About an hour's drive from San Fernando, La Union, heading northeast, is a quiet little town called Suyo (Ilocos Sur)--population (August 2014) of approximately 12,000 people. Armand suggested we ride our motorbikes to check-out some waterfalls in Suyo with his friend, Jessie, who is, in turn, a friend of Suyo's Mayor, Samuel "Mario" Subangan Jr. And so, off we rode to Suyo at the crack of dawn on Wednesday, August 27, 2014.
It was a relatively leisurely ride from Rancho Caridad (Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija), which lasted about four (4) hours. The last hour of the trip was the stretch from San Fernando, La Union to Suyo, Ilocos Sur, with the final half-hour traversing good concrete "twisties" until we stopped to take a break at the Mayor's home. Before we knew it, lunch was served and, thereafter, the Mayor lent us his 4x4 and instructed his staff to bring us to Sangbay ni Ragsak, which is Ilocano for Waterfalls of Happiness.
From the Mayor's house, which is right across the munisipyo, it was a picturesque 20 minute ride on the 4x4 (through concrete roads) plus a relatively easy 20 minute trek on foot. Sangbay ni Ragsak is comparable to Pagsanjan Falls in Laguna and Bomod-Ok Falls in Sagada. However, there is no need to "shoot the rapids" (admittedly part of the fun in Pagsanjan) or to trek one to two hours (as in the case of Bomod-Ok) to reach the falls itself. Further, the pools below Sangbay ni Ragsak are ideal for taking a dip, which is exactly what we did when we got there.
Afterwards, we were brought to the eco-tourism pool resort operated by the municipal government, which is clean and well-maintained. It has a couple of rooms that can be rented for P800 per room per night as well as a cottage for an entire family for P3,000 per night. It's surrounded by forest trees and mountains, with only the sound of the nearby spring and the soft wind to relieve the most stressed nerves. Shortly thereafter, we dropped by the Mayor's office to convey our gratitude and appreciation. Although our visit was brief, it illustrates without a doubt that genuine old-fashioned Filipino hospitality is alive, well, and embodied in Mayor Mario and the town of Suyo.