Playa Tropical (Ilocos Norte, PH)

If you are in search for a relaxing beachfront resort in Ilocos, this Balinese-inspired resort in Currimao just might amuse your taste.

Created in traditional Balinese architecture, Playa Tropical Resort’s picturesque villas, private pools, distinctive garden bathrooms and delicate interiors with Balinese art, is certainly a relaxing abode for you and your family.



Playa Tropical resort comes with 5 two-storey Casas. Each casa has a private pool. The smaller (and cheaper ones) called Casitas house standard rooms that are as good and tidy as the Casas. In between the Casas and the Casitas is a pond that adds beauty to the place.


At the ground floor is the resort’s inhouse restaurant-slash-cafe called Café Amarra. Some of the food they serve include Ilocano delicacies like poque-poque and longganisa. Although they are good, they are quite expensive.


Near the seashore is the resort’s large Infinity Pool. There is also a playground for kids and a spa at one side.  One can also stroll along the beach area as it is just a stone’s throw away from the poolside. The sand may be grayish to black but it has to be one of the finest beach sand I have set foot on. One can wait til late afternoon as the sundown is really stunning at this side of Ilocos.


Other amenities include the following: Wifi access, housekeeping service, Room service, car wash. They also have function rooms and game room. You may also ask them to arrange a tour around Ilocos Norte.


Fo your reference, here are the room rates:

Deluxe Double (2 double beds, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, standing shower or bathtub combo) – Php 3,800 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 4,180 (Peak)

Deluxe King (1 king-sized bed, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, standing shower or bathtub combo) – Php 3,800 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 4,180 (Peak)

Premier Room (1 king-sized bed with couch, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, standing shower or bathtub combo) – Php 4,000 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 4,400 (Peak)

Royal Suite with Bathtub (1 canopy bed, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, bathtub) –  Php 5,800 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 6,380 (Peak)

Royal Suite with Jacuzzi (1 canopy bed, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, Jacuzzi) – Php 6,500 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 7,150 (Peak)

Casa Room (1 queen Sized bed and 3 single beds, 18 sqm private pool,cable television, mini-fridge, in-room safe, individually controlled air-conditioning, hot and cold water, separate toilet and bath) – Php 12,500 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 13,750 (Peak)

Please take note that prices maybe subject to change without prior notice. Also, rooms that are single or twin sharing have complementary breakfast.


*Maximum of four adults in a room, 2 excess adults without breakfast

*Extra person: PhP 600 per person per night, PhP 800 (for Casa Room)

*Children 8 years old and below sharing bed with their parents are considered free of charge but without breakfast. 9 years old and above are considered adult with full charge rate.

*Check in time: 2 pm; Check out time: 12 noon. Early check in and late check out is subject to room availability on the day itself.

**If one opts for a day tour, the entrance and pool use is at 200Php/ person.


Playa Tropical Resort Hotel, Barangay Victoria, Currimao, Ilocos Norte, Philippines

Contact us through (+63) 917 570 0223 or (+63) 670 1211 or email us at


So the next time you are feeling tired and you want an escape some where north, stay at Playa Tropical Resort. Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust.

Pangil Coral Rock Garden (Ilocos Norte, PH)

Most people visiting Ilocos in Northern Philippines, would most of the time, make their way to the established tourist destinations of the region (ie Vigan, Laoag, Paoay, Pagudpud to name a few). What most travellers do not know are the countless equally stunning vistas dotting the Ilocandia coastline that are visit-worthy.


Case in point is the town of Currimao – an often ignored destination in Ilocos Norte. This town facing the West Philippine Sea boasts off a series of shallow tidal pools and serrated, coral-like rock formations that extend to about two kilometres along the Pangil Bay. Pangil Coral Rock Gardens as it is called, is an impressive work of nature where people can swim in the concealed rock pools with cobalt to jade color.


These coral rocks looks like they were intentionally slashed at almost the same height (around 10-12 feet). It is said that these calcified masses, were at one point, used as materials in building the imposing baroque churches across Ilocos region.


