Currimao: Paoay, Batac, and Sarrat

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Currimao came into my radar screen twice this year.

First, while on a PAL flight, reading about Sitio Remedios, a heritage village created by Dr. Joven Cuanang, Medical Director of St. Luke’s Hospital.

Second, when a good friend inquired about accommodations in Currimao.

Prior to this visit, I must have visited and toured the Ilocos Region at least 10 times in the past, when I was not yet into blogs. I talk about Paoay, the Marcos Museum, the Malacanang Ti Amianan, the Sta Monica Church, and I must have checked into Fort Ilocandia countless times, having probably checked into all types of rooms and suites of this beautiful hotel.

This time, I had to visit Currimao, stay there, not just go past it.

PAOAY

The biggest draw in this side of the world is the Paoay Church, a Philippine landmark that is in  the UNESCO World Heritage List. Words can not describe its beauty and magnificence, and I am not even sure that my point-and-shoot camera will do justice. But this is a most photographed church that is best appreciated by being right there.

The other famous destination in Paoay is the Malacanang ti Amianan, or Malacanang of the North. It is a mansion built by the Marcos family on a huge property facing the serene Paoay Lake, sitting next to a golf course. I remember photos of President Marcos taken while enjoying water sports on the lake.

Paoay Lake, from the main road

Malacanang of the North

grand staircase leading to the second floor ballroom

The Marcos Museum in Batac is not what it used to be.

In my previous visits, guests can enter the mansion and view Marcos memorabilia on display. Car plates from the time he was congressman to president, the barongs he wore, faded photographs of him and his family taken in different times and locations, including state visits, letters he wrote, etc. They were very interesting. Last month, I was told the mansion was closed for renovation and a photo gallery at the rear end, in another structure, was all there is to view. The mausoleum where the preserved body of the late President Marcos was laid to rest was, and is, still open to visitors.

SARRAT

Sarrat is a quaint little town where the late president Marcos was born. This is also the town where his mother, Dona Josefa Edralin, practiced her profession as a teacher. But for some people, Sarrat is most famous as the venue of the Philippine “wedding of the century” when Irene Marcos and Greggy Araneta were wed.

the beautiful Sta Monica church, with the longest aisle in the Ilocos region

the new Presidencia (town hall) where Irene Marcos came from for the wedding

I imagine this school to be somewhere in Europe, but it is right there in Sarrat

the Sarrat wedding reception area

cheap lunch: dinengdeng (and dinakdakan) in the public market

the very welcoming Tourism office, look for Minda Jusay

Sarrat is easily one of the most beautiful towns in Ilocos Norte, and I never fail to drop by when I am in the region. Imagine a beautiful church facing a river. Ruins right beside the church that compete well with other old structures in the country. Beautiful old houses, some of them spruced up for a period look consistent with the wedding ambience. Nice people. I even wish the town would have accommodations for overnight guests, no matter how spartan. I imagine myself having coffee or wine al fresco facing the river. And spend a day or two exploring the river and its tributaries. Sarrat has the potentials of a major tourist destination – – – as long as they don’t come in hordes, ruining its quaint little town character.

Finally, there is SITIO REMEDIOS as a reason to visit Currimao. Unfortunately, I did not pre-arrange a visit, so I will just quote verbatim the article I read in PAL’s Mabuhay in-flight magazine:

“In this day and age when most resorts are obsessed with hip designs devoid of any local character, it is refreshing to have a Filipino resort. Sitio Remedios, where guests can actually have a feel of the land. . .. the resort provides a guest not with a stay but an experience – to live in the genteel past. The resort recreates a typical 19th century Ilocano village with guesthouses built from recycled, old building materials…….. ”

I shall book a stay there one of these days.

Accommodations in Currimao


Sitio Remedios must be enough reason to go to Currimao, and therefore I say it is a must-visit-must-stay place. For the moment, all information I have in this blog post came from that one article in PAL’s in-flight magazine. Here’s a photo I took of that page:

Sitio Remedios rates start at P4,000 for double occupancy, with free Ilocano breakfast. Make your reservations by email : manager@sitioremedios.com  or phone (+63917) 3320217  Website:

http://www.sitioremedios.com

Of course other than Sitio Remedios, there are a host of resorts that travelers can choose from. I stayed at Playa tropical.

PLAYA TROPICAL is a Balinese-inspired 30-room resort hotel. The hotel has a spa, wi-fi, a game room, a kiddie playground, oicnic huts, and a souvenir shop. It has a huge infinity pool facing the famous Currimao shoreline. Upon entering the resort complex, one sees the beautiful casas, free-standing two-level villas each with a living room, dining room, and a private pool within its own backyard. Room rates start at P3,500 for regular twin rooms, with the casas at P8,000 per night for 2 persons, or P12,500 for 5-8 persons. Room rates are increased by 10% during peak seasons.

the CASA, a villa with its own living room, dining room, and a private swimming pool

Food service is good, and prices are not exactly cheap.

I was attended to by their amiable Operations Manager, Kenji Numano. To book Playa Tropical, call phone ((077) 6701211, (077) 6761001, or mobile number 0917 570 0223. Website: http://www.playatropical.com.ph

There are other tourist-class resorts within the area. But I decided to look for a budget accommodation as an option for others who would want to experience Currimao and not have to spend a fortune. I found Subli Subli.

SUBLI SUBLI Beach Resort is less than a kilometer away from Playa Tropical. It seems like a regular weekend getaway for families who want to go to the beach. Until I saw some signs in Ilocano that, upon inquiry, actually meant something like “lovers can hide in this place”. There are family rooms, and garage rooms. Nothing fancy. But a good enough alternative for budget travelers.

cheap rooms

nothing fancy, might as well bring your own linen

condoms available

Subli Subli can be contacted at 0921 4657938. Look for Jackie Tinaza.

How to go to Currimao

Currimao is around 465 kilometers northwest of Manila. By private car, travel time is approximately 9 hours. Several bus companies going to Ilocos Norte from terminals in Cubao, Quezon City ply this route. Visitors can also fly to Ilocos Norte and land at the Laoag International Airport.

3 thoughts on “Currimao: Paoay, Batac, and Sarrat

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  2. Hello! Please, also visit some churches in La Union esp our the Shrine of Our Lady of Namacpacan, Saint Catherine of Alexandria Parish, Luna, La Union. Visit also our Baluarte…look for Lito Gorospe, staff of our tourism office in our munispyo. Thanks for the visit in advance. Am a resident of Luna….

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