Showing posts with label Ilocos Region. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ilocos Region. Show all posts

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Ilocos Norte: Empanada, tupig & bibingka food trip

Even after my trip to Ilocos Norte, the taste of the crunchy and savory empanada is still vivid. I was finally able to complete my Ilocos Norte empanada experience by trying out the Dinardaraan (Dinuguan) Empanada at Johnny Moon Cafe and Elvie's Sweet Empanada near PLDT.

Johnny Moon also serves Bagnet Empanada and Sisig Empanada. But I don't think the bagnet meat is tasty enough for an empanada for you to notice it. So I really recommend the Dinuguan Empanada if you want something different.

And speaking of different. While most empanadas use the garlicky longganisa, Elvie's offers Ilocos empanada with sweet longganisa. The sweet taste of the longganisa plus the sour sukang Iloko makes a very interesting combination.

From Batac to Bacarra, here is my list of the best empanadas in Ilocos Norte.

I also didn't realize they took their tupig (glutinous rice cakes with coconut) quite seriously in Ilocos Norte. They even have an intense competition every year to determine who makes the best tupig. But those from Currimao and Sarrat are the ones which stand out.

I got to try the Sarrat tupig during a trade fair at the Ilocos Norte Capitol in Laoag. They use purple glutinous rice which is why the tupig is dark purple.

We drove to Currimao the next day to try out the tupig at Irene's Native Delicacies along the National Highway. They mix in margarine, milk and cheese to add flavor to the glutinous rice and coconut.

And instead of the usual tupig grill we see on the street, they cook their tupig by baking it in a traditional wood-fired oven.

In Currimao, they also make bibingka with glutinous rice and coconut, and topped with peanuts. The consistency actually reminds me of tikoy.

What other Ilocos Norte delicacies do you like?

Ilocos Norte: Nueva Era Eco Cultural Park, overnight stay in a treehouse & the great outdoors

Nueva Era Eco Cultural Park, Ilocos Norte
Do you want to stay overnight in a tree house? The Nueva Era Eco Cultural Park, the newest attraction of Ilocos Norte, offers that possibility. Nueva Era is one of three mountain municipalities of Ilocos Norte. They constructed the park to showcase the Tingguian culture and to allow visitors to enjoy the great outdoors.

Nueva Era Eco Cultural Park, Ilocos Norte
Nueva Era Eco Cultural Park, Ilocos Norte
Aside from the four treehouses, there are also huts and bungalows with basic but comfortable accommodation amenities including beds and an electric fan. They also have a campsite for those who want to take their adventure outdoors to a higher level.

Nueva Era Eco Cultural Park, Ilocos Norte
Nueva Era Eco Cultural Park, Ilocos Norte
The Nueva Era Eco Cultural Park also has a swimming pool, bonfire area or dap-ayan and a museum showcasing the Tingguian culture. There are trails and nearby treks for those who want to hike. Plus a restaurant is in the works for those who get hungry since there aren't that many food options in Nueva Era unless you buy food in the market.

Nueva Era Eco Cultural Park, Ilocos Norte
It just opened so enjoy it before the crowds start coming! For reservations and more information, contact Nueva Era Tourism Officer Ria Rivera (0915) 2582512.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ilocos Norte: Sarrat's Santa Monica Church, President Marcos Birthplace and heritage walk

Santa Monica Church, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
The Santa Monica Church and Casa Parroquial in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte have got to be built in one of the most picturesque settings in the country. The church's claim to fame was that it was host to the grand wedding of Irene Marcos and Gregorio Araneta in 1983. Built in front of the wide and sandy Padsan River, the Sarrat Church is surrounded by numerous trees, creating a cool and breezy environment around the church complex.

Santa Monica Church, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
Santa Monica Church, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
Unfortunately, the beautiful facade and altar of Sarrat Church were destroyed in a strong earthquake that hit Ilocos Norte just two months after the wedding. They were never able to reconstruct the beautiful Baroque facade. But now that it's declared an Important Cultural Property, I hope government can restore its old facade.

Casa Parroquial, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
Casa Parroquial, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
The adjacent Casa Parroquial or Casa del Palacio Real was said to be built before the church and was later used as the Presidencia Municipal of Sarrat.

Sarrat Central School, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
Beside the convent is the Sarrat Central School, where President Ferdinand E. Marcos finished his elementary education. The school was previously used as the Casa Real of Ilocos Norte when Sarrat was provincial capital during the Spanish colonial period.

