travel & lifestyle blog by ruth dela cruz


10 Reasons to Travel Up North

July 20, 2014

In the Phiilippines, when we think of a budget and quick weekend getaway, we always think of going North. We can forget about booking a plane, or planning a grand vacation because a drive to the North has everything one would need for a relaxing trip away from the stresses of the Metro.

You know this place in Ilocos! 🙂 The Bangui Windmills!

Here are 10 Reasons Why We Should Travel Up North

Click Read More to see the list!
1. The New and Improved North Luzon Expressway 

Fact is, I hate long drives and long commutes. I hate traffic. In my recent travel to the North, where we drove pass the NLEX, I was glad to see good improvements in the road and scenery. I wish major roads in Manila are as wide and smooth as NLEX. 
The North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) is known as the “Gateway to the North”. It spans 84 kilometers of world-class expressway which connects Metro Manila to the Central and Northern Luzon regions. The Manila North Tollways Corporation-operated (MNTC) expressway has 98 internationally recognized informational, directional, and warning signs along its entire stretch, as well as real-time en route travel advisories, and 24/7 CCTV cameras to monitor road conditions and ensure that you reach your Northern destination with ease. 
2. Colorful Festivals
Regardless of your religion and your beliefs, the interesting and colorful festivals happening in the provinces of the North, all year round attract more and more tourists and visitors. 
Take for example, .the annual flower fest Panagbenga in Baguio, or Bangus Festival in Dagupan. Malolos, Bulacan has the Sto Niño de Malolos Festival, the biggest gathering of devotees to the Holy Child Jesus in the North, held every January. While the Kannawidan ‘Ylocos’ Festival in Ilocos Sur pays homage to Ilocano traditions, and include street parades, Ilocano poem writing contest, a talent night where performers sing Ilocano ballads, a dance drama, and marching band contest. Pampanga has its world-famous Lantern Festival held every December, and Sinukwan Festival, a festival immortalizing Aring Sinukwan, god of the ancient Kapampangans where groups outdo each other in dancing to the local anthem “Atin Cu Pung Singsing”.
3. Amazing Old Churches
Century old churches built in different provinces in the North reflects how Catholism has influenced the country. Although I don’t really visit these churches for worship services, I admit that I do adore the architecture and structures. 
Historic Paoay Churc in Ilocos
Among them, Baguio Cathedral (Our Lady of Atonement) located atop Mount Mary Hill; Paoay Church (St. Augustine Church), a UNESCO World Heritage Site;  St. William Cathedral, Laoag’s city’s landmark built in 1580;  Betis Church (St. John the Apostle Parish Church) in Guagua, named a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum for its painted ceiling of murals depicting scenes from the Bible; and the San Guillermo Church in Bacolor, which doubles as a place of worship and a tourist attraction to this day with its Baroque architecture, particularly its pulpit which is intricately carved and heavily gilded in gold leaf.

4. Wonderful Beaches 
One can forget about Boracay once you have seen the Boracay of the North, in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Calm sea, beautiful sand, and amazing scenes. It is just pure serenity as you commune with the nature. 
5. A Place for Extreme Sports
The North is not just a place to relax, but to get your blood pumping with extreme sports. Have you heard of kiteboarding and windsurfing? The perfect strong wind can take you to this new great adventure. Zambales’ Potipot Island inspires visitors to go kayaking. Pangasinan’s Hundred Islands  also boast of isolated caves, and snorkeling reefs. The more daring ones can go near and far Luzon to enjoy spectacular adventures. Deca Wakepark in Clark is a wakeboarder’s haven. Baguio has various trails which newbies and seasoned adrenaline junkies alike enjoy. Benguet also has challenging bike trails to conquer.
Of course, don’t forget the fun 4×4 Ride and Sand Boarding in Ilocos! 
6. Glorious Food
The Northern Philippines does understand Food Porn! When you think of good food, we easily think of Pampanga! Must-try dishes include, Bale Datung, a popular private kitchen perfect for intimate lunch or dinner with family and friends featuring Chef Claude Tayag’s homemade creations; Susie’s pichi pichi, tibok tibok, suman, moche and sapin sapin; Aling Lucing’s Sisig; and Nathaniel’s buko pandan
And if you move far North, be glorified with Ilocos region’s Vigan longganiza, Bagnet, ukoy and empanadas! I am salivating just typing the text.
Pinakbet Pizza from Saramsam!
7. Indigenous People
Whenever you travel, it is the locals that make the trip more fun and exciting. I am glad that Ethnic groups have preserved the real culture of Filipinos. I really wish to learn more from the Aetas of Pampanga, the Igorots of the Cordillera Administrative Region, the Ilongots in the southern Sierra Madre and Caraballo Mountains on the east side of Luzon particularly Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya. I hope they are open to adopt me when I visit their homes. 
8 Local Produce and Products

If you ever found yourself shopping for good pasalubongs, or gifts from the North, always check out the fresh fruits and vegetables from the local farmers. Also check the awesome handmade products are awesome souvenirs and gifts especially to foreign friends 🙂
Organic Cherry Tomatoes!
9. Home Away From Home Accommodation
One need not worry about accommodation because of the growing industry, hotels and inns are opening in the North to cater to stay-in guests. You can choose from luxurious hotels or fancy camping via glamping 🙂 Check out Baguio’s Camp John Hay and Baguio Country Club, or Bataan’s Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar where heritage structures are a sight to behold. There is also  Anvaya Cove, a luxurious residential resort and private enclave that presents a balance between sustainable development and environmental preservation. 
10. Vigan is Vying as 1 of the New Seven Wonders of the World!

We can say that Vigan is now Philippines’ muse for the New Seven Wonders of the World. I have written Top 5 Reasons here why you must vote for Vigan. The nation should be proud that Northern’s historic city is part of the 21 finalists. A historical place that is making history. 
If you think you need to know more information on how you can enjoy the best of Northern Philippines, drop by at ‘NLEX Tara na sa Norte,” a travel fair which will run on July 25-27, 2014, at the Glorietta Activity Center Makati City.
At least 100 exhibitors are expected to gather for this travel and tourism fair mounted by the Manila North Tollways Corp (MNTC) – from the corporate sector, local government units, the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) regional offices, hotels, and restaurants, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and traders, among others. 
It will also provide a platform for the small and medium  enterprises (SMEs) to showcase their craft, furniture, fashion accessories, food items  and other regional products and make them accessible to Metro Manila residents.
Co-presenters are the Department of Tourism Regions 1, 2, 3 and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Glorietta and Ayala Malls, and supported by the North Philippines  Visitors Bureau (NPVB), this three-day event is  also sponsored by the Subic Bay  Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Clark Development Corporation, Maynilad and PhilHydro with Cebu Pacific as the official airline partner and Philippine Daily Inquirer, media partner.
PS. The Philippine Arena, is 75-hectare tourism enterprise zone in Bocaue and Santa Maria, Bulacan, with a capacity of up to 55,000, it is the world’s largest indoor arena – is also located in the North of the Philippines 🙂 

Wew, I missed traveling, and I miss writing about my travels. I will try to post more stories and pictures in my new travel blog – if you have time, please do visit 🙂

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