Ilocos Norte · Ilocos Sur · Philippines · Travel Tales

Paoay, Kumakaway! Touring southern Ilocos Norte and Vigan

This is a long-overdue post — two months, overdue, in fact. 😦

We’d long wondered if it was possible to tour the southern part of Ilocos Norte and Vigan in one day. We found out that with a car, it was possible. Here’s the rundown of our tour:

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We woke up early to get to the Paoay Sand Dunes before it got too hot. a good thing, too, because by 7 AM the heat was assuming desert-like levels. The sand dunes, of course, are only like a really huge beach by the West Philippine Sea. It was quite impressive and delightful, and we spent a bit of time by this structure from the Pedro Penduko film.

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That’s actually a dummy up there.

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Reliving Panday
Reliving Panday
Here's a picture of me enjoying my summer vacation. :)
Here’s a picture of me enjoying my summer vacation. 🙂

Next, we went to Fort Ilocandia. I think the original idea was to go to the casino, but it was too early. (A good thing for this cash-strapped traveler, too.) We just stayed for a bit here to take pictures, rest, and gaze at its polished interior.

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Fort Ilocandia

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We headed to the Malacañang of the North next. Also in Paoay, this used to be the residence of the Marcoses. It has since been converted to a museum. We adored the airiness of the rooms and the Filipiniana designs.

Malacañang ti Amianan (Malacañang of the North)
Malacañang ti Amianan (Malacañang of the North)
One word, one number: Proclamation 1081.
One word, one number: Proclamation 1081.
Dining Hall
Dining Hall
Facing the placid Paoay Lake
Facing the placid Paoay Lake

We ate empanadas here — it was really delicious with longganisa and sukang Iloko.

It was nearing noontime when we headed to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the St. Augustine Church in Paoay (and Cafe Herencia, made famous by the movie Suddenly, It’s Magic). The church is made of coral stones in a fusion of Baroque and Oriental architecture.

Paoay Church
Paoay Church
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Paoay Church interior
Massive stone buttresses on the sides of Paoay Church.
Massive stone buttresses on the sides of Paoay Church.

Going westward, we went to Batac for the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum. It was crowded when we got there, with people ambling around for photos of the late president’s many, many memorabilia.

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Marcos, a reader of English literature.
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Three of Imelda Marcos’ many dresses.

The mausoleum is right beside the museum. No photographs were allowed inside. The walls inside were painted black, and Marcos’ body was surrounded by white daisies. As for the body itself — it was a surreal experience, being there. I had a difficult time trying to connect the body with the man because the body looked unreal, as though the whole was made of wax and merely dressed in the requisite barong tagalog. I spent what few seconds we had there staring, trying to convince myself that the hands were actual human hands.

Then we had to leave. Such is time; we have so little, and trying to make it stop, no matter how powerful one is, is mere delusion.

*

We spent about three hot hours in Vigan, most of it aboard a kalesa.

We parked near Plaza Salcedo — the site of Gabriela Silang’s public hanging — and the Vigan Cathedral. We had lunch in the quaint Cafe Leona, formerly the house of Ilocana poetess Leona Florentino. Cafe Leona still retained its old architecture — plus the food, though quite steep in price, is good.

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St. Paul’s Cathedral in Vigan
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Tahong, pinakbet, and bagnet in Cafe Leona. My students should recognize the tablecloth anywhere…

Then, it was time for our obligatory kalesa ride. It was my first time on a kalesa and I was giddy with delight! 🙂 Marian, our horse, and our kalesa driver took us to nearby barangays for sightseeing.

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The church in Bantay
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The bell tower beside the Bantay church

We also went to Pagburnayan, where potterers made these jars using foot-powered wheels. We also went to the massive kiln where the jars are baked.
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We went to two museums — the Crisologo Museum and the Burgos Museum. The former belongs to the Crisologos, an old family in the area. The museum was built in Floro Crisologo’s memory; the congressman was shot in the Vigan Cathedral by a still unknown gunman. The museum now houses his and the family’s memorabilia. The Burgos Museum, of course, is owned by the family of Fr. Jose Burgos, one of the martyred priests. It holds Ilocano artifacts.

We ended our tour by passing through Calle Crisologo. It was quite busy as the people were preparing for a fiesta that week. We went back there to buy souvenirs. (I bought sukang Iloko — which was rejected at the airport! I had to ask my friends who were traveling by bus to bring them to Manila for me.)

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My fellow lakwatsero teachers
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Souvenir stalls lining up the street
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Calle Crisologo. I love the cobblestone paths!

It was a long day, as you can see. We got back to Bangui at nightfall.

The next day was spent for a short while in Laoag, where we went to the public market for longganisa and bagnet as pasalubong. Then we had lunch at the food court in Robinson’s. Now I think it was only fitting that we saw Imelda Marcos there, walking around with about half a dozen bodyguards around her, presumably as part of her electoral campaign. It was really strange and surreal, being on land that used to be theirs — and in many ways, is still theirs…

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3 thoughts on “Paoay, Kumakaway! Touring southern Ilocos Norte and Vigan

  1. seeing the Marcoses was surreal indeed. Not because one was dead and the other alive. Not even because of their notorious past I lived through in my teens but because they both seemed non-human. Ferdinand, undoubtedly, as you poignantly put it, looked like a wax replica. Surprisingly, to my mind, Imelda, with probably all those botox and whatever science age altering medications she uses, looked like wax herself. Or probably it has always been the young Imelda I kept seeing on tv a long time ago that I had in my mind.
    Nevertheless, it was truly a wonderful experience being in the trip with you guys. Let’s do it again…soon

    1. It was, Sir Rolly! Let’s do it again :))
      Those were exactly my thoughts re: Imelda — parang walang pagkakaiba kay Ferdie, she just happened to be moving and breating — but yeah, I wanted to poke her face orsomething, see if it IS real. :))

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