As an enthusiast of landscape photography (and a fondness for rock formations), I immediately fell in adoration with this masterpiece. My visit to this place was part of my short stint in Currimao. I wish to be back and wait for the sundown the next time I am at this part of Ilocos. Knowing that this side of the country almost, always shows off some of the best sunset view, I can only envision a sure fire picture-perfect view.


How to Get to Pangil Rock Gardens:

From Manila ride an Ilocos bound bus from Cubao (some in Pasay) Terminal. Bus lines like Genesis, Partas, Viron and Florida have regular trips to the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilcos Sur and La Union. Ride a bus that is Laoag-bound then get off in the Currimao – Paoay junction. From the junction, ride a tricycle to Pangil.


Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Kaangrian Falls (Ilocos Norte, PH)

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust


The town of Burgos in Ilcoos Norte is often visited for two famous landmarks – Kapurpurawan Rock Formations and Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. And just for the past year, relatively new attractions like Palpalokada and Burgos’windmills are also gaining their momentum as must-visit places. Little would people know that the town also have noteworthy waterfalls. One of which is Kaangrian Falls (the other being Tanap Avis Falls which I will blog separately).


The word “kaangrian “ came from the Ilocano term “naangri” which literally translates into “smelly or stinky” in English. If I haven’t seen photos of this waterfall prior to my visit and knowing that is the exact translation of its name, I may not have wanted to visit it. Hahaha.This multi-tiered waterfalls are located in an outskirt Barangay Paayas Burgos, Ilocos Norte. Reaching it requires going through a dirt path with farm land views, and some walking through narrow and quite steep terrain. (FYI: This waterfalls was discovered in 1998 when the local government was looking for a good water source).


According to locals I have met, the best time to come visit Kaangrian is during the rainy season (July to November) to see it in its full glory. I went there one summer day in April. I was quite apprehensive at first since I know that I might not see anything wonderful. When I arrived at the place, the water flow wasn’t as cascading as what I have seen in photos but I was still happy to see it. I even spent some time dipping into its cold water. Surprisingly, a lot of people were also there having picnic and swimming.


I promised to myself I will come back some time soon. Perhaps with friends and loved ones… and I will make sure I will see it in its over-flowing state.


How to Reach Kaangrian Falls:

From Metro Manila, ride a bus bound for Claveria, Cagayan and inform your driver to drop you off at Burgos town proper. Since buses directly going to Cagayan is quite scarce, the more common way is via Laoag.. From Manila, ride any bus bound for Laoag, then from Laoag, you can either take a van or bus bound for Cagayan.


Once in Burgos, pay a visit to the municipal hall. You have to sign up in the visitors list and they will give you a guide if you don’t have one. I went to Kaangrian and Tanap-Avis by hiring a tricycle.


Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Kapurpurawan Rock Formations (Ilocos Norte, PH)

Every rock they throw, I use it as a stepping stone.


A big percentage of the earth is said to be made out of rocks. Rain, wind and other geophysical factors have worn down the Earth’s land surface through the years. Interestingly, these forces of nature have shaped inimitable and striking rock formations across the world,


The Philippines does not only boats off some of the world’s most stunning beaches. We fortunately also have some outstanding geological features that have amazed visitors. One particular rock formation that has graced several various travel magazines in the Philippines is the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation,


Kapurpurawan is located along the rocky coastline of Burgos, Ilocos Norte. Its name was derived from the Ilocano word “puraw” which means white. True enough from its etymology; this geological formation is creamy white in hue making it standout from where it perched. The stunning limestone formations are believed to have been sculpted by various oceanic and weather forces.


Today, this natural wonder stands proud of its rugged beauty. The grand scenery of the West Philippine Sea and the windmills built around the undulating area has added charm to the entire place.It is definitely one of the must-see destinations in the province and in the Philippines.


When we were kids, our grandparents used to bring us to this place. I could hardly remember those memories. My most vivid encounters were my visit in 2010 and 2014. I was fortunate to have experienced Kapurpurwan up-close and personal since visitors were still allowed to climb the rock. In recent years (like my 2014 visit), clambering to the area is no longer allowed due to some irresponsible visitors who would vandal the place. But don’t worry; one can still admire its beauty from a distance where a viewing deck was constructed.


