Northern Luzon Loop – First Timer – Solo Ride – Signal No. 2 – 1291 km

I’ve always been intrigued by the North Loop, based on the posts I’ve seen in the internet that is why I have long been planning to do a Loop around the Northern part of Luzon.

Took off at July 30, 4 AM. Plan was to take the counter-clockwise route passing through Bulacan then Nueva Ecija. I have previewed it before by going as far as Ilagan, Isabela so I knew what to expect until that point, since the ideal 1st night is to be spent in Tuguegarao, which was ‘only’ 90 kms away from Ilagan.

Spectacular scenery definitely. The ride started to get exciting once I got past San Jose in Nueva Ecija (maybe 150 kms into the trip).

Spectacular sceneries indeed… would have been a much much enjoyable and safer trip if not for the Tropical Storm Jolina heading my way. I have traveled a lot in the past solo, but doing a North loop right in the eye of the storm truly made this expirience one of my most memorable ones, in terms of motorcycle riding.

Allow me to share some of my pictures from my recent trip – July 30 to August 2, 2009. I don’t know where to start since I have a lot of pictures to share (pasensya na, consider this as my North Loop blog), so I’ll go through the story per province.

As I’ve said, left Villamor Airbase close to 4 pm and arrived in Gapan a little past 6 am.

NUEVA ECIJA

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Nueva Ecija arc

NUEVA VIZCAYA

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Nueva Vizcaya Arc

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Daang Maharlika Highway Boundary

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First real stop-over and gas-up at Total Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya (221 kms)

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Had lunch just right outside Solano, Nueva Vizcaya on a roadside eatery

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ISABELA

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Welcome to Isabela

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St. Ferdinand Cathedral in Ilagan, Isabela – sarado sya that time, lumusot lang ako sa gate…really beautiful. It’s actual color is Light Pink.

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World’s Biggest Butaka (Rocking Chair)

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Endless stretch of roads and fields

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This thing landed on my helmet while I was resting along the highway
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Cagayan

Entering the Beautiful Province of Cagayan

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Gutom na… Pansit Cabagan in Tuguegarao

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Stayed here in Aras Lodge near Petron – 500 pesos for 12 hours with Cable TV and Aircon, not bad. Would have been cheaper had I settled for the non-aircon room.

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Breath-taking view of the fields of Cagayan

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Philomene Church in Alcala, Cagayan – I wonder how old this Church is.

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Nice view of the walls along the highway. A bit creepy coz I shot some pictures here and rested for a few minutes and not one vehicle passed.

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A view of the Magapit Suspension Bridge in Lal-lo, Cagayan – I wonder why this is so talked about, found nothing spectacular about it…it was short…the view of the Cagayan River was nice though.

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Magapit Suspension Bridge in Lal-lo, Cagayan

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Not sure where, but I think this is an abandoned view deck in Claveria

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Ilocos Norte

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Picture taken at the Patapat Viaduct (Cagayan – Ilocos Norte Boundary)

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A highway view of the gigantic Windmills in Bangui. For a first timer, I was really amazed to see one, let alone a whole row of them. Can’t wait to get closer.

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Among the dozens of roadkils I encountered in this trip. The snake swallowed the rat whole, then was ran over by a car.

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You can’t bring the bike near the shore, sand na nga pala. I nearly lost control, nearly fell over. Had to leave him some 300 meters from the shore.

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I was the only person along this beach shore, cool. NorthWind Bangui Bay Project in Ilocos Norte

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My bike and the windmill.

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After Bangui, sobrang sama ng daan, and it will go for long stretches like the one in the picture above.

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Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.

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Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.

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Sinking Bell Tower of Laoag

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Roque Ablan shrine in Laoag

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St. Nicholas de Tolentino Church

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Riverside Empanadaan in Batac

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422 year old Batac Church (renovated)

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Goodbye Ilocos Norte – see how dark the clouds are going to Ilocos Sur. Lagot na.

