From Ilocos Norte, our next destination is a 2 hour drive and decades of looking back to the past. But before we head off south, we have a few side trips first as we’re not done yet with the north.
Our journey to Vigan begins at the birth place of the former Philippine president, Ferdinand Marcos. The home to the one of the most controversial presidents has a lot of stories to tell.
This is not a very common tourist location as it is out of the way from most of the destinations. 80% of the house is preserved and is still made from the original materials. The tour is short but really comprehensive and will cost you 30/pax.
You know what they say about old churches? That they are surrounded with deep and interesting histories.
We continue on our historical expedition in Sta. Monica Church, the church with the longest isle in South East Asia. It is also the first church in the Philippines to be built facing a river as it is not so conventional even in today’s time.
On this same long isle walked Irene Marcos, the third child of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. There are guides that will share you the bests and somewhat spooky stories about the church and it is free. Like an area where people are tortured and got their heads chopped off.
A pit stop at the Sinking Bell Tower that has already sinked for 11 inches now. It is one of the largest bell tower in the country.
It is a luxurious place to stay with more expensive activities you can try out like archery and the shooting range. The place is generous enough to accommodate tourists who just wants to look into its beauty.
There are lots of photographs on the wall telling the interesting history of the Philippines.
As millenial people, it is actually the first time we’ve heard the story that the lake infront of the place has been rumored man-made during the time it was built (an effort to somehow immitate the Malacanang in Manila). The guide, however, debunked the theory as they deemed it impossible to build a lake during that time. They have also said that the lake is too deep that no one has ever touched the bottom up until today. The entrace fee is 30/pax.
And we have also tried and see the final resting place of Ferdinand but we ran out of luck as the place is closed for viewing that time as the power is down.
Vigan is at most a 2 hour drive from Ilocos Norte and oh by the way we still have Jimmy who drives us around to different locations.
Next is the Baluarte owned by Chavit Singson, a former governor of Ilocos Sur. It is a free for all somewhat of a zoo with live and dead animals.
Yes, dead animals. There is a room full of animals that Chavit has hunted from different countries. PETA would never want to take a visit as there are also animal heads and pelt scattered along the walls. Oh well. There are optional paid attractions in the place and also a restaurant.
It is fun and frustrating because the clay just won’t cooperate with my hands and you watch them do it like it’s just a walk in the park.
The sun is piercing through our skin and it is time to rest a while before walking the known heritage of Calle Crisologo. We have made reservations for Grandpa’s Inn as there are really good reviews about the place.
Though, the service and people accommodation is pretty average. The staffs are somewhat snubs unlike in Ilocos Norte where everyone just smiles at you and says good morning. It is a bit lackluster as we value service more than aesthetics.
There is a regular fountain show at Plaza Salcedo every night at 7:30 and it is a must see when you are in Vigan. Part of the fountain show is literally open for everyone to experience. What I mean is that people actually choose to get soaked in the waters and they seem like they’re having the time of their lives, especially the kids. The sight is such a relief from all our problems back in the metro.
Ilocos Sur is more of a relaxing tourist destination with all the beautiful sights to see and take pictures of. Unlike in Ilocos Norte, there are fewer activities here and it offers more on history and culture. So it all comes down depending on your personal preference. The bottomline is that both Ilocos Sur and Norte really deserve being amongst the popular tourist destinations in the Philippines.