01 Oct2007



Following our visit to the Cape Boheador lighthouse, we drove on increasing desolate and what I would describe as wind-swept brush for another 30 minutes or so, passing the majestic wind turbines at Bangui Bay and passed the bizarre marker for the turn-off to Saud Beach in Pagudpud, and I have to say, it was feeling rather remote. We headed another 15+ kilometers to the turnoff for the Blue Lagoon, a large hidden cove that is one of the Northern most beaches on the island of Luzon! Some have labeled this the Boracay of the North, and while stunning, I think the Boracay comparison is a bit of a stretch. At any rate, just when we thought we were at our destination, we had to drive several more kilometers on dirt roads to our hotel… The next morning, I got up at the crack of dawn and decided to take a 10 minute stroll from our hotel to the beach at Blue Lagoon and I was not disappointed…



There is something about walking on a long, beautiful, relatively pristine beach in the early morning that is incomparably calming… I was literally the only human on this beach that stretched a good kilometer and a half. And despite the somewhat overcast skies, the water was a stunning shade of blue. There were thousands of fish fry frolicking in the crystal clear waters close to the shore. I figured that if I went in for a swim and got taken out by the currents, the next stop would be the Babuyan Islands or Batanes if I was lucky not to be chomped on by a shark or two! Sitting on the beach for a few minutes just taking the scenery all in, I realized, life can be so simple and so incredibly beautiful. This was a very good private moment on a wonderful beach. I dread to think what will happen to this cove in 20 years, but I will always recall my early morning walk in solitude…


On the walk back to our hotel, I came across this “school cycle” that was ferrying kids to an elementary school several kilometers away. The look on the kids’ faces, the hospitality and greetings they naturally extended to a strange passerby, the whole setting and early morning timing, just made my day. Despite the negative thoughts that quickly entered my mind… What does the future hold for many of these young and innocent students? How many will manage to finish grade school? High school? How many will aspire to do great things at home and abroad? How many will just continue a cycle of poverty and have dozens more progeny that will start the process all over again… At least they were growing up near a stunningly beautiful beach and natural landscape… Obviously, I was getting hungry and needed a good breakfast to fuel up for another long day ahead on the Ilocos sojourn…




  1. flip4ever says:

    I once flew on a twin-engine from Manila to Palanan Bay in Isabela; and it was looking through the window that I realized how many beautiful and unexplored beaches we probably have (we were hugging the coast most of the way). So even if some beaches get commercialized (hopefully with some benefits to the locals)…I know there will always be those that will exist in its pristine form.

    Oct 1, 2007 | 12:27 pm


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  3. peterb says:

    Last time i was there was 10 years ago. I’m glad to see it still looks clean and unspoiled. Nice pics MM!

    Oct 1, 2007 | 1:07 pm

  4. Richard says:

    Hello, would like to ask what is the name of your hotel, and contact info. Would you recommend the same hotel to others?? Thanks.

    Oct 1, 2007 | 1:50 pm

  5. bernadette says:

    Once something pristine becomes commercial—there goes the pristine-ness :-). Sorry for the jadedness. I’ve witnessed it often to happen kasi. The children are so blest to live in such natural beauty. Their schoolbus looks so quiant and I can see they’re well taken cared of when going to school! Just comparing with where I live…

    Oct 1, 2007 | 2:51 pm

  6. DADD-F says:

    Well, I can’t fly…but I used to roam the country’s coasts. And I almost worked in Isabela covering Palanan Bay. I guess at that time, I settled for Central Visayas, Palawan and Southern Mindanao instead. Anyway, Palanan Bay, indeed, is a slice of heaven. The Philippines is full of this. Sometimes, sometimes, I just wonder how one can possibly have the heart to leave the Philippines. Sigh….

    Oct 1, 2007 | 2:59 pm

  7. Blaise says:

    The “Footprints on the sand” is a fantastic image you’ve shot..

    The last picture could pass up for a postcard..

    Oct 1, 2007 | 3:39 pm

  8. titashi says:

    love the shot of the kids going to school, i hope they finish college too…which make me think of those kids you (we) wanna help this coming christmas.

    ps: MM, i wanna vote thrice sa poll, can i? i voted for mario batali but still want to vote for barefoot contessa and iron chef america! hehehe…just kidding : )

    Oct 1, 2007 | 3:54 pm

  9. eumir213 says:

    The place is called Maraira…. Hidden getaway in Ilocos.

    Oct 1, 2007 | 4:33 pm

  10. Lissa says:

    MM, just a request for an addition to the newest poll — how about Jamie Oliver?

