It seemed like Ilocos was the place to be this summer, so when a friend of mine invited me to a trip there with free lodging, I couldn’t help but say yes!
TIP #1: Prepare your things early on
Before departing for the meeting place, my girlfriend texted me what I should bring because I am so forgetful. Good thing she did because if she hadn’t, I’d have forgot few of my things.
After that, I headed off to the meeting place, Burger King Rotunda, with my friend. We ate dinner there because the trip to Vigan would take about 9-10 hours. After eating, the van parked outside, it was a Hi-Ace Super Grandia. There were 18 of us and only one van, so beforehand I knew we were going to be cramped up inside. After loading in the van, we departed off to Vigan. The travel was pretty much bore snore considering there was very little to do and so little space to move in. I tried watching a movie, soundtripping, and playing games but I just can’t keep still.
Good thing we stopped in the middle of SCTEX for a bathroom break and we took the opportunity to take pictures and stretch a lil’ bit. After that it was cramped seats and sleep trip until Vigan.
We got there by 6 A.M., took a few pictures on the ark and headed off to our friend’s family’s apartment by Calle Crisologo. Shortly just after arriving, food was ready. We ate Longganisa, Eggs, Miki, and Champorado.
Now instead of resting for a while because our first itinerary was scheduled 9 A.M., few of us decided to tour around the place for a bit. If you don’t study at Intra, this place would be spectacular, unfortunately we do study inside Intramuros.
Calle Crisologo was like Intramuros version 2.0… cleaner, safer, and much more beautiful.
After that, we walked to the plaza. The place is heaven for vain people as there is so much to take pictures at. The thing I loved most there is their restaurants and their vintage style. Right by these restaurants, Vigan Cathedral can be found and it looks divine along with numerous statues and monuments.
After touring the place a bit, we got tired and took a tricycle back to the apartment.
After a few minutes of resting, it was time to tour Vigan!
First thing we visited was the Sy-Quia Mansion. Sy-Quia was the wife of late president Elpidio Quirino. The place was filled with antique carriage, paintings, furniture, and bits of history.
After that, we went to Burgos Museum but sadly it was closed, so we went to the museum-like establishment beside it which is the Provincial Jail or the Elpidio Quirino Museum. Here is where late president Elpidio Quirino was born, not because his mother or father was in jail, but because his father was a jail warden. The museum, luckily, has students on their OJT’s as tour guides. Not only can you see jail cells there, but you can view pieces of our country’s cultural things such as a sugar cane presser, painting of the Ilocano’s native history, tobaccos, and alcohol.
After the educational tour, we went to our next destination which is the Pagburnayan (Pot Making). Here you can see a lot of pottery (duh?) and also try to make some. No fees are needed, you can just tip kuya pot-maker to try it. It’s not as easy as it looks, the clay is very sensitive, one strong press of a finger can ruin your pot. Some of us tried making some and it was cool to make ’em.
After this messy experience, we went to Hidden Garden which is not that hidden. The place was full of plants (again…duh?) and others are for sale. There’s also a restaurant inside that serves Ilocano Cuisine, too bad my favorite kind of plant was not for sale here…you guys know what that is.
Tip #2: Whenever traveling, do everything because it’s only once in a while you’re there.
Next on our itinerary was Chavit’s Baluarte zoo, along the way the actual zoo, souvenir shops can be found on the side. So if you don’t have time to buy souvenirs later, you can do it there…two birds, one stone. It was in the middle of the afternoon so the blazing sun was out again, it was so tiring to walk that far with the heat, but I thought it took us a long trip just to get to Vigan, I might as well enjoy everything and fvck the weather. There you can see typical animals like birds, donkeys, and the like. The thing I liked about this zoo was you can get chased by the ostriches, bring your GoPro and run like crazy on the field for sure an ostrich will chase the hell out of you.
Tip #3: Always bring water
If you’re tired or hungry, don’t worry, there’s a cafeteria inside where you can chill for a while; also there’s lots of benches with cover ahead. If you follow the trail onwards, you’ll see Chavit’s Safari Gallery where he proudly displays stuffed animals’ head, their hides, and his photoshopped pictures where he “killed” the animals. Afterwards, there was an animal show where you could see a boar painting and after that the host asks for volunteers to go in front and get surprised by animals being handed out to them, animals including: Iguanas, Snakes, and an Eagle.
There was something ironic in what the host said though, she said “Always love animals and never hurt them because they have feelings too”; I thought to myself “Fvck logic because Chavit proudly displays his “kills” inside a gallery.
After our zoo experience, it was time to go the Bantay Bell Tower. Around it was a church and a shrine. Going up the tower took 106 steps, so be ready for some exhausting steep flight of stairs
The view was worth it though. When you’re at that height, you feel like nothing’s wrong below. Everything’s perfect just the way it is. No war, no poverty, no famine, just peace.
After we went down, we all figured we were hungry from all that touring around, so we decided to grab a snack in Vigan’s Empanadaan. Here you can eat, of course, their Empanada; beside it you can eat barbecues and other ihaw-ihaw foods. I’m not a fan of vegetables so I didn’t really enjoy the food, but my friends told me it was their best Empanada yet, so I’m just going to go with that.
On the way home we toured Calle Crisologo at night.
It looked like a scene from an old movie. You can feel the culture around you. It’s a beautiful place to take pictures at.
What you’ll see in this street is its abundance of souvenir shops, so you can expect a lot of people here.
Tip #4: Bring extra sets of clothes if you’re going to watch the dancing fountain
The last thing to do this day was watch the Vigan Dancing Fountain.
This show is located at the plaza at night and is a weekly thing. We were lucky enough to be in the VIP box because our friend’s dad is a city engineer, so we got the best view in town. There we watched water fountain dance to the beats of famous songs like: Let It Go, Gangnam Style, and Ocho-Ocho.
If you’ve ever watched the dancing fountain at Luneta Park, this one trumps that one by a million times.
The movement of the water was so in sync with the beat of the song it was sick. Watching this show makes you want to dive in the middle and just dance, right? Don’t worry… at the side of the bigger fountain, there’s a smaller one in which you can and probably should get wet. Imagine taking a bath while a kick-ass song is playing and all of your buddies are with you… simply awesome.
After the awesome show, it’s time for dinner. Another friend of ours had an aunt who has a restaurant near Calle Crisologo called Comida Del Norte Bistro. There we ate Pinakbet, Igado, and their delicious Bagnet Pizza.
After stuffing ourselves with great food, it’s time we went home and slept because we need to wake up tomorrow at 2 o’clock, because we were going to Pagudpud. Zzzzz….