Birthplace of President Ferdinand Marcos, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
The Edralin House, more popularly known as the Birthplace of President Marcos, can also be found in the town. The house was heavily renovated during the Marcos presidency and today hosts a small museum.

Casa Parroquial, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
There are plans to create a heritage walk to connect the many heritage properties of the town. The banks of the Padsan River are also becoming popular with visitors as locals have set up nipa huts for picnicking and videoke.

Sarrat is just nine kilometers from neighboring Laoag City. And speaking of Laoag, there are several places in the city to find the best empanadas in Ilocos Norte. Guess where?

Ilocos Norte: Paoay Church and Paoay's heritage houses

Diaz House, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
We're all familiar with the Paoay Church, one of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Most visitors visit the church, maybe have lunch in Cafe Herencia, then leave for the next stop on their Ilocos tour. But Paoay, Ilocos Norte has a lot of other interesting structures if you have time to walk around.

Paoay Church, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
Paoay Convento Ruins, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
Ever wonder where the convento of the Paoay Church is? It's on the left side of the church right across the street. Unfortunately, only ruins of the old convento remain. But they are interesting and worth a look nonetheless.

Duque House, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
On a parallel street, behind the ruins, is an American colonial house with a unique octagonal shape. Locals refer to the Duque House, built in the 1930s, as the Octagon House.

Diaz House & Carpio House, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
The Paoay Central School, a Gabaldon school, is on the other side of the church. The road in front of the school used to be called the Camino Real that linked Paoay with Currimao. On it are well-preserved Spanish colonial houses including the Diaz House and Carpio House.

Since you're in Paoay, it's now time for the best empanadas in Ilocos Norte. Guess where?

Monday, August 05, 2013

Ilocos Norte: Your guide to the best Ilocos empanadas

Ilocos Empanada - Batac, Ilocos Norte
Much has been said about the Ilocos empanada. Note that there are two distinct varieties, namely Batac and Vigan, the differences of which, I've written about before. But in Ilocos Norte, there are several places to get really delicious empanada aside from in Batac.

Ilocos Empanada - Batac, Ilocos Norte
Where to find the best empanada in Ilocos Norte is no contest since Batac has always held that honor. Glory's Empanada is the most popular. In Batac, you can order different combinations of empanada ingredients: papaya, monggo, egg, longganisa and even hotdog. Some choose vegetarian. While others double the longganisa or egg or even double both! The Jumbo Empanada has all ingredients plus hotdog. But they also serve a lot of street food in Batac if you want more than just empanada.

Ilocos Empanada - Laoag, Ilocos Norte
In Laoag City, aside from the Dap-ayan ti Ilocos Norte which is the place most tourists go to for empanada, there are four empanadaan which you might find interesting. The first one is JM's Empanada at the Laoag Airport which many locals recommended to me because the longganisa is really tasty! It's just a few meters from the airport terminal building. So you could walk over as soon as you arrive or enjoy empanada right before you leave.

Ilocos Empanada - Laoag, Ilocos Norte
There is Mildred's Empanada, a small cart with tables right beside the Laoag City Public Market. Another place we discovered is along P. Burgos, near the corner of Gen. Giron Street. It's right beside Balay da Blas. They smoke the longganisa before adding it to the empanada.

Locals also recommend the empanadaan near PLDT which is Elvie's Sweet Empanada (tricycles will know where this is) since they use sweet longganisa or hamonado instead of the garlicky derecado.

Finally, Johnny Moon Cafe in Laoag serves Dinardaraan (Dinuguan) Empanada which you might want to try if you are looking for something different.

Ilocos Empanada - Bacarra, Ilocos Norte
Finally, just a few minutes from Laoag, there are two empanadaan in Bacarra. What makes their empanada worth the visit is the crust which is extra crisp and crunchy. You can see and taste the difference! You'll find them in Barangay 11 Santa Filomena 1, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte. Just ask for directions, the locals surely know where they are. Note that they are open only from 3 to 7 p.m.

Did I miss any other interesting empanadaan in Ilocos Norte?

Monday, February 06, 2012

Lakbay Norte 3: Dawel River Cruise in Pangasinan, Kart City in Tarlac & Pamulaklakin Forest Trail in Subic Bay

Bangus harvest in Dagupan, Pangasinan
On Day 6 of Lakbay Norte 3, we drove down from Baguio City to Dagupan, Pangasinan to try out the Dawel River Cruise. It's one of the newest attractions of Dagupan City after the local government cleared the rivers in the city of illegal fish pens.