This is just one of the numerous tourist attractions if you decide to pay Ilocos Norte a visit. Great thing about visiting Kapurpurawan is that, it is free. An ethereal place to marvel at natures gifts to mankind indeed!


How to go to Kapurpurawan Rock Formation”

Ilocos Norte is a 10- to 12-hour drive or bus ride from Manila. Visitors may also take a one-hour flight from Manila to Laoag, and rent a van (or even a tricycle tour) to reach Burgos. If you’re using a private car, just drive along the main highway of Pan Philippine Highway in Burgos Ilocos Norte. Once you reach Bangui and Cape Bojeador, it’s easy already as there are signboards going to the place.


Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Sandboarding (Ilocos Norte, PH)

 “You don’t need to be the tide to rise and fall, 
you don’t have to be a wave to touch the shore;
just be a little sand-grain and feel them all” 

– Munia Khan


I have always wanted to try snowboarding. But since I live in a tropical country where we only get to experience summer and stormy seasons, that dream shall be put into hold until Ii set my foot somewhere “snowy”. What we do have, however, are sand dunes that serve as playground for sandboarders and sandboarding-wannabes – like me.


Surprise surprise surprise! Sand surfing and other leisure activities in the sand are a bit unheard of from among Filipinos. Moreso, only during the early 21st century was the activity on sandboarding introduced in the sand dunes of Ilocos. These natural hill and ridge of sand that lies behind the part of a coastline in Ilocos, cover an area of 52 square meters wide. These are the La Paz sand dunes in the city of Laoag and the Paoay Sand dunes that stretch to nearby town, Currimao..


So what is sandboarding?  Just like surfing, one rides on a board (sans the waves) instead, one cruises down a vertical ridge of sand, all while keeping your balance. Indeed an ideal adrenaline-inducing sport!


In August of 2010, 3 friends of mine joined me as we went on to try the La Paz Sand Dunes adventure. This included a super overwhelming 4X4 ride trailing the elevated undulating sands of La Paz and the heart-hammering sandboarding.


The first segment of the adventure was a ride around the dunes, where we got to experience the jarring trails, up and down the sheer hills. It was a bit scary at first but you’ll get through it.


After which, the sandboarding basics will be taught. I am quite poor in describing the “how to” details so just check out our pictures. Well, we were given the option to whether sit down or stand up while our feet were strapped on the board. We did try both. We headed to try first our sandboarding skills (skills???) at an easy, not so high hill and boy!!!! It wasn’t easy at all!! We found ourselves stumbling from time to time. Nonetheless, it was fun.


Then, we were asked to do it on a high vertical slope. We were all apprehensive at first. But our sandboarding mentor (Kuya Glenn) was more than encouraging and supportive. He repeatedly told us to be focused and that we should try our best to maintain good balance. And so we braved the sheer slope, and failed.. many times… some of us even literally ate some sand. Hahaha. It was full of fun though. We did a few more tries until we were able to find our balance.


The entire activity costs Php2,500 for the 4 of us. And it is all worth the stumble and fall from the sandboard, and the palpitations induced by the 4×4 ride. Will I do this again? Will I recommend that you try this? An astounding YES of course! Just don’t forget to bring some energy drinks and lots of water PLUS prepare your staying power because the key to this activity is a lot of patience and stamina. Additional heads up: Wear clothes that are comfy, clothes that can get dirty (or even ruined).


For Sand Boarding lessons, you may contact: Sir Glenn Guerrero at  0908 8853669

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Bucolic Badoc (Ilocos Norte, PH)

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson 

Ilocos Norte is one province that is so diverse in terms of tourist spots. From pilgrimage sites to historical landmarks, and unscathed natural attractions, the province up north certainly makes an unforgettable getaway. Unfortunately though, there are a few places a lot of travellers are unaware of. These off the beaten tracks remain to be passed by visitors who would often go and see the more renowned ones.

