NITE VIM |
A close-up of nighttime’s most active creature
[Green-Winged Lepidopteran: An apple-green moth adorning the walls during the hours of darkness.]
This Christmas, I am not going anywhere – but home – to bring you the lights and glitters of the holiday. Here’s what I got first… an alluring moth painted with my favorite apple green color and freckled with some dazzling gold spots and lining.
Moths are night-flying insects that resemble like a butterfly. Mostly, they are boring, that is, they are hued with the dimmest colors – brown, gray and black. But sometimes they are actually very beautiful. Yes, few of them are like so because they have the most interesting colors (girl’s pink, rare greens, etc.) and fascinating prints ever!
Highlight And Isolation: This brilliant moth will surely make your eyes flickering excitingly leaving your surrounds black.
That’s how nature works! Even to the darkest night, they are up to dazzle you…
SUPER INN |
Romancing Ilocos’ most extensive and expensive hotel
[Hotel Ilocos: Sauntering Fort Ilocandia, one of the oldest and premier resort hotel in Norte (at the lobby, shopping center, garden, mini zoo and fountain area).]
In the sundrenched immensity of Ilocos Norte where foliage of happiness easily withers, comes an ingenious countertype of hothouse which thrives the budding of climate-sensitive enjoyment…
From Left: The entrance of the resort. The main building.
Fort Ilocandia Resort and Casino is nestled amid exquisite ridges of sand and unruffled pine trees accrual, titivated with 2km-stretch private beach fronting the South China Sea, in the city where the sun leaves great hopes and expectations. This first in Northern Luzon, grippingly laid in the acres of Southwest Laoag, is fitted out with world-class niceties in which you can feel the zest for fun, adventure and life in the most unexpected setting.
From The Past: The stunning architecture of Fort Ilocandia surely relights one to history.
The resort complex, flaunting Moroccan and Spanish colonial architecture inspiration with its brick-walled edifices, ushers you in the realm of sumptuousness. Rooms are furnished with usual hotel conveniences while some suites are afforded with Internet connections, Jacuzzi and other personalized amenities to befit the needs of different customers.
From Left: The garden of Fort Ilocandia. Sculptures - man hunting a deer.
Known for its completeness, the resort extends its services to restaurants, cafés, bars and lounges to appease the desire for food, beverage and entertainment. The shopping center is also at hand to proffer fashion-forward things, refined jewelry finds and special souvenir items. Likewise, the Casino Filipino is open 24/7 to mollify your finger tempers, giving much pleasure to gaming aficionados.
From Top Clockwise: The brick pathway. The landscaped garden. The stairway.
A gamut of activities is dished up for you to revel in such as sand adventures, water flurries and other sporty activities. You can try archery, shooting range and paintball, tennis, horseback riding as well as ATV and 4x4 driving to warm up. And then check out the hottest diversion in town, the recently published in your daily newspaper, sandboarding. Kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, boating and beach volleyball are also offered in the resort.
From Top Clockwise: The lights of glam at the main building. The classy stairway. The mirror. The red brick exterior. A small artificial pond. The talking white bird.
Toasting yourself under the Ilocos sun really brings the Fort Ilocandia holiday to fruition. So how does relaxing your body before leaving the place tomorrow sounds like? Well, availing an outdoor massage and getting cozy at the resort spa looks great! To cool off, you can also consider feeding the animals at the mini zoo, strolling the coastline during the sunset, swimming with friends at night and hearing music at the bar or lounge.
From Top Clockwise: The shopping arcade - fashion finds. The hallway. Souvenirs. Outside the restaurant.
There is no doubt you will enjoy your stay at Fort Ilocandia – perfect happenings in a perfect environment. Where else can you experience all of these luxuries? Only here at your next dream destination!
From Left: A sculptured fierce animal carrying an eagle. The birds of Fort Ilocandia.
WHY NOT: Fun Trips This Holiday (Just beware of the security.)
1. Run naked in the private beach.
2. Camp out at the desert/sand dunes.
3. Gatecrash parties and events.
4. Stroll the place like you are in a public park.
5. Carol at the parking lot.
From Left: Peacock. The dark brown-skinned. An ostrich.
