On one of my last days in Illocos, I had a very special overnight “glamping” trip at Monte Brilliante. It’s about a 30 minute drive from my family home, this undeveloped mountainside and surrounding farmlands belonged to my late grandfather. It’s now being cared for and slowly developed by my uncle.
The plateau is a quick 5 minute hike from where the road ends, and although not terribly high, the view is still fantastic. A small hillside, it still offers a 360 degree view of the area.
As of right now, there are just three huts on the hillside. The main hut with a kitchen and storage space, a hut for my uncle to sleep in when he is there and a guest hut. For now, they are made with bamboo wood and bamboo leaves, but the goal is to make them with stronger and more permanent structures. Personally, I like them as is! The whole area feels so rural and is a definite blast from the past.
When on the hillside, it feels like you are in another world. Another time. A time before cellphones and modern technology. There’s no reception up there. So after you are done taking pictures, there really isn’t much more to do than be alone with your thoughts and appreciating your surroundings.
You can eat… go on a walk… play with the roosters or maybe even play with the pet deer. But that’s it! It can seem dull, but truly it’s not. It’s a nice reminder to take life one day at a time and to really appreciate everything you have.
The most wonderful aspect of Monte Brilliante is something I wasn’t able to capture in pictures. That was the **STARS**. Oh my goodness the stars! It was so windy that night and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and there were stars everywhere! Illocos in general is a great place to stargaze, however even now, there is some sky pollution. But up in that hillside, we were so isolated and I have never, ever, seen so many stars. You could see remnants of stardust with the naked eye. I was able to lay down in the grass, listening to the howling wind and just stare up at the sky for what felt like hours and be content. That’s a moment that I could live in forever. I know that my uncle will soon change the face of that hillside and it won’t be the same the next time I see it. However, I hope just enough stays the same that I will always have my wind and my stars.