100 Days Journey

Day 7: Up North to Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur

I peeked from my hammock and saw some islands off from my hut. I woke up from a good night’s sleep and let my eyes linger a little longer. I had a good look as I’m about to move out soon. I’m really fascinated with the islands and the ocean. I don’t know but there is something with the sound of the ocean that is therapeutic to my soul.

Day 7 Hundred Islands

Going back to Alaminos City after an overnight hammock camping on Quezon Beach, Hundred Islands National Park on board the police boat.

Last night I was talking to the police security personnel stationed in the island. They asked me why I’m in Hundred Islands and why I’m on a solo adventureBefore I slept they offered to take me with them as they head back to the mainland. A quarter after 7 o’clock I boarded the pumpboat back to the wharf. I finally met the tourism officer Sir Rey Livara who I contacted a month before the trip and thanked him for allowing me to camp for free. Individuals like Sir Rey make traveling easy and breezy for me. Thanks Sir!

I also recharged my camera, laptop, and mobile phone when I arrived at the tourism center. These three would be my most used possessions while on the road. My camera became my second memory, capturing moments and videos so I can easily remember them when I finally write the book you are holding in your hand right now. My MacBook Air became my temporary drive to back-up files and of course blog while on the road. Thankfully, I managed to still publish blogs as I practiced blogging while on the road for the past months I was traveling. My phone keeps me connected on Twitter where I share real-time updates to followers. I tweet so as to remember the experiences I had in a certain place. My personal Facebook profile automatically publishes my tweets on my wall so my friends and loved ones are updated with my whereabouts and safety.

I used the downtime in the wharf to check my e-mail, although I’m on a journey, it doesn’t mean that I have to stop working. I need to answer advertisement inquiries too. This day I received an email telling me of an all-expense paid trip to Cebu on my Days 24 to 26 courtesy of Summit Circle Hotel and Cebu Pacific Air. As travel bloggers we sometimes get invited to this kind of trips so we can feature their business on our website. I checked my schedule and those where the days where I should be coming from Baler, Aurora to stay in Manila for 2 days to evaluate what had happened for the last 25 days of my journey. I reckoned that since I will be employing myself of long rides and eating on a meager budget for a couple of weeks ahead, I guess I needed a much deserved rest during the journey. I said yes to the offer and made some adjustments on my itinerary.

I also dried some clothes on a fence at the back of the tourism center. But when I’m about to get my clothes, I noticed that my Billabong board shorts was missing. I asked the tricycle drivers near the area and luckily told me that someone get it because it was blown away by the wind. I got my shorts back and thanked the lady who returned the shorts. I can’t afford to lose that pair of shorts.

By lunchtime, I rented a tricycle to downtown. I asked the driver to bring me to where he usually eats lunch, a local carinderia where I can save a lot of money. He dropped me off a turo-turo (literally “point-point, you point the food you want to eat from the choices that are usually inside the casserole) near the public market, he said to the owner that I’m his friend and asked if she could serve me the best Ilocano cuisine. I ordered ginataang langka, igado and two cups of rice (jackfruit cooked in coconut milk, stewed pork innards). The owner gave me free papaitan soup (goat innards soup). The hot soup made me sweat heavily on my shirt, making it wet plus it’s the beginning of summer. I tried to loosen my pants too because I was feeling very full. I drank water and refilled my Nathan water bottle and off I walked go to the bus terminal.

I wanted to see Sta. Maria Church that day. This is the last remaining church have to see before I can finally tick-off all the four UNESCO-stamped churches in the Philippines. Since there is no direct bus trip to Ilocos Sur, I went to Dagupan first then transferred to a bus going to Baguio City. Since the bus will pass by Agoo Basilica, I asked the conductor to drop me off at Agoo, La Union. What caught my eyes was the Ten Commandments in Greek carved on the church’s front door, the retablo is magnificently carved and laden with gold. The dome and the ceiling is furnished with gold linings. The huge basilica was lit up by the sun beaming from the stained glass window which depicts some important stories from the Bible. What I love about basilicas is that these structures command respect and awe of God. You feel your smallness once you enter.

Agoo Basilica Dome

The Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Charity better known as Agoo Basilica, La Union

I continued on my journey and hailed a big bus to Ilocos Sur. If there’s something I don’t like about long provincial bus rides – it’s the old Tagalog movies being played. I know it’s just me but I really don’t find them entertaining. The movie being watched that time was something called “Private Benjamin” by Vice Ganda. Glad that the AC was cold enough I pulled my black bonnet down to cover my face as I listened to the music on my Ipod shuffle. I guess I had about an hour of shut-eye.

I passed by Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur and saw some fine heritage houses along the town’s main street. I really hope national and local tourism departments do something to preserve it like what they did over in Vigan. I arrived at Sta. Maria already dark and it would be impossible to take photos of Sta. Maria Church so I just looked for a food stall for dinner. I needed to save on accommodation so I looked for the cheapest accommodation that night.

Slumber Challenge: Police Station

I asked the tricycle drivers parked in front of the police detachment in Sta. Maria where I can find the cheapest inn or guesthouse. I told them about the challenge and that I don’t mind sleeping anywhere. They pointed me to a hotel that has a room of Php800 a night, I said that’s too much for me. Good thing one said that I can stay inside the police detachment. There are no policemen that night and some drivers and young people are watching over the station. I have no choice but accept the offer, they lent me a ‘katre’ (wooden bed) but I just used my hammock because I’m more comfortable with it. I washed, talked to some locals and dozed off to sleep. I was very excited for a new province the next day.

Route: Hundred Islands National Park – Dagupan City, Pangasinan – Agoo, La Union – Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur

Expenses for Today: Php476
5- hot water
40- tricycle fare
45- lunch
66- alaminos to dagupan
47- dagupan to agoo
25- gatorade
208- agoo to sta.maria
40- dinner
Php 476


Day 7: Up North to Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur

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Day 7: Up North to Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur October 22, 2014