Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bangui Windmills of Bangui Ilocos Norte

Windmill is a machine which uses wind energy to generate electricity or extract groundwater. Here in the Philippines, we also have our own windmill farm and it can be found in the municipality of Bangui in Ilocos Norte. It is also said to be the first power generating windmill farm in Southeast Asia. The project was named NorthWind Bangui Bay Project (oftenly called as the Bangui Windmills).

How did we get there?
The hotel we stayed-in offers a complete Ilocandia tour (Ilocos Norte and Sur). As for our group of 5, we paid 2,990 pesos/pax (price varies depends on the head count) which includes a private aircon van transportation to Laoag-Vigan-Pagudpud, a hotel accommodation for 2 days and 2 nights, a daily set of breakfast, entrance fees, toll fees, driver's meal, and as well as airport transfers. Airfare is not included. Oops, before I forgot, the name of the hotel is UKL Ever Hotel and it is located in Laoag City. It is also 15 minutes away from the airport.

Sun down but the beauty of this site still not fading

Going back, there are different stations of windmills in Bangui, Ilocos Norte. There are Phase 1 and Phase 2 which are spread along and facing the coastal line of South China Sea. Bangui Windmills was said to be providing 40% of source power in the province of Ilocos Norte. That is why the government is now on their feet constructing Phase 3 that will add more windmills and will generate of course more power.

As always... group shot!
I envy this local...
So lucky to visit this place!!!
Its getting dark now

Though the main purpose of this project is to practice and utilize renewable energy sources such as the wind, the site itself has become a tourist attraction as well. It is mainly one of the reason why tourism in Ilocos has boomed. Who wouldn't be amaze to see those towering electric-fan-like structures? Seeing 20 windmills in Phase 1 lined up and having a size of 70-metre (230 ft) high each is such a stunning scene to witness. Standing in front of these windmills makes me feel like an ant. Plus, not to mention that it is situated on a beach front. Imagine walking on the shore while waves and wind splashes on your body. Refreshing!

There is no entrance fee when visiting the area. Everyone is invited and go near to the windmills. However, going inside it is restricted. There are also stalls in the area where you can buy souvenirs such as keychains, mini-replica of the windmill and t-shirts.

Souvenirs they sell in the area

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation of Burgos, Ilocos Norte

Located in the municipality of Burgos, Ilocos Norte lies the rock formation called Kapurpurawan Rock Formation (simply, Kapurpurawan). Kapurpurwan is one of the best and a must-see tourist destination when visiting the province of Ilocos specifically, Ilocos Norte. It is situated in the coastal part of Burgos and were said to be formed by the combined forces of the ocean waves and the wind.

How did I get here?
The hotel we stayed-in offers a complete Ilocandia tour (Ilocos Norte and Sur). As for our group of 5, we paid 2,990 pesos/pax (price varies depends on the head count) which includes a private aircon van transportation to Laoag-Vigan-Pagudpud, a hotel accommodation for 2 days and 2 nights, a daily set of breakfast, entrance fees, toll fees, driver's meal, and as well as airport transfers. Airfare is not included. Oops, before I forgot, the name of the hotel is UKL Ever Hotel and it is located in Laoag City. It is also 15 minutes away from the airport.

The actual site of Kapurpurawan can't be reach by vehicles. People are require to walk from the jump off point in order to see it. It will take less than 15 of minutes walk...well still depends on your pacing. Or if you have some spare bucks, you may rent a horse to take you there. Horse ride is 100 pesos (two-way).

Off we go!

Kapurpurawan comes from an Ilocano word "puraw" which means white and there's no doubt why it is so called like it due to its evidently creamy white rock formations. I was able to see it half way from the jump off point because of its stunning white form. Locals say that the best time to go here are during summer season. Though it will be extremely hot because it is in an open area, the rock formation will be in its whitest form due to the direct rays from the sun plus it will be super dry.

