Time-locked Ilocos is a broad hardy country blessed with impressive wide highways and stretches of narrow cobblestoned roads, antiquated towns dominated by heavily-buttressed grand churches and Antillan ancestral homes, and a brave people who, by sheer industry, harnessed a formidable terrain into a source of sustenance.
A seemingly tempestuous sea rimmed with uneven rock formations and ascetic mountains are the two scenic images that first impress the visitor to Ilocos. Wedged between the wild China Sea and the rugged Cordillera mountain range, the region presents a visual feast that is at once dazzling in its boldness. Divided into Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte, their capitals - Vigan and Laoag City - are anchor tourist destinations and part of the 7,000 times more islands that make up the Philippine archipelago.
Old World City
Vigan, with its centuries-old edifices, is a breathing reminder of what was once a royal city. One of the earliest Spanish settlements in the country, Vigan was founded in 1572 by Juan de Salcedo who patterned its design to that of Intramuros (Old Manila). It became the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia and was called Ciudad Fernandina in honor of King Ferdinand.
Today, Vigan retains much of the patina of 18th century Castillan architecture as seen in some 150 stone houses which stand in the town’s Mestizo District, notably Mena Crisologo Street. Many of these ancestral homes are still in good condition and some have been turned into cozy inns, museums, and souvenir shops.
Along with the homes are other vestiges of the town’s colonial past:
The majestic St. Paul’s Cathedral was built by the Augustinian friars along the distinct "Earthquake Baroque" style of the Ilocos region and features Neo-Gothic and pseudo Romanesque motifs. Standing on an elevation west of the cathedral is Plaza Salcedo, the oldest monument in Northern Luzon. The Archbishop’s Palace is a rich repository of religious artifacts from the Ilocos region. Plaza Burgos was built in honor of Fr. Jose Burgos, one of three Filipino priests who were garroted by the Spaniards for espousing church reforms.
But it is not only edifices which are preserved in this town inscribed in the World Heritage List. Viganos also remain steadfast in their traditional crafts, notably pottery (burnay) and handloom weaving (inabel). The horse-drawn calesa (rig) is as much a presence in the streets as motor vehicles.
Gateway of the North
After Vigan, Juan de Salcedo pressed further north to Laoag which even before the Spanish colonial times was already a center of trade with the Japanese and Chinese.
Laoag City, today, is the major crossroads for international trade and commerce in the Ilocos region. Though bustling with business, the city has retained pretty much an unhurried, laid-back lifestyle.
Dominating the city landscape is the provincial capitol which sits atop Ermita Hill, also popularly known as Raquiza Garden. Another point of interest is the St. William’s Cathedral, built by the Augustinians in 1612 along the Italian Renaissance design. Its unique 2-story facade is held by four pairs of coupled columns. A deeply recessed niche carries the image of St. William. A hundred meters away from the church is the Sinking Bell Tower which leans slightly to the north. It sinks an inch a year to the ground. Like in Vigan, the calesa is an integral part of the street landscape.
A Hardy But Beautiful Land
Because of its difficult terrain and arid temperature, the Ilocos was once described as a "God-forsaken land" and one was well-advised to have the "patience of a spider" in order to survive it. But Ilocanos, the hardy people that they are, not only survived in this formidable land but were able to turn this highland country into "God’s own paradise."
Ilocos has many churches of distinction which include two that are inscribed in the World Heritage List. In Ilocos Sur is the salmon-bricked Santa Maria Church. Built in 1769, it sits atop a hill towering over the town proper. In Ilocos Norte is Paoay Church. Built by the Augustinians in 1596, the church looks like a cross between a Javanese temple and a European church. The town of Bantay was the scene of fierce uprising led by Diego Silang against the tobacco monopoly in 1762. The town’s savage seascape has been immortalized in the films of Philippine Action King Fernando Poe, Jr. The town church is an architectural gem combining Baroque with Gothic motifs.
Currimao has a burgeoning beach resort industry. Visitors to this coastal town never fail to appreciate the sight of fishermen pulling in their nets shortly before dusk while performing a song-and-dance ritual for a bountiful harvest. Everybody is welcome to join in and each participant is given a rightful share of the catch. The town of Pagudpud offers a breathtaking landscape which includes the enchanting Bantay Abot-abot, a natural sculpture carved by the wind and sea, the white sand Saud beach and the majestic Mabogabog Falls. Impressive living canvasses unravel as one traverses the winding Patapat and Calvario roads.
Aside from its church, Paoay has a national park that envelops a placid lake. Built along its edge is the Malacaņang of the North, official residence of the late President Marcos in northern Luzon. The town also has stretches of undulating sand dunes, the setting of Mel Gibson’s "Mad Max" series and Tom Cruise’s "Born on the Fourth of July." The Paoay Sports Complex is the biggest in northern Luzon.
The pastoral town of Pasuquin has many fine beaches and is known for its salt-making industry. Its hills and mountains abound with wild game. Pasuquin Cave can be reached after some 45 minutes of traveling via a dirt road. A Mayor’s Permit is necessary.
The simplicity of Ilocano cookery is its own virtue. Bitter-flavored dishes are part of the Ilocano cuisine. Purposely laced into meat stews, fish grills and salads, the bitter taste is as enjoyable as the other aspects of taste, such as sweet, sour and salty. A popular dish is pinakbet, a vegetable stew of bitter melon, squash, eggplant and okra with crisp pork belly.
The town plaza and the marketplace are the best places to savor local flavors. The hotels and resorts have their own dining outlets and serve both native and international dishes. They can prepare picnic meals upon request.
Filipinos do not simply provide the guest with a place to rest or park their luggage, they also share the best of what they have. This warm, effusive brand of hospitality is what distinguishes Philippine hotels from the others. In Ilocos, one can easily find comfortable lodgings to suit one’s budget and needs.
