Palpalokada (Burgos, Ilocos Norte, PH)

“A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise. Because that is how life is – full of surprises.” — Isaac Bashevis Singer

I was in Bacolod when I’ve heard of Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho’s feature about Ilocos’ best kept secrets. Since I was on a backpacking that time, I wasn’t able to watch it. When I got back in Baguio, my housemate messaged a link of that episode of Jessica Soho. And LO! I was right there and then eager to go and see for myself this 5-syllable name of a place that thuds totally enthralling to my ears – PAL-PA-LO-KA-DA.

Before setting a schedule, I googled this place and check out what else has been said about it. And there, only a few have been and only a number of blogs or posts were written. I guess its because the place is pretty new and people haven’t heard much of it until that Saturday night when it was first featured on national television.

A week ago, I contacted the Tourism officer of the town of Burgos (Sir Jonas Tesoro), and inquired about Palpalokada. He was very nice and really enthusiastic talking about the place. A few days from the time we talked over the phone, I found myself traveling on an almost 8 hours bus ride from Baguio to Laoag then to the laidback town of Burgos in Ilocos Norte.

This isn’t my first time to visit Ilocos Norte since my dad’s roots are traced in this idyllic province. But every time I come back, I always find myself enamored by its beauty. This province never fails to surprise me with its seemingly endless nature secrets. I was so in awe when I first saw Kapurpurawan a few years ago; and I could still remember how amazed I was when I reached the topmost part of Cape Bojeador.

From Laoag City, its only about an hour to an hour and 30 minutes by bus to reach Burgos town proper. (Depending on how many stops would the bus do to pick up a seemingly endless number of passengers with loads of stuff, wahehehehe… I’m not really complaining… Forgive me if I sound like one but I am just so excited to see Palpalokada). I met Sir Jonas at the municipal hall, and I was right, he was as enthusiastic as he was over the phone as he is in person. Having conversed with him, I must say that the town is very fortunate to have a goal-directed tourism officer like him.

From the town proper, off we went o Palpalokada with some of the Mayor’s visitors all the way from Malabon. We took a dirt path to the left (from the National Highway going to Pagudpud). There were no signposts (yet – the tourism officer have some brilliant ideas on how the post would look like later). It was about a 10-minute ride on a PUV, or if one is keen on walking, I guess that’s possible too but will take you perhaps half an hour to one hour depending on how excruciating the sun’s heat is.

Upon arrival, I was lost for words for a few moments. I was trying to scan my brain for the most appropriate adjective that would describe the place. I ended up saying “wow, it’s beautiful”. It was an understatement. I knew I could utter better words than that but I guess I was too star-struck to have thought of more  apt description like “cinematic”, “amazing” or “spectacular”. It was a cloudy day inspite of the sweltering heat of the sun. But more than the sweat coming out of my forehead, I had gooseflesh…

After it has sank in me that I was really in Palpalokada, I hurriedly set up my tripod and camera. It was yet another dilemma. I didn’t know where to start. With such vast a beauty, I was confused as to which fraction of the place to capture first. I may sound exaggerated but you’ll understand that when you get to see it firsthand. Palpalokada is definitely a photographer’s paradise. Everything is really praiseworthy. At that moment, I’ve seen the most thought-provoking panorama – it was like the coast of Ireland, or a bit of the Grand Canyon and thebeaches of Maui in Hawaii (though I’ve never been to these places, only saw it in pictures)… really mystical, but authentic… as one of my twitter friends would always say – LEGITIMATE beauty!

Sir Jonas told me that it was quite unfortunate that the kabalyeros of the Pasto Communal of Burgos (an association of farmers/horse owners which) are having an important meeting that’s why the horses aren’t available too. It was proposed that a horse-back riding activity is one great pastime to do and enjoy in Palpalokada. But the absence of horses for faster and easier way of moving around didn’t hinder me from exploring the place.

Palpalokada, according to Sir Jonas, was coined from an Ilocano word “paloka” – a term given to handmade slippers out of used rubber tire for the soles and rope for the uppers, and were once used during the olden times. So Palpalokada may translate in to “their slippers”. Once in Palpalokada, one gets to see a 360-degree view of God’s and one of man’s greatest creations. To the north are the humongous Bangui Wind Turbines, the West Philippine Sea, of course on the west, large rocks on the southern part with a view of Kapurpurawan; and jagged mountains at the eastern side. It was a complete package – from stunning landscapes to incredible seascapes.

It was indeed an adventure-filled and quixotic weekend in a surprisingly impressive milieu. Nature aficionados and kibitzers will definitely feel enamored by this place. And so, with the remaining number of days this summer – try to squeeze in and consider Palpalokada a part of your summer getaway. But remember, always always always be a conscientious tourist. Just like what the mountaineer’s creed says – “take nothing but picture”!

For inquiries, contact the Burgos tourism office at +63-77-7861408. Or call Mayor Cris Garcia: 0928-5510452, 0917-5190665  and Jonas Tesoro: 0928-5510381, 0905-3520633, 0915-5211885.) – Believe me when I say they are the nicest!!!

Romulo out —

Take it easy ebrwian.

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