About BlauEarth

BlauEarth, the blog, contains the most original posts about anything relevant and cool in Ilocos, also the author’s firsthand experiences from Laoag and Los Angeles, and anywhere in between.

About Me

I’m Tina Tan, a native of Ilocos Norte, Philippines, now a transplant in Los Angeles.

The blog has opened more doors for me. My work has been published on Conde Nast Traveller ME, Vault, Playboy Philippines, Appetite, etc. A most memorable, wonderful experience — I was signed up to write “Loving Laoag”, the  cover story of the Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Magazine February 2015 issue.

VaultVault 2014 No 4

At the start of this blog in 2009, I wrote:

I love everything about my hometown (quirks included). We have idyllic places, pristine beaches that can rival Bora Bora or Harbour Bay, untouched forests that host a high amount of biodiversity, vast sand dunes that were locations for scenes in movies such as Tom Cruise’s Born on the Fourth of July and Mel Gibson’s Mad Max, elegant structures that speak of a rich cultural past, a forward-looking capital city (Laoag), yet our way of life has remained laid-back. It gets too hot here in the summer, but I really don’t mind.

I’m a member of the LEAD Movement. Trekking, discovering more about my hometown, taking photographs, writing, attending ecotourism development workshops, joining environment-related endeavors take most of my time – my way of giving back. I want my grandchildren to love and enjoy living in Ilocos Norte the way I do.

I also do normal stuff: I read; I watch movies; I hang out with my BFF’s; I cook; I watch the news; I occasionally indulge my appetite for sweets, tall watermelon smoothies, rootbeer floats, Ilocos empanada, and anything from Sam’s kitchen; and I listen to music to dose off. Celtic harp music is incomparable for the insomniac in me.

Here's my baby, Alexa

Here’s my baby, Alexa

Umay kay tu manen.

I still like the same things

Hope to have you around again for another decade.


Much love,

110 thoughts on “About

  1. What joy to get here! It feels like going home, home that I haven’t seen in decades except ever so vividly in memories–sabangan idiay Currimao man wenno Gabo wenno Bacarra, kalesa idiay Laoag, dagidi nasisipnget a simbaan, the lighthouse.

    Anian nga yamanko kenka, kailian, for the palpable “love and devotion” you pour into this blog.

    • thank you so much, kabsat. you’ll be happy to come home…. i do invite you to visit your roots.

  2. hey, you’ve got a very interesting blog 🙂 i went thru your older post and it’s quite an experience 🙂

    umay ak manen idtoy 😉

    cheers! 🙂

  3. You’ve got a terrific blog here, BlauEarth, and your English is nothing less than impeccable! May I invite you to check out Jose Carillo’s English Forum and see if there’s something there that might interest you? I’d love to have you as a member of the Forum not only to shoot the breeze with the Forum members but also to help them improve their English. What do you think? See you at the Forum soon!

  4. Testing from the state of Florida. What a beautiful place you guys live – Laoag City! I hope to be able to visit one of these days.

  5. I recently stumbled upon your web-log a few of days go while researching Ilocano culture: region, art, history, etc. I was born in Laoag City, adopted at 18 months and subsequently moved to Los Angeles California where I have resided for the past thirty plus years.

    I’ve traveled back many times to visit family, mainly in Manila and Quezon City, and various other regions but never to Ilocos Norte where I was born. I’m hoping within the next year I will be able to do so.

    Thank you very much for posting so many photos and articles, they are absolutely fascinating to see and read.


  6. Hi Blue Earth! 🙂 Kudos for a job well done!… and for having beautiful Alexa 🙂 I am a Business Ambassador for EKSALIFE, a portal to unconventional tourism headquartered in Singapore. I was wondering if you could refer me to authentic unconventional and responsible tour operators (either hyperlocale individuals or private companies) in your area. Thanks.

