March 27, 2023

Now that restrictions for travel have eased, it would be fun to do an 8-loop road trip. I purposely did not spell eight, but opted for the number 8. This means doing a circuitous road and food trip from Baguio to the north and back, and Baguio to the south and back.

For our trip to the north scouting for resorts for a family reunion, we reached as far as San Esteban, Ilocos Sur only. As they say, when searching for places, go the farthest first.

After almost four hours, passing through bypass roads in San Fernando City and Candon City, we reached Coralgate in San Esteban owned by mother and son Sofia and Paul Ventura, a good friend of our guide Rolly Paraan.

Next stop was Bistro Candon by Chef Nick and wife Glen. According to Trip Advisor, “It’s the best place to go while in Candon.” It was highly recommended by Nannette Filler, Pete and Emma Siapno’s friend who hails from the area.

Here, we met the family of Rona Runez. Who came all the way from Baguio to sample the highly-rated Candon cuisine. We tasted tapsilog, Vigan longanisa, and bagnet binagoongan.

Aplaya de Isabelle Beach Resort in Sta Cruz was a revelation. It had good rooms and an infinity pool. The staff were very warm and accommodating. Our resort hunting also brought us to Tagudan Kubo Garden Resort at Tagudin owned by Rudy Lamandrid. It has a unique boat design extension.

For surfing aficionados, Puerto de San Juan Beach Resort in San Juan, La Union is the place to go.

Rey Gesmundo from the Department of Tourism Region 1 highly recommended a rustic place called “Halo-Halo de Iloko” located at Zandueta Street, San Fernando, La Union. He said it is as a “must” eating place to go. Lo and behold, we enjoyed their famous halohalo, pancit Malabon, ukoy including their French fries. There are gourmet delicacies and chichacorn pasalubongs.

Last stop was the “Home of the Mother Earth” or HOME Resort in Aringay located at the Sea Ridge Alley, in an exclusive private compound, less than 50 meters away from the sea.

According to owner Engr. Rowald Julian who is from Baguio, the name of the place, “Home of Mother Earth” or HOME was inspired by nature and the vegetation surrounding it.

Ideal for children, the resort has three pools, a garden and children’s playground. Infront of HOME is the “By the Shore Resort” owned by Joan Mayugao. The entrance from the Aringay Highway to the resort is from the Caltex station.  Then we were back in Baguio in covering a 15 hour circuitous trip.

The second loop is from Baguio to Manila, to Laguna and back to Baguio.

First stop of this loop for culture enthusiasts is the National Museum of Fine Arts, housing the famous “Spolarium.”

According to research,”the Spoliarium is a painting by Filipino painter Juan Luna canvas measuring four meters by seven meters. Luna spent eight months completing the painting which depicts dying gladiators.”

 It’s huge and awesome!  A small replica is found in Badoc, Ilocos Norte at the Juan Luna Museum. Badoc is the hometown of Juan Luna, the iconic Filipino painter, sculptor and patriot. Other museums to visit are the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of Anthropology.

Another well renowned museum south of Manila in Antipolo, is the Pinto Museum owned by Dr. Joven Cuanang. It is currently run by the Silangan Foundation for the Arts, Culture, and Ecology, is the brainchild of neurologist Dr. Joven Cuanang, retired senior vice president and chief medical officer at St. Luke’s Hospital Global City.

The exhibits include works of Kawayan de Guia and Nona Garcia, internationally known artists from Baguio. It has seven galleries and a Cordillera Gallery. It is however sad that “museum workers” are not given a special rate.

A trip to Laguna will not be complete without a visit to the famous Liliw town, home of locally made shoes and bags. Laguna is also famous for its home-made chicharon, broas, uraro, plapla, suka, and lambanog. There are also many resorts and “Off the Beaten Track” destinations, but will reserve that for another time.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Happy Independence Day!