Tag Archives: Laoag

Ilocos Series: 4. Unclassified Food Trips (Johnny Moon & La Preciosa)


ilocos norte travel laoag

Last in the Ilocos Series comes a smorgasbord of food—by smorgasbord, I mean like a hodge-podge of delicacies, best to name then Unclassified.

To spare you from more chaos, I have refrained from making breakfast posts, since they are not particularly interesting and are eaten out of obligation. And they could bore the city lights out of you.

 johnny moon la preciosa review

Back to the Unclassified, the remaining untackled Laoag restaurants were chosen out of hunger and logistics: Johnny Moon Café and La Preciosa.

 Pagudpud Blue Lagoon

As a finale/bonus/more Unclassified, there is also our Pagudpud Paluto Take Out Lunch Special—a name so long can only describe the choice left for travelers who never plan!

 review johnny moon ilocos

To start off, here’s a bit of trivia we got from the Juan Luna House tour guide:

The restaurant Johnny Moon is not an attempt at creating a cool-sounding joint; it’s an alias for Juan (Johnny) Luna (Moon), who is an Ilocano local.

Juan Luna Self Portrait ilocos

Here’s Johnny!

C-O-O-L. I will admit, even I hadn’t thought of that!

Still awed, we walked to Johnny Moon for dinner.

 Johnny Moon Review Ilocos Norte

Because of a parade (Ilocos Norte-cum-Flores-de-Mayo-cum-local-fiesta), most roads surrounding the Capitol were closed so we had no choice but to walk to Johnny Moon.

We actually had no idea where we were going and asked nearby vendors—who magically brought out a crumpled map of Laoag and directed us spot on. Amazing, these northern folk.

 Johnny Moon Cafe Ilocos Interios

Johnny Moon, as per the tour guide, boasts of the bagnet sandwich and bagnet empanada, which sadly, I met with a pork-er face. If she only knew I was after Juan Luna, she could’ve made up a Spoliarium Sandwich that could’ve gotten us to Johnny Moon sooner.

Having walked to Johnny Moon was a perfect excuse to have double carbs (or triple, including dessert), for dinner! I don’t regret choosing this place for our finale dinner in Laoag; it was Luna-art all over and the food just affordable!

 ilocos pasta

First was the Laureana Pasta Verde which is malunggay pesto with tinapa flakes topped with what seems to be danggit.

Fishy never became this awesome, seriously.

I absolutely love the texture that the crushed danggit provides, while the pesto gives off that comfort food vibe perfect for Juan Luna’s ‘hood. The serving is good for one—but enough to tackle other dishes—wink, wink!

 bagnet empanada

The Ilocos Empanada has 4 variants, if I recall. Two, I can’t really eat but must be bestsellers (longganisa and the winner, bagnet), the plain one and vegetarian. The difference between vegetarian and plain is the egg, and since I love breakfast for dinner, plain it was!

A newbie in the Emapanada-eating society, I had no mighty expectations and just recognized that orange-y crust that can only indicate something interesting inside its crisp, deep fried shell. For P40, I can afford the letdown.

A letdown is certainly was NOT, though. Oil aside, the empanada was delectable and the uncanny ingredients (papaya shavings, bean sprouts and egg) were a melancholy combination. Supposed to go with catsup (no thanks) or the famed Ilocos vinegar (amazing!), I savored it in its bare glory—yummy! This was my first empanada ever and I’d say, I’d be back for more—if Ilocos wasn’t so darn far!

Oh and if you were to ask me to design my own empanada, it would be the plain jane with cheddar cheese. Awesome! I can just imagine the melted cheese erupting after the first bite—purr-fection.

 dessert laoag

Being the finale, dessert cannot be overlooked. While I was already full from the carbo loading, I still went for the Johnny Moon Banana Split with Dragonfruit Ice Cream.

It was a creamy and fruity break from the oil and sodium, and it was a delectable ending for a tiring evening. While I can’t say that I can actually detect the full flavor of the dragonfruit from that wee serving (approximately a scoop), the entire experience was artfully satiating.

La Preciosa Laoag Review

You will notice that organization and order do not exist in my world, since I started with Johnny Moon (last dinner) while I neglected the 2nd dinner, so here goes: La Preciosa.

La Preciosa was chosen for its logistics, and more importantly, because it was recommended online—somewhere with a photo of a huge slice of carrot cake! Sold!

Of course before dessert, dinner had to be served.

 La Preciosa Ilocos Menu

We had more fish for dinner, the fried Bucto (appetizer), Boneless Bangus and Crispy Dinuguan (for the meat eater).

 seafood restaurant ilocos

The Bucto was meant to be a giant version of fried dilis, but I found it absolutely so huge, I think I only managed to eat a handful. Or maybe because the fish head did freak me out and reminded me of well, severed fish heads. I try not be visually un-inspiring, but even the lazy black cat knows when to say “no” to too much fish heads.