I prefer to walk than rent a horse :)
Reminders along the way
And another one...
Extending the windmills construction reaches this area. They called it Phase 3

I was overly amazed as I reached Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. I must agree that this spot is a must visit destination in Ilocos or should I say in the Philippines. The elements of the white, tall and striking rock formations and the ocean view makes Kapurpurawan enticing to the eyes of its visitors. I/we actually didn't mind staying long under the sun. We posed and took photos everywhere as the whole place is picture-perfect.

Presenting the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
Idle time at Kapurpurawan
How can you resist a groupfie?
Selfie... can't blame me for having one. Haha
Tamayo's Tower... Really don't know what it is
Chalk-like texture rock formation

I noticed that visitors come and go from time to time which I think a positive sign that the governance of tourism of this place is implemented correctly and on track. I just hope that despite the increasing numbers of tourists visiting Kapurpurawan, the local government will still be able to support and maintain the cleanliness and the whole look of the area and so future generations can witness it as well.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gardenia Plant Tour at Binan, Laguna

Here in the Philippines, when you ask for a brand of high quality and premier tasting breads popular answer would be Gardenia breads. Reasons of its popularity are 1) of its "Grate Tastes". It is so good that you can eat and enjoy it even without looking for a spread/stuffing. 2) of its "Softness". You may roll it or fold it anyway you want and your bread are assured that it will not break into pieces which is a proof of its freshness. 3) of its "Aroma". Gardenia breads have this tempting fresh-from-the-oven-aroma that pumps up your appetite. With all those pointers, I must confess that my whole family is really a fan of Gardenia. That's why I am truly thankful when a fellow blogger, Alice, invited me to join an event (headed by Ms. Grace Nicolas) on having a visit and tour inside the Gardenia plant.

How to get there?
Gardenia's plant is located in Laguna International Industrial Park (LIIP), Mamplasan, Binan, Laguna. The plant tour is free and can be book by visiting Gardenia's website at Just download and answer the booking form. You may also call them at (02) 845 0971 and (049) 539 1136 to 40. Tour hours are from 7:00am to 4:00pm, Monday to Friday and Sunday. Gardenia's plant in Cebu also allows tours. You may reach them thru this hotline: (032) 341 2895.

Let the tour begin!

As our group reach the plant, we were welcomed by with smiles from the employees of Gardenia. Everyone was excited with the tour. I even felt like I was traveled back on my elementary days where I used to attend field trips. We were first directed to the registration area and got our plant ID's with our names on it. We were then escorted on one of their rooms where the first part of the tour will be conducted.

Getting our IDs :)
Can you name all these Gardenia products?

The first part of the tour was headed by Mr. Jun Umali (Gardenia PH's President & General Manager). He gave us an informative talk about the company. Mainly about the history of Gardenia like how did they started, how are they doing now, and how did they manage to be on top in the baking industry.He also talks about how important to them the nutrition of their consumers and how important is sanitation to this industry. He even pointed out so many times that they have the most modern bread factory in the country that they're proud to say that they are "baking breads untouched by human hands". Amazing, right?

Mr. Umali even share some pointers on how they maintain or how we can prolong the freshness of our breads:
  • Air dries out the bread. So, after we get our needed slice/s, it is recommended to re-seal again the pack.
  • If possible, save the top slice of the loaf and use it as a cover of the remaining loaf.
  • Keep the bread out of hot areas because it may cause the bread to moisten which may lead to premature molding. Store your bread in a cool and dry place.
    • He even recommends to put it inside the refrigerator. Then if you are planning to eat it, just reheat in toaster the slices you needed. 
  • Keep it away from items that emit odors because breads absorb odors.
  • Make sure that your hands are clean. Bacteria can also cause premature molding.
  • Lastly, he advised that if possible, consume your bread immediately :] 
But what caught my attention on his talk was when he discussed how they make sure that we, consumers, get the fresh bread possible and how Gardenia reaching out to help our society. Gardenia breads freshness can last up to 14 days but they only indicate on the G-lock (Gardenia's seal/loaf seal) 7 days for best before days. They also pull out their breads on their respective re-sellers every 2-days, replacing it with new ones. Yes, they did not wait until the bread reach its 7th day before they replace it. I know what you're thinking. Waste? No. The pull out breads (which we can still consider quality breads) are being sold to fishermen. These are made into food for cultured fishes (like bangus, tilapia, etc). Poultry owners also buy these breads to feed on their pigs and chickens. Lucky animals huh?

