It has been almost two years since I last visited Laoag City. However, instead of taking the bus from Fariñas in Sampaloc, we opted to take the plane from Manila to Laoag City via PAL Express. We booked the flight last December 30 and it cost cheaper than Cebu Pacific (which was a surprise). The same roundtrip flight for both of us were around Php 10,500, while the same route was for Php 6,800 in PAL Express. O_O It was our first time to both take PAL Express and visit the Centennial Terminal. I underestimated the traffic situation as I thought it would only take us 20 minutes to travel from Makati, but in fact, we traveled for about 45 minutes. We were still early, though, and we still had time to correct our return flight schedule.
It was a jam-packed flight and we even saw local celebrities on board the flight. Maybe as guests for the festivities up north, chissà? The flight was only around 50 minutes, and even before I got to finish what I was reading, we already arrived in Laoag City International Airport.
We originally were to visit Laoag last December, in time for Nanang’s birthday. However, I had zero leaves left and I needed the new year to have them refreshed. It was my first vacation after a very long time, as we did not even go out of town in 2014. Not once. I also had to do lots of things once we go back, so it was with a stroke of luck that we flew instead of taking the bus. Time is of the essence.
Tita Doris with her husband and Nanang picked us up in the airport. I was excited to see them because the last time I saw them was around four months ago during the birthday of Mon’s nephew (who was also my godson). The travel time from the airport to their house was only around 15 minutes, and the first thing I did was to eat pinakbet and longganisa for lunch! I really felt that I was in Ilocos again! After resting, we immediately went out in bikes to visit another aunt of Mon, as well as his cousin. We also biked all the way to the Rizal Park and Mariano Marcos Stadium.
By nightfall, we visited the Capitol (very Hunger Games), as it was the center of festivities for the Pamulinawen Festival. I got to give it to the Marcoses, this place remains to be one of the most beautiful city centers I have visited in the country. From the city hall, to the fountains and even the adjacent mall, everything was beautifully lit that it was a pity that my camera cannot handle low-light conditions and properly capture their beauty. The plaza was packed with people, tourists and locals alike, and there was also an ongoing program hosted by a local TV station. There were also lots of peddlers, hawking goods of all sorts in every nook and cranny.
After the plaza, I was looking forward to visit the perya by the river! When we passed by the place from the bridge upon entering Laoag City, the area occupied by the fair was so vast that it stretched from under the bridge up to who knows where. I can only imagine how crowded the place would be at night, and I was not mistaken because it was impossible to move just to reach the ticket booth.
Mon was puzzled why I loved peryas so much. I expressed particular distaste on theme parks as a whole (case in point Lotte World), but I argued that they are not one and the same. I don’t like waiting in line for rides, but I love the hustle and bustle of people on games, trying their luck. I was curious whether those money-related games of luck were allowed, considering that they banned them in the yearly perya in Marikina, but I almost shrieked to see groups of grown ups huddled around low-lying tables. They had the color game and the number game, but I was particularly curious on this one game that uses three dice with two saucers. The game was to properly guess the numbers on the dice, basing from a very momentary peek. I only tried a couple of times, knowing how these games tend to pull people downhill. You try once and the next thing you know, lady luck was no longer at your side. To be succinct, I lost around Php 150. Still quite a show a restraint, huh? I almost fainted whenever I see somebody place a yellow-500 bill on the table.
We did not stay until the wee hours, but the people were still arriving in droves. We had to rest for the next day, but I was nevertheless happy to be in Ilocos again!