 Crispy dinuguan La Preciosa Review

fish ilocos laoag

The Boneless Bangus was my main course and was just so-so. I mean, how else could I possibly describe boneless bangus, huh?!

Don’t remember picking stray bones, so that makes this worthwhile, but the opposite of adventurous.

If any, you should be chucking a book at the monitor for the boredom I may be causing you. I’ll understand.

 la preciosa dessert

Which brings me to the highlight, the Carrot Cake.

The carrot cake can be spotted from a distance because it literally floats in a crown of shredded carrot. The cream cheese frosting holds all those carrot stays into this boulder of beta carotene goodness. Further scrutiny shows that the cake itself is studded with walnut and not much of carrot (seriously, no orange in the batter), but not that it matters—unless you hate raw carrots!

La Preciosa shines in the dessert-pasalubong department, and that carrot cake continues to radiate its orange shreds in my phone archives. Impossible to delete.

La Preciosa has other interesting looking cakes in its menu, just as visually resplendent, but I regret having been born with only one stomach. Maybe in the next life—9 stomachs too?!

 Welcome to Pagudpud Sign

Last but not the least is the longest entry in this post: the Pagudpud Paluto Take Out Lunch Special!

The story behind it:

Blue Lagood/Pagudpud was utterly filled with people; no cottages would take us in and we had to seek shelter in the remotest resort (so remote, its name is negligible). The only recourse for hunger is to go to the main “Paluto” section (near Hannah’s) and take out whichever fish we fancy.

 Blue Lagoon

It was a kilo of Dorado that caught our eye, grilled—with an awful waiting time of 45 minutes! Someone got extra hungry and bought a paluto-longganisa from a nearby vendor, while I had a banana. Boring, as ever.

paluto where to eat pagudpud

The Dorado was decently sliced and grilled, with a siding of tomato and onion—on the house. It tasted fresh and self-sufficient on its own, though a bit of kalamansi-soy sauce on the side did wonders as well.

From my tone (and awe), it may seem that I do not frequent Dampa in Manila—you got it!

Still, eating freshly grilled fish by the sea—in that remote cottage—was just so zen-inspiring and calming. Lunch on the sand, sans the unruly tourists, turned this Pagudpud meal into a stellar picnic.

pagudpud food

So this ends my Ilocos Series. It was a grand adventure, that turned me into a lazy BRONZE cat.

The color will pass, but the memories, always online and in my mental map of things to remember.

 Rocks shadow selfie

There were a lot of wrong turns, lost moments and spacing out while driving (not to mention a Buscopan incident), but all in all, it was a Labour Day Weekend, wonderful and well spent!

Now, back to reality, mates! Till the next holiday!


Ilocos Series: 1. The Sights

Ilocos Series: 2. In the Brick of Time

Ilocos Series: 3. Ilocan-Pizza and More

Ilocos Series: 4. Unclassified Food Trips (Johnny Moon & La Preciosa)


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Ilocos Series: 2. In the Brick of Time

Ilocos trip review blog

Ilocos Series #1 focused on Mother Nature and everything carved by the wind and sea; now it’s time to shine on the arts and artifacts and everything else unclassified.

 laoag attraction site


that onimous sinking bell tower ilocos

It is quite obvious that Ilocos, ostentatiously evidenced by Imelda’s fondness for the arts, is a hotpot for bricks, Baroque structures and grandiosity.

Aside from the usual empanada and sand, which are just stereotypically mainstream, the flair for bricks (redundancy intentional) cannot be ignored, as well as the towering belfry.

 ilocandia travel philippines

ilocos norte philippines

The awesome part of the journey is that I “heart” structures and Spanish-inspired architecture, and they are everywhere!

Laoag ilocos norte

I absolutely adore the Ilustrado era and wouldn’t mind reliving scenes of this period, of Elias and the like.

Of tsokolate-eh and the hope of getting invited for a tsokolate-aaaaah!

 Juan Luna Status in front of his house

Whilst I leave the rest sans the unnecessary text, worth a special (albeit biased) mention is the home of Juan Luna at Badoc, Ilocs Norte.

A gung-ho for this part of Philippine history, I very much enjoyed the tour of his (and General Luna’s, his brother) home.

Juan LUna House Badoc

Replicas of paintings adorn the house, not to mention a quarter size copy of the Spoliarium.

Juan Luna Spoliarium Ilocos

His self-portrait marks the first #selfie, while his code name Johnny Moon is to be tackled in the next food tripping blog post.

Juan Luna Self Portrait ilocos

Ah Senor Luna, what joy it was to traverse the steps and brick walls of your old abode. Surreal!