  7. Love the “BlauEarth’s Blog”!!! Congrats!!! Keep it up…Proud to be Bannatiran (particularly – brgy. Caribquib)…missin my beloved hometown…:-)

  8. Ilocos remains deeply embeded in my soul and I’m proud to claim by Ilocano birthright. Your musings bring back not just memories of childhood in Piddig, playing “innugsa” by the light of the moon and oh-so-good dirty ice cream, but an intense longing for the beauty of this land and the gentleness its people. Agyamanak, kabsat nga Blauearth! — MT

  9. This is an experience! I share the pride you are having as you write these entries – you just can’t get enough of Ilocos Norte. I think it was a good decision to come back. Looking forward to working with you closely, Tina!

  10. Hi, BJ. Many thanks for takin’ the time to visit my blog. It doesn’t feel like work serving our beloved beautiful province. I’m happy to have met people like you!

  11. your blog is truly amazing. i just discovered your blog last week and im already addicted to it. the articles are so interesting and the places you feature are astonishing. so proud to be from ilocos norte.
    keep it up ma’am 🙂

  12. Good Morning;

    Really love what you are doing!

    Could use your help understanding Ilocos Norte and the opportunities?

    My wife Marylyn Cudapas is from Brgy. Foz.

    She will be in town next week.

    How can we talk?

    best wishes


  13. Accidentally found your page Googling for a balatung recipe. AMAZING. My mother is from Ilocos Sur and now I want to visit there even more. Reading your “About Me” section makes me want to LIVE there. Keep it up. I’m enthralled and will be showing this site to my mom. Thank you!!

  14. Hi Blauearth! Iv been looking for weavers from Paoay whom I can buy my abel blankets. Can you give me some contacts? Thanks and nice site you have!

    • ok, Naomi. i hope i’ll be able to squeeze it asap. workin on a difficult project and beatin’ a deadline. for now, i’ll post on FB.

  15. Hi Cuz,
    Thanks so much for spending time with us. Great to meet your kids too. I hope to see you all here in Hawaii sometime in the near future. Please send me some of the Standup paddle board shoots you took of me. Our company wants to use me for an advertisement in SUP magazine. I’ll make sure you get a photo credit.
    We will feature many countries where the Isups have gone, Philippines, South America, Iraq, etc.
    Aloha and Mabuhay

    • that’s great! i’ll be using one of the photos i took of you paddle boarding for a new travel brochure coming out next week — that’s why i haven’t had the chance to upload or post a JT article. i love all the photos of you! be sending them within the day or as soon as i get the chance. love and kisses to your family. great kids! please tell May ’twas so nice that we got together. aloha, cuz, and agbiaag!

  16. Hi Maam Tina,

    My friends will visit Ilocos this month and certainly, we will spend a night in Pagudpud. I wish to know what is the most affordable resort in Pagudpud, Maam. Thank you.

    • There are several affordable resorts in Pagudpud, Miles. There are also really cheap ones. Where do you want to stay (along the Saud stretch or near the Blue Lagoon area), and what else are your considerations? Do you want to just rest or you want a crowd? Or you might want to surf? Fancy or laid-back? Good food, but not cheap? Cheap food, but blah? What is your budget? You can email me at blauearth@yahoo.com.

  17. No Maam, we don’t want a crowd. LOL. We just want plain rest. We need a break from the haggles of work and of everything. I am considering laid- back resorts near the Blue Lagoon area. Oh, we’d love to surf but no one in the group knows how to.

    • Kapulaan Vista Resort fits, I guess. They have dormitory type rooms and twin and family rooms with lofts. But you have to check if baka fully book na for the summer coz hindi masyado malaki yon resort. They also have surfing lessons and boards. 63 (920) 952-2528 or landline: 63 (02) 697-6597 kapuluan_vista_resort@yahoo.com I haven’t tried the huge resort sa may harap mismo ng Blue Lagoon, may pagka-loud and busy ata ang atmosphere with karaoke, majjong and billiards?

  18. Thank you for the details, Maam Tina. I called up Kapuluan Vista Resort but Olive, the resort’s staff told me that there is no more room available for 7 persons on the 22nd and 23rd. Yayy! Any more suggestion Maam Tina? Thank you so much.

