Letter no. 17: A Taste of the North (Day 1)
It’s when I realized that despite the crowded polluted metro I’ve been living in with, up north lies a natural beauty, fresh air, preserved culture, yummy foods and beautiful minds. Here’s a taste of Ilocos for you Michael as I ventured it’s vastness. Let’s take a break.
last November 22 was Thanksgiving Day in the US, and we didn’t have business in the office, which meant a long weekend in our case. So we decided to take a break and go some places to relieve the stress and see something new. You know, living in Manila is suffocating. I am surrounded by buildings and establishments, people you can barely trust and crowded streets. I am serenaded by annoying jeepney horns and black air that promise no health. I must say that living in the metro is being on the brink of apocalypse.
So I joined my friend’s trip to the province. One of my colleagues, who happened to be from Ilocos invited us as she took a vacation there for quite some time with her family and celebrated her daughter’s first birthday.
It was a 9-hour ride from Manila to Ilocos. Though it was tiring to sit there on a bus for several hours, I didn’t mind it. We got off from Manila around 12:00 in the afternoon and arrived there at 9:00 pm.
My exhaustion was eased by the heartwarming welcome of my friend’s family where we stayed for 4 days. People in the province were so nice and hospitable.
On the first day of our travel. We went to Vigan, the said to be one of tourists’ favorite place in Ilocos. I noticed the presence of church here and there with superb interiors that’s probably made out several centuries ago.
We first dropped by at the Bell Tower which is like an old boundless tower designed like a church dome. You must first pass few staircase to reach the top and on the topview, I saw how beautiful the rest the of the place was. It is where the famous “Panday” movie by the late FPJ was shot in. It was so great feeling the fresh air from up the tower. I stayed there for quite sometime to seize the beauty of the surrounding places.
We next visited the heritage village and I was awed by its beauty. It felt like going back to the Spanish era (Philippines was once under Spanish Colony for 333 years). No cars are allowed to enter the village, except for what we call ‘calesa’. I felt so different. I always have a fascination towards old buildings and antique shops. It’s like a time travel. I was awed even by just walking along and taking pictures. Perfect place.
Then we tasted the famous longganisa and it was so delightful. From the village, we headed via calesa to “The Hidden Garden”, which is literally hidden as you wouldn’t notice it from the outside. It was the best place to connect with nature as it is filled with plants, flowers, trees and all the greens you could possibly imagine. It has sections like the wishing well, where you throw a coin after whispering your wish, a lover’s chair, a place to eat, complete engaging facilities, souvenir area and some yummy delicacies. Combined with the welcoming crews, it was a perfect experience. I even bought an anti stress plant for just 50PHP. And take note, there is no entrance fee in the garden.
From there, we then visited an animal farm called “Baluarte”. It’s like an enlarged zoo where animals like tiger, ostrich, monkeys, parrot, deers and many others can be seen. It’s also an open park that’s good for strolling and biking. The area is so wide and clean that I enjoyed the green fields, the tree shades and the sound of variety of animals. It’s like a music to the ear. The area is so relaxing and it’s a good place to stay connected with animals.
And our last destination for that day was nothing but the sea. We went to my colleague’s abandoned house and lot somewhere near the area in Sta. Catalina. We visited their old house and we ended the day with some picture taking at the seashore few miles from the house. The sea is so clean and the sand is pure fine black. I could see my glare by looking at the crystal clear water. So refreshing. Here are some of the postcards I’ve got for you Michael. I felt rejuvenated just on the first day. I will follow up with you with my adventures on the 2nd day of my trip. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures. There’s just so much to behold.
Posted on December 2, 2012, in LETTERS 17-24, POSTCARDS, TRAVEL LETTERS and tagged Bell tower, church, FPJ, Heritage Village, Ilocos, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Panday, travel, Vigan. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.