Not only that, Gardenia also support charities here and there where they donate thousands of breads on these organizations. I'm not sure if they give newly bake ones or the pulled out breads. But hey, its just a 2-day old breads and considered edible so it's not a big deal if they feed it also to people. They even encouraged us that if we are looking for sponsorship for charity work and alike, we may contact them for collaboration. Nice!

Mr. Umali giving his talk
Selfie with Mr. Jun Umali

I think I've written too much already. Let's now move forward to the actual tour. Are you ready? Just keep that mouse ball rolling and enjoy your virtual tour on a state-of-the-art-plant that produces 650,000 loaves and buns everyday!

1) Giant Silo. It is where the production starts. These towering silos are used to store raw materials used in baking. These are stainless steels and being manage by computerized systems.

2) Hi-Tech Automation. This part of the plant features their fully automated and computer-controlled system for bread making production. Some of these are used for handling the mixing, proofing, baking, and slicing. All of the said actions are again handled by machines. There are few people in the area but they're only needed once the machine fail. If not, then they can just roam around the area and check other things out. Like what I said above: Gardenia is baking breads untouched by human hands.

Start of the tour in the production area
Machine that ensures Gardenia breads are equal in weight
All dough are set!

3). Fresh from the Oven. You'll see breads coming out of these ovens which extract irresistible aroma all over the the production area. Even in our place which is covered by glass and kilometers away, we can still smell that out-of-the-oven-aroma.

Bread's aroma starts here

4) Twin Spiral Cooling Towers. This is my favorite part of the tour on the production area. You'll see two towers surrounded by thousands of breads. According to the tour facilitator, each tower holds 3,000 breads. The main purpose of this moving conveyor is to cool-off the loaves.

Amazing part of the tour
That tower holds 3,000 Gardenia Classic Breads!!!

5) High-Speed Bagging. Yes that's right, even the packaging/bagging part of the loaf is machine operated. Same goes on sealing the bread. Sealing it with G-lock is also being done by machines. Tip: “G-Locks” help customers know when did the bread was baked and packed and it is color coded:
  • Tan – Monday
  • Orange – Tuesday
  • Yellow – Wednesday
  • Blue – Thursday
  • Green – Friday
  • Red – Saturday
  • White – Sunday
Using the guide above, if you're buying a Gardenia bread on a Wednesday it is strongly suggested that you look for Yellow, Orange or Tan G-locked breads. Got it? Now, aside from expiration date, we should also check the color of G-locks before buying Gardenia bread. 

We're almost done with the tour
Bagging and sealing of bread
People only touches the bread to put it on their storage area. 
The storage area. Soon be delivered to our houses!

The High-Speed Bagging area is the last part of the production tour but the fun never stops there. Upon reaching the end of this tour, you'll also be heading at the back door where there are standees for photo-op! I really love how'd they make the 3D bread production standee.

That's a 3D wallpaper/standee
This is how it looks like from a far...
More standees!

Before we bid our goodbyes and end our tour, Gardenia still impressed us by preparing a buffet style snacks made of Gardenia products (prepared in a creative and re-inventive ways)!

Yes, these are all made using gardenia bread
Click here to learn how to do these
Desserts still using Gardenia products
Thank you Gardenia PH for the very informative and wonderful tour

So what are you waiting for? Book now a tour at the most modern bread factory in the country. Learn about how they made their best quality breads and also know the importance of proper nutrition and sanitation practices. It is really recommendable for school field trips and alike.

