Dream Come True: Ilocos Exploration

I had always dreamt of time travelling to the years when the Spaniards ruled the Philippines. I know it is not possible to time travel (yet) so the closest thing I could think of is walking the historic city of Vigan. Checking the pictures online, Vigan is like a snapshot of what the Philippines look like during those early days.

Last weekend, with my high school best friends (Deci and Lik) and boyfriend (+Jomar) we went to explore the beauty of the Ilocos region. I would be preparing separate blog posts for the places I visited in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur as well as the food we tried.




Day 1
The trip started on Thursday evening at around 9:00 PM. I met with Jomar, Lik, and Deci in McDonald's North Avenue corner Mindanao Avenue. We waited for our van c/o Explore Island Philippines Travel and Tours. There were three groups in one van, us, a duo, and a group of four, as well. Our tour guide and driver for the trip is Kuya Rey. We left McDo a little past 9:00 PM. We had two to three stopover, and I couldn't sleep! Jomar was already snoring beside me, and I couldn't get comfortable in the van. When JT and I switched places, I was able to sleep even for a while.

Day 2
We arrived in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur at around 4:30 AM - two hours earlier than scheduled because Kuya was driving at about 80-100 km/hour. When I saw Calle Crisologo... it was a dream that became a reality. I have always dreamt of going to that street and imagining what it would feel like to live in the Spaniards time.

Photo Taken by Lik-Lik

After an hour or so of walking around, we went back to the van and headed to Cafe Uno (inside Grandpa's Inn) to have breakfast. Deci, Lik, and I had Vigan Longganisa while Jomar had the beef tapa. The tapa was too salty for my liking, but the longganisa is delicious as expected. I had hot chocolate made from tablea (instead of the usual Milo) which tasted amazing.

After breakfast and freshening up a bit, we went to Sanctuary of Nuestra Senora de La Caridad and said our prayer in the old Church. I also prayed to Our Lady of Charity. We climbed to the Bantay Bell Tower then went to the hidden Chapel by the Ruins on the right side of the Church.

Then, Kuya Rey dropped us off to Baluarte which is a zoo. After almost an hour there, we watched some live pottery making in Pagburnayan. Then we took an hour drive to the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum before heading to lunch at Sikat-Tuna Inihaw and Restaurant. After lunch, we headed to the beautiful, Paoay Church. It started to drizzle, so we went to the Malacanang of the North. Since it was already raining, we can't go to Paoay Sand Dunes. Instead, we went straight to Laoag City to check-in to our hotel for the night Hotel Del Norte.

Because our guided tour was over for the day, we decided to explore the city of Laoag on our own. We had snacks (Ilocos Empanada) at Dap-Ayan Ti Ilocos. We traversed the Museo Ilocos Norte, and lastly, we had dessert and take-out dinner from Saramsam (Sarap na Inaasamasam) Ylocano Restaurant & Bar. We did some last minute grocery shopping at Puregold before calling it a night.

Day 3
After a restful sleep, we had breakfast in Jollibee because it's the only place open before 8 AM. We walked going to the Sinking Bell Tower and Tobacco Monument before heading back to the hotel. While waiting for Kuya Rey, we watched a replay of Rated K in ANC. When the van arrived, we went to Cape Bojeador Lighthouse then Kapurpurawan Rock Formation (it was terrific!). After which, we went to my fave stop, the Bangui Windmills. We were supposed to have lunch in this small eatery but end up eating in Jun & Carol Beach Cottages where we're going to spend the night. We had sugpo, adobo, and pinakbet with bagnet. After such a filling lunch, we went on a 30-minute trek going to the not-so-pretty Kabigan Falls then to Patapat Bridge (which offered a fantastic view!). Kuya Rey also asked us to climb a hill, and it was worth it because what you see from the top was magnificent: the sky, mountain, and sea in one picture. We also went to this "cave" which is more of a hole in a rock called Bantay Abot Cave. Last stop was the beach in Blue Lagoon - powdery like sand, blue skies and water - perfect! We went back to our Jun & Carol beach cottage and rest. At around 9 PM, we started looking for dinner and apparently, every restaurant is closing! Thank God, Villa del Mar Hotel accommodated us. We also played Uno Card Games and figured out the Cluedo Card Game before calling it a night.

Day 4
We woke up around 6 AM freshen up and had breakfast in Apo Idon Beach Hotel. On our way back we stopped over for pasalubong, and it completely slipped my mind that we were going to the Paoay Sand Dunes - that one is unforgettable (the moment that I wish I have a Google Glass). We had lunch in Vigan (Vigan Empanada!) before heading to Manila at around 2:30 PM. We arrived in QC at 10:30 PM. It was a long tiring way home.

That's a quick summary of what happened during our Ilocos Exploration. I shall be preparing more blogs about it over the next few days.

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