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8 Reasons To Travel to the North of Luzon

Bangui Windmills, (photo by Edsel Ochoa)

There are many reasons why you should go North – even not in the summertime!  Here are the top reasons why the Northern Philippines is your best bet come rain or shine.

Know more about how you can enjoy the best of North Philippines, its numerous travel spots and no-miss attractions by dropping by at ‘NLEX Tara nasaNorte,” a travel fair which will run on July 25-27, 2014, at the Glorietta Activity Center Makati City.

At least 100 exhibitors are expected to gather for this travel and tourism fair mounted by the Manila North Tollways Corp (MNTC) – from the corporate sector, local government units, the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) regional offices, hotels, and restaurants, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and traders, among others. ‘NLEX Tara nasaNorte” will also provide a platform for the small and medium  enterprises (SMEs) to showcase their craft, furniture, fashion accessories, food items  and other regional products and make them accessible to Metro Manila residents.

Co-presenters are the Department of Tourism Regions 1, 2, 3 and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Glorietta and Ayala Malls, and supported by the North Philippines  Visitors Bureau (NPVB), this three-day event is  also sponsored by the Subic Bay  Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Clark Development Corporation, Maynilad and PhilHydro with Cebu Pacific as the official airline partner and Philippine Daily Inquirer, media partner.

1.    THE NLEX

The North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) is known as the “Gateway to the North”. It spans 84 kilometers of world-class expressway which connects Metro Manila to the Central and Northern Luzon regions. Built to ensure safety, convenience, and efficiency of motorists and passengers, the Manila North Tollways Corporation-operated (MNTC) expressway has 98 internationally recognized informational, directional, and warning signs along its entire stretch, as well as real-time en route travel advisories, and 24/7 CCTV cameras to monitor road conditions and ensure that you reach your Northern destination with ease.

2.    COLORFUL FESTIVALS

Bangus Festival, (photo by Edsel Ochoa)

Baguio may be known for its annual flower fest Panagbenga, or Dagupan for its Bangus Festival but there are more to Northern Philippines’ festival than meets the eye. Malolos, Bulacan has the Sto Niño de Malolos Festival, the biggest gathering of devotees to the Holy Child Jesus in the North, held every January. Kannawidan ‘Ylocos’ Festival in Ilocos Sur pays homage to Ilocano traditions, and include street parades, Ilocano poem writing contest, a talent night where performers sing Ilocano ballads, a dance drama, and marching band contest.

Of course, Pampanga has its world-famous Lantern Festival held every December, and Sinukwan Festival, a festival immortalizing AringSinukwan, god of the ancient Kapampangans where groups outdo each other in dancing to the local anthem “Atin Cu PungSingsing”.

3.    AMAZING CHURCHES

Paoay church

The country’s deep-rooted Christianity is mirrored in some of the country’s oldest churches located in Northern Luzon. Among them,Baguio Cathedral (Our Lady of Atonement)located atop Mount Mary Hill; PaoayChurch (St. Augustine Church), a UNESCO World Heritage Site; St. William Cathedral, Laoag’scity’s landmark built in 1580; Betis Church (St. John the Apostle Parish Church) in Guagua, named a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum for its painted ceiling of murals depicting scenes from the Bible; and the San Guillermo Church in Bacolor, which doubles as a place of worship and a tourist attraction to this day with its Baroque architecture, particularly its pulpit which is intricately carved and heavily gilded in gold leaf. 

4.    WONDERFUL BEACHES AND WATER SPORTS

Kiteboarding in Kingfisher, Pagudpid, (photo by Edsel Ochoa)

Surfing in La Union, (Photo by Edsel Ochoa)

Sailing in Capones Island, Zambales (photo by Edsel Ochoa)

In Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte,  not only do the wide beaches lure you to swim but the excellent wind can give you the ultimate rush via kiteboarding and windsurfing. Zambales’ Potipot Island inspires visitors to go kayaking. Pangasinan’s Hundred Islands  also boast of isolated caves, and snorkeling reefs. The more daring ones can go near and far Luzon to enjoy spectacular adventures. DecaWakepark in Clark is a wakeboarder’s haven. Baguio has various trails which newbies and seasoned adrenaline junkies alike enjoy. Benguet also has challenging bike trails to conquer.

5.    GLORIOUS FOOD

Bagnet Ilocos Region (photo by edsel ochoa)

Empanada, Ilocos Norte, (photo by edsel ochoa)

Rolled pizza at Kart city Tarlac, (photo by edsel ochoa)

Itself a unique adventure, food in Northern Philippines is both for the banal and the adventurous. Pampanga, of course, is the food lover’s haven with Bale Datung, a popular private kitchen perfect for intimate lunch or dinner with family and friends featuring Chef Claude Tayag’s homemade creations;Susie’s pichipichi, tiboktibok, suman, moche and sapinsapin; AlingLucing’sSisig; and Nathaniel’sbukopandan.The Ilocos region boasts of its Viganlongganiza and crispy ukoy and empanadas.

6.    INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Aetas of Zambales, (photo by edsel ochoa)

Ethnic groups are known to have preserved the real culture of Filipinos. It would be good to encounter and learn more about the Aetas of Pampanga, the Igorots of the Cordillera Administrative Region, the Ilongots in the southern Sierra Madre and Caraballo Mountains on the east side of Luzon particularly Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya.

7.    BEST ACCOMMODATIONS

The Manor Hotel, Baguio, (photo by edsel ochoa)

Widus Hotel, Clark, (photo by edsel ochoa)

Near or far, affordable or luxurious, North Luzon’s many hotels and accommodations await guests. From Baguio’s Camp John Hay and Baguio Country Club, to Bataan’s Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar where heritage structures are a sight to behold; to  Anvaya Cove, a luxurious residential resort and private enclave that presents a balance between sustainable development and environmental preservation.

8. VIGAN, the new contender for New Wonders of the World

The heritage town of Vigan preserved to bring you back to the colonial times with its amazing architecture and historical features.
The blast from the past serves as a backdrop for holiday photos. There are musuems to visit to inform you about how was life during those past periods.

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