Adams, a quaint town in the northeastern side of Ilocos Norte, nestled by the pristine mountains at the northern end of the Cordilleras, is a long two and a half hours drive from Laoag City. If you happen to come from the metropolis and yearn for a communion with nature, going up north to this treasure of a place called Adams is more than an escape from urbanism. One gets to discover not just beautiful places, but a chance to experience living in a place as natural as God wanted it to be.
Drive up north. The Adams-Pansian, Pagudpud junction is several meters away from the Patapat Viaduct. Turn right after Panzzian Beach and Mountain Resort. Expect the next 20-35 minutes to be bumpy, dusty and, at times, wet. The way is through a rough road in between mountains, mountain ridges, rivers and creeks. Before reaching the Adams Municipal Hall, the refreshing sight of the Bulo River that snakes through the hills and mountains makes you want to dunk in the cleanest body of water you’ve ever seen. Crude but sturdy hanging bridges connect the hills and mountains for a more convenient passage for those on foot.
The Adams town proper does not hint, at all, that outside its boundaries are enchanting places to be explored; and unique diverse cultures — Yapayao, Isneg, Kankaaey, Igorot, Ilocano — to be experienced. Visitors can be assisted by the Adams Mountaineering Organization, known as the AMO. Getting around Adams is by walking or riding a bike; motorcycle transit and 4×4 vehicles can reach only up to certain points. There are no hotels in Adams; lodging means homestays or setting-up camp at allowed areas like the vast Lovers’ Peak where one can enjoy the panoramic view of all the majestic mountains surrounding the town. There are only 2 commercial eating places where you can pre-order an exotic meal of freshly cooked red mountain rice with available wild vegetables, upland fish, eel and shellfish.
To reach Anuplig Falls, the premiere waterfalls in Adams, one has to hike for one and a half hours from the poblacion. From there, going back can also be done by tackling the Bulo River through rubber tubes. Mountain bikers can visit Sitios Sinidangan or Masasabog and experience the heartwarming welcome smiles of children and oldies amid rustic sceneries. For the bird lovers, birding, or birdwatching, is a chance not to pass up. A variety of birds such as wood peckers, pigeons, hawks, eagles and owls abound.
There are four major mountains in Adams. Getting to the summit of Mt. Palemlem, or Pico to some, 1294 m asl, is a 3-5 hours difficult ascent through forested narrow trails, steep slopes, and mountain ridge trails. The summit campsite, named Camp Gazebo, offers a glorious panorama of the province of Ilocos Norte. The endangered Ventricosa plant, commonly known as pitcher plant is common at the summit. Mt. Pao, 1323 m asl, is a barely explored old-growth rainforest where giant mushrooms have been reported. It boasts of waterfalls and a natural canopy walk from above midway to the summit. It takes approximately eight hours to get to the peak; a clear view of the regal Cape Bojeador Lighthhouse amidst lush green forests awaits you after the arduous ascent. Climbing Mt. Linao, 1407 m asl, is a 12-hour uphill slog through open trails, a creek, grass-covered trails, forests, a dry river bed and muddy slopes. The Linao Pond, 952 m asl, is a sanctuary to wild ducks and boars, the reward one gets from braving the extreme climb. Waking-up to see a pond beside Linao’s peak, amidst fog and cool air breezing through, is the most amazing experience in Adams.
Before leaving Adams, ask around for in-season fruits — lanzones, Mandarin oranges, jackfruits, rambutans, Barbados cherries, juicy dwarf pineapples, sweet Adams bananas, and wild strawberries. Other products include tapuey, or rice wine; santol wine; bugnay wine; Adams coffee with an exotic mocha-like taste; homemade cocoa, walis tambo, or broom, guaranteed to last 2 years; handmade knives; and neatly hand-woven rattan baskets and bags. The next time you visit Adams, consider: waterfalls-hopping to all 12 waterfalls; water-tubing from Adams to Bangui (another town in Ilocos Norte) through the Bulo River; or biking from Adams town proper all the way to Pasaleng, Pagudpud.
The lofty paradise in Northern Ilocos is as mysterious as its name. One can easily get enthralled with the place and forget about the rest of the world. The experience of being in a place as beautiful and natural as Adams makes one truly thankful to Our Creator. This rare treat evokes a sense of discovery and longing for the simple and stress-free life uncomplicated by the modernism and commercialism of the times. Indeed, there are still heavens on earth.
[all photos by blauearth]