This write-up is a feature of Ilocos Norte’s southernmost municipality – Badoc. Badoc is the gateway to Marcos Country as it is the first town to greet you when you come all the way from Manila.

So why would one consider visiting this bucolic town? Here are some reasons why. Read along…

Old and new churches: There are 2 churches that are totally opposites of each. The Badoc Church (aka as St. John the Baptist Parish Church), showcases architecture of the past with its aged buttresses; and the La Virgen Milagrosa Chapel – a modern and intricately designed church built by the sea.PicMonkey Collage

St. John the Baptist Parish Church was constructed in 1591 and was once a chapel under the jurisdiction of Sinait (a nearby town of Ilocos Sur). It was formally recognized as a parish in 1714 with St. John the Baptist as patron saint. The baroque church made of stone blocks and brick tiles is credited to Reverend Father Valentin Blovide. The famous painter Juan Luna was baptized in this church. At present, the church houses the 400-year old image of La Virgen Milagrosa, the patroness of Ilocos Norte and believed to be the cause of countless miracles in the province.

On the other hand, the La Virgen Milagrosa Chapel was built to commemorate the arrival of the La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc, believed to have come from Japan and sent floating into sea by missionaries fleeing the country. This very lovely chapel is built on the cove separating Ilocos Norte from Ilocos Sur,  The open-air chapel, that looks like an inverted boat, bears bamboo fittings and maritime decorations to recall the 400-year story recurring among the locals of Ilocos Norte.DSC_0901 IMG_20141215_113220

Arts from the past: Badoc is also the birthplace of renowned Filipino artist, Juan Luna. A shrine and a museum called Balay ni Luna (House of Luna) was built where his prized artworks are displayed for public viewing. This wood-and-brick building is where Juan Luna and his family lived until it caught fire in 1861, prompting the family to move to Binondo in Manila. The existing structure is a reconstruction made in the 1970s.

Surfing Haven: Just when you thought surfing is only offered in San Juan (La Union) and Pagudpud (Ilocos Norte) at this side of the Philippines. Badoc ,Island, an uninhabited island located about a kilometer off the shore of Barangay Pagsanahan in Badoc, is a lesser known surfing spot specially during the months of July to September. Badoc Island is also home to some coral reef formations, hence swimming and snorkelling would be great to see these marine wonders.isla badoc (1)

The surfing areas are known as Badoc Island Lefts and Badoc Point. Lefts is called such because it is where a goofy footers dream wave are observed and could get high as 3 meters. Badoc Point, on the other hand, is that area near an island resort where one may stay.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

How to Get to Badoc:

By Plane: There are direct flights from Manila to Laoag via Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. From Laoag, ride a bus (any bus going south of Laoag) or rented vans to get to Badoc town.

By Bus: From Manila, travelers can take a Florida or Partas bus bound for Laoag. The take off point is at the Badoc Detachment bus stop. It takes approximately 9 hours of travel to arrive at the stop and from there; tricycles can be taken to get around town. Boat rides can be taken to the Badoc island from barangay Pagsanahan.DSC_0944

Palpalokada (Burgos, Ilocos Norte, PH)

“A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise. Because that is how life is – full of surprises.” — Isaac Bashevis Singer

I was in Bacolod when I’ve heard of Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho’s feature about Ilocos’ best kept secrets. Since I was on a backpacking that time, I wasn’t able to watch it. When I got back in Baguio, my housemate messaged a link of that episode of Jessica Soho. And LO! I was right there and then eager to go and see for myself this 5-syllable name of a place that thuds totally enthralling to my ears – PAL-PA-LO-KA-DA.

Before setting a schedule, I googled this place and check out what else has been said about it. And there, only a few have been and only a number of blogs or posts were written. I guess its because the place is pretty new and people haven’t heard much of it until that Saturday night when it was first featured on national television.

A week ago, I contacted the Tourism officer of the town of Burgos (Sir Jonas Tesoro), and inquired about Palpalokada. He was very nice and really enthusiastic talking about the place. A few days from the time we talked over the phone, I found myself traveling on an almost 8 hours bus ride from Baguio to Laoag then to the laidback town of Burgos in Ilocos Norte.

