It has been a week since our three-day Ilocos tour. I was supposed to write about it, but 1. I had a bad case of writer’s block which may or may not have been induced by the fact that I have been eating soup, porridge, and noodles for a week now, 2. I had to sort through the 500+ pictures that I took and I had to choose the blog-worthy or interesting ones, and 3. I got too deeply engrossed in American Gods so I put off writing about the trip except for a short post with some post-processed photos. But now that it has been raining almost everyday, I have started to miss the fluffy, cotton candy looking clouds in Ilocos and I finally got the time and enough energy to type what I loved about that place.
We started the Ilocos adventure in Vigan, with a historical tour in the museums and other places of interest. We were all starving when we got to Vigan, so our driver/tour guide Jao brought us to this restaurant called The Hidden Garden. I have been to Vigan but it was my first time in that resto, and despite having to order and eat soup only (it was my second day of being a brace face), I enjoyed strolling around the garden. We also were able to freshen up because there were clean washrooms.
After touching up and exploring the rest of The Hidden Garden, we headed off to our first official destination – Baluarte. It is an animal sanctuary owned by no less than Chavit Singson and his family. Flashback to my first year college Geography class in UP where one of my classmates was Chavit’s daughter. I wonder if she has tried tending to the geese, deer, ponies, ostriches, and the tigers in their zoo.
Vigan is known for being heavily influenced by the Spanish, and this is very evident up until now. On Calle Crisologo, you will feel as if you’ve traveled back in time as the ancestral houses and cobblestones beneath your feet remind you that the area was once inhabited by the Spaniards.
Ilocos kind of reminds me of Macau. There are a number of churches in each town, and they have become part of the Ilocos heritage. They were built centuries or decades ago, yet these structures have stood the test of time. It feels different entering a really old church. No, I don’t mean different in a creepy kind of way. Maybe it just gives me a sense of awe when I stand in front of the altar, which could’ve been stared at and worshiped by people before my time. Our first church stop in Vigan was at Bantay Church and Bell Tower. It was my second visit to the historic spot and I was still amazed that the bell tower still stands. It was built in 1591 and more than just housing the bells, it was also used as a watch tower during World War I and II.
We made a side trip to a pottery or what the locals call burnayan (burnay – pot) to witness the thriving of the pottery industry in the town. I have also been to that burnayan before, but this time we were lucky to have seen their “master potter” doing what he does best. It was A.MA.ZING.
Of course, a trip to Vigan isn’t complete if you don’t set foot inside the museums all over the area. We went to two museums, the Syquia Mansion and the Father Jose Burgos National Museum. Good thing we were allowed to take pictures of the historical artifacts while the tour guides gave us a lecture of how every memorabilia in the museum was connected to history.
I just had to take a picture of this McDonald’s branch because it had a facade like those of the ancestral houses that we have seen all over Vigan:
By the end of the tour late in the afternoon, we were all too tired to drop by the last museum in the itinerary. We decided to call it a day and asked to be driven off to our hotel in Laoag, Gertes Hotel. Tomorrow’s going to be our beach day in Pagudpud!