The features of Fort Ilocandia are indeed commendable. By merely looking at the location, you will be amazed. Imagine a resort in the middle of a dry (Sand Dunes) and wet (private beach) area? Plus, the services being offered are simply invigorating. I am just saddened to the fact that Fort Ilocandia is not actually a tourist spot but a VIP hot spot. I am talking here of its affordability to the public at large. Ordinary people and even average vacationers do not have a real access to the place not unless they are going to attend some parties or events. I am very disappointed on the thought that the supposed boom of tourism industry in Ilocos Norte, particularly in Laoag, is being thwarted by this enormous hotel. Now, I am hoping that Fort Ilocandia should not only be the one earning here and celebrating the greatness of the attraction and that there should be an economical hotel built in this scene to accommodate all kinds of tourists. Because tourism… yes, tourism do have its future here! Hotels are mushrooming in the province; we have the latest Java Hotel, Playa Tropical and Pamulinawen Hotel which are all very classy. If we want to boost tourism in Ilocos, we should put up cheaper lodges because what travelers want nowadays is to expend on what to eat and relish during the trip and what to take home and cherish forever and hotel is not of importance here.
URBAN SPLURGE |
A road trip in the Sunshine City
[Picture Prelude: The signature opening look, viewing the Sinking Bell Tower, Holy Spirit Academy, Mc Donald signpost, etc, of Laoag City once you arrived from south.]
In all honesty, there is no real commotion going on in Laoag City. People go there (or should I say stop there) because it is the entry point to Ilocos’ treasures, to the northernmost part, to the bucolic beaches and impressive edifices. Although they have the Sand Dunes, the Sinking Bell Tower, etc., meticulous sightseers are still looking forward to high-octane opportunities which Laoag City obviously cannot ensure. Laoag City is the Capital of Ilocos Norte, right?! Laoag City is the Sunshine City, isn’t it?! Yet I am bored of its features, its topography! But why? What seems to be the problem?
The city, the province, had been run by same people since I came to know the world of POLITICS (not only the Marcoses). Absolutely, political dynasty is present until now but this isn’t the problem here. It is the viewpoints of these officials that affect the management of the locality which could be autocratic, conflicting or just unreasonable. Yes, it is always the perspectives of the administrators that is responsible for statecraft – the inclusion of beauty to each endeavor, of ingenuity to every chance, of art to the whole lot of governance. That is, we can always see a huge difference between the works and contributions of male and female (or gay), manager and leader, businessman and architect, and lawyer and engineer. The gender, partner (wife), likes, attitude and profession of the officials play an important role in giving justice for their positions to the people and to the country. An alleged gay mayor in the region, for instance, had made his municipal to city in his leadership; likewise, he had brought much change to it especially the image of the city.
Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, which is in the brink of aridity, really needs a leader of aesthetic substance, for it to earn full-spread pages in magazines, international reviews in websites and marked titles in the tourism industry. Who knows, when you say “Laoag City” in the next five years, it could mean "Asia's Rainbow", "Philippines' Style Epicenter", "Home of Sand Adventures"! Sounds exciting?! I think Manang Imee Marcos, female, known for its glitzy taste level, now the governor of Ilocos Norte, is a great start for this ambitious, vantage point.
From Left: The Sinking Bell Tower, the historical calesa and brick-walled city hall of Laoag.
Preserving the country’s treasures such as endangered species, national parks, diverse cultures and rich history indubitably upholds the true meaning of our existence as Filipinos. Ilocos Norte per se covers a great undertaking in maintaining its natural resources and laudable RELICS. For example, Laoag City, in which its old structures are located within the inner city, in the business center, where shopping arcades and restaurants are also found. Basically, the city looks very congested now; small stores and other establishments are overfilling the area. With that, “true” malls such as SM and Robinsons are withheld in the city many years ago. There’s no enough space, there’s no one willing to give up. They are in doubt to wipe out the old buildings, the remnants of yesteryears. Well, there’s this plan now to build SM in the city but because of space unavailability, hear-says are telling us that there will be two separate erections for the mall; one will be put up adjacent to the other, divided by a road. As of now, I really don’t know the design of the precinct being constructed, if they are going to renovate the old structure (that has been deliberated a long time ago to surrender in lieu of a shopping mall) and just make it wider or they will obliterate the place totally.
I think the officials are very weak. They should have done this before. What’s their motto? Better late than never? Bummer! What’s happening right now only manifests slow pace development. They didn’t think that keeping one or two is not enough, that they can’t fabricate Calle-Crisologo-like street in Laoag City by just saving few, retaining scattered pieces of the past. They should put these together in one stretch or compound; they should move, if unable to, then copy them, make another one. I know, this will work best.
From Top Downwards: The busy front road of Ilocos Norte Capitol and the water fountain opened during sunrise and sunset only.