This is a sponsored post. I accept partnership proposals as long as they are relevant to travel, outdoors, food and tourism. For advertising inquiries, please use the contact form on the Contact Me page of this site or directly send me an e-mail at
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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Malacanang of the North of Paoay, Ilocos Norte

Malacanang of the North also known as Malacañang ti Amianan, as the locals call it, is a 5-hectare property situated in Brgy. Suba, Paoay, Ilocos Norte. It is considered as one of the important landmark in the province of Ilocos as this has been the official residence/rest house of the late President Ferdinand Marcos and his family whenever they are in Ilocos. It's no acquaintance that the said foremer president is a famous son of Ilocos Norte as he was born and raised in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte.

The 2-storey mansion was said to be given to former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos by her wife and first lady then, Imelda Marcos, as a gift for his 60th birthday. This has been an extension for the office of the president and alternative venue to welcome local and foreign dignitaries.

How did we get there?
The hotel we stayed-in offers a complete Ilocandia tour (Ilocos Norte and Sur). As for our group of 5, we paid 2,990 pesos/pax (price varies depends on the number of head count) which includes a private aircon van transportation to Laoag-Vigan-Pagudpud, a hotel accommodation for 2 days and 2 nights, a daily set of breakfast, entrance fees, toll fees, driver's meal, and as well as airport transfers. Airfare is not included. Oops, before I forgot, the name of the hotel is UKL Ever Hotel and it is located in Laoag City. It is also 15 minutes away from the airport.

Moving forward, Malacanang of the North has been taken away from the Marcoses and put in the care of the government when the Marcos Regime ended. After 2 decades in the care of the government, the place was then given to the hands of the Provincial Government of Ilocos, Norte. And in January 2011, it has been converted into a museum which is open to view by the public.

It was designed in a Spanish and Old Ilocano architecture. The whole mansion is decorated by antique furniture and interesting art pieces. The grand look of Malacañang ti Amianan only reflects the luxurious life of the Marcos family during that era. The first floor holds the rooms of the Marcos' children. I am really impress how simple yet elegant the rooms and furniture in the mansion. I even imagine having a room like Bong Bong Marcos (the only son of Ferdinand Marcos) had.

The room of Senator Bong Bong Marcos
Another room on the first floor

The biggest room on the first floor has been converted into a museum. They divided it into three parts - the Diplomacy Gallery, the National Building Gallery and the Agriculture Room. The Diplomacy Gallery reflects the office or working area of President Marcos. It also holds some of the books owned by the president as well as books that talks about the life of the late president. The National Building Gallery features all the projects that have built during the Marcos government. I salute Ferdinand Marcos for all the structures he had accomplished during his presidency. He even connected the Major Islands of the Philippines with his projects. Just Wow. The next room is the Agriculture Room. It tells how rich the agriculture were during Pres. Marcos' time. Items used in agriculture are displayed in here with brief descriptions.

The Diplomacy Gallery
Books about the late President Ferdinand Marcos
The National Building Gallery
Zamboanga International Airport - One of the many projects of Pres. Marcos
The Agriculture Room

Let me now tour you on the second floor. Just like the first floor, expect more antique furniture on the second floor. I recommend you to visit the veranda where you can have a full view of the Paoay Lake. It is also where the master's bedroom is located. The size of the room is I believe too big for the couple but again, he's the president. There is also a room which features the life of Mrs. Marcos back then. I never thought that the former first lady was stunningly beautiful. She was a beauty queen during her days. Aside from that, you can also find vintage gadgets on that room.

I don't know if its antique but it looks old yet classy
I love this part of the room
I'm not sure whose collection these are
Another set of furniture on the floor
The Master's bedroom
One of the vintage gadget displayed in the room/gallery

It was a big privileged to see the former house of the Marcoses and have a glimpse on their life during their regime. If you are planning to visit Malacanang of the North, it is open on Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:00am to 4:00pm. There's also a P20 entrance fee.

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