Friday, April 6, 2012

Infrequent Flyer: Laoag, Pagudpud, and Vigan 2012

It’s that time of the year again. Holy Week, a.k.a. a long summer holiday. Most Filipinos flock in droves to their provinces or enjoy out of town trips, going to the beach, or taking vacations out of the country during this time. Manila becomes practically deserted, and all the hustle and bustle is on crowded thoroughfares, airports, and piers, with fully-booked hotels and resorts. This is almost as much a tradition for Filipinos as all the religious observances for Holy Week are, and my family is no exception to this. But it’s only in recent years that we’ve been able to go on family vacations, as before we only used to have stay-cations. We’re proudly middle-class, but both my parents come from working class backgrounds, so raising a family of three girls, they wanted the best for us. A house and lot, two cars, and private school education were prioritized over luxuries like high-end cell phones and vacations abroad. It’s only now that, my younger sister and I are in college, and both of us in the University of the Philippines Diliman, Iskolar ng Bayan, or scholars of the nation, and my youngest sister is in Philippine Science High School, that what we save on tuition can be spent on long-put off family trips together. My first and only trip abroad so far was to Hong Kong and that was two summers ago, when I was already 18.

Anyway, this year my parents attended the annual Travel and Tours Expo at SMX MOA in February and they booked and paid for everything in advance, availing of complete packages, as this turns out cheaper in the long run. Here they bought an Ilocos tour package and another Singapore package for later this Summer, sometime in May. Everything was planned ahead of time, with our summer classes in mind and all our enrollment schedules. We actually left on the last day of Finals Week, and cut it really close. I actually still felt as if my studies were in hot pursuit of me, trying to prevent me from going on vacation. But that’s just me and my drama.

So we were gone for four days and three nights, and I have to say I’m glad we left a few days ahead of the actual peak season, or else it would have been really packed, and it’s so hard to relax when resorts are completely overrun by tourists. When we got back to Manila, we encountered the full brunt of the Exodus on our way home, with such heavy traffic coming from the airport, so just as we had come back, everyone else was just about to leave.

I’m going to give a blow by blow account of the trip that was. Our trip was from March 31 to April 3 (Saturday to Tuesday) and I had only started packing the day before our trip because I had just completed all my academic requirements for the semester that Tuesday. I was completely exhausted, physically and mentally, after that ordeal of a semester and I devoted Wednesday to catching up on rest. Then on Thursday, that’s when I bought my camera and I was preoccupied with tying up some loose ends before leaving.

Dresses(By the way, some pictures I post are taken with a low resolution camera phone because it’s easier to transfer pictures via Bluetooth to my laptop if it’s just unimportant pictures.) So come Friday, I was packing like a mad woman. If you follow me on Twitter, you would know how seriously I take packing. I make a list, and I stick to that list. My OCD kicks in full force when I pack, every garment accounted for, corresponding to a day and so on. I even plan outfits I’m going to wear for every day, that’s how hardcore and intense I can get. Plus, my paranoia always gets the better of me, I always fear these worst case scenarios like getting dirty by accident and not having spare clothes, so I end up over-packing. Not to the point of excess baggage, but I always end up bringing home lots of clean and unused clothes. I actually tried to pack light, that was really the plan, that I would take only dresses (see upper left), consisting of one piece of clothing, that way it would take up less space in my bag, but I had such a hard time choosing which ones to take, I took more than I needed. I could have stayed twice as long and still have enough clothes to wear. I failed in trying to pack light. Maybe I was doomed right from the start to over-pack. Even when it came to swimsuits, I brought three out of four, but only ended up using the yellow polka dot bikini (see below left). Le sigh. My whole bedroom was a warzone of clothes, my closets and drawers thrown open, everything strewn on my bed (see below right). It was an awful mess.



