In March, my dorm mate and I celebrated our birthdays together. So we decided to treat our friends to the latest hang-out in Cebu --- Red Box at The Terraces, Ayala Cebu.
We availed of their buffet lunch promo. For Php 299.00/pax, we had a six-course meal plus a couple of desserts and a three-hour music mania (drinks not inluded). The dishes were delivered straight to our assigned room. If we wanted a refill, we just had to buzz and their attendant will bring in additional servings of our requested dish.
A trip to Ilocos won't be complete without bringing home some goodies from the north. Up for grabs are bottles of basi, onions, garlic, bagnet, longganisa, tobacco cigars, cornik, biscocho, towels and blankets made of abel and clay pots.
Of course, we hoarded groups of garlic and onion, several kilos of bagnet and longganisa, pile of towels and blankets made of abel and packs of balicotia (sweetener), biscocho and cornik.
On the northernmost part of the Ilocos lies the town of Pagudpud. According to tales, there was a guy from Batangas who reached this part of Luzon. He was so tired that he blurted out, "Ako'y pagod na pagod at ang sapatos ko'y pudpod." From that statement came the word which later on became the name of the town Pagudpud.
First, we went to Saud where we had lunch at the Terra Rika resort. The long stretch of white shoreline was dotted with resorts, tourists and walking peddlers.
Apart from the centuries-old churches and houses and the healthy and sinful dishes, one spot which has made this northern region famous is its sand dunes. It is not as imposing nor its sand as fine as that of the dunes in the Sahara Desert but it surely has won the nod of many filmmakers.
From Vigan, we went back to the north. We were running a bit late because we spent a considerable amount of our morning shopping on Calle Crisologo. Our guide Steve was driving really fast just so we could reach the Marcos Mausoleum before lunch break.
Marcos Mausoleum (Batac)
We entered a dark room where some hallowed music filled the air. Right in the middle encased in glass was the corpse of former President Ferdinand Marcos. My mom, who was already alive during the heyday of the Marcoses, commented that FM seemed to have shrunk. Our guide gave a brief bio of FM. Picture-taking was not allowed inside. Guards in civilian clothes inside the room were on the lookout for those who tried to sneak some shots. From the mausoleum, we went to the gallery at the back of the museum but it was already closed for lunch. So we went to Herencia Cafe to have our lunch. We made a table reservation and placed our orders. Then we crossed the vast park towards Paoay Church.
Paoay Church (Paoay)
This all-too familiar church is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Construction of this church was started by the Augustinians in 1704 and was inaugurated in 1896. This church has weathered earthquakes and wars. It stands tall in the midst of the green plain, a reflection of the town which can live independently.
Walking down a long stretch of cobbled street, admiring the rows of bahay-na-bato, listening to the clickedy-clackedy of the horses while viewing the street scene from the azotea. And then bubble thought: How is it like to live in the nineteenth century?
Thanks to Ivan Henares, I just found out the best way to level up this vacation in Vigan. I signed up for the Colonial Dinner Experience at the Arce Mansion.
From Villa Angela, Steve drove us a few meters down the road to Syquia Mansion. Although sometimes referred to as the home of the Quirinos, the house actually belongs to the family of Alicia Syquia Quirino, the wife of President Elpidio Quirino. Ferdinand served as our guide as we explored the mansion that stood the test of time since 1830.
Upon entering the house, we saw a black carriage owned by family. Then we were led to the stairs leading to the main area on the second floor. Our guide pointed to us a circle on the floor which served as a peep hole to screen the visitors the family would like to receive in their home. There was also another peep hole on the wall of the master bedroom.
We started our day by having an outdoor breakfast at Balay da Blas. I had longanisa, fried rice, egg and tomatoes. My companions had dilis and tapa. The longanisa was a bit bland and had less fat. I had to add KBL (kamatis, bagoong and lasona) to enhance its flavor.
By 8:30 a.m., Steve picked us up and we were on our way to Vigan. Upon leaving Laoag, we passed by the Gilbert Bridge, named after the Governor-General Gilbert. From the bridge, one can see the Hollywood-esque letters of LAOAG on top of a hill. Then we were on our way to our first stop which was Currimao. It was a long ride but Steve had a bag filled with stories so we were never bored.
I've always dreamt of going to Ilocos. Snapshots of Vigan has fueled my yearning to visit this side of the archipelago. I almost had the chance of going to Vigan back in college but I had to pass up that opportunity because I was busy with academic stuff. As the years passed, I never let go of that dream vacation, wishing and hoping that one day I'll find myself in the northern part of the Philippines. Finally, thanks to an airline promo, I booked Laoag tickets for myself, my mom and my friends.