Ten hours way from the busy streets of Manila is a piece of paradise called Ilocos. The long drive proved to be worth it as soon as you pass by the arch that bears the name of the province. Proof? Roll down the windows of the car and inhale that fresh and salty breeze.
Places to See
Vigan was our first destination. The city was bustling with people going about their daily lives. It could be just like any other city, but Vigan has its own charm. It seemed like it was in between two time frames – the past and the present. Old buildings made new, and the new buildings crafted to look old. This architectural theme was consistent and certainly, it kept the city’s image coherent.
Among the infamous stops in Ilocos is Calle Crisologo. In the province of Vigan, this parcel of land is dedicated to all the vintage-looking houses. Kalesas were rampant (and horse poop too!) and for a moment, it was the Spanish era once again sans the colonizers, and the hot and itchy clothes. It was picturesque because there weren’t a lot of tourists yet!
Calle Crisologo reminded me so much of Intramuros, but the Manila fort exudes a more vintage and preserved aura. The Vigan street tries to balance aesthetic and utility as one house after the other is converted to a novelty and pasalubong shop or a bed and breakfast for travelers. How I wish I was able to find a museum to see how it looked before all the commercial conversion happened. (Is there a museum in Calle Crisologo? Please tell me.)
In the adjacent Plaza Salcedo, fountains and lights danced to the beat of a mix of Ilocano folk songs and pop hits. (No pictures, sorry!) Shows are at around 7 to 8 in the evening daily.
Last stop in Vigan was the Baluarte. Honestly, I’m not a fan of zoos. The animals looked
sad inside the cages. But if you decide to go see Baluarte, get ready
for a long walk (or pay for a tour in a golf cart).
Baluarte is also home to Chavit Singson’s mini-museum where he keeps his ta
xidermied game from his hunting trips which is I think haunting considering it is in a zoo.
In Vigan, you can never run out of things to eat. Calle Crisologo alone is a long street of different food stalls. Fast food restaurants are there (like Mang Inasal and Max’s) but trying local food like the empanada is worth a try. While you’re at it, buy the garlicky longganisang Iloko and the crunch bagnet too!
In Plaza Burgos, several local food stalls can be found. Across the plaza, a building with a Castilian-like architecture houses the fast food staples – McDonald’s and Jollibee. At least you know where to go when you’re suddenly craving for fries or fried chicken.
There is still much to see in Ilocos. A post for Ilocos Norte is up next!