Ilocos Day 1: VIGAN

by - January 27, 2012

[Disclaimer: Bored with work. Excited for new adventures. Thus, reminiscing the past craze. First stop: Vigan, Ilocos Sur.]

I had my first independent trip last July/August 2011, and my then newbie excited feet first landed on some places in Ilocos. It was originally a group trip with a couple of friends from work, but things do not always turn out great, so it ended as a duo/solo adventure. I was fortunate enough to have a good friend in college, whose hometown is in Ilocos Norte, to accompany me in my first two days of unplanned, non-strategical land hopping.

My “good” friend and I departed from Manila on a Saturday night, 30 July 2011, riding the 1030pm trip of Florida bus line bound for Laoag; yes, a completely pink bus with ornamentations of an even darker shade of pink flowers (reminds me of the bus from the show Tara Jing Potpot starring Ian Veneracion, Bentong, Paolo Contis, and Onyoc Velasco). [Tip: Going to Laoag, Ilocos Norte usually takes about 8 hours or more by bus. If you want to arrive their faster, try taking the Florida buses. It’ll only take you about 7 hours of travel since it has minimized stopovers. It has a built-in CR inside so there’s no need to worry if you couldn’t manage the call of nature anymore. Just a warning, my friend advised me that they have the coldest aircon temperature.]

Our first stop was Vigan, Ilocos Sur. We dropped off at Bantay and took a tricycle towards the plaza of Vigan. The place was great, especially if you want to be refreshed with a scene of nostalgia. The place I enjoyed the most was Calle Crisologo, a long street of old Hispanic architecture. Most of the souvenir shops were situated here; a number of kalesa would pass by from time to time; aside from the old houses, old artifacts also lined up the street to give life to the scene; and the road itself was astonishing. I could walk to and fro in this street over and over again. This was also the area were we used up all our energy; making a series of jump shots sure made us catch our breath, but it was totally fun. I enjoyed it a lot.

We took a kalesa ride to tour the place, which costs Php150/hr; it took us two hours, so goodbye Php300. At the center of the place, one will easily spot the St. Paul Cathedral, featuring a white façade, and on the right is its belfry. In between the cathedral and the Salcedo plaza is where the “terminal” of kalesa is situated.

Our first destination with our kalesa ride was an eatery. Raymond was so excited to have me try pinakbet, and in my mind I was totally wondering “Why?”. Isn’t pinakbet supposed to be a common food? And he argued that it was a specialty in Ilocos, even texted some friends in Manila just to ask if it was indeed a common food. Of course, the result was that he failed. We all know pinakbet. Apparently, I discovered that pinakbet in Ilocos is different from the pinakbet of Tagalog (I still prefer the Tagalog’s).

After eating, our next stop was St. Augustine Church, which has a maroon façade, and on its far left is the famous Bell Tower. The view of the Bell Tower was awe-striking. I just wish I had a better camera and a bit of photography skills to capture its beauty, still, the actual thing would take your breath away rather than a photo. Too bad, we probably got their early so the caretaker in charge of the bell tower was not present so we weren’t able to climb inside. They said that usually, one could tour the inside of the tower. Oh how amazing the view from above could be.

Seeing these churches reminds me of some of my art history classes back in college (which by now I have completely forgotten). It makes me want to study those architecture lessons again, so I could identify which type of structure and what era does this architectural figure fall under when I chance upon them again.

We went further the interior of Vigan and took a peek at a pottery and weaving place. We also took a visit in Baluarte, Chavit Singson’s very own zoo. Entrance to the place was free of charge and most of the animals were on the loose, only a few were kept in cages, including the tiger, haha, so it’s great to see the animals do their natural act. What I just found odd about it was the gigantic replica of an Apatosaurus. Why? O_O

 Before going back, I already took my time to buy a couple of souvenirs for my dear two sisters, cousin, and mom, who were left at home. And yes, what could be more fun than collecting white shirts? Haha.. We also chanced upon two kuya selling tinubong (rice cake inside a bamboo stalk) and kalamay (brown rice cake pressed flat in plastic? LOL) and bought some as a souvenir for my tita, tito, and cousin in Laoag.

Riding a kalesa while passing by a road in between rice fields and branching trees is more fun if you have Raymond by your side, singing “A Pocket Full of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield. XD

Our last agenda before continuing on to Laoag was to grab a bite of Vigan empanada. It’s not the usual empanada found in Manila. It consists of egg, longganisa, and some vegetables, best paired with vinegar.

After filling our stomach, it was time to take a ride going to Laoag. I hadn’t taken a sleep since Saturday morning. I was awake for more than 24 hours already. Lacking sleeping skills sucks. Why does it not occur naturally to someone? O_O

I think we arrived in Laoag at around 3pm already. Raymond and I made our separate ways for the day. I stayed at my tita’s place in Pila, Laoag, while he went home to theirs at San Nicolas, the next town. My tita’s place was a bit far from the bayan of Laoag; it’s situated in between rice fields, which was kinda cool. That’s the scenery I’d like to see. Upon arriving, ah, dead tired, sleep, FINALLY! To end my day, I woke up at night to eat horse meat. :)

That’s it, Vigan, Ilocos Sur for the first day. I stayed in Ilocos Norte for five days but only toured on some places in the south. Will be going back probably to hit the northern part of Ilocos Norte.

The next four days will be in a separate entry, I guess. For now, let’s smile at the sunshine. :)

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