    • try Panzzian Beach and Mountain Resort http://www.pannzian.com/index.htm CP#(0920) 952 0662 Tel# (632) 646 9020. It’s at the end of Patapat Viaduct, though, but there are motorcycles for hire which can take you conveniently to and from Blue Lagoon or Adams, perhaps, if you’re not bringing your own ride. Panzzian has a relaxing atmosphere and the food is quite good. There are resorts in the Saud area like Arinaya, Villa Del Mar, Apo Idon and Terra Rika, but that’s usually where the action is, like party-partay!

  19. Dios unay iti agngina, Maam. I am hoping that we can still be accomodated at Kapuluan Vista Resort. We are looking forward to our surfing lessons too.
    Again, Dios unay iti agngina.

  20. It would be more enjoyable if I’ll meet you personally, Maam. I’ve been reading your blog and Herdy’s Riknakem blog as well. Btw, I am also from Laoag.

    • Miles, maybe we can meet up. Don’t you want to go sandboarding with me if you’re interested?

  21. I am very much interested, Maam Tina. My friends requested me to include La Paz Sand Dunes in our itinerary for picture-taking purposes only but little did I know that we can go sandboarding with you. Can we meet you on the 23rd at 4pm, Maam Tina?

  22. im a travel photographer travelling all over the philippines to feature tourism sites for travel magazines.
    i have visited a lot of places yet for my own hometown i have not really had any exposure. im from laoag city, homegrown and educated in that town.
    this year im starting my exodus home and focusing on what can be seen in ilocos norte and my first stop is adams.
    heard so much about it and just about time i shoot it.
    read your blog, nice. one way of getting to sites i need to go to.
    need your help in getting annavic medrano homestay contacts as i plan to use it as my base for my stay there.
    been trying to contact LEAD movement numbers but everyone is out of reach
    appreciate your help.

    • hi, Brian! sorry for the delayed reply. i was out of town. i’m also a member of LEAD Movement. you can email me blauearth@yahoo.com. i can help you with possible places to shoot, or you may contact reny at 0919-873-5516 / 0917-523-0331 reny_tan@yahoo.com; or benny arce, 0932-358-7521 bennyarce@yahoo.com.

      i don’t have Annavic’s number right now, but will email it to you as soon as I confirm her new number. i think her old number doesn’t work. do you have a date for your visit? we’ll be in Adams for a trek soon.

  23. blog banner rocks.
    i know this is a stitched photo of maira-ira. been here so many times when i was younger.
    been to the two islands on the far left – walking along the water so many times!
    memories in pensive…

  24. Nostalgia! I remember one type of “taco type” empanada cooked in front of the church in Laoag. It had a bright orange casing made of dough and deep fried right there. You eat it with spiced vinegars. It was so goood!
    P.S. The pallang salad on your website was so healthy looking. Would you happen to know the English name for pallang?

    • Thanks! Empanada is more popular than ever. Empanada is big in Batac. They have this place called Riverside Empanadahan. We have more stalls in Laoag. They’ve also invaded MM. There’s one at the Farinas Bus Terminal I think. Another eatery opened in Tomas Morato. I’m not too sure if the ones in Katipunan and Market Market are still there. Anyways, pallang is winged bean or goa bean.

  25. Hi, just found your blog…..gorgeous pics and wonderful content. I’ve been to Ilocos Norte and all I can say is that it got fantastic places to go….we’ll be going there soon once again (me and Mr. H) so that my children can see Ilocos Norte for the first time=) I surely miss the empanada…can’t wait to eat it again!

    • Oh, wonderful to hear you’re visiting our place soon. There’s so much to discover. Your children will love the many variations of empanada. Batac, Laoag, etc. There’s a also one with sweet meat — in Laoag, in front of the PLDT bldg. I hope you will have a great adventure. Thanks!

  26. I have roots from Ilocos and proud of its heritage. Thank you for showing off Ilocos. We need more good and informative blogs for Northern Exposure…..Thanks I really did enjoy reading your blogs and viewing the images.

