At this moment, I still am in a euphoric state over our Ilocos trip. The mere thought of our adventures in Ilocos lightens my mood. So on our second day, we went to Vigan the capital city of Ilocos Sur.

We departed from our hotel at 8:15 AM and departed to Vigan at 8:30 AM. To get to Vigan, we had to ride a 1.5 hour bus trip. We hopped in a Partas bus liner which takes you to Vigan in 60 km/hr speed. That is a good thing after all those bus accidents all over Luzon. Just inform the tricycle driver that you're bound for Vigan then they'll take you to the bus terminal.We were kind of scared that we might be travelling in a Victory bus liner. Bus fare: PHP 137.00/each.

We arrived in Vigan around 10:00 AM plus. We already had a contact tricycle driver but I really don't recommend him because he is a lousy and boring tour guide. Tricycle rate is PHP 600.00 for all the places that we went which I will be summarizing next.

Vigan City tricycle plate number.

So our first stop was the museum of Floro Crisologo. I really am not familiar of this person but his museum implies that he is a political figure in the province who was shot in a church while attending a mass. The museum showcases his memorabilia and achievements during his political years. Donation is asked in the museum. PHP 20.00 is enough for two persons. I gave PHP50.00 you know na newbie pa.

By 11:00 AM, we left Crisologo museum and proceeded to SyQuia Mansion where former Pres. Elpidio Quirino lived. He was married to Alicia Jimenez SyQuia who is a daughter of a wealthy Chinese-Filipino family in Vigan City. The museum showcases the lifestyle of the rich and famous of his time. I had a history information overload in this tourist stop. I wasn't able to take down notes but the place is really traditionall beautiful. It is basically an old mansion.

SyQuia Mansion
Dining area in the mansion

Painting of Fmr. Pres. Elpidio Quirino.

Here is one history fact I recalled. Do you know why Filipinos were called Aliping Saguiguilid in the old times? It's because poor Filipinos working as maids before were not allowed to pass by the main sala or any major part of the mansion. They had their own hallway. That is one of the reasons why they a were called Aliping "Saguiguilid". Excuses to those who already know. Teehee! The one collecting the entrance fee is a 4th generation "katulong" (maid) as said by the tour guide. Entrance fee: PHP 20.00

Maid's hallway.

We finished looking around, taking pictures and listening to the tour guide in SyQuia Mansion around 12:00 PM. Next destination is the Baluarte of Chavit Singson. There's nothing much there. There were a few animals around the place. I was expecting a lot. Attractions in the place were the caged tigers, the roaming ostrich and the pony rides. There is no entrance fee.

The roaming ostrich.
After around 20 minutes, we proceeded to the Hidden Garden. Hidden Garden is a.....hidden garden. Haha! Actually it is a garden restaurant that features Ilocano dishes. We took pictures then left. The place has nice reviews according to other blogs but if you are in a beer budget touring in Vigan better find a carenderia and have your lunch there. So we proceeded to a carenderia in the city proper. So sorry I forgot the name of the place. Each viand costs around PHP 30.00 to PHP 50.00.

Hidden Garden

We had our lunch around 1:00 PM already. Our next destination is the St. Augustine Parish Church, or as commonly known Bantay Church. We also went at the top of its old bell tower and the view of the city meets you there. It was saddening because there were a lot of vandals inside the bell tower. What's worst is that the TV show Panday (the new one) intentionally holed part of the bell just for the TV show and that 's like a decades old bell. Tsk2.

Bantay church

Bantay church bell tower

At 1:30 PM, we proceeded to Padre Jose Burgos Museum. He is one of the GOMBURZA priests. I wasn't really fascinated and interested with the place. Entrance fee: PHP 20.00

We went back to the city proper around 2:00 PM. We strolled at a mall. I forgot the name. At 2:30 PM, we proceeded to one of my most awaited tourist spots in Ilocandia, the UNESCO heritage, Heritage Village. Also known as the Kamestizoan District. The traditional Spanish houses were really beautiful. Going there felt like you were back in the 18th and 19th century or if pictures were taken in a DSLR cam the view would be like in those traditional places in Europe. There were "calesa" rides that costs PHP 50.00 for a round around the village. Heritage Village is located in Calle Crisologo. We brought souvenirs within the village. Locals said the view would be much nicer during the night but it was still 2:30 in the afternoon. So you guys better stay in the Heritage Village till the sun sets to witness the beautiful night view. =D  On December 2, 1992, the historic city of Vigan was declared a World Heritage site by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations).

