Roaming Around Paoay and Batac, Ilocos Norte

Since we still had the entire day free before our flight to Manila at 8:40 pm, we decided to explore the heritage and pilgrimage sites of Paoay and Batac.

How to go there:

By air, from Manila via Laoag
  • Major local airlines such as Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly daily to Laoag, Ilocos Norte's capital and the gateway to Pagudpud. Flight takes about an hour.
  • From the Laoag International Aiport, hire a tricycle (or a van if you are with a big group) that will bring you to Laoag city proper. Standard tricycle rate from airport to the city proper is Php 150
  • The same tricycle can bring you around Laoag, Paoay, and Batac. Standard tricycle tour costs Php 800. The tricycle driver that we hired was Jonas Penaranda (+639063956176), who happens to own the most photographed Bumblebee-inspired tricycle in the city. If you are planning to rent a van on the other hand, I highly recommend Kuya Lenzer, a van/tricycle owner and tour guide based in Pagudpud (+639068185735). 
Meet Kuya Bumblebee (aka Jonas Penaranda)

By land

  • You can also take a bus from Manila to Laoag. Partas and Farinas have regular trips to and from Laoag.

Note:
Commuting from Laoag to Paoay to Batac is possible, but it will eat more time as jeepneys tend to wait until it is full before it leaves Laoag. Non-airconditioned buses on the other and tend to pick up passengers along the way. If your budget allows, I recommend hiring a tricycle or a van for your own convenience.


The standard tour of Laoag-Paoay-Batac starts as early as 7:00 to 8:00 am, but since we already did a DIY walking tour of Laoag the day before, we started our tour of Paoay and Batac a bit late. Kuya Jonas fetched us from Balay da Blas at around 10:00 am. We checked out and brought our things with us during the tour.

Sites to visit in Paoay and Batac

Malacañang ti Amianan (Malacañang of the North)
Built in 1976, the arresting structure in Brgy. Suba served as the official residence of former president Ferdinand Marcos and family during his regime. The mansion was built overlooking the beautiful Paoay Lake.

There's an entrance fee of Php 30 per person.


The facade of the Malacañang ti Amianan

The two-storey mansion radiates a mix of Ilocano and Spanish grandeur. Upon entrance, a spacious receiving area lined with wide doors that open to a massive lawn. Also at the ground floor are two bedrooms: Senator Bongbong Marcos' and a guest room to where famous actress Nora Aunor slept when she would visit the mansion back in the day.



Sen. Bongbong Marcos' bedroom at the ground floor
His own artwork hangs in his room

Guest room
A grand staircase leads to the second floor where the masters' bedroom and Imees and Irene's room are. The former president's office, library, and banquet hall can be found on this floor, too.

At the former president's office
The grand hall at the second floor
Sisters Imee and Irene's room
Masters bedroom
Walk-in closet at the masters bedroom

Dining hall at the second floor

Spacious bathroom at the masters bedroom

Helipad?
A view of Paoay Lake from the mansion's lawn

A nice set of wooden seats
Paoay Lake
Our next stop was the largest lake in Ilocos Norte--the Paoay Lake. While it can already be seen from the Malacañang ti Amianan, we went to the other side for a closer look at the lake. There's a viewing deck here where you can actually lounge, but since we started our tour late, the unforgiving heat of the sun made us leave the deck.

The lake is mysterious as some say it used to be a prosperous village but when people started to become greedy and materialistic, the gods turned it into a body of water, drowning all the dwellers of the prosperous village. Some say that until now, fishermen would sometimes catch fish with a piece of jewelry in them. Whether this is true or not, we couldn't confirm.

At the Paoay Lake view deck
Paoay Church (St. Augustine Church)
Next stop was the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Paoay Church. They say it's a perfect example of an earthquake baroque architecture. Wikipedia says earthquake baroque is a style of baroque architecture found in places like the Philippines and Guatemala, which suffered destructive earthquakes during the 17th century and 18th century, where large public buildings, such as churches, were rebuilt in a Baroque style.

Paoay Church



Entrance of Paoay Church
Inside Paoay Church

Should you feel hungry at any point while you are in Paoay Church, take the opportunity to check out Herencia Cafe--another famous restaurant in Ilocos Norte--located right across the church. Signature dishes include pinakbet (vegetable sauteed in fish or shrimp sauce) pizza.

Herencia Cafe
But if you are on a limited budget, you may want to check this out. We saw this restaurant on the same street where Herencia Cafe is. All day breakfast for Php 50? Sounds promising.


Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center
Capping our tour was a visit to Marcos Museum where the former president Ferdinand Marcos' mausoleum was located. I was more than intrigued to see his controversial remains up close so I really made sure we include this in our itinerary.

There's an entrance fee of Php 50 per person here, and cameras are only allowed at the museum and not inside the mausoleum.

At the entrance
The museum showcases informative exhibits about the former president and his family. Here, you can find his favorite items, books, clothes and a lot more. There's a corner dedicated to his love story with former first lady Imelda Marcos.

Marcos loves horseback riding



A replica of his prison cell

An interesting photo of Manila after World War II

A collection of the former president's car plates

Some of Imelda Marcos' terno

Butong pakwan, one of Mrs, Marcos' favorite snacks

Macoy's corner

Their wedding portrait
After a quick tour of the museum, we went to the mausoleum located just beside it. It was dark inside and all we could hear was the pipe-in music and all we could see was the glass enclosed "waxed" Marcos' remains surrounded by floral arrangements.

So is it really him, you ask? I honestly can't tell. But, for me, it looks too waxed and faux. Just my two cents.



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