I’ve been wanting to go to Ilocos for the longest time. Surely, it’s historic charm has captivated me. I was supposed to go last May, but sadly, it was a tragic month, as my mother died. A month after she died, I decided to embark on a journey to this place, with hopes that I would be able to move on from the tragedy that happened to my life. I know my mom would want me to push through with my plans to travel.
And so, I set the date. I targeted October 7 to 9, since October 10 is Canadian Thanksgiving, and we don’t have work that day. It was July when I booked my travel with The Travelgram PH since they have a solo joiner package.
We left Manila (Quezon City to be exact) around 11:00 PM Thursday night, as it was traffic due to the rain. It was a long 8 hour ride. We have quick stopovers in gasoline stations for bathroom break. Before we reached Ilocos Sur, we were met by a heavy traffic, because of an accident that happened to a 10-wheeler truck.
Our first stop is Calle Crisologo in Vigan. We arrived around 6:30 AM Friday morning. Calle Crisologo is a street filled with Spanish-style houses. This is where most of the rich and prominent families used to live.
The moment I made my first step in this street, it felt as if I travelled back in the past. Although there are a lot of modern items in this street, the old houses and building were untouched. I could imagine how life was like in the past.
There were a lot of tourists that time, and the rain just subsided. Good thing it was sunny the whole day.
There’s a lot of souvenir shops and restaurants along Calle Crisologo, but unfortunately, most of them are still closed when we arrived. Others were just opening their stores when they saw that tourist is flocking the streets.
It is amazing how after hundreds of years, these houses still stood still. The materials they used back then is really good quality.
After a quick tour of Calle Crisologo, we had our breakfast in Hidden Garden. Since I’ve been craving for Vigan longganisa for weeks, I decided to try the LongSiLog.
I didn’t enjoy the longganisa though. I was expecting it to be more garlicky,but it’s not.
After our breakfast, we went to Baluarte. It’s a zoo, owned by Ilocos Sur’s Governor. Most of the animals inside are his pets.
That’s the pet white lion of the owner. He was sleeping when we arrived at Baluarte. I actually felt sad for him, because he could have been roaming free in his home, but he’s caged here, to be an attraction of other people.
We registered first before entering. After I registered, I was asked to pay Php 100 for environmental fee/donation. I thought entrance was free? Oh well, I got a monkey plushie toy in return.
Upon entering the zoo, the first thing that caught my attention is the white deer.They look pretty.
We then proceed to look around the zoo. There’s also a shuttle that can tour us around Baluarte for Php 50, but I opted to walk around so that I could also take pictures.
The trail is uphill, and I had some difficulty walking through the path. I had to take rests in between walking to catch my breath. However, it was fun, because I get to see a lot of exotic animals
At the very top is the Safari Gallery, which houses statues/preserves of animals as well as pictures of the owner’s safari trips.
Our next destination is Laoag, which is in Ilocos Norte. It’s a 1 hour drive from Ilocos sur. Our first stop in Laoag is the historic Paoay Church.
Paoay church is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It is an example of Baroque architecture. It’s construction started in 1694 and completed in 1710.
The striking feature of Paoay church is it’s buttress, which is said to prevent the destruction of the church if there would be an earthquake.
It’s structure is made of coral stones, sand, lime, sugarcane juice with mango leaves, leather and rice straws.
I went inside the church to pray and offer a candle.
It was rather hot that day, good thing we found a dirty ice cream vendor. I bought the mango-avocado-dragon fruit mix
The trip wouldn’t be complete without a mandatory at the Paoay signage.
Our next stop before our lunch it Malacañang of the North, or Malacañang Ti Amianan. On our way there, we passed by Paoay Lake.
Let me tell you first the legend of Paoay Lake, as told by our tourist guide. It was said that Paoay lake used to be a village, which was cursed. A long time ago, there is an old lady who knocked on the door of the richest man in the village, and asked for a glass of water. The rich man didn’t took pity on her, and closed his door on her. Because of this, the old lady cursed the village. From then on the village sank (not sure if it’s because it rained), and the village became a lake, with it’s people becoming fishes.
Some said that the former President Marcos asked some of his men to measure how deep Paoay lake is, but the lake was so deep that they coudn’t measure or reach it’s bottom.
Going back to Malacañang Of The North, this is the holiday residence of the Marcos family, and is named after Malacañang, which is the residence and office of the President of the Philippines. This is a gift of the First Lady to her husband for his 60th birthday.
The backyard has a full view of the Paoay Lake. It was indeed a beautiful and serene view.
Before we went to our next destination, I had a quick snack.
We had our lunch afterwards, went to our accommodation. We rested for a few hours, then we went to our next destination – Laoag Sand Dunes.
I was hesitant at first to join the group for a 4×4 ride, but YOLO, right? So I joined the group. I found myself enjoying the sand dune ride! It was like a roller coaster, only in sands. It’s too bad we arrived at the sand dunes late, and that the sun sets early, we could have enjoyed ride and the view more.
After the rollercoaster 4×4 ride at the sand dunes, we had our dinner at Herencia’s Restaurant, which is known for their pinakbet pizza.
The group I’m with ordered Pizza Ilocandia, which is a pizza with Vigan Longganisa as a topping. I asked for a slice to taste, and I actually liked it. It’s thin crust, and you can really taste how garlicky the longganisa is, which I like.
As for me, I ordered Pasta Ilocandia. It has Vigan Longganisa as well, but with the usual bolognese sause.
We capped the night off by strolling around Laoag City proper. We went to Ilocos Norte Capitol, and then the Aurora Fountain.
After a quick stop to the grocery for a little bit of shopping, we went back to our accommodation to rest and to prepare for Day 2.
Up Next: Day 2 – Blue Lagoon, Paraiso Ni Anton, Patapat Viaduct, Bantay Abot Cave, Bangui Windmill, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
Photo take by iPhone 5c, Sony QX10 and Sony Xpera C3.