Without trying to be naughty as it may sound in some Philippine dialect, Poque-poque is an Ilocano dish made of eggplant with onions, tomatoes, and egg. It was one of the dishes that I really missed, and it was one of the dishes I got to eat—but with a twist.
Ilocos Norte is one of my favorite destinations in the Philippines, and before concluding my initial trip to the province last year I promised myself that I shall return—and now I did! There were just so many places to go, things to do, and food to try that one visit is not enough. Like last year, running was the motivation for the visit but unlike last year my takbo.ph family was with us in this trip—both as co-runners in the race and support group.
Never in my wildest dreams that I’ll be returning to the province in a “major, major” way—via air with an ultramarathon as raison d’être plus an entire community behind as support! With all these ingredients we’re guaranteed of an ultramarathoner’s dream adventure.
The Making Of
It started a few months ago with the announcement of an ultramarathon race by PAU in Ilocos Norte (together with the first PAU race in Tanay, Rizal). I knew that would be a great “excuse” to return to the province, and as such I was the first one to express my interest in the old takbo.ph forum. But then things happened so in the end I was probably one of the last registered runners for the event. Between the two events interests spurred within the community primarily because of the success of the first PAU race and before I knew it things started happening and an entire community was all set for Ilocos Norte! I’m quite thankful that my takbo.ph family accommodated me with their plans (the predictability of runners, or runners think alike :)).
Bumped and Delayed
I booked my flight to Laoag months ahead via the country’s flag carrier airline, before their issues transpired. I’ve received no notifications about how it would affect our schedules until the day before my flight—my 9AM flight was cancelled and transferred to the 5PM flight! It’s a good thing I checked my e-mail as never did I received any phone call or even a text message!
It’s a blessing in a way that I didn’t have to wake up early, but mostly it was bad because I’ve lost practically a day from my trip! To make things worse, my e-mail indicated a schedule of 5:30PM departure but when my ticket was printed it shows 5:50PM. And it didn’t end there; we actually left Terminal 2 at 6:30PM! Talk about bad service. My window seat was useless since we were flying in darkness—the night lights of the Metro were my only consolation.
(It’s been quite some time since I last saw Metro Manila at night from a plane, and I forgot how beautiful it was! With no bias I can say that Metro Manila has some of the most beautiful night lights amongst the cities of the world. Too bad I’ve no decent shot to share. :()
A Taste of Laoag’s Poque-Poque
After about 50 minutes of flight, we arrived at Laoag International Airport. From there we hired a service to take us on a short tour around Laoag before bringing us to our hotel at the heart of the city.
After the ruckus of settling in, we had our scrumptious dinner at Saramsam Restaurant which doubled as our “carbo-loading party”—we had their signature Saramsam pasta which is spaghetti with shrimps, cilantro, green and red peppers, fresh tomatoes, onions, green and ripe mango slices, with olive oil and grated parmesan cheese, served with bread; Longaniza pizza which had the local Laoag sausage; their specialty Poque-poque pizza which is pizza topped with the local dish Poque-poque; Baraniw (Wild Basil) Iced Tea; buckets and buckets of booze; and of course what would a party be without some singing?
It was just the first night and already I can smell a wonderful adventure ahead. Just being in the company of friends that I’ve missed due to my running hiatus was enough for me to enjoy the night, but the setting made it more fun. The following day marks the arrival of most of the gang in Laoag, and with more of us around, who knows what would happen next?
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