Juan Luna Bed

Juan Luna Badoc Kitchen

Churches are very much part of history and the Spanish dominance. They lord over the towns, but not as much as the belfry/bell towers!

Paoay Kumakaway

Paoay Church: Old Stone Marvel

Paoay Church Interior

Architectural rule of the north: belfry towers over the dominion, next is the church and everyone’s favorite prayle (friar).

Domeless bell tower church

Bacarra Church, Beside the Domeless Belfry

Domeless Bell Tower Ilocos

Beside the Dome-less

Tagudin ilocos sur fiesta 2014

Tagudin Town Fiesta

Tagudin Church

Inside the Tagudin Church, Ilocos Sur

Batac Church Ilocos Norte

Batac Church, Birthplace of Marcos

No such thing as wood in this brick laden society. Take that, big bad wolf!

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse from Afar

The Cape Bojeador Lighthouse would’ve been a break from the religious artifacts, but of all days, this was under construction.

And so best I could reach was the bottom of the stairs or just a view from below.

 Cape Bojeador Lighthouse Ilocos

ilocos cape bojeador lighthouse

Lighthouse cape bojeador philippines

 History and culture, showcased in the many marvelous attractions and structures in Ilocos, will always be my the best parts of travel.  

Malacanang of the North Ilocos

imelda marcos dress

MArcos Malacanang of the North

Still in Malacanang

Lazy Black cat travel ilocos

And a bit of bonus for the weary travelers.

laoag travel philippines

Laoag May Festival

philippine fiesta

This concludes the 2nd part of the Ilocos Series, which now brings me to the more exciting part of the trip. FOOD!

As a teaser, here’s the sundial souvenir in our first stop, Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant.. to be posted next!

Tagudin Sundial Souvenir

Ilocos Series: 1. The Sights

Ilocos Series: 2. In the Brick of Time

Ilocos Series: 3. Ilocan-Pizza and More

Ilocos Series: 4. Unclassified Food Trips (Johnny Moon & La Preciosa)



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Ilocos Series: 1. The Sights

ilocos travel philippines

As a newbie tourist in Region 1, as part of my initiation, I had to climb rocks in flip flops, overtake tricycles en route to Pagudpud and bake in the Paoay sand dune sun. Taking quick photos was acquired in time, as well as reading maps for navigating purposes and differentiating the fat red line from the thin red lines!

ilocos sur first sundial

Sundial at Tagudin, Ilocos Sur

While I’m no travel blogger (Ilocos food trips in succeeding posts), best I can do is publish the awe inspiring and never-thought-I’d-see-these-in-the-Philippines sights and attractions. 

vigan philippines

ilocandia trips travel

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

It’s a series of photos from the Ilocos Region, Philippines. And there are just instances, like now, that the pictures can suffice on their own.

Region 1 philippines

currimao ilocos norte

Currimao Fluvial Parade

currimao philippines

Currimao Rock Formation

This post is dedicated to nature’s bounties and the like, mostly rocks that really are more inspiring when viewed for real. Never been a fan of rocks and sand, but when you see them clumped together, bathed in the sunlight, in all odd shapes and angles, not one of these photos can really capture their scenic uniqueness.

kapupurawan rock philippines

Hermit Crab on Rock

philippines travel ilocandia

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

Slanted rock formation ilocos

Looks like a jedi scene

And here is what seems to be “Middle Earth” in Ilocos. There already are windmills spotted in the Kapupurawan Rock Formation section. Rock and Windmill!

Still Middle earth amidst rock formation

Ilocos norte kapurpurawan

Burgos, Ilocos Norte’s own version of Middle Earth

Ilocos Windmills sand

Windmills Still

Ilocos Norte Windmill up close

Burgos, Ilocos norte

This rock in Pagudpud just stood out like a polo, the rock with a hole.

rock witha hole pagudpud

Pagudpud Rock and Hole!

Blue Lagoon

Rock Formation Philippines


Of course, I have to end with what seems to be the sport of the North – well actually anything involving the sand dunes.

When trying to be dauntless, the choice activity is driving around in an ATV with no supervision whatsoever.

Drive, get dirrrrrty and worry about the tan later because when in the dunes, you can only think of surviving!

Paoay Sand dunes bayad first

Paoay Sand DUnes Ilocos Norte

Paoay Sand dunes ilocos philippines

Best time to visit the Paoay Sand Dunes would be early morning or sunset. Any time in between, like what we did, will give you a tan of a lifetime!

Sand DUnes ATV Philippines


Paoay Sand Dunes Jimny


That’s it for this part. Stay tuned for more of the Ilocos Series!

Ilocos Series: 1. The Sights

Ilocos Series: 2. In the Brick of Time

Ilocos Series: 3. Ilocan-Pizza and More

Ilocos Series: 4. Unclassified Food Trips (Johnny Moon & La Preciosa)

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