I am on a road trip covering the North Luzon Loop. I started in Laguna and headed North via EDSA, Bulacan, Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union and Ilocos Sur. My first stop was Tagudin where we learned that the First Sundial of the Philippines might actually have inaccurate data engraved on it. We also took a quick sidetrip to see the Abra Tunnel and finally crossed the Abra River to explore Vigan.
Hhmmm.. Actually we are not going to explore Vigan. Vigan is a very famous tourist destination. Holy Week or not, hundreds, if not thousands of people flock to this World Heritage Site famous for its Spanish Colonial Architecture, museums, churches, and it’s empanada. Because I hate crowds, I thought of the places where there might be fewer people.. Where I ended up?
The afternoon heat was too much that I figured most would stay out of Baluarte ni Chavit. It’s a wildlife sanctuary where you will get a chance to get up close with some animals like birds, snakes, and even a tiger. I was almost correct. Everyone stayed out of the sun in the open and we were cramming ourselves in every shade we could find. I didn’t stay long.
I left Baluarte and decided to visit the neighboring town of Bantay. I have seen most of Vigan but not the equally-famous Bantay Bell on the other side of Mestizo River. Along the way, I saw a sign pointing to a Vigan Heritage River Cruise. Yeah, I noticed the sign because I almost read all those posted signs along the way. I don’t want to miss that ‘No Entry’ traffic sign and end up in Calle Crislogo. I don’t wanna be “that douche that raced a kalesa on the historic street”. I didn’t know there’s a river cruise in Vigan and when I read it, i thought of Venice.
One entry on my bucketlist is taking my motorcycle to as many islands as I can (haven’t decided on the exact number yet). One of my goals on this North Luzon Loop trip is to get to Pinget Island. I saw it on the map protruding from the shores of Ilocos. It’s connected to the main island of Luzon by what seems to be a small strip of land yet it is labeled as an island. That’s weird. I have planned to visit the island the following day on my way out of Vigan when I’m on my way to Laoag but I was too excited and ditched the plan to visit Bantay and head to Magsingal. It’s about 20 kms from Vigan City. Time check, it’s 5PM.
I asked a few more people. The only island they know is Poro Island. I know Poro Island, I have seen it on the map. It is in Cabugao more than 20 kms from Magsingal. They haven’t heard of Pinget Island. I tried going in a barangay road hoping it was the right way. It was a dead end. The sun was starting to set. Desperate, I turned on the maps on my phone and brought up Pinget Island on the screen. I headed back to the main highway and asked a police officer. He said that the access road to the island is in Sto. Domingo. I headed back to Sto. Domingo as fast as I could. I found the access road. The island is about 7 kms from the highway.
It was getting dark. The road was not in good condition but at least cemented. I can tell I was nearing the island because there are mounds of sand everywhere. I fishtailed a couple of times but luckily, I regain control every time. I had my eyes fixed on the next 10 meters of the road that when I looked up, I was already at a beach! The view was beautiful and no one was there. Dhona and I have the beach by ourselves. It is one of the best sunsets I have ever witnessed.
I “landed” in Sto. Domingo Beach. This is not yet Pinget Island. The island is nearby and I set out to find the way. It was tough riding on sand with street tires. I also have limited time because it was getting darker by the minute. Finally, I reached the sandbar that connects Pinget Island to Luzon. It is cemented but the shore is just meters away on both sides. Just a few feet away from the cemented road, I saw that the beach showed evidence that it was under water just hours ago; probably during a high tide.
I spoke to a man on a Motorstar Xplorer 200R on the island and learned from him that their island is called “Puro Pinget” or simply “Puro”. It seems that the island is in fact Pinget Island but since the community is classified as Brgy Puro, “Puro” is more commonly used. Inside their community, I was getting strange looks. I was wearing my reflectorized yellow vest and my Hi-Viz helmet so everyone noticed. Life was simple in this community. The houses were small and the families seemed large. There’s a lot of kids running around and just as many adults standing or sitting idly along the streets. I smiled to them but how would they know when I’m wearing a balaclava mask.
I have taken a ferry to an island and has crossed a bridge to get to another island and now, I was able to ride my motorcycle to an island! It would’ve been a thrilling story to end the day, but another highlight is waiting in Vigan City. Hint: Bellagio in Las Vegas