  27. I’m from Ilocos Sur, I am now working abroad. I used to visit Ilocos Norte and I really love it. Napintas ti Ilocos Norte kasta met ti Ilocos Sur. Simgar pay ti dutdut ko nga nakabasa toy blog mo kayat ko pay nga ulit uliten. Mariknak ti kinapudno ken kinaemma ti panagsursurat mo ading ko maysa nga galad ti pudpudno nga Ilokana. Raemek met ti kinalaing mo nga agsurat ken aglitrato. Ken kangrunaan na dayawek ti panangipanakkel mo ti kinailokanam. Agbiag ka ading ko ket di ka koma maum-uma. Dios ti agngina.

    • Dios ti agnina, Kevin. I am happy that I can share something in my own little way.
      I wish you the best. May God bless you always.

  28. I am an avid follower of your blog but I think this is my first time to post a comment. I just want to express my admiration and gratitude for this blog. Makes us, who are far away from home, less homesick. I echo all the things that have been said in the previous comments. Maipagpannakkel ka!

  29. im a travel photographer travelling all over the philippines to feature tourism sites for travel magazines.
    i have visited a lot of places yet for my own hometown i have not really had any exposure. im from laoag city, homegrown and educated in that town.
    this year im starting my exodus home and focusing on what can be seen in ilocos norte and my first stop is adams.
    heard so much about it and just about time i shoot it.
    read your blog, nice. one way of getting to sites i need to go to.
    need your help in getting annavic medrano homestay contacts as i plan to use it as my base for my stay there.
    been trying to contact LEAD movement numbers but everyone is out of reach
    appreciate your help.


    • @vanessa: sorry for the late reply as your comment was automatically filtered as spam (perhaps coz of your link). you can contact the LEAD Movement through me also. i was part of the group that explored potential ecotourism sites while helping with ecotourism development at the same time before they opened the door to tourism in 2005. If you can’t contact the LEAD Movement president Reny Tan (0919-873-5516 / 0927 841 5155) or the Executive Director Benny Arce (0917-523-0331)you can email me @blauearth@yahoo.com.

  30. ‘hey there! im googling and i accidentally opened your web coz im making a thesis regarding the tourist spots in iLocos norte, im a tourism student. you made me interested about the hot spots in your place, how i wish i can go there. but i think we’ll have a visit there. thank you for inspiring me. keep it up! hope someday i can meet you and your cuteeeeee daughter. 🙂 take care, GodbLess. 🙂

  31. i totally love your blog♥♥♥ may i just ask you where did you buy the cute wedge in VNC and also the flats pls…………….. ive been looking for it for months and when i seached it and found it i cried can i buy it ti you plssssssssss…………… (iam crying right now) pls help me…………

  32. Just recently I came across your site looking for empanada recipe. I enjoy reading your articles. Glad to have found someone who shares the same passion like me. I love mother earth, being green, I enjoy going places…and many other things.

    You’re an inspiration.

  33. I am a Manilena born and bred (though half Ilocana) and fell in love with Ilocos when I first visited last February. We just got back from visiting Laoag, Vigan and Baguio and are very thankful for your suggestions on good eats in your part of the country. We went to several places you suggested in Laoag, Badoc and Vigan and were not disappointed. You have a lovely blog and I look forward to reading about more of your discoveries. Cheers!

  34. Hi Ma’am Tina,

    Thank you again for introducing us to sand boarding and for the 4×4 ride in La Paz last Sunday despite the busy schedule. We really had a great time. I’ll definitely go back and tag my friends along.


    • it was nice meeting you, guys! as well as watching you loose yourself in the sand. hope to have you in Norte again!

  35. Hi, I am a big fan of yours. I hope you don’t mind that I have nominated you for “Super-Sweet-Blogging-Award”. I must say it is a lot of work but I was honored with the nomination given me. I hope you will accept it and visit the other nominees’ blogs. Thank you!

    Even if you don’t accept this nomination, I just want to tell you that I admire your contribution to eco-tourism and for promoting your province especially. Great job!

