Surely, you’ve heard of the “been there, done that” cliché but then again, this is Ilocos Norte and there are tons and tons of things to see, do and write about here And yes, two days are not enough to go and visit the exciting places this province has to offer.
I’d been to Ilocos Norte before but I’ve got to tell you, the excitement this place brings never ceases to amaze me, be it in terms of road treks, historical places, beaches, the weather, the people and of course, the food.
Every visit to a particular place is different from the previous one. Why? The time and day, of course, are different, in addition to the people you are with. Then there’s the mode of transportation you may be using. And yes, there’s always the weather to consider since Ilocos Norte is just below the typhoon path that is extreme Northern Luzon and the cyclone backdoor that is the South China Sea.
Here we go.
This Spanish-era “parola” (lighthouse) sits on top of a hill overlooking the northwestern-most tip of Luzon. According to accounts, it’s the tallest lighthouse in the country.
Since 1892, the lighthouse has been serving its purpose of guiding “galleons” (Spanish cargo vessels), ships and local fishermen in finding their way to shore during bad weather and guiding them against slamming their vessels on the rocks that protrude along the coastline.
The architecture of the whole structure itself is typical 1900s Spanish fare – red bricks, adobe, narrow but tall windows bounded by thick walls and glass windows.
To get to the top, one must climb a series of steps – both concrete and iron – to reach the lens room that is now operated by solar panels. These solar panels, all 10 of them, sit on top of the main building’s roof, just below the octagonal tower that sits majestically 65 feet from the base.
Climbing the flights of stairs can be a challenge in itself. Though it can be fun to take note of how many steps you’ve climbed (there are 164 of them, excluding the landings), it would also be a must to consider the surroundings and your safety especially since the steps are bigger than those usually found at home and in modern buildings. Also, there are the iron steps on the two spiral staircases leading to the lens room above.
Inside the lens room, the view is just fantastic. You’ll have the South China Sea to the far north and west and Burgos all around. Gaze south and you’ll find the quiet town of Pasuquin while further east is the coastline of Bangui.
The lighthouse was named a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute on Aug. 13, 2005. Less than a year later, on June 20, the National Museum declared it a National Cultural Heritage.
On a typical day, tourists and travelers alike may find themselves facing a man of smiles who has been the lighthouse’s guardian for many years.
Like two generations of Acoba men before him, Manong Vicente can give you an encyclopedic account of the lighthouse that was designed in 1887 and built three years later.
Day in and day out, Manong Vicente stands guard at the lighthouse.
He also has some eerie stories to tell, though.
“Gusto mong makakita, nandiyan siya between three and four o’clock sa hapon,” he said when asked if there are spirits or “ladies in white” that walk through walls or suddenly materialize out of nowhere.
Though Manong Vicente admits that he has yet to personally see the “white lady”, he said that there have been instances when other locals saw the figure looking down at them from either one of the rooms in the building or the lens room itself.
The lighthouse is 41.7 kilometers by car from Laoag City.
From the provincial capital of Laoag, travelers may choose to rent a car or take the small buses at the town “centro” terminals. These buses either go further north to Pagudpud or all the way to Cagayan.
Either way, you won’t get lost since there is a big, brown marker and a bridge leading to the hill. These landmarks tell you that you should now turn right to the hill from the main highway.
It is accessible via a two-lane concrete road that snakes its way up the hill. You won’t get lost since the road reaches a dead end at the base of the lighthouse complex.
Public transportation like passenger jeepneys or tricycles cannot be found here so it’s either you walk all the way to the lighthouse or bring a car.