Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ilocos Norte: One Night in Laoag

It was nighttime when we landed in Laoag International Airport. After disembarking from the plane, we went straight to the tourism desk strategically positioned near the exit gate. The very accommodating tourism officer gave us a tourist map after we registered our names in the log book. We were then informed that we may board the shuttle bus for a free ride to downtown Laoag. Wow! I guess this is the only airport in the Philippines where free shuttle bus ride is offered to travellers. It saved us from the hassle (and expenses) of riding a jeepney or tricycle out of Laoag Airport. And the best part of the bus service is that we were not only taken to the city proper but we were transported straight to our booked hotel.

After checking in at Texicano Hotel, one of Laoag City’s cheapest accommodations, we rested a bit as we got tired from a very long day of travel. We just arrived in Manila from Cagayan de Oro City earlier that morning then flew to Laoag late afternoon.

After getting a little rest, we decided to explore the central part of Laoag City. We walked outside the hotel and headed towards the Provincial Capitol site. It was already past 8 PM and as I observed, tricycles and kalesas dominated the city streets.

After a few minutes of walking, we reached the Provincial Capitol of Ilocos Norte. The neo-classical building, which serves as the seat of Ilocos Norte’s provincial government, was first built in 1918, inaugurated in 1918 and was renovated in 1957.

Right across the street is Aurora Park. An oblation-like monument facing the capitol building stood at the park.

Also within Aurora Park is the Tobacco Monopoly Monument, built in gratitude for King Alfonso XIII who abolished the Tobacco Monopoly in the Philippines in 1881.

At the west side of the park is Marcos Hall of Justice building. It was here where the young Ferdinand Marcos was imprisoned after being accused of killing a political opponent of his father. While in detention, Marcos who was then a Law graduate of U.P. Diliman, self-studied and eventually topped the bar exam. Walking distance from the Marcos Hall of Justice Building is the Laoag City Hall.

About 200 meters on the west side of Aurora Park is the Sinking Bell Tower.  It is one of Laoag City’s most famous landmarks. This 45-meter tall tower was built by the Augustinians in 1612. Because it stood on sandy grounds, the tower allegedly sinks at a rate of an inch per year. Stories have it that a person on a horseback could once easily pass through its vaulted entrance. Nowadays, a person of average height would have to bend down just to enter it.

After hanging out at the park, we decided to walk back to Texicano. But just as we were about to enter the hotel premises, we spotted Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant right across the street. Since I have read about this restaurant in some travel blogs, we went inside to check it out.

Saramsam serves Ilocano fusion cuisine. Artworks are also displayed inside the restaurant and they also sell souvenir items and condiments.

Since it was already late, we were the only persons inside the restaurant. We ordered two bottles of San Mig Light and longganisa as pulutan. The longganisa’s garlicky taste perfectly goes well with the ice cold beer and this combo served as the nightcap of our first night in Ilocos.

1 comment :

  1. My uncles family just came back to this yellowstone bus tours . After this tour I have visited the Laoag city tour. I had a great experience to enjoy the beautiful Philippines city attractions like Spnanish colonial building and white sand beach resorts etc.. I found a chance to enjoy the Tobacco Monopoly monument which is situated in the heart of the Aurora Park which. I also tasted a fusion cuisine. If I again found a chance then I will definitely my visit there.


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