It’s Pagudpud, NOT Boracay of the North

photo by blauearth
photo by blauearth (

In long past, some people branded Pagudpud, the famous beach town of Ilocos Norte, as Boracay of the North, because of its wide and long shoreline and its pristine white sand. Almost all write ups and promotional materials sold Pagudpud that way.

Many Ilocanos were thrilled with Pagudpud’s association with the more popular beach in the Visayas. Boracay, of course, was better known, more established, and was the place to be seen. Stargazing is also more fun in Caticlan as celebrities descend there, especially during summer.

Decades after, some still refer to Pagudpud as “Boracay of the North,” but a growing number of people are beginning not to be amused.

“Some say Pagudpud is the ‘Boracay of the North,’… But do we hear people say Boracay is the ‘Pagudpud of the South?’ Surely not,” laments Xavier Ruiz, who works with the Ilocos Norte Provincial Tourism Office. The BS Tourism cum laude graduate of Mariano Marcos State University  explains that such branding is “an obvious acknowledgement that what we offer our visitors are only second best with no clear identity and are constantly clinging to more established destinations thinking it would be the best marketing strategy.”  The young tourism professional says he thinks otherwise: “Our province is beautiful and astonishing.. I believe we can do better.” Ruiz’s boss, Ilocos Norte tourism head Ianree Raquel, agrees. “We always strive to give our visitors a unique taste of the North far from what they could experience in other destinations,” he says in an interview.

April Rafales, a reporter of the ABS-CBN regional station in Laoag City, shares the view of the local tourism professionals. “We cannot be a prototype of something;  a place can only be its own best version, setting its own standards and offering what it can,” she says, and warns that comparing Pagudpud to other tourist spots can also set false expectations among tourists.

I share the same sentiments, dear karikna. I have been to both beaches several times, and I figured that each has its own beauty and charm. Each has its own selling points. Boracay is for bored people thirsting for excitement. Pagudpud is for the wary soul thirsting for serenity. Boracay offers an outrageous night life while Pagudpud offers intimate spaces for bonding with family and friends. It’s a choice between an overdeveloped resort and a relatively Spartan one. It’s not unlike a competition between a virgin and a hustler.

Moreover, you go to Aklan for the excellent beach. You travel to Ilocos Norte for awe-inspiring beaches and more—from heritage structures and historical sites to windmills and a lighthouse, from rivers and waterfalls to rock formations and a viaduct. And, oh, our gustatory delights which I will not attempt to enumerate.

It is different when you say Eddie Gutierrez is the Elvis Presley of the Philippines or that Anne Curis is the local Audrey Hepburn because those Pinoys intentionally copy foreign personas, but how could Pagudpud copy Boracay? I suppose God created the two beaches at the same time, or didn’t he?

On its own merits and not because of its similarity to Boracay, Pagudpud has been ranked by travel organizations, magazines, and critiques as one of the best beaches in Asia, and in the world. In Forbes Magazine’s list of top beaches in Asia, for example, Pagudpud’s Saud Beach is ranked number one not because it is like Boracay, but precisely because it is not. Forbes notes Pagudpud’s “2 km arc of blindingly pure sand bordered by the blue of the South China Sea.”  It is “uncluttered,” the high-end magazine notes, “unlike that famous Philippines shore, White Beach on Boracay Island.” Forbes invites travelers to “beat the developers, the hair-braiders and sarong-floggers – head to Pagudpud now,” taking a swipe at overdeveloped Boracay.

I must admit that Pagudpud remains a work in progress, but it will never realize its full potential unless it capitalizes on its strengths, and go out of the shadow of that beach down South. Starting with us, Ilocanos, and for our own good, I hope we stop referring to Pagudpud as Boracay of the North. We have always been known to be proud and confident of ourselves, now is time to show properly some pride of our place.



Author: Herdy La. Yumul

A hesitant academic pimp, writer

12 thoughts on “It’s Pagudpud, NOT Boracay of the North”

  1. ilocanos are the best for we are ‘at best’ in our own ways. we are unique, this makes us simply the best!

  2. i was there 2 years ago for the first time.on a very rainy day with a friend .i admit it is a nice place but the place we rented for a day and a night was not worth the trip.awful food my eggs were not cooked right..over easy turned to be as hard as a hockey BLT turned to be soggy bacon .did not have things on their menu we order and to top it all off their were cats in the attic that were so noisy making it a sleepless night and mind you lot of mosquitoes and i think their rates are pricey. i will go back to pagudpud but.never again will i go back to saud beach house for R& R…it was more like SHOCK & AWE…

  3. Not having been to Pagudpud, I couldn’t possibly comment on its merits but isn’t the ‘Virgin and hustler’ comparison way too simplistic? Comments seem to suggest that development in Pagudpod is still in its infancy, hence the pristine quality and tranquility that comes with it. I’m sure advocates of what was an ‘undiscovered Boracay’ then are just as disappointed with how it is now. Perhaps your efforts are best served campaigning that Pagudpod does not end up as his/her more experienced sister/brother Boracay. Learn from the mistakes made and not be sidetracked with berating it to make a name for oneself.

  4. I’ve been here… maganda dito. Pag nag langoy ka lumalapit sa yo ang isda…
    Those were the days. Wag lang ma commercialize masyado talagang maraming pupunta dyan.

    We stayed in the same hotel before na site ng movie na “Ligaya ang Itawag mo sa Akin… ”

    Thats why yung brgy doon ay ginawang Ligaya or Joy, I think…

  5. Been to both places . . . Boracay and Pagudpud. . . . It´s stupid to call Pagudpud Boracay of the north coz that´s Pagudpud going down the level of Boracay. It´s likewise stupid to call Boracay Pagudpud of the south coz that´s Boracay going up the level of Pagudpud. Pagudpud is Pagudpud and I like it. Boracay is Boracay and I don´t like it. Pagudpud is much better, much cleaner, much more enjoyable and much less commercialized than Boracay.

  6. I’ve been promoting in our office, not just the ilocos beaches but the whole province as well. I even told them that if they want to have a glimpse of Gov. Imee, they just go to the Capitol. But there’s one thing that they don’t like in Ilocos. Everything is Expensive. However our place is beautiful, it is clouded by its cost. I remember my officemates who just came from a trip in pagudpud. Somebody asked them if they went to the beach and everybody quipped, “better go to Boracay, the cost worth it”.

  7. I have been out for circulation in this forum for quite sometime……Comeooon Guys! I have been to both places and I enjoyed my three nights stay in Boracay. Pagudpud’s Saud Beach is just a sleepy town during my last visit in 2004, nothing is there comparing it vizavis with Boracay. This is just like SM Supermart comparing it with rural town sari-sari store.

    1. It’s very difficult for Pagudpud to compare itself with Boracay. Of course both have white sand beaches, but the sand in Boracay a lot finer or powdery than in Pagudpud. And the shoreline in Boracay is a lot longer and wider. If Pagudpud brands itself as the “Boracay of the North” people will eventually compare it with the actual Boracay island, which, I think, is a big mismatch. People in Ilocos should find alternative ways of promoting their local tourism and be proud of what they really have. As a tourist, I highly appreciate authenticity than grandiose.

  8. If there’s any beach worth comparing with Boracay, it’s Panglao in Bohol. It has all the natural qualities of the Boracay beach; moreover, it is less crowded and less polluted.

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