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Ilocos Sur

Had a smooth ride from Batac to San Juan even with drizzle disrupting my vision at times. I was already wearing the 30 pesos raincoat I bought in SM. Lumalakas na ang ulan. I remember a man advising me that the flood in San Juan is alredy waist deep and even trucks are having second thoughts passing. I was stranded for 2 hours when in fact I was only around 20 mins away from Vigan. Had to wait for the rain to subside along with the other motorists.

The rain came from the mountains on the left, then flooded their ricefields, crossed the roads and then the residents had to absorb the flood going to their houses.

The rain was that hard.

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sa kanila pumupunta yung agos ng tubig.

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Umabot sa makina ng jeep. Waist deep at least.

Arrived in Vigan at 9 pm, ate at Jollibee… to tired, I figured I had to rest first before exploring the city. Wala ako makitang murang accommodation so I went to Bantay, Ilocos Sur to get a room for 800 pesos. JAJA Hotel just 5 mins away from Vigan. Definitely a place to avoid, room had a 20 year old air-con, very small, and the water coming out of the faucet was color brown occassionally.

Over-slept and woke up at 6 am. Went to Vigan at 8 kahit na malakas yung ulan.

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Me and my 30 peso raincoat in Vigan.

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Baluarte

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White deer.

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I really enjoyed touring Baluarte as I was the only visitor there. Early morning, with rain, on a weekday, for free.

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Vigan Heritage City

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Vigan Heritage City

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Plaza Burgos right at the heart of Vigan

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Vigan Cathedral from the inside

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Vigan Cathedral from the outside

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A Z250 Police Bike…nice!

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The Vigan Empanadaan – a long row of Carinderias selling Empanada and other food.

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Even Mcdo was old-style

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A long row of Kalesa’s waiting for passengers.

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Quirino Bridge in Ilocos Sur

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Right outside Vigan, going to Santa and Narvacan, start of rough roads na, basa pa kalsada.

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Non-stop road works that would go on for the next 4 towns. Lupa pa dadaanan mo when you get your turn to pass.

Wanting to arrive in Manila before midnight I knew it was possible since it was ‘only’ 450-500 kms to Manila ,pero hindi na kaya with all the road repairs, strong rain, and everything. But I was still hoping.

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Finally got to La Union, got delayed by a couple of hours dahil sa bagal ng takbo ko.

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I cleaned my bike before leaving Manila, now ganito na sya, =`P

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Museo Iloko in Agoo, La Union

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Agoo Basilica

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Went through the town of Pangasinan traveling at 50-60 kph only. Gumagabi na.

My rubber shoes was very wet and natanggal pa yung swelas lol! So I had a stop over in SM Rosales in Pangasinan and bought a new rubber pair yung hindi pinapasukan ng tubig and new socks, bought some disposable raincoat as well para prepared. Paglabas ko madilim na, and I’m only in Pangasinan.

Tarlac

It was raining harder than the previous hours, I could barely see since yung tubig paharap sa mukha ko so kahit itaas ko yung visor ko wala din. Had a short stop over in Shell Tarlac City.

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Shell Tarlac.

From that point, I was already looking for a place to stay. The determination is there but I know when to stop and be safe. The reflectors on my jacket could not be seen as I have a raincoat above it. Delikado na talaga sobrang lakas ng hangin and I could barely see and I was running very slow, 40-50 kph maybe, might be a road hazard.

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It was already 10 pm. Had to get a roadside room in Capas, Tarlac. 550 pesos for 6 hours. 5 hour trip from Pangasinan to Tarlac only. Finally, I’ll be able to rest. Will leave at 4:30 am.

Around 120 kms left. Pretty easy ride from Tarlac to Manila. Ambon nalang.

Pampanga

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Breakfast at Mcdo San Fernando Pampanga.

Had a relatively easy time going through Bulacan.

Arrived home safe at around 10 am.

The bike gave me no problems at all, for the whole torture test I gave it. Ran through flooded roads, extreme heat, and had it running for 2-3 hours at a time.

Both bike and rider arrived safe, and in one piece.

God is good all the time.

Live Free…

– Erik Gatmaitan is the author of http://www.pinoyrider.com – Journeying the Philippines SOLO on a motorbike.

Follow his adventures on his website or through his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PinoyRider

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