If you’re from the province, you have this fondness of going to shopping MALLS because of boredom, or let’s just say, limited access to urbanism. We want to wind up, at least experience aircon-centralized facilities, watch movies, window-shop, buy sale items and check new arrivals and fashion-forward articles. These, we are all loving to do, when we go to the city, to Manila, and we are expecting to see as well, when we go back, to our own Laoag City. But with the aforementioned clash of interests, it took time for Laoag City to choose modernity over history. The construction of this first in Laoag City, following the first in Ilocos Norte (which is the Robinsons Place Ilocos in San Nicolas), however, is yet to set off. Today, I’m craving for a National Bookstore, Top Shop, Starbucks, Book Sale and Mint in Laoag City. I just hope it will favor the convenience of different consumers to suffice what is lacking in Laoag City when it comes to sceneries.
This year, Ilocos Norte was spotted in Time Magazine. I know right! Maybe the world is tired writing about chaotic Manila, impeccable Palawan, exuberant Boracay, boisterous Mindanao, contentious Spratlys, good guy Aquino, self-important Pacquaio, upcoming Charice, etc. I hope Philippines is getting the drift of it – that there’s more about Ilocos Norte than just tagging it to the late Marcos (this isn't anymore the old Facebook that you can tag all you want). Well, we have the UNESCO world heritage St. Augustine Church of Paoay, the first in South Asia Windmills of Bangui, Aussie-favorite beaches of Pagudpud, the Lighthouse in Cape Bojeador of Burgos, the exquisite rainforest of Adams, the many more to discover to rustic towns of Ilocos Norte and then, we have Laoag City… Laoag City… I’m sorry but I don’t have much to say about Laoag City! See? That’s what others might share too.
Bright Sky: Hotel Tiffany, looking vibrant and alive, in a bright afternoon at Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.
It’s very alarming that we don’t have any gluing site in the capital of Ilocos Norte. Officials seem somewhat barren of tactics. Laoag City needs VENTURES – big investments to emerge in the pedestal. They need marketing experts, architects, developers and organizers, bloggers as propagandists, surveys from urban people, lots of ideas from party people, researches on the latest trends, trial-and-error schemes… (Try me!) They should do these or else… blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag! There will be no sun shining anymore… tomorrow…
So I’m thinking of redesigning the city, of improving local tourism services, of addressing the problem in global warming. I would want to have an open museum (gathering Laoag City’s historical remnants in a certain area – roving calesa, brick-walled ancestral houses with capiz-made windows, display of clay jar collection, and the like). I would coordinate with the local government to make tourism office more accessible to the people (like creating tourism booths, information centers, to travel gateways such as bus stations in Manila, frontage of the provincial capitol as well as shopping malls). I would love to put some green, some vegetation around the city (palm trees, creeping vines look refreshing when ambling the streets). And I would promote a smoke-free zone in Laoag City (plumping for electronic jeepneys, pedicabs and calesa and saving the cigarettes in few square meters in the downtown makes shopping, dining, flaunting, frolicking and sauntering a comfort).
From Left: The red details in a newly-renovated building, electricity wires, posts, and a pet shop for bird lovers.
Every corner in the country loves celebrating the goodness of life. Everyone likes to go to fiestas, carnivals, parades and FESTIVALS. In contrast, Filipinos consider their statuses, that is, taking into account the benefits of being frugal. Everyone enjoys sales, discounts, packages and promos. Everyone loves to join contests, pageants, tournaments and challenges too which show the liking of Filipino to competition, to winning. So why not base our line of attacks here? We can shape our tourism approaches to encourage travelers, vacationers, foreigners, business partners and sponsors to come over our place.
I know, we Ilocanos, have the greatest culture to offer. And perhaps Pamulinawen festival is the biggest one in Ilocos. But I just wonder, its vibrancy isn’t going anywhere unlike Dinagyang, Sinulog, Ati-Atihan, Kadayawan, Mascara Festival, etc. in the south as well as Panagbenga and Pahiyas Festival in Luzon. It’s about time to take in new strategies to pull the attention of visitors. From the start of Pamulinawen festival on February until the rain comes in June, town booths, trade fair and food bazaar showcasing our culture should run in the city. Packages on 4x4 and sandboarding experience in Sand Dunes should be catered to the public, to beginners, with annual exhibitions or competitions among professionals. I think tour packages for town-cruising Ilocos Norte should also begin in Laoag City – this is to guide first-time trippers in the province, to those who are not into solo backpacking.
Kurung-Kurung: Stop-over at Laoag City with this Renegade, with a lady driver. Rock 'n roll to the world!
My vision for Laoag City, for Ilocos Norte, is going farther, getting on Kris Aquino’s nerves (kidding). Hahahaha! Seriously, I would love Laoag City to be in the wish list of every traveler. I want it to have a repute that is worth-booking, that there’s a great place in Norte for fun, life and adventure. I want it to look like Manhattan, or Hollywood; to sport romance and provocation; to be a social interest, a center of extravagance; to be the fashion capital of the Philippines. I want it to be your heaven in hell – your cool place despite hot weather!