In the end, my bag looked like I was going away for good (see below left), when it was only for a few days. But even after all the clothes were done, that was only half the battle, because toiletries are even a bigger deal to me (see below right). When travelling, I’m actually a lot fussier about bathrooms than beds at hotels, so naturally, as much as possible, I try to take as much of my creature comforts with me as possible, short of bringing our whole bathroom.

 BagList and Toiletries






CrocsAll my clothes went in the main compartment, shoes in a side pocket, and I only took sandals (see left), and toiletries and other liquids greater than 100 ml in the other pocket. I then used a padlock for security. On a side note, my check-in luggage is a bright, neon orange duffel bag. It’s not the most attractive or pleasing color, but you can’t miss it in a sea of look-alike black and navy blue luggage on conveyor belts. It’s unmistakable, and besides, stroller-type bags actually take a worse beating when Makeupflying, being man-handled this way and that because you can put it upside down, whereas duffel bags are mostly right side up because they only have handles that way. It’s just something I’ve noticed. Moving on, I knew I was set to go when finally I had packed my makeup into one tiny little pouch (see right), which is the biggest feat of all, managing to take only the bare essentials and one lipstick with me (Nyx Pumpkin Pie). It was another dilemma, which lipstick was the most flexible and wouldn’t clash with any of my outfits. It might sound silly, but for a girl like me, that one lipstick to match all occasions was critical. Nyx Round Lipstick in Pumpkin Pie is just that balance of nude to go with pastel summer dresses.

Okay, enough about packing. That Friday night, after everything, I had a hard time falling asleep because we had neighbors over the subdivision fence singing karaoke well past midnight, the uncouth trolls. Needless to say they kept me up. Also, something else that kept me up was trying to arrange a stolen meet-up with my favorite Beauty Guru Say Tioco Artillero. I’ve wanted to meet her for a long time, but the circumstances were never right, and then it occurred to me that since we were both taking Cebu Pacific Flights on the same day, her to Cebu, me to Ilocos, that we might bump into each other at NAIA Terminal 3. Alas, just when I thought there was a real chance, as it turns out her flight was an early morning one while mine was a little past noon. I was real bummed that we missed each other by only a few hours, but that’s life.


Anyway, I woke up extra early to squeeze in an early morning workout before leaving for the airport at 8:30 am. It’s a good thing that we left really early because traffic was pretty heavy on our way to the airport, and we got there in a little over an hour. We arrived at NAIA Terminal 3 and left our car in overnight parking, and went through the customary security checks and then headed for the Cebu Pacific check-in counters. What greeted us was a snake-like formation for a  line. And it took over an hour for our turn because there was no orderly or systematic way of doing things. Everything was a hodge-podge, NAIA’s reputation as one of the world’s worst airports is really well-deserved. Even if the Terminal 3 is new and a lot nicer than NAIA 1 or Centennial, the airline employees or staff themselves didn’t step up their game along with the physical expansion of the place. There were still slow staff, I mean really, with everything at the push of a button you would think flying would be more smooth. This is why I prefer land and sea travel to flying. With flying there are so many security measures, so many prohibitions, long waits and long lines, even if the travel time is shorter, you waste so much time waiting that in the end, I’d have been happier to take a bus to Ilocos than fly.

Okay, rant over. We finally boarded and took off, thankfully the flight wasn’t delayed and we got to Ilocos on time. There was a little bit of turbulence on takeoff since it was cloudy coming from Manila, but everything was sunny and bright and glorious when we landed in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. Their airport is smaller than Mactan and Bohol, but a bit bigger than Palawan’s. Our resort had people waiting to fetch us at the airport and we went straight to the Rio Grande de Laoag Resort Hotel, which was about thirty minutes away from the airport, where we dropped off our things and took a short rest before heading out for half of our Laoag City and Heritage Tour that same afternoon. Talk about setting off when your feet have barely touched the ground.

(Note: Since I have so many pictures to share and I'm always wordy, I've decided to split up my entries so they will be easier to peruse.)

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