This blog is about fulfilling one’s dream, facing the challenges and appreciating God’s gift and keeping the best of the past. I set multiple of goals and hoping to accomplish for this year.
Every girl has the right to fulfill her dreams, and this time, and for the first time actually, I got the courage to be a backpacker in a place which is a total stranger to me, but I needed the break and be able to rekindle with the lost part of me. I knew lots of Ilocano back then, it was a leap of courage to take an adventure with only a copy of few blogs with me. It was a very liberating experience, and so proud of it.
Right after the 2016 Holy Week, my new travel buddy headed to Manila, a stop-over going to our dream trip, ILOCOS. It is one dream trip that I listed in my bucket list, so I was so excited to take a plunge and be a backpacker for few days and experience the history of the province, our first stop is Vigan, “it is a city located in the northwestern coast of Luzon in the Philippines. Vigan is the capital of the famous Ilocos Sur province and have gained the name as the only UNESCO World Heritage City in the Philippines, and just recently won as one of the New Seven Wonders Cities of the World.” Having this in mind, I was so overwhelmed to pack all my things and ready for my first ever backpacker’s trip.
The photos I posted hopefully encourages people to explore our own country, because we actually had a lot to offer.
EXPLORING CALLE CRISOLOGO
What is remarkable about Calle Crisologo is how the people preserve the old houses. Motorcycles are not allowed only the “kalesa”. It’s a very beautiful place for me.
We are so fortunate then that we decided to take that vacation right after the holiday since there were only few tourists flocking to experience and explore the province. Accordingly, there are 187 listed ancestral houses in the town. The place is so interestingly amazing!😀😀 It was so early because we arrived at around 5:00 AM at Vigan City. After fixing ourselves, we went straight to the Heritage Village were famous houses are located. The best advise I could give is be early, since there are only few tourists strolling the area if you come at around 5:00 AM.
When we think of Vigan we always associate it with Calle Crisologo. At first glance, I noticed that it is just a simple structure, but as we continue strolling the whole area, it made me realized the noblest life of the people in the simplest past. A friend of mine told me also that the best time to visit is during night time when the lamps are lit, but obviously during that time, I’m sure there are lots of tourists.
Here is the detail of our trip to Vigan. Vigan City is located 408 kilometers away from Manila. From Cubao, we took the Partas Bus that took almost ten (10) hours trip. Since we never booked in a hotel, we decided to change our clothes and have some little freshen up at the Partas Bus Terminal. We slept during the entire trip. It was really a fun experience.
Note: Fare for Partas Bus from Cubao to Vigan City is P645.00.
From Calle Crisologo, we hired a tricycle which cost us P500.00 for a tour within Vigan. Though one can hire a “kalesa” for another kind of experience which cost P150.00/per hour.
At the famous Calle Crisologo, Heritage Village, Vigan City. We started strolling around at around 5:30 in the morning and since there were only few tourists during early morning we were able to enjoy the whole place. AMAZING!! The cobble-stoned street in Vigan is a journey to the colonial era. During early morning, I never thought it would be that magical since we were able to enjoy the different changes of the sky that compliment the color of the houses.
The historical houses of Vigan specifically in the famous Calle Crisologo reminded me of the Spanish era, but the people were able to preserve the beautiful houses complete with horse carriages. It is simple, naturally old-looking, yet has survived the challenges of time. The trip for me was so far the best historical trip I ever had. It gave me enough understanding of my past, and the appreciation of preserving what has left for us.
Research has told me, the houses in this area were owned by some Filipino-Chinese traders whose families rose to prominence and wealth when clothing and trading industry at the Northern part of Luzon was at its peak. Fortunately, for generations the people has preserved and maintained the place like it was before, with the Spanish architecture. Few of the old houses were converted into souvenir shops, coffee shops, restaurants and hostels.
According to some blogs, Calle Crisologo is at its worst during high noon because there are lots of tourists. Fortunately in our part, we were able to enjoy the place for almost two (2) hours before we headed for breakfast. My tip is: Come at dawn at around 4:30 AM until morning, its the best time.
THE DIFFERENT FACES OF VIGAN CITY
Tips: Souvenirs at Paoay and Laoag are quite expensive than Vigan and Pagudpud. However, in Bangui Windmill area, we were able to buy some souvenirs, even the t-shirts at the cheaper prices.
THE TASTE OF VIGAN CITY
For me, checking and trying the cuisine is one I always consider when visiting a place. Since I already had the the taste of some Ilocano foods, I simply want to have it cooked in its place of original, and Vigan never denied it from US. Funny but true, since I am a Jadine fan, I tried and asked the locals of the exact hotel where this famous couple stayed, thankfully, it was just within the area, Cosina Ilocana, where we had our breakfast.
I learned to savour the foods of the Ilocano, and during the trip, of course, I tried the best of what they have.
The Vigan longaganisa is a small and plump native sausage, good for about two or three bites and stuffed with lots of garlic. Honestly, until now I cannot fully appreciate it but maybe after many tries who knows I will be able to love it.
Note: Vigan Empanada is different from Laoag Empanada, and I have tasted the latter. Laoag Empanada uses achuete so it has a very attractive color. IT was my first time to have a taste of it, but I am looking forward to try over and over in the future.
The two Empanada’s of Ilocos have basically the same ingredients: rice flour for the crust with or without achuete and for the Laoag Empanada it uses an achuete; filling of egg and mongo sprout or parboiled mongo or grated green papaya for ordinary orders, and additional Ilocos longanisa for special.
And never forget the every famous Bagnet. Bagnet is a pork belly meat in deep fried format and an Ilocano original and version of a lechon kawali.
THE STRUCTURES AND LANDSCAPE
On of the most striking feature in this place is the bell tower, The Bantay Bell Tower standing in the beautiful landscape hill nearby a church. Like most of the bell towers, it served as the protector against the enemies during the World War I and World War II.
Have you remember the And Panday The Movie? this is where the ball of fire struck of one of the scene of the movie, and I cannot imagine I was standing right at this place. Uhhmmm…impossible dreams also do come true. So never give up on your dreams.
I never got the best shot for one of Vigan’s prominent landmark, the ST. PAUL’s METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL.
The driver of the tricycle we hired generously toured us around without even telling him (actually Ilocos Region for me is the most friendly for tourists and backpackers), and he brought us to Vigan’s Pagburnayan, for some, it is the iconic pottery area in the city. Most of the burnay jars are exported to other countries especially in some part of Europe.
Even before I am fascinated with colorful fabrics in Benguet, and since Vigan is also known of Abel Loom Weaving, I never failed to visit one of the Weaving Village in the City. Abel is a traditional woven product in Ilocos Region. The tradition is pass for generations to generations, in fact the antique furniture used for weaving is already considered an heirloom for some families. And one will be surely amaze of how this people make this tradition and intrinsic part of their lives.
Vigan and the rest of the Ilocos Region for me is a perfect place to unwind, it has almost everything you wanted, from journey of the past, enjoying the beauty of nature to the beautiful resorts, yet, I myself had not anticipated this beautiful paradise. At first glance Hidden Garden, is just like a regular garden, but what is so amazing is we kept on discovering what is inside the garden. Yes, the name is perfectly a complete description of the place itself. Note: There is a restaurant at the Hidden Garden where the tourist could grab something to eat, from meals up to the snacks.
ENJOY AND EXPLORE OUR OWN COUNTRY!!!!❤❤ <3 😀