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Magazine Feature: Riding the North Luzon Loop

May 16, 2008

The epic ride we at Vespa Club did got an 8-page exposure in the May 2008 edition of Homestyle magazine (P150/National Bookstore). Special thanks to Mon (our club’s VP) and Vanni (the mag’s Managing Editor) for making this glossy feature possible.

Below are soft copies of the page layouts which appeared in pages 114 to 121 of Homestyle’s current ish.

click thumbnails for a bigger display of the 8-page spread

I’m reposting the entire article below. Some of the photos may differ from those which appeared in the magazine as some text in the article are actually photo captions of specific images. 🙂

Read on…



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John Rana and friends ride their scooters through 11 provinces in four days, amassing enough moments of pure camaraderie and unforgettable sightseeing to easily outlast the memory of their stinging backsides.

The North Luzon Loop is one of the three main Tourism Highways recommended by the Department of Tourism (DOT) for anyone who wants to explore the breathtaking sights of the Philippine countryside; the other two being the Pan-Philippine Highway (a 2,500-kilometer arterial road network from Manila to Davao in Mindanao via Bicol in Southern Luzon and Samar and Leyte in Eastern Visayas), and the Nautical Highway (which covers 919 kilometers of land and 137 nautical miles of sea travel through routes utilizing the RORO network of ferry terminals and vessels).

The Loop is the shortest of the three and involves inland travel throughout, making it a popular long-ride route for local bikers. There’s even the annual Iron Man Challenge for big bikers that require them to do the trip in less than 24 hours. But for a rider to truly experience the beauty of the countryside, we knew it would be best not to hurry.

So that was exactly how we at the Vespa Club planned it. We scheduled a four-day ride (February 28-March 2) to complete the adventure which took us around the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan Valley, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija and back for Thursday until Sunday.

As luck would have it, another scooter club have planned the same long ride to Pagudpud within the same time frame although their route had them starting from the opposite (east) side. When EuroScoot president Cliff Certeza and I (his counterpart in Vespa Club) talked about the timely coincidence, we agreed that the two Manila-based groups should meet up north for a fellowship night of sorts. So a higher purpose for this long ride was born. It also helped that some officers and members of another scooter club (Scoot66) decided to come along with our club to be our guest riders and made this epic ride at the tip of Luzon even more historic. (Our odometers clocked 1,400-or-so depending on where exactly in Manila we are based.)

Here’s the story of this epic journey as told through pictures.

Day 1, Thursday

[photo1] The Vespa Club boys and Scoot66 guys all geared-up for the long ride ahead. We took off at dawn so it was necessary for us to wear reflective vests for maximum visibility in the dark highway.

[photo2] Two of the scoots are from a couple of Vespa Club members from Baguio who joined us in La Union stretch. We weren’t fooled by the gloss of these two steeds — these scooters are very much at home with twisties of Marcos Highway, Naguilan and Kennon Roads.

[photo3] Lunch was at a turu-turo along the Bauang-Naguilian Junction in La Union where we met the Baguio boys.

[photo3b] Our pitstop for Day 1 is the surfer’s town of San Fernando, La Union.

Day 2, Friday

[photo4] The panoramic beauty of Quirino bridge in Ilocos Sur that spreads across the Abra River and connects two mountain slopes (in the town of Santa and the tail end of Bantay in Ilocos Sur).

[photo4b] We then stayed at the city of Vigan for a few hours to enjoy the sights this heritage town. First stop after the arch is the Vigan Cathedral built in 1800.

[photo5] We were actually allowed to bring (but not ride) our scoots in for some photo opportunities while in Calle Crisologo. (Our special thanks to the Vigan Heritage Motorcycle Club for escorting us around the city.)

[photo6] Like Calle Crisologo, the Bantay Bell Tower was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. After giving a small donation, we were actually urged by the caretaker to climb up the tower. We declined the offer since we haven’t eaten lunch yet; plus, we would be spending the rest of the afternoon riding to Pagudpud.

[photo 7] Even Mc Donald’s in Vigan proved to be picturesque. But we didn’t eat there of course…

[photo8] Some authentic Ilocos cooking in Cafe Leona soon satisfied our hunger. We devoured on bagnet, pinakbet, dinengdeng and the famous Vigan longganisa.

[photo9] For “dessert”, we ate some of the equally famous Vigan empanada sold near the plaza.

[photo10] Right before hitting Ilocos Norte, traffic on the highway literally came to a standstill as students in colorful costumes with props danced while crossing the main thoroughfare in what looked like a field demonstration at the intersection. A pedicab carrying sound systems followed each class so they could dance to their own music. It was a very long wait and somewhat amusing that this was even allowed at all. It’s something we don’t see everyday.

[photo11] As a side trip, we from the Vespa Club stopped at the Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, Ilocos Norte…

[photo12] while the boys of Scoot66 visited the baroque-style Paoay Church.

