Friday, June 10, 2011

Ilocos Norte: Pagudpud-hopping, from Maira-ira to Kabigan Falls

Kabigan Falls enshrined in the forest • Photo by Oggie Ramos for InFlight
It's been like six years since I've ventured to Pagudpud and the farthest I've gone to was Saud Beach. Not that I find Saud lacking but I think Maira-ira, fondly called the Blue Lagoon by locals, is less commercial and more conducive to relaxation. I say that referring particularly to Kapuluan Vista Resort which is, pun intended, the last resort on the stretch of secondary road jutting out from the main highway before the road heads off to the Patapat Viaduct.

Photo assignments can often make trips like one continuous blur but spending almost two days in Kapuluan gave me plenty to remember the trip by. There's the temperamental sea and laconic sunrise one early morning that will undoubtedly make surfers happy but made shooting extra tricky. The dramatic leafless tree just outside the resort that frames a wonderful view of the Dos Hermanos rock formations in the distance. The great-tasting salads prepared from the veggies harvested fresh from the garden. Bantay Abot Cave just minutes away. And of course, the resort's friendly dogs (the small one even made my lap her convenient sleeping couch).
Dos Hermanos Portrait
Dos Hermanos in the distance • Image by Oggie Ramos for InFlight
A short drive away, we stop at the jump-off to the falls - Kabigan. It's a half-hour-walk but the trek is a scenic trip in itself, passing through newly-irrigated rice fields before stumbling upon the tree-enshrined main cascade that drops 80 feet to a catch basin.  The sight was so inviting that some excursionists promptly jumped in for a dip. Lina, our soft-spoken guide, tells us that two busloads of visitors from Manila came before we arrived, making the day a busy one for guides like her and an opportune time to make up for the past days when the rains kept guests away.

Walking back to the jump-off, we retraced the trail and the river fed by the falls, a trait which compels some locals to call Kabigan the "Pagsanjan of the North". It's not an accurate nor fair description much in the same way that labeling Pagudpud as the "Boracay of Ilocos" feels, if I should say it with pun, out-of-place. Each place has a charm all its own and let's leave it at that.
Saud Skimboard Sunset Portrait
Saud Beach towards sunset • Image by Oggie Ramos for InFlight
Info: Kapuluan is almost two hours-drive away from Laoag where the airport is located. Airlines such as Seair ply the Manila-Laoag route. From Laoag, you can rent a van to head off to Pagudpud or catch a commuter van headed to Cagayan • Kapuluan Vista Resort is located in Sitio Baniaran, Brgy. Balaoi, Pagudpud.  Visit or email • Maira-ira is about 20-25 minutes away from Saud Beach • Visitors to Kabigan Falls require guides; P100 is charged as guide fee plus P10 as entrance fee


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