The lower half of Ilocos Norte has been spoiling me with tourist spots for a while and seems it has more up ahead. After the exhilarating “dirt bike style” ride up and over the sand dunes of Paoay, the slabs on my way further up north bored me so I picked up the pace a bit. There was no one else on the road.
The air was warm but that’s nothing compared to what I just endured on that desert. After a few kilometers, the breeze seemed to be get cooler thanks to the mystical Paoay Lake.
THE MYSTIC LAKE OF THE NORTH
Legend has it that there was once a village here who was rich with treasures but the people became materialistic so it angered God. The village was sunk by an earthquake and it gave birth to the lake. There is no info online just how deep it is so I asked Ilocos Norte’s Tourism Office and PHIVOLCS; they don’t have any information.
There is a rest area along the road with a decent view of the lake. There were cottages and some equipment for water activities in the lake but since it was noon time, there isn’t really anything going on at that moment. Two riders were taking their siesta inside a nipa hut.
PAOAY SAND DUNES
As I continued, I noticed a sign board for another Sand Dunes Adventure. I didn’t really plan on making that stop but since it’s only 2 kms from the highway, I took the detour. I ended up at another jump-off point for the sand dune adventure. This time, I wisely turned away. (Read about my motorcycle ride on the sand dunes in La Paz here.)
I made it back to the highway and started to look for the Malacañang of the North. I know it’s near but I don’t see any signs pointing to the right direction.
PAOAY GOLF COURSE
A building to my right, caught my eye and I pulled in into the driveway. I thought this was already the Malacañang of the North but as I got closer and saw golf carts, I know I was at the wrong place. Without stopping I turned around and continued back on the highway.
After about 2 kilometers and I have totally lost sight of the lake so I knew I have already missed it. I turned around. I suspected the cluster of buildings in front of the golf course to be it. I was doubtful because the buildings were all modern and concrete but I still checked it out.
ILOCOS NORTE HOTEL AND CONVENTION CENTER
I gave up trying to be Mr Know-it-all and asked the security guard for directions. Turns out, I was on the right track in the first place. The Malacañang of the North is less than 2 kms from the golf course via an inner access road.
MALACAÑANG of the NORTH (MALACAÑANG TI AMIANAN)
This is the official residence of former president Ferdinand Marcos in Ilocos Norte. It is a two-storey mansion overlooking Paoay Lake in Brgy. Suba, Paoay. It has been restored as a museum and is open to the public.
Inside, the mansion looks like it has kept its original divisions. There’s a grand ballroom, spacious living areas, numerous bedrooms, an elegant dining room, a dramatic staircase and a quiet balcony with a view of the lake. Here are some pictures.
After a few minutes looking around, I finally understood why the sand dunes and the Paoay Lake were tourist-free. Every single one of them is here at the mansion taking refuge from the heat. Not only was it crowded inside, there were a lot of kids running around all the delicate memorabilia on display. Really cringe-worthy moments! I left earlier than I wanted.
Fort Ilocandia, the only 5-star hotel in Ilocos, was nearby but I know I won’t really blend in very well so I zoomed past it headed for the capital of Ilocos Norte. Laoag City, here I come!