I have already been on the road for over ten hours and the hottest part of the day is reaching it’s peak. I initially planned to take my hydropack for this trip but seeing all the SumVac (Summer Vacation) outposts in CALABARZON prepared to pamper motorists with free refills of cold water, I figured it isn’t needed. Bad luck, cause there isn’t any of that here up North. The last one I saw was probably still 300 kms ago. I bought another bottle of water, suck it up – literally and figuratively – and moved on.
From Candon City, I am only 60 kms from Vigan where I plan to stay for the night. So far, the “Ilokano Road” has been good to me. There’s plenty of time for me to take in the beauty of Ilocos. In fact, even if I am not yet tired, I can spare another stopover. Besides, how can a man resist not stopping on a coastal road with a beach named Suso Beach. Haha! Pervs!!
Suso Beach is in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur. This municipality is famous for one of the four Spanish-era churches in the Philippines declared by the UNESCO. I missed the turn leading to the town proper so I wasn’t able to visit the church. My excuse, “there’s always a next time”. Meanwhile, join me as I relax along the road with gushing waves from the sea on one side and trucks and buses barreling down the highway on the other.
I then proceeded with my ride until I reached the Ilocos Sur-Abra junction somewhere around KM 378 in Narvacan. Riding uphill the Northern Luzon Heroes Hill National Park, the altitude was increasing but the air wasn’t getting any cooler, instead it’s warmer and very dry. I wasn’t surprised at all because the hill was barren and had barely any tree or plant surviving the heat. The cemented road was also a bit rough and I can see the asphalt has partly-melted. After about 9 kms, I reached Abra Tunnel in Brgy. Tangadan, San Quintin Abra.
Gabriela Silang is probably the most famous heroine of the Philippines. She is the badass wife of another Filipino hero, Diego Silang. When he was killed by a friend and ultimately a traitor, she stepped up as the new leader. She was captured and killed too. A humble park near the tunnel is a tribute to her heroism.
I backtracked to the main highway where the sea breeze cools down the air even if the sun was at it’s full power. It’s already 12:30 PM. Vigan is only less than 15 kms away. Tatlong kembot na lang. When I was at the outskirts of Narvacan, a scenic view opened up and I can’t help but pull over. It is Sulvec Bay and an islet with a grotto highlights the scenery. I would later learn it is called Paraiso ni Juan. It’s 4.5 kms from the Ilocos Sur-Abra Junction.
The view towards the sea is breathtaking indeed but the view to the other side is neck-breaking! Towering on this blind corner is the tip of Heroes Hill. I took a shot of it and all I got was a picture of a wall of rocks. It took THREE layers of a panorama shot stitched on top of each other to capture it. It barely fits.
I know, I know.. that corner is just too tempting to pass up. Of course, I backtracked about a kilometer, picked up speed and banked that corner like I’m a gnomon of a sundial!! Hahaha! (This is in reference to the first sundial in the Philippines I visited in Tagudin. Read about it here.) I tell yah, the smile across my face was as wide as that shot as I was pwning that corner! Next stop, VIGAN…. almost…