The Dawel experience is similar to the Loboc River Cruise without the buffet lunch. But you can bring your own food of course. And since it's on a trial run, the local government is still offering it for free. But you have to book with them to make sure that there will be a boat that will leave during the day of your visit.

One of the side trips we made was to see how bangus is harvested. We also saw how the local community does mangrove planting to rejuvenate the mangrove cover of the area.

Pinoy Travel Bloggers in Dagupan, Pangasinan
At the port, we were feted with an inihaw na bangus (grilled milkfish) feast fresh from the catch we witnessed earlier. But that wasn't lunch since we motored to Matutina's Restaurant in Urdaneta for even more food!

From there, we proceeded to Kart City in Tarlac to enjoy an afternoon of karting. I didn't realize there was a go-kart establishment in Tarlac City. The group even had an endurance race which was a lot of fun! We stayed there until evening, enjoying the karaoke room until everyone was done showcasing their singing prowess.

The group was divided between Microtel Luisita and La Maja Rica Hotel. I stayed at Microtel Luisita. And like all my Microtel experiences, I really appreciated their chiropractic beds!

After breakfast at Microtel, we proceeded to Subic Bay. Our first stop was the Pamulaklakin Forest Trail to learn some jungle survival from the local Ayta community.

Cooking rice in bamboo or binulo
Ritz Tropical Spa in Subic Bay
Lunch was by the river also in Pamulaklakin. Before proceeding to Clark, we were treated to massages at the Ritz Tropical Spa.

Check out the video of Day 6 and 7 edited by Carlo Cruise. Also check out the photos of Lakbay Norte 3 in the Ivan About Town Facebook page.

Microtel Inn & Suites Tarlac
Luisita, Tarlac
Tel. No. +63 (45) 9851770 / Fax +63 (45) 9851975 / Mobile +63 (927) 7238454

Ritz Tropical Spa
Blk 76, Bicentennial Park
Rizal Highway, Subic Bay Freeport
Tel No. +63 (47) 2526088

Friday, February 03, 2012

Lakbay Norte 3: Trekking in La Union & airsoft in Baguio City

Beachfront at the Kahuna Beach Resort
For Day 5, Lakbay Norte 3 visited La Union and Baguio. I almost forgot that San Juan, La Union had a high-end hotel for surfers and those who simply want to relax. We spent the night at the Kahuna Beach Resort. And I really enjoyed the facilities. Plus their surfing trainers come from Luke Landrigan's San Juan Surf Camp. So you get the best of both worlds.

Smoked Salmon Pizza at Thunderbird Poro Point
We actually arrived in La Union the night before, straight from Batac, Ilocos Norte. We first had dinner at the Thunderbird Resort Poro Point in San Fernando hosted by Department of Tourism Regional Director Martin Valera.

Surfers in San Juan, La Union
The group then proceeded to Kahuna Beach Resort to check-in and spend the night. Too bad we had to leave early the next day since the place was really cozy. After breakfast in Kahuna, the group drove to Bacnotan to visit the Holcim Plant to explore its ecotrail and plant trees in the property. Lunch was at the La Union Provincial Capitol before proceeding to Baguio City.

Victory Liner Terminal and Microtel Baguio
Calamares and Chips at Microtel Baguio's Te Quiero Tapas Bar
In Baguio City, we made a brief stop at the Victory Liner Bus Terminal where Microtel Baguio is located to try out Microtel's newest restaurant, the Te Quiero Tapas Bar.

Airsoft at the grounds of the Baguio Country Club
From there, the group went to the Baguio Country Club for an afternoon of airsoft.

The Manor at Camp John Hay
We spent the night at The Manor at Camp John Hay, another of our favorite hotels during Lakbay Norte 3. Dinner and breakfast the next day was superb!

Check out the video of Day 5 edited by Carlo Cruise. Also check out the photos of Lakbay Norte 3 in the Ivan About Town Facebook page.

Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa
National Highway, Brgy. Urbiztondo
San Juan, La Union
Tel. No. +63 (72) 6071040 / Fax +63 (72) 6071017

The Manor at Camp John Hay
Loakan Road, Baguio City
Tel. Nos. +63 (74) 4240931 to 43 / +63 (74) 4240945 to 47 / Hotline +63 (2) 5844911 / 5844892 / Fax +63 (74) 4240960
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