well. The idea here is to warm the rice through and help it take on that wonderful flavor base we created. Let it cook for about 4-6 minutes, then top with the chopped scallion and turn off the heat. Serve!

You’ll notice that I didn’t use much salt as my rice was already cooked in salt and the soy sauce will contain much salt. Also notice that I didn’t cut or break the birds eye pepper as I wanted the flavor without the raw heat. But you can certainly cut them finely for that added kick. This is best served warm so your guests will really appreciate the combination of flavors we created with this tasty Caribbean inspired Vegetarian pineapple fried rice. A great way to add extra flavors and texture is to top the finished rice with some toasted shredded coconut.