According to google, “Panata” (a Filipino word and a tradition) means a Vow or a Promise or an Oath. That’s what I told myself since last year 2013, “To travel to a place I have never been at least once a year” and that’s a serious promise. If you were able to read my previous post, 1st year of the so called promise to travel, was at Boracay. Well, I am also lucky to have people around me with the same goal and so for the second time around, this years’ travel was pull off.
This time, we headed in the Northwest part of Luzon, the provinces of Ilocos (Norte and Sur).
How to get there?
From Davao City, I think the most convenient is via airplane going to Laoag City the capital of Ilocos Norte. Unfortunately, we were not able to avail promos to such route. So we decided to avail Cebu Pacific’s Davao-Manila promo 3 months ago before August, which we considered as our travel month. From Manila, we took a Van ride courtesy of Kuya Darwin of Red Win Travels going to the province of Ilocos Sur. Kuya Darwin was referred to us by a friend of one of my travel buddies who was also one of Red Win Travels customers. Aside from being our official driver, he was also our tour guide and the one who arranged everything for the entire trip which cost 3400php all in all (I’ll give the summary after the whole post about the trip). We we’re already given the itinerary month before the trip so we had enough time to prepare on what to wear and other stuff to bring. It sounded like too hassle when I knew that we will be travelling 7-8 hrs by land from Manila to Ilocos, but it didn’t end up that way. It actually took 6-7hrs ride for us to reach our first stop plus its good to have some glimpse in the provinces of Bulacan, Tarlac, Pangasinan and La Union. So I guess that’s one bonus we got with travelling by land.
We departed from Francisco Banggoy Davao International Airport around 10:00 pm and reach Ninoy Aquino Manila International Airport at 11:30PM and from there we proceeded immediately to the parking lot as our van driver was there waiting for us. Then the journey started.
August 22, 2014
The Heritage Village of Vigan City
Calle Crisologo of The Heritage City of Vigan
Vigan, is the capital city of the province of Ilocos Sur. On our way, it is obvious that the city preserves that heritage ambiance because all other establishments including fast foods, corporate offices like banks were designed in classic inspired buildings.
The heritage village, is listed on the UNESCO world heritage list since December 1999 for its unique Spanish colonial history in Asia and the preserved Spanish monumental buildings which where build in the 18th century. It is considered as best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia because of its architecture that reflects the different culture from Philippines, Europe and China that was put together and is incomparable to anywhere else in Asia.
I didn’t actually felt that I was already there since I just woke up and I feel like I’m still half asleep. Then when everything sinks in, I was too overwhelmed. I t feels like I was in a different world. The ambiance was so peaceful and you know that romantic classic feels. It was such a beautiful place in my dream that was actually for real. We were not able to explore more of the Heritage City that time since we needed to take our breakfast then in order to follow the targeted itinerary that day and Kuya Darwin also said that we will have another time to explore this place.
We had our breakfast at Kusina Felicitas which is just a walking distance from Calle Crisologo.
The restaurant serves affordable and signature Ilocano meals such as Bagnet, Longanisa, Pinakbet, Bunog (a fish indigenous to the local river), and Ipon ( a seasonal fish famous to the Ilocanos). To supplement the menu, they also serve Filipino and Asian cuisine. Aside from that, you’ve got to enjoy the place because it is adorned with paintings, locally made furnitures and classic stuff which completes the dining experience.
More photos of Kusina Felicitas:
Baluarte of Vigan City
Baluarte is actually owned by a political leader Gov. Chavit of Vigan and it’s his gift to the people who are allowed to use of spaces for free for their livelihood programs. It is open to the public and admission is free. The facilities and amenities are designed for a realistic and natural habitat for domestic animals such as monkeys, chickens, large lizards (bayawak) and rare bird species, right inside the Baluarte forest, these rare bird species are found only in there.
