5 Places in Ilocos Norte That Flooded Me with Emotion

Some mixed emotions (in a good way) for the Chosen Juan on his Ilocos trip.
My visit to Ilocos Norte was a bit different compared with the others these past few days. There weren’t any beaches included in my itinerary (but I heard so many great things about Pagudpud), but this province played with my heart in more ways than I could have imagined. Thanks to these 5 places that now have a special place inside me.
Bacarra’s Domeless Bell Tower



1. Bacarra’s Domeless Bell Tower
We were recommended to check out the beautiful churches in Ilocos Norte so I started my church-hopping experience with Bacarra Church. Located on its grounds is the well-known Domeless Bell Tower, which used to have a dome as its head. Because of an earthquake, the foundations became wobbly, causing the tower to start “bowing.” After a second earthquake, the dome finally fell off. The bell tower of Bacarra Church has this rare and unusual charm that just captivated me (and this was just the first stop). It also made me realize that all things in this world may not last forever, but some possess beauty that could go on for a lifetime.
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse



2. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
Also known as Burgos Lighthouse, it is the oldest operating lighthouse in the Philippines. When you stand on top of the lighthouse, you’re nearly at the north-westernmost point of the country, while overlooking the South China Sea. It gave me that feeling of wanting to go beyond what I can see, and fulfilling my heart’s desire to venture into the unknown.
Sand-Dunes



3. Sand Dunes
One of the things Ilocos Norte boasts about is the sand dunes in Paoay. I was excited about the All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) ride and I even asked the guides if I could drive. They didn’t allow me, which was actually a good thing since I wasn’t prepared for what would turn out to be one of the craziest and most intense rides ever! I was standing on the back of the ATV, holding on to dear life while struggling to maintain balance. I could only heave a sigh of relief at the end of the ride. It was really scary, but the thrill was all worth it.
Municipality of Vintar



4. The Municipality of Vintar
My family currently resides in Valencia City in Bukidnon, but I spent part of my childhood in a small barangay called Vintar. I discovered that our little barangay was named after a municipality in Ilocos Norte. Visiting the town itself had me walking down memory lane. It reminded me of harvesting duhat from our own backyard when I was still a kid, or when we would listen to our grandmother praying for us in Ilokano. There were also those days when we gathered together as a huge family just to cook up some kalti, an Ilokano delicacy made with balls of mashed sticky rice bathed in hot molasses. I ordered this in a restaurant in Laoag and it warmed my heart—even better, it reminded me of home.
Paoay-Church



5. Paoay Church
One of the most stunning destinations in Ilocos Norte is Paoay Church. Unlike most churches here in the country, it was designed to withstand earthquakes, with thick buttresses strategically placed at the sides and the back. I was really impressed with how this imposing structure was built to last, just like the Coliseum in Rome and the pyramids in Egypt. Perhaps the builders found it so marvelous that they wanted the future generations to see it. And here we are.

My trip to Ilocos Norte had me going through a myriad of emotions that only made the experience truly satisfying. Now that this memorable journey to the north is in the books, I wonder what’s in store for me when I finally head to the south?



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