This isn’t my first time to visit Ilocos Norte since my dad’s roots are traced in this idyllic province. But every time I come back, I always find myself enamored by its beauty. This province never fails to surprise me with its seemingly endless nature secrets. I was so in awe when I first saw Kapurpurawan a few years ago; and I could still remember how amazed I was when I reached the topmost part of Cape Bojeador.

From Laoag City, its only about an hour to an hour and 30 minutes by bus to reach Burgos town proper. (Depending on how many stops would the bus do to pick up a seemingly endless number of passengers with loads of stuff, wahehehehe… I’m not really complaining… Forgive me if I sound like one but I am just so excited to see Palpalokada). I met Sir Jonas at the municipal hall, and I was right, he was as enthusiastic as he was over the phone as he is in person. Having conversed with him, I must say that the town is very fortunate to have a goal-directed tourism officer like him.

From the town proper, off we went o Palpalokada with some of the Mayor’s visitors all the way from Malabon. We took a dirt path to the left (from the National Highway going to Pagudpud). There were no signposts (yet – the tourism officer have some brilliant ideas on how the post would look like later). It was about a 10-minute ride on a PUV, or if one is keen on walking, I guess that’s possible too but will take you perhaps half an hour to one hour depending on how excruciating the sun’s heat is.

Upon arrival, I was lost for words for a few moments. I was trying to scan my brain for the most appropriate adjective that would describe the place. I ended up saying “wow, it’s beautiful”. It was an understatement. I knew I could utter better words than that but I guess I was too star-struck to have thought of more  apt description like “cinematic”, “amazing” or “spectacular”. It was a cloudy day inspite of the sweltering heat of the sun. But more than the sweat coming out of my forehead, I had gooseflesh…

After it has sank in me that I was really in Palpalokada, I hurriedly set up my tripod and camera. It was yet another dilemma. I didn’t know where to start. With such vast a beauty, I was confused as to which fraction of the place to capture first. I may sound exaggerated but you’ll understand that when you get to see it firsthand. Palpalokada is definitely a photographer’s paradise. Everything is really praiseworthy. At that moment, I’ve seen the most thought-provoking panorama – it was like the coast of Ireland, or a bit of the Grand Canyon and thebeaches of Maui in Hawaii (though I’ve never been to these places, only saw it in pictures)… really mystical, but authentic… as one of my twitter friends would always say – LEGITIMATE beauty!

Sir Jonas told me that it was quite unfortunate that the kabalyeros of the Pasto Communal of Burgos (an association of farmers/horse owners which) are having an important meeting that’s why the horses aren’t available too. It was proposed that a horse-back riding activity is one great pastime to do and enjoy in Palpalokada. But the absence of horses for faster and easier way of moving around didn’t hinder me from exploring the place.

Palpalokada, according to Sir Jonas, was coined from an Ilocano word “paloka” – a term given to handmade slippers out of used rubber tire for the soles and rope for the uppers, and were once used during the olden times. So Palpalokada may translate in to “their slippers”. Once in Palpalokada, one gets to see a 360-degree view of God’s and one of man’s greatest creations. To the north are the humongous Bangui Wind Turbines, the West Philippine Sea, of course on the west, large rocks on the southern part with a view of Kapurpurawan; and jagged mountains at the eastern side. It was a complete package – from stunning landscapes to incredible seascapes.

It was indeed an adventure-filled and quixotic weekend in a surprisingly impressive milieu. Nature aficionados and kibitzers will definitely feel enamored by this place. And so, with the remaining number of days this summer – try to squeeze in and consider Palpalokada a part of your summer getaway. But remember, always always always be a conscientious tourist. Just like what the mountaineer’s creed says – “take nothing but picture”!

For inquiries, contact the Burgos tourism office at +63-77-7861408. Or call Mayor Cris Garcia: 0928-5510452, 0917-5190665  and Jonas Tesoro: 0928-5510381, 0905-3520633, 0915-5211885.) – Believe me when I say they are the nicest!!!

Romulo out —

Take it easy ebrwian.