100 Days Journey

Day 9: To Ilocandia

I tried checking my email thru my pocket Internet but to no avail. Internet connection failed in that part of the capital. I wanted to see more in Abra so I started to explore the old Campo Santo (cemetery chapel) just 2 kms off the town proper. There you will find Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel, laden with red bricks like the church I visited yesterday- Santa Catalina de Alejandria Church in Tayum. But this one is a chapel for the dead. What caught my mind is an old woman who came out of the chapel, wearing a floral bestida, a bamboo cane on her right side is helping her walk. Her aura showed that she just came from a long prayer, her eyes were almost blind and she had a hard time hearing what I was telling her. Her countenance was a perfect subject for a portrait but I controlled the desire and just closed my eyes saying, “the best photographs can’t be developed”. It was freaky as she passed by me and slowly disappeared.

Lola at Abra

I went to my last destination – Cassamata Hill National Park and Victoria Park, before going to Ilocos region again. I walked about 15 minutes before I saw a big Virgin Mary on top of the hill overlooking Bangued. The town is separated to the mountains by a wide river. Striking are the green rice fields below and the brown dry mountains far behind. I climbed down, had my late breakfast and waited for the small bus to Vigan City. They call the airconditioned (AC) buses like Partas and Farinas big bus and the non-AC one, small bus.

It was past lunch time when I arrived at the famed Calle Crisologo, the most photographed site in the whole region, with its cobbled stones, horse-drawn carriages and stalls after stalls of stores luring tourists to buy souvenirs. I don’t know how many times I’ve been here but I still want to include this UNESCO World Heritage Site in my itinerary because of its historical value. I walked on its streets and tried to feel nostalgia. I thought this street to be as busy as before- calesa (horse-drawn carriages) transporting the people for business and pleasure. I guess it wasn’t that long after when I heard my tummy asking for some Vigan empanadas (orange-colored stuffed pastry filled with Vigan longganisa, shredded unripe papaya and egg deep-fried to perfection).

Calle Crisologo Vigan

Calle Crisologo, City of Vigan, Ilocos Sur

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VIGAN CITY. The old cobblestone street of Crisologo, old heritage houses, calesa and empanada is Vigan for me. It’s a UNESCO Heritage town and a good model of a successful tourism because of heritage conservation. I like the calesa ride that goes around tourist spots like the museum and and pottery because its cheapo at Php150/hour (seat 2-3 people). A good travel date idea!

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I walked for about another 150 meters near the plaza where locals and tourists converged to sample Ilocos celebrity food – the orange empanada. I ordered a piece which served as my lunch and then off I boarded a big bus to Laoag City. I was invited by a blog reader, Jane, to drop by at Samtoy’s bookstore so she can tour me around the city. She was actually expecting that we have lunch together but because I afforded sometime in Vigan I arrived late. I ordered pinakbet pizza while she ate some pesto pasta. Dessert was malunggay sherbet with calamansi at Siramsam. The food was good and a little bit weird, I love it. Jane sports a single reflex film camera and I tried using it. Really, really cool. As if I wasn’t finished yet with my old cemetery collection, we walked to the Laoag cemetery as I want to photograph it before I carry on to Pagudpud. (You can read her blog about the trip here: JourneyingJames Visits Ilocos Norte)

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Laoag City speaks of Ilocos’ historic and rich past. The Cathedral, the Tobacco Industry and the Red-bricked old churches in the surrounding towns makes Ilocos Norte an interesting tourists destinations especially those interested with Philippine history. It would also be good to mention that the province is the birthplace of former President Ferdinand Marcos.

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Remember that travel time from Bangeud to Vigan; Vigan to Laoag and Laoag to Pagudpud by bus is two hours each, minus half of the time if you have your own service. Anyway, I came to visit my friends Tet and Tess again. I met them last year when I toured the Ilocos Region. They were very helpful in connecting me to Norman Edu who owns an inn very near from Saud beach. These two love to eat so they brought me to a new place in town. We ordered a lot – corn soup for starters, grilled tanigue, chopsuey, chicken, and rice. They didn’t let me leave without finishing my first bottle of alcoholic drink (SanMig Light) since I started the journey. Tess, who is a resident dentist in town, is raving about Adams, another town in Ilocos Norte I heard so many times from friends and travelers. It’s not part of the itinerary but the stories of Tess and others convinced me so I told them I would go there the next day.

Naimbag nga gabii (Have a good night). We bade each other good night.

Route: Bangued, Abra – Vigan City, Ilocos Sur – Laoag City, Ilocos Norte – Pagudpud

Total Expenses: Php421

10- tricycle
9- tricycle
80- bangued to vigan
30- empanada
147- vigan to laoag
11- trike
25- trike
60- laoag to pagudpod
Php 421


Day 9: To Ilocandia

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Day 9: To Ilocandia November 4, 2014