The North Luzon has been one of the favorite tourist destinations in the Philippines. Although it pertains mostly to the Ilocos Region, there are still many places to explore beyond Pagudpud. To motorcycle riders, getting to Ilocos is only a portion of it. “Looping” the northern Luzon Island is the main goal. It is easily 1200 kms from Manila and takes at least 2 days to complete. I’m almost done with it as I approach the last leg of this trip.
For the remaining 400 kms, I intended to be more of a rider than a tourist. In fact, I wanted to keep the stops to a minimum so much, I missed a crucial gas stop.
Before I head home, I took a little sidetrip to Sagada to buy a sticker. That’s right, a sticker. There’s more to Sagada than stickers of course, but like I said the last time I was here: Sagada is best (read as “cheaper”) explored with a group.
So, I reached Sagada and hopped from one store to another. They have the usual Sagada stickers but not the “Igorot on Board” like the one I have on my top box. I would like to think I have lived up to it. “Igorot” means “mountain dweller” .
After over an hour, I still don’t have a new sticker and I’m on the last souvenir shop. Defeated, I left without even eating lunch.
I have already been on Halsema Highway once and already got the feel of what it’s like on one of the World’s Most Dangerous Road. That by the way, is really absurd. Yes, it is a mountain trail but it has been so much better since it opened in 1930. Aside from a few landslides or construction, it is completely paved from Baguio to Bontoc. It is purely 130+ kms of heavenly, twisty roads. Time to shred some chicken strips!
Thirty minutes from Abatan, I noticed an extensive terracing of the mountains. I probably didn’t see this the first time I passed here because of the fog. There’s some forest fire so it’s still a little hazy.
A little later, I’m at the top! The Highest Point of the Philippine Highway System.
It took me another hour to reach the end of the Baguio-Bontoc Road. I breathed a sigh of relief when I spotted a Petron gas station.
While resting, I checked on Dhona as I normally do and found a leak on my rear suspension. I have been braking more often coming from Atok down to Baguio so the rear brake caliper was overworked and somehow was making contact with the suspension and eventually dented and busted it. I don’t know if my body is so sore from all the riding, but I didn’t feel it has affected the handling very much so I decided a fix or replacement is not necessary.
I initially planned to get out of Baguio via Aritao to Nueva Ecija but since it is already 5:30 PM, I didn’t have the safety of daylight. I won’t be able to enjoy the scenery anyway so I ditched the planned route and asked for the fastest way to Manila.
Baguio City has traffic almost like Manila. I hate it and I can’t find my way out. I really didn’t know where to go. Someone has pointed me down a steep, twisty road with a bunch cars passing each other on blind turns not minding the uphill traffic who was just as aggressive. All this in pitch black darkness in the foggy mountains. Then there’s a lion.. Ah! I remember now. This is Kennon Road.
We also exited Baguio via Kennon Road during my first North Luzon Loop but during daytime. It’s much more different at night. For the next 20-something kilometers down Kennon Road, I was dead scared. Cages (cars) were passing me as if I’m standstill. I look at my speedometer and I was already doing 80kph. Trucks and buses would flash their lights on high beam and I have about 10 seconds to get out of their way. Oncoming vehicles wasn’t making it easier either with their high beams or HIDs.
I was shaken but intact nonetheless as I reached level ground. Some 260 kms more to go. I rested in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan then refueled in Mabalacat City, Pampanga. It was supposed to be my last stop but as soon as I entered EDSA, I was too exhausted to effectively dodge the jeepneys and buses I just had to pull over.
I know too well that the last few kilometers is critical on long trips. I rested for almost an hour at a gas station until I can almost sleep that I didn’t want to get back on the saddle. A gulp of a bottle of an energy drink quickly solved that.
I reached Laguna just before 3AM and my body just shut down instantly. Even today, as I look back at how that felt drains my energy I can’t even come up with a nice ending for this post. So, like how that Parokya ni Edgar song goes.. kaya ganito na lang bigla na lang mawawala.