I’ve been up north several times already but it’s not often I get to tag the family along. The Ilocos Region is probably one of the easiest place to travel by road and add to that, it has a number of sights from beautiful old churches, heritage houses, delicious food, mega structures and wonderful beaches. Even from the several times I’ve visited the place there’s always something new to try and discover. This trip was last September 14-16, 2010. It’s a bit cramped and covers the ‘usual’ sights first timers in the region and more manageable sights.
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.
We arrived at Grandpa’s Inn in the afternoon. We took our time to get acquainted with our rooms and also to ease up from that long drive. I let our driver who also happens to be a friend of mine and fellow mountain climber before take his much deserved rest. He just came from a climbing stint from Bicol and drove all the way to our house to continue up here in Vigan. In the mean time, the family rounded up to prepare for a late afternoon walk at the famed Calle Crisologo.
It’s always a pleasure to go on a road trip up north to the Ilocos. Did I tell you I had my first glimpse of Northern Luzon when I was in grade school on a road trip with mom and dad? Today it’s my elder sister’s treat to take the family on a trip up north when she came back from Canada (sans my other sister from the US). Of course from my side here, I was the one to help on the logistics – where and when to go, where to stay. Uur first stop is Vigan, and looking for a good value place, I found Grandpa’s Inn.
Harry the friendly tiger
A new attraction around the Vigan area in Ilocos Sur is Chavit Singson’s Baluarte. If Ilocos Norte is Marcos territory, Vigan is where the Singson’s rule. The Baluarte is a 20 hectare land with a mini zoo, shooting range, and a chapel. It is also known as Chavit’s Fortress. Access to the mini zoo, where Singson’s numerous pet tigers and other animals are found are free for the public, as he considers this as a gift to the people.
Even if the place is still being developed, the place does look good. Harry, the friendly tiger is found at the entrance. Unfortunately, the handler isn’t around because I’d really want to touch that tiger. Seems like a giant stuff toy. I must warn though that if you are going to bring children, watch them closely as the cages for the wild tigers aren’t safe. The cages are too accessible and a child can easily slip their hands as the bars are too wide apart.
Impressive gothic belfry in Bantay, Ilocos Sur
Will try to finish up the entries on our northern Luzon trip in the coming days. I will also have individual posts on some interesting objects along the way. The first couple of weeks has been very busy at work. Double deadlines as they say. Well to continue on…
The travel from Vigan to Laoag is only a couple of hours trip, but if you have time to spare there are lots of interesting stopovers on nearby provinces that would give your time and money enough its worth.
Bantay belfry and crimson church, Ilocos Sur
First off from Vigan is the Bantay Belltower and church. Now this is a must and you wouldn’t miss it since it’s on the highway and near the bus stations at the entrance of Vigan. From first seeing the belfry at the distance from the church gate I was already in awe at it’s magnificent structure. For me it’s one of the most magnificent structures I have ever seen. It’s baroque-gothtic style and color truly impressed me. Too bad the gates was closed we couldn’t get up, they said that this belfry used to be a lookout tower during the war. Not to belittle it’s church which stands a few meters away, the church boast a crimson facade and amazing window arcs emphasized by its white shade.
National Artist, Fidel Antiporda Go
Looking into my handy street map and a list of places to go, we trodded along the streets of Vigan to see more of the place. Well upper north of Vigan we stumbled upon Pinagburnayan. And what perfect timing as National Folk Artist, Fidel Antiporda Go, was about to give a demonstration on making a Burnay Jar. Interesting seeing the process, from taking a clay, molding it first, a dash of sand before putting it on a potter’s wheel where it is manually operated by a foot. Shaping it depends on your hands and fingers. After these clay jars are shaped, they are put on fire in a kiln. Though there are many jars being oven-ized, not all are well made. If there are like 100 jars in a dragon shaped kiln only about 10 would be well made.
A sea of jars
Ilocos is the home of these burnay jars which preseded spanish times. The Chinese introduced these jars in the pre-colonial times as an all weather storage for their products during which they shipped around other countries. For Ilocanos, they use these jars to ferment fish sauce, vinigar and “Basi”, their local wine. They bury these jars underground to seal out air for perfect fermentation.