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Ilocos Sur Philippines Travel

Ilocos Sur: The Road Home, From Vigan’s Balaurte and Sta Maria Church Stop

It’s the last day of our stay in the Ilocos region. I know yesterday was a grueling ride from Vigan to Bangui and back despite having the enthusiasm to see all the sites of Ilocos Norte. But it did took a toll on my sister who has a special occasion. She got tired already and she wants to go home. But we have one more stop in Vigan before we check out from our hotel. I’m sure the rest of the family would enjoy a visit to Chavit Singson’s Baluarte Zoo before w hit the road back home.

Sta Maria Church Ilocos Sur
The Impressive Sta Maria Church, one of the four Baroque Churches under UNESCO

It’s the last day of our stay in the Ilocos region. I know yesterday was a grueling ride from Vigan to Bangui and back despite having the enthusiasm to see all the sites of Ilocos Norte. But it did took a toll on my sister who has a special occasion. She got tired already and she wants to go home. But we have one more stop in Vigan before we check out from our hotel. I’m sure the rest of the family would enjoy a visit to Chavit Singson’s Baluarte Zoo before w hit the road back home.

A donkey ride at Baluarte Zoo
A donkey ride at Baluarte Zoo

I visited this 80-hectare zoo from the famous politician Chavit Singson before. It’s an easy access from Quirino road coming from Vigan town proper. What’s good about this place is that everything’s for free from the entrance to the rides. I wrote about how Chavit spends more than a million to maintain this place which he prefers to say as his gift or contribution to the people. Even if the place is free some workers would also ask a little donation.

Art of Pottery at Vigan's Pinagburnayan
Art of Pottery at Vigan's Pinagburnayan

Wherever he gets his millions to maintain this place, I can’t deny this is indeed a nice side trip in Vigan especially if you have kids tagging along. The donkey ride is fun and free. There’s also the regular animal show where people can pet their resident tiger. On our way back to Grandpa’s Inn, we took a quick detour to Pinagburnayan, home to National Artist for pottery, Fidel Go. Fidel was busy doing crossword puzzles when we were there and not demonstrating his pottery skills but we did manage to do a little shopping from the souvenirs and food items.

A flight of 83 Granite Stairs
A flight of 83 Granite Stairs

We took our lunch before hitting the road south on our way back to Manila. But before we make our way home, I made sure we stop by Sta Maria for their famous Baroque Church. The Sta Maria Church is one of the four Baroque Churches listed in the Philippine’s UNESCO World Heritage site and it is the last one I haven’t visited yet. I’ve been passing through this town several times but never had the chance to visit the place. Now that we have our own transpo, it’s a lot easier to drop by.

The Octagonal Bell Tower
The Octagonal Bell Tower

Sta Maria Church was easy to find with a noticeable directional signage on the road. It’s place up on a hill makes the stone church a lot visible under the blue sky that afternoon. It’s a wonderful looking church as I move closer climbing the 82 steps up the hill and inspect the minute details of it’s reddish exteriors. The Church of Sta Maria is also known as the Church of the Assumption from it’s patron saint Nuestra Senora dela Assuncion. It was built around 1765 and was declared a UNESCO site December 11 1993.

Massive Columns on the church facade
Massive Columns on the church facade

The vines have already crept the side of the walls of the church, blending with it’s natural crimson colors and noticeable relief (a recent addition to the church structure) of a fruitful tree and our Lady of Assumption standing on the branches. Some of the distinct qualities of the church is the massive columns at the front of the church and the octagonal belfry on the side.

A new addition is the relief of Our Lady of Assumption
A new addition is the relief of Our Lady of Assumption

Finally being able to visit Sta Maria Church and complete all the 4 Baroque Churches under the Philippine’s UNESCO Sites was a great way to cap off this trip of Northern Luzon. And as for the family, it’s time to go home. It’s a long drive to Manila despite the snores, the snacks there’s also the smiles on our faces. I was in grade school when last I was on this road with my mom and dad. Many years later here we are again reliving the fun along with my brother and sisters this time.

The Altar of the Sta Maria Church
The Altar of the Sta Maria Church

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