[photo13] On the other side of the loop, gloomy skies greet the EuroScoot boys as they stop at the scenic, mountain-backed, 1.3-kilometer Patapat bridge which is dubbed the “French Riviera of the North” with it’s wide view of the sea.

[photo14] Next, we climb up the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse which is set majestically on a hill overlooking the South China Sea. It was built in 1892 and considered the highest lighthouse in the Philippines.

[photo20] The sun has already set when we reached the Bangui Wind Farm — a single row of colossal wind turbines located on a three-kilometer shoreline off Bangui Bay facing the South China Sea.

[photo15] Upon reaching the Apo Idon Resort in Pagudpud’s Saud Beach, we were warmly welcomed by our friends from EuroScoot. Their club hosted dinner and drinks for everybody. With the number of scoots and riders, it was just like any regular Vespa round-up in Manila… only we were now more than 300 kilometers away.

[photo16] Actor Dominic Ochoa, himself a Vespa rider, interviewed the three club heads about the purpose of the epic ride for Stoplight.TV.

Day 3, Saturday

[photo17] Fog greeted us atop the North Cordillera Mountain Range which connects Ilocos Norte to Cagayan Valley.

[photo18] After hitting Tugegaro, we chose a bypass road passing the town of Enrile, Cagayan instead of hitting the main highway towards Ilagan, Isabela. This route has a postcard-perfect view of sloping hills and river– we just had to make an unplanned stop to take pictures. The wonderful place — seldom (or not at all!) mentioned in travel guides — is simply breathtaking!

DAY 4, Sunday

[photo19] For riders who likes the twisties, Dalton Pass would be the perfect playground. Unfortunately, that the Vizcaya side has potholes and uneven patches of asphalt at that time. The Ecija side, however, was remained smooth.

[photo21] I sighed with relief after seeing this arch. It’s been a fun but grueling four days. Though I’m aware we’re still far from home, I also know that Nueva Ecija is just a day-trip away from Manila.

[photo22] The late afternoon sun was glaring directly on our eyes so we decided to have a watermelon and fresh buko break by the roadside in Bulacan.

[photo23] As soon as we get back to Manila to meet the backup vehicle which carried some our our baggage, we had this parting shot.

Our route — the North Luzon Loop — and the actual distance travelled is now immortalized in this patch (for the rider) and badge (for the scooter)!

– – – – – – – – – –

photos 1, 4b, 5, 6, 7, 9, 17,19, 20, 22 & 23 by Mario Rodas
photo 2 by Vicoy Ferrer
photo 3, 3b, 4, 8, 10, 11, 14, 21, by Zaldy Austria
photo 12, 15, 18, by Eugene Buenaventura
photo 13 by Randy Villa
photo 16 by Dennis Floro
additional in-mag photos by Mon Santelices

13 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2008 11:24 am


  2. Vexel permalink
    May 17, 2008 1:37 pm

    Its great to see you up and writing again. I certainly missed your updates. Congratulations John on the article and congratulations to VCOP for completing the epic ride.

    nice patch/badge too! Do a san pablo one!!! hehehe

  3. Mon M. Santelices permalink
    May 17, 2008 1:42 pm

    Galiiing, repa!!

    Reading your article and seeing the photos gave me a deja-vu kind of tingle all over! Everything has alredy been said about this ride and I can’t think of anything else to add…except probably…ULITIN NATIN ITO MGA REPA!!!

  4. May 19, 2008 1:44 am

    Yung sticker natin Zalds ha. 🙂

    Jon: Yeah, I know I’ve been remiss with my blogging duties. Hope to get back into the swing of things soon. 🙄

    Ulitin natin pero dyan naman sa Guam, Mon! 😆 hehehe

  5. pal permalink
    May 19, 2008 1:56 pm

    nice one john !!!

  6. nanding permalink
    May 20, 2008 6:05 am

    pre kakainggit naman kayo. sarap magmutor dyan. sama akooooo.

  7. Mon M. Santelices permalink
    May 21, 2008 10:01 pm

    Sure, John, that would really be a treat!. The roads here are great with a lot of twisties thrown in. Kaya lang baka mabitin lang tayo since I think we can circumnavigate Guam in 2 hrs. But since the maximum speed limit here is 60kph(35mph) that will take a little longer…if we are not caught for speeding yet!

  8. scootzilla permalink
    May 22, 2008 9:15 pm

    this was really an epic ride boss, hope that next time this will happen again i’ll be included in the ride. great picture as well boss better than the magz although in this version sikat lagi scoot ni Mario! he he he.

  9. ECS permalink
    May 28, 2008 3:55 pm

    cool guys, great pics. i think your epic ride can have a spot inside an Inside Racing issue. Cool Running


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