RURAL BLISS |
Look around and gaze this flying gem of nature
[Veggie Shade: A yellow-colored dragonfly closed up over a Bermuda grass background for a photo op.]
– from dramatic landscapes to eye-catching creatures. Sure thing, they attract us. Tourists, photographers and nature lovers are increasing in trend because of this glorious spectacles.
Walking near the farmlands of Bangui, Ilocos Norte feels like you're a visitor to your own place. You get to see a lot of nature wonders – more than 20 species of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies, migratory birds and colorful bugs. You'd wish you were a resident of the place. Then realizing, you just live nearby. And you won't stop smiling after.
The only problem now would be the difficulty level of classifying these marvelous species. For instance, this dragonfly that came before my eyes last September. First, I thought they were the usual Diplacodes trivialis. Then, I identified them Trithemis pallidinervis. But they are not; they have different markings in the abdomen. Can anyone help me about this?
Unknown Dragonfly: A dragonfly with black and yellow markings alighted in a barbwire of a house near the ricefields.
God created the world ingeniously. Very clever and imaginative that everything has its own purpose. Sometimes, you might think you lose the game but actually you did not. You just received your prize from Him. We are not talking about your consolation prize here my dear friend but your biggest lesson in life that you might waste if you will not recycle your principles. Drive smoothly. Our journey has just started. Do not fool yourself to shortcuts because you might miss this one of a kind learning experience.
RURAL BLISS |
Photographing the tiniest in Ilocos Norte
[Gaika Blue: The half-inch butterfly in the lush farmland of Bangui overlooked by many locals.]
By just taking this photo of a particular grass blue butterfly species, I can say that a lot of passers-by there have ignored another marvel of nature because of its size comparable to the nail of your (schoolage children) smallest finger. Yes, they are really tiny that it took me some time to find the proper angle of my poor point and shoot camera for this dream macro shot. Why blue anyway? This is simply because the upperside wings (the hidden part when the wings are held together) are amazingly colored with blue.
RURAL BLISS |
Behold this awesome splendor of nature
[Tinted Shaft: An orange young female Agriocnemis damselfly perching near the verdant rice fields of Ilocos Norte.]
Prime your eyes because scouting them is difficult! Ward off your hands because picking them is rude! And smile because seeing them is marvelous! They are damselflies – slender, delicate, and weak-flying insects resembling like dragonflies which eyes are separated and wings are held vertically.
Embellishing the grasses of Bangui, Ilocos Norte, alongside drains, forest and open streams, ponds and rice fields are colorful variety of damselfly, the Agriocnemis rubeola. This particular species originating in Southeast Asia is extending 25-millimeter length and spreading 17-millimeter wings.
These marvels of the greensward, gliding during the daytime are observed to change in color as they mature – from an orangey young to greenish adult female Agriocnemis rubeola. They also differ in color according to their sexes, for instance, male species are hued turquoise or greenish blue.
Damselflies are very beneficial in the environment, in the ecosystem. They help in controlling the numbers of harmful insects as they are ferocious predators of flies, mosquitoes, moths and beetles. They are also used as indicators of clean or polluted waterways, streams and ponds, that is, they are unable to breed without such sanitary body of water.
Turquoise Damselfly: A vibrant bluish damselfly maneuvering the grasses of rural houses.
Species: Agriocnemis (rubescens) rubeola
Adult Damselfly: A female Agriocnemis damselfly that has changed its color from orange to green.
We live in nature – very rich and useful. So we should take good care and preserve these treasures if we want them to last for the next generations. Because if Mother Earth cries, all of these natural luxuries we have will vanish in just a sneeze of a typhoon, slap of a tsunami, punch of a soil erosion and a kick of a hurricane. Now, do you want that? Not at all! Let’s hold our hands, take a walk and move purposefully for the future…
RURAL BLISS |
Every inch of life is indispensable…
[Dry Season Brood: The pink-tinged light brown butterfly adorning the grass-covered area of an Ilocos rustic house.]
They have built their realm in Northern Luzon; they have invaded the greensward in the community. Appearing like a dried leaf in the ground, you may ignore them; resembling like a nice petal, you may touch them. They are the petite but endearing butterflies emerging in the grasses of Asia which come in light-pink-to-light-yellow-to-light-brown-colored wings, black-and-white-striped antennae and physique comparable to a letter “C” 72-font-size.
Species: Pseudozizeeria maha
Brood: Dry Season
Appreciate small things and receive big things!