Ilocos represents to two provinces which are Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. The first part of the tour is in Ilocos Sur. Ilocos Sur provincial capital is Vigan City. Everybody knows that once Vigan was mentioned, first thing comes in your mind is the Spanish theme streets or the Empanada. For me, visiting Vigan is like a travel back through time.
Our tour started by visiting The Baluarte by Gov. Chavit Singson. It’s a 10 minute drive from Vigan proper.
The Baluarte started as a rest house in 1991. Gov. Chavit loves nature and shows passion for animals. And since Gov. Chavit with numbers of animals such as lizards, snakes, birds and Tigers cannot accommodate more visitors that are fascinated with his love for animals; Baluarte was constructed to cater more visitors including the public.
And because I am an animal lover too, I immediately noticed that the animals here are well fed. The aim to develop this 80 hectares land for the animals is impressive. Enough space to imitate their natural habitat. Entrance is free.
|Animals here in Baluarte|
|We are colorful|
You can ride a small horse-drawn carriage, watch an animal show, visit the Butterfly garden or even feed and pet the animals if you want.
|You can give a tip to kuya for a short ride.|
|I love Tigers and I salute Chavit for being able to take care of them.|
|And this is very famous for this kind of shot.|
After the quick animal encounter. We went to our 2nd stop which is the Pagburnayan Pottery Making. By casting the burnay (jars) in the potter’s wheel by hand, the potter can create various shape and sizes of jars. This jar clay will be cooked in Pugon to harden. They said that the pottery industry business was set up in 1922 by a Chinese artisan who bought the Burnay technology to Vigan that was now called Ruby Pottery. Yes, I did my research on that. :p
|The work area.|
|Jars that are carefully handcrafted.|
|And here's kuya showing us how to do it.|
|The closest finish product we can c/o Carlo.|
The 3rd stop is the
. This mansion was owned by the wife of our 6th president Mr. Elpidio Quirino that was also born in Vigan. The wife, Dona Alicia Quirino’s ancestor was a Chinese who made fortune in trading in Vigan. Syquia Mansion
|Spacious receiving area|
The mansion shows how the historical gathering takes place, the elegant furnishings shows how elite the family during those times and how they used to view visitors in the secret hole from their room.
|Antique furniture's with the painting of President Quirino.|
|The mirror is real gold plated, the kalesa and the vase from ming dynasty.|
After the informative tour from the caretaker that we really enjoyed. We went to my most favorite spot. Our 4th stop is the Calle Crisologo. It's just a few blocks from our previous location.
Indeed the most beautiful street in the Philippines. It was preserved from paved streets and Spanish houses. And because of a love story; the place was untouched during World War II. They said that a Japanese General fell in love to a Filipina in Vigan and he promised to the parish priest that he will make sure not that nothing will happen to Calle Crisologo as long as he will take care of his Family. All because of love.
|A walked from the past.|
|And we captured the town even just for a while.|
|We skip riding a Kalesa because we spent more time checking for pasalubong.|
|To see more view and to feel more of it.|
|Restored Casa Feril|
|I really waited for this.|
|There are lots of souvenir shops here.|
Abel Iloko weave is also known in Vigan. Blankets, table runners, towels are everywhere plus other Filipino products and souvenirs.
|And more of the Calle Crisologo|
I wish we also visited the town at night. They said it was more elegant looking because of the yellow street lights. After the visit; we headed to Batac City for lunch and to try Empanada and Mami which they are known of. Food choices here are very affordable. After our lunch, we went to Marcos Museum our 5th Stop.
|Marcos history and images|
|For Every Tear You Shed, There Will Be Victory - Do you agree?|
|In front of the museum.|
We also had a chance to see Marcos Mausoleum but no picture taking allowed inside. It’s a bit creepy inside. They said it was his real body but I am not sure. Well, who can say?
Then we went to our 7th stop. And since Ilocos is the town of the Marcos clan, you can also see here the Malacañang of the North. It’s a rest house but visitors are allowed so it’s more like a museum or a popular tourist attraction here in Ilocos. The huge and spacious house illustrates how powerful and rich the family was then during their era. It has its wide grassland and was facing the Paoay Lake. The large window panes allow the wind to flow freely. And the structure of the house is remarkable.
|Malacañang of the North|
|I actually got tired exploring the house itself.|
|The garden area.|
|The view by the window at the 2nd floor.|
|Just a quick shot before we left.|
|And you'll feel like a princess going down.|
Then the last stop which is also my favorite. The Paoay Church, The Roman Catholic Church that is also known as St. Augustine Church is also included in the World Heritage list.
The bell tower that was made of coral stones stand to the right of the church served as an observation post during 1896. The entire Church walls were made of baked bricks, coral rocks, salbot (tree sap) and lumber, and with 24 carved massive walls for support.
The Paoay Church was also labeled as most admired “Earthquake Baroque” church in the Philippines. No doubt on it as it was also popular of its Gothic, Baroque and Oriental architectural designs.
After exploring the heart of Ilocos Sur, we all headed back to Java hotel for a rest. One day is not enough to fully spend time in every location. Maybe next time I’ll visit Calle Crisologo again during the festive celebrations. Or maybe I can splurge with popular restaurants in Vigan for their specialty, or ride a Kalesa. Yes, there are lots of other things to do here that will definitely bring you back.
Next post is our Northern – Pagudpud Tour.
“If you have a past with which you feel dissatisfied, then forget it, now. Imagine a new story for your life and believe in it. Focus only on the moments when you achieved what you desired, and that strength will help you to get what you want.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Fifth Mountain