We arrived in San Fernando, La Union around 6:30 in the morning, just in time for us to have breakfast. We chose to dine in at one of the local restaurants named Oasis.
Not long afterwards, or at past 11 that morning, we reached Vigan. We went straight to the Heritage Village. There were a lot of old Spanish houses (which were considered as UNESCO World Heritage site) and the Ilocos products were sold along the streets.
We had lunch at the Cordillera Inn which served local cuisines. We tried its “poqui-poqui”, which is made with eggs, mashed eggplant, tomatoes and onions (tortang talong). Generally, our lunch was good, not only for the Inn’s accommodating staff and good food, but also for the laughter we had making “pun” of the word “poqui-poqui”, which could have a different meaning for the Tagalogs.
Later, we began our tour of Vigan, while riding a “calesa”. Our first stop was the (St. Paul Cathedral, followed by the Bell Tower. It was extremely hot that day and it was a soothing experience to go inside the Bell Tower for our photo opportunities. The view from the top was magnificent and a bit scary because of the old planks that we were standing on.
Then, we went to the Crisologo Museum, which was an old Spanish house converted into a museum. The house itself was historical since the Crisologo family was very influential in the region during their time. There were a lot of things inside the house that tell about the era.
We then proceeded to the earth clay pot makers. As expected, the pot makers showed us how earth clay was transformed into beautiful pots. The finished product, though, was expensive.
The Baluarte was our next stop. The Baluarte is the Governor’s palace where he keeps his tigers, snakes and deers etc. Entrance was free and open to the public.
Our last stop was the Hidden Garden. There was nothing fancy about the place except for the plants and flowers being sold. This would have been an interesting place, nonetheless, for plant lovers or for those who love gardening.
At the end of the trip, we paid the calesa driver P500 since our trip lasted for more than 2 hours. We stopped at a sidewalk “carinderia” for a sumptuous merienda of its tasty “empanadas”.
We arrived late in Laoag and still, we decided to go to Paoay Church. But then, when we got to the church, evening has set in. It was too dark inside the church and it was very difficult to take photos; and so we just decided to go back the following day.
We checked in at Hotel Tiffany (tel. no. 077-7703550) in Laoag for an overnight stay. I believe this hotel has the cheapest rates among the hotels in the area. We took our dinner at one of the side street eateries.
Since the St. William’s Church and the Sinking Bell Tower were a few meters away from our hotel, we walked to both the church and the tower. The church was a bit modern but the bell tower considered as historical landmark. We did not get the chance to enter the tower as it was off limits to visitors. In the evening, the tower was well-lighted and can be seen from afar.
Early morning the next day, we hurriedly left the hotel to move to other destinations within Ilocos Norte. Our first stop was the Burgos Lighthouse, which was filled with visitors that day; so we only got a very short tour of the lighthouse. The good thing though about this attraction is that entrance is free so long as the caretaker is around. Next stop was the Bangui Windmills. Unfortunately, we stayed only in one of the windmills. Nonetheless, we had so many photo jump shots taken. We then drove to Kabigan Falls for our 30-minute trek. The area was also filled with tourists and so, we did not have the chance to swim.
We then set off set off to the Patapat Bridge for another picture-taking. The view from the bridge was perfect. It was surrounded by mountains and the gushing sea water. People must be cautioned though about the buses driving by the area. Then, we decided to take our lunch at Hannah Resort. The food was expensive and each serving was limited to only a few persons. It also took 30 minutes before food was served.
Before back to our hotel, we went to the Blue Lagoon and Bantay Abot Cave. The heat was so intense, that it prevented us from taking a dip into the lagoon’s turquoise clear water. At the resort, everyone in the group (but me) swam the waters of Saud Beach. I went around the place to look for lobsters but all were sold as early as 9:00 that morning. I was disappointed not being able to buy the lobsters since it only cost P500 a kilo.
At 3:00am the next day, the group left the hotel to see more of Laoag and to go to the market to buy longganisa and Basi wine. We went to Sarrat for its beautiful and historic Sta. Monica Church, which was made of bricks. Then, we passed by Fort Ilocandia , the sand dunes and Paoay Lake . Unfortunately, the group did not see Malacañang of the North because it only opens to the public at 9am everyday. We were there at 7:30am. We returned to Paoay Church, where we took photographs of the façade and the altar.
Lastly, we went to the Marcos Mausoleum in Batac, which was my buddies’ much-awaited destination. We came to the Mausoleum an hour earlier than its scheduled 9am opening. While waiting for the opening, some of us saw the former First Lady Imelda Marcos on her way out of their Batac Residence for her Elections campaign. After a long wait, we finally entered the mausoleum. The room was dark and the lights were directed to the former President Marcos. It was only about a minute walk to take a glimpse of the former President; while it was more than an hour of waiting. Nevertheless, it was worth it seeing the remains of the former president.
We hurriedly rode our vehicle for another 10-hour ride back to Manila. As we journeyed back to Manila, we told ourselves that the whole Ilocos trip was long, tiring, exciting and interesting--truly a memorable one.
Visited last April 9, 2010