Travails and Triumphs. Life and Love. A blow by blow account on the daily life of a sales woman and her quest for world domination one purchase order at a time.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tour Pilipinas Part 2: Ilocos Norte

The following week was equally busy. I had to fly to Laoag for another opening. Being in my lonesome, I quicky made friends with fellow salesmen who were billeted in the same hotel as I was. They were from TCL, makers of LCD TVs and other electronic appliances. Our hotel was called Isabel Suites and is located right smack in the middle of Laoag’s business district (aka Bayan). It was near the provincial capitol and the Sinking Bell Tower.

We decided to go to the famous Java Hotel where Eagle’s Nest is located. The food was divine! We ordered Pinakbet with Bagnet, Crispy Dinuguan, and Salt and Pepper Ribs. We didn’t order though the hilariously named local dish called Puqui-Puqui which was an Ilocano version of an eggplant omelet. But I bet it was good since everything we ate was good. I cannot believe how naughty some of the Ilocano food names are! Puqui-puqui, Cabatiti (patola), Utong (string beans), and Rakatiti (Dried fish). Glad my officemates are not with me or else we would have been joking about it all night long.

During the course of the conversation over dinner I found out that our hotel (Isabel Suites) was a former hospital. That got to me since I can still clearly recall when I was assigned in Pampanga how the ghost in our compound decided to whisper in my ear while I was pee-ing. God that was scary. So I downed a bottle of Vodka Ice just to make sure I was ready to sleep. Upon arriving back, I quickly did my nightly ritual then jumped on to bed with all the lights open, the TV blaring, and me under the covers surfing the internet on my trusty phone (wifi in the room for free!). I felt the TCL dudes were playing with me and decided to ignore the scratching at my door.

Opening day was a success! My new branch is HUGE! And people were flocking at the doors even before it opened. Very similar, if not bigger, to the crowds waiting at the door of stores during Black Friday.

While waiting for the doors to open (even us suppliers are not allowed to enter ahead of the others), I chanced upon a local empanada purveyor and watched her make the empanada in action.

I didn’t buy any because I was still full from breakfast.

The opening ceremony was graced by the Marcoses.

And of course there were celebrities like Dawn Zulueta-Lagdameo, Jay-R (boy, was I wrong to compare someone to Jay-R back in the day. Hands down I was wrong!), and Carla Abellana (our local Rosalinda). Didn’t wait for Karylle though.

I was not able to secure a flight back to Manila since everything was fully booked already. The plan was to take a night trip bound for Manila. Since we had a lot of time to kill, I joined my friends from Monde Nissin to see the sights that Ilocos has to offer.

We went to the Marcoses’ ancestral home in Batac and visited the former President’s mausoleum. Too bad picture taking was not allowed. Anyway, I’d rather not describe the out of this world feeling I had when I entered the mausoleum.

Finally, I had the chance to enjoy the local empanada!

It was good especially if you add a dash of the local vinegar.

Off we went to Paoay Church after our snack. My gulay! If only we had a lot of money we would have our wedding here! I can totally picture it as a Filipiniana inspired wedding. I would ride a calesa (horse-drawn carriage) instead of a bridal car.

Too bad the ceiling of the church is no longer in its original state.

After that, we went to the Malacanang Palace of the North.

I can imagine how opulent and filled with life the place was during the Marcos regime.

And then finally, a quick stop at Fort Ilocandia

We decided to buy pasalubong (take home gifts) of Nana Rosa Chichacorn and local longganisa (sausage).

We returned to Laoag and visited a few stores and were surprised to see how the people were disciplined especially in terms of following the pedestrian rules.

After a quick dinner, we took a deluxe bus bound for Manila.

I will never take a 10-hour bus ride unprepared ever again!

Faye, Sir Ed, and I didn’t have any blankets or thick jacket to protect us from the severe cold inside the bus. I even resorted to stuff my freezing feet inside my backpack! During one of the stops I almost went into an argument with a couple of new passengers because they took the curtain that I tied up to divert the cold blowing air from the vent away from our heads. I gave them a long cold hard GLARE before they understood their mistake and promptly returned the curtain. I was almost falling asleep but those people ruined it when they took the curtain.

The cold was so bad I was tempted to buy Balut in the next stop and stuff it in my backpack to warm my feet. Good thing there was a vendor in the ladies restroom selling shawls and blankets. The blankets were pricey at Php 480 each. Faye and I decided to buy a wool shawl each at Php 170 bucks just to keep us warm. From then on I was able to snooze comfortably.

It was a lovely, but dead tiring, two weeks. I’m really thankful to have the opportunity to travel. Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to do this on my own pocket (because I’m a cheapskate like that, harharhar). During one of our walks in Laoag, Faye and I were imagining, hoping, and wishing that the 2010 openings would include places like Bohol, Dipolog, Boracay, and Palawan. Oh well, we can only dream and hope.


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