50 peso Calesa ride

They said when you get to Ilocos one should try their empanadas. So we walked around the area just outside the Heritage Village and spotted an empanada stall beside the street. Their empanadas are different from the empanadas in Cebu. Cebuano empanadas have meat, raisins, egg, thick crust (you know the bread part) and no need for vinegar when you eat it. Ilocano empanada have cabbages (lots of it), meat, super thin crust and egg. You also have to eat it with vinegar. Each empanada costs PHP 30.00. After trying the Ilocano empanada, I still prefer the Cebuano one me being a full blooded Cebuana. :)  We all have different taste buds you might taste it otherwise.

Vigan empanada
Heritage Village was our last stop in Vigan. By 4:00 PM, we asked our tour guide to drop us where we could ride a bus going back to Laoag. We were still in a Partas bus. There were a lot of passengers so we just stood for around an hour. Bus fare: PHP 137.00/each.  We arrived in Laoag almost 6:00 PM and spotted the Ilocos Norte Capitol.

Ilocos Norte capitol
I really want to try some Ilocano dishes. My boyfriend knew La Preciosa restaurant because his friends have been there. It is an old house converted into a restaurant. Their dishes costs around PHP 100.00 to 400.00. We ordered their signature Ilocano pinakbet but sadly my taste buds were still in conflict. I still prefered the Cebuano pinakbet with hippon. Aside from pinakbet, we ordered two more viands and a dessert. Our total bill was PHP 810.00. It was too expensive for me and I wasn't really satisfied. The blueberry cheesecake made up for the pinakbet.

We left La Preciosa around 10:00 PM already since we happen to meet my friends who were also in Laoag. It was good to see familiar faces in an unfamiliar place. We excitedly talked about our trips that made us went home almost 10:00 PM. We took a tricycle ride back to our hotel and got our bodies charged for our last day tour the next day to Burgos, Bangui and Pagudpud. Sigh. I still want to spend more time in Ilocos. 

This will be it for today stay tuned for Part 3 of Adventures in Ilocandia.

Ilocandia related posts:



Maps of the Ilocos region distributed in the airport.

I have always wanted to go to the Ilocos region and I have to thank Cebu Pacific for that Piso fare sale July of last year. It was a long seven months wait before my bucket list trip. If I was brave enough to travel alone, I would have traveled in many places by now. Gladly, I have Myding to accompany me in this Ilocos trip.

I love the cozy atmosphere of Laoag City. No heavy traffic --well at least in my five-day stay I wasn't able to experience such. I love the simplicity of the place, accommodating locals, the simple tricycle rides and most of all how the locals love their culture and heritage which we could still witness until today.

March 12, 2013
Cebu Pacific has no direct flights from Cebu to Laoag so we have to book a connecting flight. Our flight from Cebu to Manila was 5:00 AM. It was a tiring 12-hour wait for our Manila to Laoag flight. We stayed and took a nap in the airport and went to MOA around 10:00 AM. It was my first in SM MOA and there was nothing much inside. It was just a HUGE mall. We got tired strolling so we decided to watch a movie to kill time and went back to the airport after the movie. We wait and wait until it was time to board the plane around 6:30 PM. By the time we arrived at Laoag, there was a tourist info center where you could ask for a map of Ilocos. We also registered for the FREE SHUTTLE RIDE which takes tourists directly to their hotels. I have to commend the Ilocos Norte Provincial Government for taking this initiative since Laoag airport is a little bit far from the city proper and for giving us tourists a welcoming experience the moment we set foot in Ilocos.

Touchdown Laoag!

We arrived at Balay Da Blas around 9:00 PM. Balay Da Blas, the hotel we stayed in, also offered a home away from home feel. Their lobby resembles like that of a house sala. The hotel itself was an old house converted into a hotel. The room that we booked was worth the price. It was clean and spacious enough since there were only two of us. So we got ready to hit the sack and got our batteries charged for tomorrow's adventure!

Let me take you back to that awesome 4 day stay in Ilocandia....