    Oct 1, 2007 | 5:34 pm

  11. Marketman says:

    Lissa, will add Jamie Oliver in a couple of minutes. Richard, hotel details coming up in a post or two…

    Oct 1, 2007 | 5:49 pm

  12. elaine says:

    Wow! We are truly blessed with magnificent beaches….our local officials must see to it that these are well preserved and as visitors to these places, we also have a responsibility in doing our share…with your poll, I still voted for good ‘ol Martha, regardless of her negative reputation in the past,I enjoy her recipes, her crafts(at least now, she credits people responsible for these ideas)and she does choose good things and good eats.

    Oct 1, 2007 | 7:20 pm

  13. Markee says:

    hmmm… no one voted for Bobby Flay. ( I wonder why? )

    Oct 1, 2007 | 7:20 pm

  14. zena says:

    I was in Pagudpud and discovered this quaint, little hotel (which we unfortunately did not stay in). It was newly renovated and was shown all the rooms before we left as we ate most of our meals there. The prices are reasonable and they have a dorm-type room as well for big groups who are on a budget. The regular rooms are charming and have character to boot. Food was reasonably price, servings to share and yummy. I hate pinakbet but I loved theirs. It is Apo Idon Hotel, 09189334434 & 09189047445. It is very close to Saud Beach Resort.

    Nice pictures, MM. Relays the serenity that you speak of.It was stormy when we there such that we couldn’t even see the turbines!

    Oct 1, 2007 | 8:36 pm

  15. zena says:

    P.S. I meant I was there last October. =)

    Oct 1, 2007 | 8:45 pm

  16. Catalina says:

    Re your poll on food/cooking shows: Paula Deen is my favorite chef on TV, but she isn’t in your poll list, so am voting here :-)

    Oct 1, 2007 | 8:47 pm

  17. shane says:

    the beach is absolutely gorgeous! Growing up in Houston we spent many a weekend in Galveston-Galveston beach and its surrounding area is nowhere near pristine. I wonder how life would be like out there in Pagudpud…visiting one aunt in Bacolod, an uncle “dared” me to go on a road trip that took us from one end of negros oriental (hinobaan?) all the way to the end of negros occidental (dumaguete). I was very impressed with the scenery, the locals were quite hospitable, the food, especially the seafood, though simply prepared (mostly grilled) was very satisfying and delicious.

    I am taking notes on your northern luzon trek–i may end up in manila this coming march and decide to go on a road trip in northern luzon. thanks for sharing!

    btw, I once met Emeril Lagasse at his highly acclaimed restaurant Emeril’s in Atlanta. As celebrated as he is, Mr. Lagasse is very down to earth and has the same charisma on and off the screen. I had the privilege to be attended to by the man himself! When I get the chance I enjoy watching his show as well as the original Iron Chef.

    Oct 1, 2007 | 8:56 pm

  18. tei says:

    for me bobby flay sucks. i find him mayabang.

    Oct 1, 2007 | 9:13 pm

  19. john paul sarabia says:

    dear market manila,

    i enjoy your website. can you please feature my family hotel, sarabia manor, in iloilo.

    take care, jp sarabia

    Oct 1, 2007 | 10:07 pm

  20. Fabian M says:

    Hi Marketman, please add Nigella Lawson to your survey list :)

    Oct 1, 2007 | 11:41 pm

  21. Maria Clara says:

    Looks like the set of Brooke Shields’ movie “Blue Lagoon.” Never been to Ilocos region and will make every effort to visit the region in the near future. Lots of beautiful beaches, places and markets to enjoy and great foods too!

    Oct 2, 2007 | 1:27 am

  22. sylvia says:

    That’s a beautiful blue lagoon, Marketman. I went on a road trip to Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte about 15 yrs ago with some friends. The landscape is beautiful and so different from what I was expecting, so unlike the Southern Tagalog, Visayas and Mindanao regions. I was impressed by the cemented roads (thanks to their Apo).

    Btw, I am so glad to see that my favorite Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, is rating high (so far) in your poll. I also like Giada de Laurentiis & Martha Stewart. Rachael Ray is too annoying to watch and Bobby Flay is too cocky which, I believe, turns people off.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 3:18 am

  23. MasPinaSarap says:

    This is where we get our name. “I” “looc” – Ilocano, or “People of the cove/bay”. Nice post!!

    Oct 2, 2007 | 9:21 am

  24. palengkera says:

    Yes, Bobby Flay is soooo mayabang and I find Rachel Ray a bit loud — parang laseng. I wanna switch lives with the Barefoot Contessa.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 9:46 am

  25. sometime_lurker says:

    Thanks, zena. Very useful info, indeed.

    jp, do you’ve a website? hope so.