  36. I communicated with you earlier, and , as you suggested, looked at your blog. I am Boboy Francisco, and surprisingly, we share a common friend, Dax Simbol. I’m glad I visited your blog, really amazing. My roots are also from Ilocos, Laoag in particular.
    My mother’s middle name is Fonacier. As a young boy, I remember my Lola bringing me along to buy food supplies for the family, food stuff that we love so much to eat, Bagnet (but my Lola called it lechon carajay), Laoag longganisa ( I remember it as a very long longganisa), fish bagoong contained in a burnay and sealed with cheese cloth, and vegetables that seem to be found only in Ilocos, for that original recipe of
    pinakbet (my Lola calls it pakbet). I miss eating all these great stuff.
    I will email you a message regarding my planned visit to Adams.
    Kudos to your blog. More power to you. Please don’t tire in keeping this up, it’s
    a big boost to eco-tourism.

    • hi, boboy! i read your message and it’s wonderful to know about your planned visit to Adams. i’ll be goin’ to this sitio for the first time this week. i’m also goin’ to be seeing old friends from the AMO. thanks so much for checking out the blogs!

  37. hello ms. blauearth! our internet connection is bad that is why i was not able to ask your permission muna before i used your picture of banniaran(?) beach in pagudpud(?) in my FB page. agyamanak apo, hope ok po sa inyo. if not i will replace it.

    • The photos posted on BlauEarth are copyrighted as seen at the bottom of every post, I hope you don’t mind, dear.

  38. Hi! I’m Sam Balboa, a student from Ateneo De Manila University. I’m doing a Research paper on Filipino Food – particularly on the Ilocano dish, Papaitan. It would help me if you could answer this survey. There are only a few questions. Thank you and God Bless!

  39. Hi, I am a fan of your blog and of Ilocos too. Is there another way I can correspond with you? I’d love to hear your opinion and recommendation on a couple of things (mostly food) for a wedding in Ilocos. Thanks and keep up the good work!

  40. Hello ma’am,

    can i have ms. alicia’s contacts, magtatanong lang po ako where to buy halal foods here in laoag. a friend of mine is planning to visit laoag (from US) but her problem is where to find halal food for her friends who are muslims.

    btw ma’am, naikamang ak ditoy laoag, been here for 2yrs though my first visit was on 2008. i’m so proud of our laoag that’s why i keep on inviting my friends to visit here 😀 hoping for your favorable response.

    • Oh, you mean Alicia in my Muslim barangay story. you can just inquire at Barrio Uno, its the big house near the temple, or you can go at the Muslim retail center beside the ukay-ukay, Villanueva St, in front of the Laoag Supermarket.

    • Oh, thanks you. I’ve been to Cebu 3 times. Such a wonderful place! I love AA’s BBQ!!I just met new nice Cebuano friends in CDO. Hope to visit soon:)

  41. Wow! I’m happy that I found your blog. I’m from Guimba, Nueva Ecija and Ilokano is also our dialect… Unlike you, I’m just a newbie in this blogging world and still don’t have a specific theme for my blog. I’m looking forward to learning a lot from your posts. 🙂

    • thanks! promise, the more you blog, the more you learn:) sooner or later you will arrive at a point where you will tell yourself, it’s not that hard after all. but just a piece o advice. some people will insist on trying to steal content.i found out just yesterday zombies invaded my blog and assumed i’d be happy to find my content in theirs. if you are a techie, try to protect your content:) best wishes.

  42. I’m so glad to have stumbled upon your space on WP Reader! I am currently loving it. It’s really amazing to find someone so passionate about her hometown. I was born and raised in Baguio, but now I live and work in Metro Manila now. I love the metropolitan lifestyle (and I blog about it), but there’s nothing quite like living in the North. And reading your stuff made me miss home. I’ll definitely be back for more, and hit you up if ever I find myself in Ilocos Norte. Cheers! 🙂

  43. Ilocos trip is not complete without tasting Dinendeng. I tasted it at Aj Seafoodhaus formerly Ivan Dominic. Lots of tourist eat there because of its ambiance and reasonable prices. Maybe you can include it too. I’ve gone to those 10 places but its worth including Ivan Dominic maybe. Thanks.

  44. I stumbled upon your blog looking for a recipe for baduya. So glad I did. My mom is from Laoag. She’s gone now and this gives me a chance to learn (virtually) about my Ilocano heritage.

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