ANICETO'S MANSION (Tourist Inn)
Telephone (6377) 72223833/7222382
GRANDPA'S INN Tourist Inn)
Telephone (6377) 7222118/7221446
VIGAN HOTEL (Tourist Inn)
Telephone (6377) 7222588/7223001
GORDION INN (Tourist Inn)
Telephone (6377) 7222526/7222565
MEL-SOL TOURIST INN (Tourist Inn)
Telephone (6377) 7224187
MOM'S COURTYARD RESORT (Class "A")
Telephone (63-0918) 2172692
ILOCOS MARINA RESORT (Class "A")
Telephone (6377) 7426160
CORDILLERA INN (Economy)
Telephone (6377) 7222727
EL JULIANA HOTEL (Economy)
Telephone (6377) 7222994
VILLA ANGELA HERITAGE HOUSE (Pension)
Telephone (6377) 7222755/7222914
FORT ILOCANDIA (De Luxe)
Telephone (6377) 7221166/7221411
(632) 8481920 to 21
PALAZZO DE LAOAG (Standard)
Telephone (6377) 7731875/773154/7331856
LA ELLIANA HOTEL (Standard)
Telephone (6377) 7714876
VILLA LYDIA INN (Standard)
Telephone (6377) 7720540
TEXICANO HOTEL & RESTAURANT (Economy)
Telephone (6377) 7220290/7220606
PICHAY LODGING HOUSE (Tourist Inn)
Telephone (6377) 7721267
CASA LLANES (Tourist Inn)
Telephone (6377) 7720456/7233440
PARADISE LODGE & DRIVE Inn (Tourist Inn)
Telephone (6377) 7720407
STARLIGHT LODGING HOUSE (Tourist Inn)
Telephone (6377) 7720921
7,000 Times More Surprises
Discover 7,000 times more
surprises that await beyond Vigan and Laoag.
The stretch of white and gray sand beaches that line the towns
of La Union is the main attraction of the province located in
the southwestern Ilocos region. Foremost of these beaches are
Darigayos-Paraoir Beach in Bacnotan, San Juan Beach in San Francisco-Canaoay,
Bauang Beach, and San Nicolas Beach or "Puerto de Japon"
Poro Point has excellent diving spots, notably: Black Buoy, Fourteen
Mile Reef, Tamyo Reef, Research Reef and Fagg Reef. Mona Liza
in San Juan, north of San Fernando, is a prime surfing area.
BAGUIO. Baguio City in the Central Cordillera mountain range
is noted for its nippy climate, pine trees and pleasant mountain
scenery. It is a favored destination among artists, honeymooners
and others looking for a cool retreat. It is also a faith healing
haven and a university town. At the public market, good buys
include silvercraft, woodcarvings, knitted garments and fabrics
handloomed by the Cordillera tribal folk, cutflowers and fresh
vegetables, and fruit jams.
Also nestled in the Cordilleras is the town of Banaue in the
province of Ifugao. Because of its highland location, Ifugao
is often described as "where land merge with the clouds
and touch the heavens."
Banaue's claim to fame, however, are its rice terraces - part
of the 20,000 hectares of engineering marvel that also span the
towns of Hungduan, Mayoyao and Kiangan. The terraces were built
more than 2,000 years ago by the Ifugao tribe, using only their
bare hands and crude implements.
Inscribed in the World Heritage List, this "8th Wonder of
the World" serves as a living testament to man's genius
at turning a rugged and forbidding terrain into a continuing
source of sustenance.
Planning Your Trip
The Ilocos can be reached by land
and air travel from Manila, the country's main international
There are air-conditioned buses that leave their Manila stations
for Vigan. Travel time is approximately 8-9 hours. The buses,
which leave on scheduled runs, do stopovers at designated points
along the route for refreshments and other necessities. Reservations
are needed before boarding the buses.
DOMINION BUS LINES
EDSA cor New York St.,
Telephone (632) 7414146/7314180
Laon-laan cor M. dela
Telephone (632) 7238580 loc. 103-105
PARTAS BUS COMPANY
Aurora Blvd. cor Bernardino
St., Quezon City
Telephone (632) 7257251740/7251256
PHILIPPINE RABBIT BUS LINES
EDSA, Balintawak, Quezon
Telephone (632) 3643477
Blumentritt cor. Laong-Laan
Telephone (632) 7414146/7314180
Travel time by bus from Manila to
Laoag City takes 10 hours. Laoag International Airport services
regular flights from Taiwan and chartered domestic flights.
Laong-laan cor. Dimasalang
Telephone (632) 7436873
Laong-laan cor. M. dela
Telephone (632) 7438580 loc. 103 & 105
F. FRANCO TRANSIT CO.
Lacson St., Sampaloc,
Telephone (632) 7312584/7314473
Aurora Blvd. cor. Bernardo
Cubao, Quezon City
Telephone (632) 7257303/7251740
Balintawak, EDSA, Quezon
Telephopne (632) 3643477/4567659
1558 España, Sampaloc,
Telephone (632) 7412994
The Philippines is accessible from
the travel capitals of the world. Traveling time to Manila from
Hong Kong is an hour and 50 minutes; from Singapore, 3 hours
and 10 minutes; from Bangkok, 3 hours and 50 minutes; Tokyo,
4 hours and 15 minutes; Sydney, 10 hours and 20 minutes; London,
20 hours and 45 minutes; Paris, 21 hours and 15 minutes; Frankfurt,
19 hours and 40 minutes; San Francisco, 16 hours and 15 minutes;
Los Angeles, 15 hours and 20 minutes; and New York, 25 hours
and 20 minutes.
Article from: http://www.dotpcvc.gov.ph/vigan.htm
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