For me, the place is more than just a Zoo. Even though I am not an animal lover, I did enjoy the place due to its fresh and eco-friendly ambiance. I so like knowing that admission is free and groups will surely enjoy it since you are also allowed to bring food and be in their picnic area for bonding’s. That’s totally nice and two thumbs up to Gov. Chavit for this project:)
More of our Baluarte photos:
Then, we headed to Ilocos Norte and here’s our shots at the landmark of the northern part of Ilocos:
Marcos Presidential Center of Batac City
This is a the ancestral home of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. It’s now a museum of his memorabilia for his entire political life from being a representative of Ilocos to becoming a Senator and up to his Presidency. A 50 pesos is to be paid before entering the museum. Of course I was already expecting to see stuff related to the late President but upon entering a room where cameras are not allowed, we were really surprised to see the late Presidents “remains” up close and personal. I always saw it on TV but never did I thought that it was in Ilocos. Maybe our driver was not able to tell us ahead of time because he was expecting that we already knew about it. But really we were shocked! Personally, I did not like the ambiance. I told my friends that it was like I’m in a Satanic place. (sorry for the term). His body was encased in that air-conditioned dark room with all the candles, flowers and instrumental creepy music. So prepare your self when you visit. For those who are not familiar, the President died 28th of September 1989 and his remains are still there because the Philippine Government still refuses to grant that wish from Marcos family to give him a state funeral fit for a military hero.
The museum was carefully designed. It was like a book and each room was the chapters. The story per chapter were printed in the walls with images and trivia about it. We enjoyed taking photos of the memorabilia’s as well as the interior designs of the place.
More of our photos at Marcos’ Museum:
It was around 1:00pm when we finished the tour at the museum, we took our lunch at Rafael’s Grill which is just pretty near in the museum.
Rafael’s Grill is a Filipino Asian restaurant. They served Ilocos native recipes in affordable prices. I guess this is one of the most visited restaurants in the place, because when we arrived, the place was full already so we needed to wait for others to finish.
For the menu and a glimpse of the place check photos below:
Saint Augustine Church of Paoay
Next stop was the Paoay Church. Completed in 1710, one of the most striking feature of the Church is the huge buttresses at the sides and back of the church building:
The earliest inhabitants in the town of Paoay believed to have come from India, so the town was originally called “Bombay“. Same with the heritage city of Vigan, Paoay Church is a National Cultural Treasure by the Philippine government in 1973 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We are really thankful for the weather the entire trip. The heat was on and still everybody was hyper!
Check out more of our photos at Paoay church:
It was around 3:00PM when we leave Paoay church and finally proceeded to our hotel which is located at Laoag City.
Park Lane Hotel
Park Lane hotel is located at General Segundo Ave. Brgy. 55- Barit, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. Since we were 12, we occupied 3 rooms and we were 4 in each room. During check in, it was less hassle for us since everything was already arranged by our driver/tour guide. The room was fairly good for me, it has bathroom and rest room inside, also TV and air-conditioned. So we got some rest for about an hour and around 5:00PM we proceeded to our next stop.
La Paz Sand Dunes of Laoag City
This was the highlight of our 1st day in Ilocos. It was an epic 4×4 ride I was literally not expecting to survive the adventure. I think it was quite unsafe since no protective gear was provided. Thank God we’re all safe.
Also tried Sand Boarding, and I guess we all deserve an applause because we all conquered our fear:) We paid 450 for the entire Sand dunes adventure. That’s good for 1 hour only but I think we were there for almost 2 hrs since we were the last group that time.
Up to now, I can still recall the loud shouts, we were even calling our mother’s name, and all other persons we can recall during the ride. It was one unforgettable adventure I had.
The Sand dunes can go as high as 10-20 ft. I guess it was my loudest scream ever. It was like jumping off from a 4th flr of abuilding. That roller coaster ride will make you hold that bar of steel as if it’s the only thing that can save your life.
One thing I also love,was the fact that it’s almost 7:00pm that time and yet the sun light was still up.
More of our photos in Laog, La Paz Sand Dunes:
It was already 7:00PM when we leave the place and last stop was the dinner near the city’s plaza:
here you can eat for as low as 35php only. They have different type of Filipino dishes also the signature delicacies of Ilocos like empanada and longganisa. We were quite drained already that time, so after dinner we stopped by to a supermarket to buy some stuff we need in the hotel then immediately got rest for the 2nd day of the tour.
And that’s for DAY 1.
(Part 2 will be posted ASAP)