March 13, 2014
Let's go Sand Boarding in Paoay!
We departed from our hotel at 9:00 AM. Transpo around the city is by tricycle. Regular tricycle fare is PHP 11.00. Tricycle rate is PHP 800.00 for three municipalities, Paoay, Batac and Laoag city. If you are an experience haggler, you could still negotiate for a much lower rate.Our first destination was the Paoay Sand Dunes. We arrived at the area at 10:00 AM. According to Merriam dictionary, dune means a hill of sand near an ocean or in a desert that is formed by the wind. The stretch of sand covered a vast area near the ocean. We drove around by a 4x4 vehicle for 1 hour for PHP2,500.00 It is also inclusive of sand surfing which I loveee but sadly wasn't able to perfect it. Damn. Riding the 4x4 vehicle was a great and an adrenaline pumping experience.There were hills that resemble like a mini rollercoaster that makes your stomach jump and give you that ticklish feeling inside. Teehee! After 20 minutes driving around the dunes, we stopped to sand surf. The sand was excruciatingly hot! It felt like my feet was submerged into a hot boiling water! So if you happen to visit, wear something that will cover you feet and legs. Don't forget to put on sunblock.I shamelessly tumbled in my first try so I thought to myself ok that's it not doing it anymore but then I was challenged when a petite girl successfully completed sand boarding. I tried but still tumbled towards the end --well at least I had a great picture in action. Sand boarding was the highlight of out first day tour. After that epic adrenaline pumping experience, we proceeded to our next destination......
Sand Boarding more fun in Paoay, Ilocos Norte.

With the 4x4 ride

The MalacaƱang of the North
At 11:00 AM, we arrived at the "Bahay Bakasyonan" (as said by the mansion tour guide) of the Marcos family in the early 80s. It is mansion facing the Paoay lake. It features old furnitures used by the family, old paintings by Bongbong Marcos, the presidential table used when Fmr. Pres. F. Marcos signed the Martial Law in 1972, achievements and projects of Fmr. Pres. F. Marcos like the San Juanico bridge (I just knew this during my Ilocos trip =D), the Patapat Viaduct and the Bataan landmark. Entrance fee: PHP 50.00

Malacanang of the North

Paoay Church
By 11:30 AM, we arrived at the UNESCO heritage St. Augustine Church or as commonly known Paoay Church. I'm not an architecture graduate so I really can't describe how beautiful it is technically. All I could say is that was the most beautiful church facade I have ever seen. After taking pictures, we ate our lunch at a nearby carenderia. One viand costs around PHP 50.00- PHP60.00.

Paoay Church

Marcos Museum and Mausoleum
By 1:30 PM, we arrived at the Marcos museum showcasing F.E. Marcos' life from his childhood years, his stint in the military during World War II, how him and Imelda met and the 11-day romance, his documents during his congressional and presidential days and old memorabilia's related to Ferdinand Marcos. Entrance fee: PHP 50.00

Next to the Marcos Museum is his mausoleum. There is no entrance fee just wait for the caretaker to take you inside the mausoleum.Taking pictures is prohibited. There is a viewing schedule but wasn't able to take note of it. It felt like I was in North Korea when I entered the mausoleum with all the glorifying music within the place. If you have watched some North Korea docus, you'll know what I mean. It is astounding to see a whole and intact dead body of a former president but still my mind is in a tug of war whether..................

St. William Cathedral and its Sinking Belltower
At the heart of Laoag city stands the sinking belltower. It was an unusual belltower because it is 85 meters away from the church itself. The reason as to why it is sinking was not explained by our tour guide or I guess he also doesn't know why. We stayed inside the church and had a short reflection. At that moment, I thanked God for giving me the opportunity to travel to Ilocos with someone I dearly love.

Sinking Belltower

Museo Ilocos Norte
Our last stop for today's tour is the Museo Ilocos Norte. It features the ethnicity and cultural heritage of Ilocandia. The museum displays old farming equipment used by the Ilocanos, Ilocano 'bahay kubos", traditional Ilocano rooms and a lot more Ilocano stuff. Entrance Fee: PHP 50.00

Around 4:30 PM plus, we were back in our hotel and took a nap since we still have to buy our dinner later when the sun sets.

So that's it for Adventures in Ilocandia Part 1. Stay tuned for more adventures in Vigan, Burgos, Bangui and Pagudpud! Very sooooooonnnnnn! Gotta rest now. Work resumes tomorrow (*I'm on leave for 5 days since last week*). Sigh. I'm still having an Ilocandia hangover. Sigh.


ILOCANDIA related posts:
Part 2: Let the tour VIGAN!
Part 3: Let's go up NORTH! (Bangui Windmills, Pagudpud)