Truly, we will only realize the importance of someone or something once it is already out of sight. After graduating with a Master’s Degree, I felt that I had nothing more to ask for. I had a good career, a loving family and a supportive boyfriend—a simple yet happy life. With all the blessings I have been showered on, one could say my life was very content. Here’s a complete Guide to Ilocos.
I was unaware that the happiness in my heart would be replaced soon by so much heartache that seemed to last forever. The news about my father’s stage four cancer gave a shock to all of us. It was the most heart-wrenching experience we encountered as a family and his sudden going gave us intense agony to the point of asking God, “Why of all people, why should it be my father?” Each day became a day of torture, and no matter what I did, with whom I talked, or where I went, the memories of my father – his genuine smile, his unforgettable punch lines, his thoughtful and selfless actions; everything kept flashing back and sometimes I found myself thinking if that was all just a nightmare. But every day I woke up and realized that there was no more father to comfort me. Each day, I cry hard thinking that maybe the next day I will not cry as hard as I did before, only to realize that the agony was still there.
I have felt so much guilt blaming myself, thinking how I could’ve been a good daughter; how I wish I had spent more time with him when he was still alive. It is too unbearable to think it is too late and what remain are just regrets. I can say that I am not a perfect daughter and at times I got angry with my parents. After my father’s death I cannot stop thinking of false wishes again and again.
For some time, I locked myself in a world of negativity. I cried, got angry and almost neglected myself by not eating and sleeping. Then I realized that the world will not stop revolving even if I almost kill myself on account of this severe loneliness. I must continue to live, and not suffer but keep on fighting against this blow in life hoping for the time that this feeling that has been tormenting me will all end one day. But then, there was no instant way out of that situation.
It seems that my prayers were answered when I got the chance to have a trip with my colleagues and with my mom to wonder in Ilocos. This was a timely diversion that I feel will help me in some way—from a humdrum routine life, to a place that I haven’t been to yet. We went on our 10-hour travel by bus which made three stopovers for us to comfort ourselves. Finally, we were welcomed by the inviting ambiance of the beautiful province of Ilocos Sur. We get up from our seats full of excitement upon arriving. My mom and I went to a local eatery and got a taste of their Sinanglaw that was omnipresent on the sides of the streets. We also witnessed the historical museum of former President Ferdinand Marcos as well as the lively place of Batac City. It was overcrowded with tourists armed with their smart phones and digital cameras; all were obviously excited to capture every single memory of their trip.
My mom and I woke up very early to have a brisk walk outside. Because we arrived very late the previous night, we did not see much of the scenery on our way to our lodge which is near the Bantay Abot Cave and Timmangtang Rock. When we stepped outside, we couldn’t help but be awestruck seeing the waves splashing as well as the dramatic meeting of the land and the sea.
We pampered ourselves taking photos of the beautiful scenery in front of our eyes. We relished the dancing waves and clear waters and for once, I felt like a child exploring the gift of nature. Oh, how good it was feeling my blood flowing in my veins and my eyes wanting to see more during this trip! My mom who has rarely spent her life outside our village walked on the shore and started to collect rocks of different sizes and shapes. Soon, she was able to collect serrated remembrances. We let our skin be soaked from the light. The long stretch of shimmering white sandy beach of Pagudpud made me feel that we were in another world–a world similar to “paradise.” Soon after, we rented a van that snaked its way to the Patapat Viaduct or the so-called French Riviera of the North to the Kabigan Falls.
We hiked with a tour guide who was with us for about thirty to forty-five minutes all the way under the blazing light, feeling health and strength in every cell of our body. I loved how the cold water tingled my tired feet when I dipped them into its body that guided our way to the Kabigan Falls. I thought and spoke of beauty everywhere just like a mantra. I asked my mom to take a photo of me to remember the day when all I could think of was beauty.
We left very early to visit the Blue Lagoon which took our breath away with its water as blue as the sky and its sand as radiant as crystals. It was a perfect place for supreme getaways for those who love nature and serenity—myself being one of them. I observed that many people who were busily taking photos, had a common pose in which they raised both of their arms to the sky with their face beaming with happiness. We went back to our lodging then we took a shower and packed our things, ready to move to the next destination. The sky was clear and the breeze was gentle. The green mountains in the distance were clearly visible. I paused to say goodbye to the place knowing that I might probably never be back but a piece of my heart will always be there.
As my feet stepped in Bangui, Ilocos Norte to see the Bangui Windmills, I could not help but be amazed to see those giant turbines that had three vertically oriented rotor blades on top. As a natural picture-snapper, curiosity arose in me the first time that I saw them while we are on our way to our lodging. Anyone will surely admire the view of these magnificent tall and white windmills knowing that they generate power by absorbing the wind’s kinetic energy and converting it to electricity through the use of a generator. They also help reduce the greenhouse gases that causes global warming. Filipinos should be proud of these extremely impressive scientific inventions that we can show off to the whole world.
The heat we experienced during our hike in the dusty trail toward the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos, Ilocos Norte was at its maximum but it did not stop us from visiting it. Its names suggest “kaputi-putian” or white in Ilokano and it was one of the majestic treasures of Ilocos that I witnessed. The feeling is indescribable—it is really nice to detach one’s self from everyday stressful situations and just be in love with nature.
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Once again, we went back to Vigan and spent some hours there buying some souvenirs for us and for our loved ones. We strolled along the historical pavements of Calle Crisologo where we saw the Spanish colonial architectures. Kalesa or the horse-drawn carriages were the only means of transportation allowed on the street. The little shops on both sides were full of temptations. They sold handmade quilts, and handcrafted furniture, even the T-shirts were artistic.
When we arrived home we shared endlessly everything we saw: stunning, memorable, worth recalling over and over as long as we stayed awake. And yes, it was such a wonderful experience that opened our eyes to the fact that life was wonderful. We cherished each day of our vacation with such full enthusiasm as we watched life unfold before us that made me realize that everything happens for a reason. And just like a sun that pulls the light off the beach and the shadow that engulfed the paradise but then splendidly rises again and spreading brightness everywhere, so is life that may have its down moments but then it will rise up to give a new hope.
Although I cannot say that the pain of losing my father totally vanished, our trip helped to ease the pain and the constant tiredness that had been afflicting me causing it to lessen by and by. It made me accept the truth that each one of us has his own destiny and we do not know how long we can be on this planet. But no matter how long or short we are going to stay here, we must enjoy each moment and always put our trust in God. I am starting to pick up the pieces and go on with my life even though I do not have my father physically; his memories will always remain in my heart as long as I live. I also learn to forgive myself and now I am trying to be a better daughter to my mom.
My commune with nature also opened my eyes and heart to continue to seek the Lord by asking Him to give me strength each new day. As humans, we have a freedom to choose whether to shut our door to a room of negativity or open ourselves to life and give ourselves a chance to be happy. Life is short and we should live life to the fullest because we only have one life and one chance to do all the things we want to do and do not forget to show love to people around us because it might be the last time we can show it to them.
My name is Ana Rose and I was born and raised in the Philippines. I am a full-time high school teacher and a part-time instructor. I started travelling during my teen-age years with my family but wasn’t able to travel again to far-away places when I started college and began to work as a teacher. I am more of an introvert person and I love books because reading can make me travel to different places too. When I am inside a mall, I prefer staying in Bookstores there. I also love taking photos and collecting souvenirs from different places I visit. Another thing that interests me is learning foreign languages. My dreams are to travel to different countries and learn how to speak Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Japanese and French.