#LostInIlocos | Old City

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”- Martin Buber

(Part 3 of 3) Day 3. Vigan City Where the Old meets the New

We woke up already feeling consumed by the heat and weary of the last two days, but this was our most awaited part of the tour so no one’s complaining! And it started really full of spice as we dropped by a souvenir buying area where the best of Ilocos spices are sold – locally produced suka, basi, onions, and garlic, among others.

We met our new tour guide (the one we had during the first two days was a newbie so you probably know what I mean) who gave us supplemental info on the places we visited. And it changed so much about how we appreciated the places. Where were you “Manang” when we needed you? Also, she shared a few Ilocano phrases and words, and even tips on how to get tawad when we buy souvenirs.

And then we head to Ilocos Sur! Two hours from Laoag, we reached Baluarte, which I already had an idea about following the Miss Universe Pageant held in the Philippines early this year. This mini zoo was one of the spots visited by the candidates during their tour, and it’s not surprising because the zoo is owned by no less than Former Ilocos Sur governor and businessman Chavit Singson who also was a major sponsor of the pageant hosting. Talk about a rich man.

The free-admission zoo (applause) features some wild birds and land animals although the main attraction is Chavit’s golden mansion! But besides that, there is a safari museum where preserved animals are on display; but not just any wild animals but those that the main man has hunted himself, and he got proof!

And then we explored the rest of Vigan City! St Paul’s Cathedral is huge! And the details of the interior are gorgeous. There are gold trimmings in the ceiling and the altar’s baroque scrolls and curves. There is opulence in almost everything.

And then a few meters away, there’s Calle Crisologo! This was truly the highlight and most-awaited part of the trip. And did I mention it was also my birthday that day? The City of Vigan was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for preserving its Spanish Period architecture, while seamlessly integrating commercial and modern spaces. And this is pretty evident in Calle Crisologo no less. I mean, the photos speak for themselves.

Vigan is also a one-stop shop for all sorts of souvenirs you can think of – food, shirts, bags, wallets, antique items, and thousands of key chains to choose from and more! Don’t forget to try the sorbetes and the mangga with alamang!

If this was not enough, we also enjoyed a caleza ride strolling around Vigan for an hour, with drop-offs at certain important landmarks. One of which is the Bantay Watch Tower, which you can climb up to the very top. The tower, just like the other churches we have reached so far in Ilocos, is detached from the main church (St Augustine of Hippo Parish Church). Another peculiarity of this belfry is that you need to ascent a brick stairway to reach the top, or maybe just stay at the stairs and strut your best stuff like a supermodel would.

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Celebrating my 26th in the heritage city of Vigan has been an item I can now tick off the bucket list and then it’s more than that! The entire three-day Ilocandia tour, for a fact, has been a phenomenal experience thanks to the loads of fun, food, fanfare, and friendship shared with lovely people. Sunburn aside, we have so much takeaway from this quick trip – quirky souvenirs, tons of photos, funny anecdotes that we’d rather keep to ourselves for the meantime, and best of all, the picture of a thousand warmest smiles the people of Ilocos have shown that made us feel most welcome rather than #LostInIlocos.

 

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#LostInIlocos | Wind, Warmth, Water

“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.”- Francis Bacon

(Part 2 of 3) DAY 2. Pagudpud Strolling

Mornings at Ilocos are always warm. Considering how the previous day went, it was already expected that another grueling second day will be up for us under the blazing sun. And we can’t complain.

First item on the itinerary is Cape Bojeador Lighthouse which is also known as Burgos Lighthouse named after the town where it is located. Built during the Spanish era, the structure may be reached through a quick tricycle ride for 50 pesos (max of three people) upwards and another ride down to the highway. Be prepared to take beautiful snaps of the scenic surroundings – the lake and greenery from the tower base. And to this date, the lighthouse still functions.

The Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Bangui is difficult to reach. You would need a 100-peso horse ride to the site itself, although you can use a trail for walking. Well, we sadly did not risk reaching the rock formation as it was severely scorching, so we just bought some souvenirs at the shops by the seaside nearby and took photos of the Bangui Windmills at the same location.

We had lunch at Pagudpud, where one of the eateries served, wait for it, BAGNET! Okay, to be honest, bagnet is simply our lechon kawali but according to locals, the secret to their famed dish is in the way it is cooked. Apparently, they deep-fry the large pork parts three times to achieve the best balance of tender and crunch. Well, it did not disappoint. Perfect paired with the Ilocano Pinakbet which does not have kalabasa.

After our quick lunch, we also had time to take photos of and with the Windmills in Pagudpud. Ilocos Norte must really be bent on harnessing green energy through their initiatives because aside from their windmills in Burgos, Bangui, and Pagudpud, they also started a solar power plant to help supply and sustain their energy needs. Go green!

The Patapat Viaduct is interesting as it connects Ilocos Norte to the Cagayan Valley Region. More than the scenic view of the Pacific, tourists also enjoy taking risky photos literally ‘on the edge’ although not advised.

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Finally, to wrap up Day 2 we visited the Blue Lagoon where the prominent Hannah’s Resort and Convention Center is located. The beach was literally peppered with tourists when we came, coincidentally since it was both Holy Week and Summer Vacation season. Aside from swimming, other activities that could be tried are zipline (which they say one of the longest there is in the world) and aquatic rides offered by Hannah’s.

I was hoping I could get me some vitamin sea but the beach was overpopulated and I don’t think it was the time of the year when the ocean was prettiest. But then, some real nice strawberry ice scramble (slurpee meets shake) and the view of the ocean was enough to cap off Day 2.