    Thanks, MM.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 10:40 am

  26. Kikay says:

    I just went there a few months ago and it was magnificent! Yeah, it might be a stretch comparing it to Boracay but I’ll take a pristine, deserted, secluded beach anytime over crowded Bora. =)

    Oct 2, 2007 | 11:19 am

  27. john paul sarabia says:

    dear sometime ,

    i don’t have a website.

    tane care, jps

    Oct 2, 2007 | 11:53 am

  28. shane says:

    to john paul sarabia

    as far as I can remember my family has held many important gatherings at your hotel. The first time I stepped foot there was in the 80s when I was a flower girl for the Sollano-Prudente wedding. I can recall the celebration as rather bitterweet for the family–my grandfather Antonio had just passed away at the time and was not able to march the first “apo” down the aisle. Last year, my niece Medjugorgee had her debut held at Sarabia Manor. Although I was not present, I was amazed to learn that Sarabia Manor still exists– Not only are you in the hotel business but in the business of making and creating lasting memories for the many celebrations held there. Mabuhay to you and your family for continued success.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 9:19 pm

  29. john paul sarabia says:

    shane, thank you. am glad that you have fond memories of our hotel.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 10:10 pm

  30. noemi says:

    beautiful place. I’m proud to be ilokana.

    Oct 3, 2007 | 2:23 am

  31. jen says:

    …wow!!! gAnDa tLaGa D2! super

    Oct 5, 2007 | 11:43 am

  32. Tess says:

    I subscribe to Islands mag. a Conde Nast publisher and I came upon this article 20 Best Undiscovered beaches in the world and the beach you featured is picked as one of them. As a Filipino living abroad for more than 30 years now, am I ever proud that we do have such beautiful beaches. I’m not a native of this breathtaking community but I,m seriosly considering retiring there. I’ve seen the place once last year
    and I really love it,but there are no facilities.

    Oct 22, 2007 | 3:59 pm

  33. June says:

    Nice site. Just wondering how far is Pagudpud from Manila. I wil be going to Manila and just curious if it’s worth the drive. Where is the best place to stay and not too expensive in Pagudpud? Does it get crowded there in December?

    I’d appreciate your reply. Thank you.

    Oct 25, 2007 | 1:19 pm

  34. Marketman says:

    June I have several posts on an Ilocos trip, check the archives around the post of this date. Pagudpud is at least 11-12 hours by car from Manila. I would fly to Laoag instead. Kapuluan Vista Resort is my pick in Pagudpud, but it is FAR FAR FAR from civilization, and I liked that. I have a post on the hotel in the archives as well.

    Oct 25, 2007 | 1:47 pm

  35. barbie says:

    hi john paul sarabia, im planning 2 visit ur plce, i juz want to know the cost… hope youl reply.. thank you

    Oct 31, 2007 | 10:20 pm

  36. chinggay says:

    very nice place indeed,my kids realy enjoyed our vacation, what is surprising you dont have to pay any entrance fee. We are planning to visit the place again soon

    Nov 6, 2007 | 1:33 pm

  37. Bai says:

    hi guys!!! this is my first time to visit this site.. when i saw the pictures of the so called “blue lagoon”, i was really impressed.. this december, my korean students and i are planning to visit Pagudpud and i want them to see the real beauty of the philippines starting with that place… can you please give me more information about the place.. i mean hotels, transportation, phone numbers and so on.. i would appreciate the reply… thanks so much!!!

    Dec 12, 2007 | 9:23 pm

  38. jan-na says:

    hi, may i know the name of the resort that you stayed in? im interested, coz it’s just a 10 minute walk to blue lagoon and how much? i will be very glad to hear from you..

    thanks in advance

    Apr 24, 2008 | 1:17 am

  39. Marketman says:

    jan-na and bai, kapuluan beach resort, I did a separate post on it, it is in the archives.

    Apr 24, 2008 | 8:38 am

  40. rjo says:

    my family is planning to go there in oct . may i know the name of the hotel , and would like to ask other info

    Sep 9, 2008 | 1:27 am

  41. Marketman says:

    rjo, we stayed at the Kapuluan Vista Resort and really enjoyed it… details in the archives. If you are having difficulty locating the post, just google “kapuluan vista marketmanila” and it should pop out.

    Sep 9, 2008 | 7:12 am

  42. parisbluepizza says:

    hi! i think that one of the beaches that flip4ever saw was ours..actually the beaches along Palanan are yet to be discovered and developed into resorts…i think it will just be hard for people to go there because there is really no mode of transport that’s safe enough to cross the mountains and the waters as well. But it’s heaven there.

    Apr 17, 2009 | 1:10 pm

  43. vergel says:

    gud morning, is this Blue lagoon resort in Pagudpud Ilocos Norte? This is vergel can I inquinquire what is your telephone and cellphone no. of your resor & how much is the package deal of your resort and also the rooms for accommodation.

    May 26, 2009 | 10:02 am


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