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General Ilocos Sur

Pinagburnayan

National Artist Fidel Go

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.

Burnay Jars

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.

Categories
General Ilocos Sur

A walk down history lane

Crisologo Street

Calle Mena Crisologo in Vigan

Ilocos has so much to offer in terms of Heritage sites. Numerous old churches, well preserved spanish houses and mansions. We didn’t manage to visit all the spots in our IT but what we were able to visit was enough to satisfy our lust for travel. Also leaving enough reasons to return and visit our missed spots.

Spanish house Facade

Spanish house facade

Since there’s too much photos and infos here, I’ll just tackle them them individually in the coming days (or weeks). First off is the Calle Mena Crisologo in Vigan. Unlike Intramuros which was continually battered during the war, Vigan was spared and more than 180 of it’s houses and landmarks are well preserved, also thanks to UNESCO for declaring the whole city as a heritage site.

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General Ilocos Norte

Retracing northern Luzon

Ilocos Norte Bridge

Ilocos Norte welcome bridge to Laoag town proper

These past few days has been a pretty fast paced trip up in northern Luzon. It really felt like we’re contestants in an Amazing Race as we have to use public transportation to get from one place to another and at the same times asking people directions along the way. It was fun ride.

It was like 15 years ago during my grade school that I first went around Northern Luzon. My dad used to travel a lot and it was like that summer during the end of my grade school that me, my mom and dad along with his friends hopped in our old L300. It remember I really had fun at that time even though I can barely recall the details of the places I visited.

So this time around, along with 3 of my companions, we ventured off to a Vigan-Laoag-Pagudpud road trip (by public transport). And I’m really excited to retrace the routes I walked during my childhood.

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Mountain Province Mountain Province Philippines Travel

SideTrip: Bontoc, the Mountain Province connection

The town of Bontoc

The small town of Bontoc, Mountain Province

I’ve finanlly got a chance to drop by and explore this little town called Bontoc. Most of the time, it’s just one of those areas you only pass by either going to Sagada or Banaue. But it would seem that Bontoc is also an ideal point to jump off any trip going to the different parts of Mountain Province. If you are coming from Manila, you can ride on the new Cable Bus located in Trinity College and they head straight to Bontoc. From there,many jeeps plying to different directions like Banaue, Sagada and Besao can be found. Since Bontoc is in the middle, travel time is reduced.

Tatooed Women

Tatooed Women. A dying art form

Aside from the connection with different areas, it’s interesting to see our tribes people walking down these streets. Elders, still wearing traditional garbs and women with full body tatoos. Those tatoos are said to be a dying art form since modern women doesn’t like to put them anymore due to the painful process. These Tatoos for women are considered decorations, like jewels, for men however, tatoos are a badge of honor, it means they have slayed or killed an enemy during a war.

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Lakes Mountain Province Mountain Province Philippines Travel Travel

Sagada revisited final: Still a Shangri-la

Pine Forest

A walk into Sagada’s Pine Forest

Three nights have passed and just when it has begun, we realize we are about to leave. You’ll never get dull in this place as there are more to do and discover. I could have stayed longer but work beckons. I would gladly like to walk more on the pine forest and feel the cool fresh breeze. Or just lie down on the grass by the church and read a good book. Watch the glorious sunrise on a cool windy morning at Kiltepan or the scenic sunset while having a picnic at Lake Danom (Lake Bana-ao to those who live in Besao). Or further more discover more hidden secrets Sagada holds. We were conversing with some elders at a store and found that beneath Sagada there are more cave systems waiting to be explored.

Kiltepan View

Breathtaking view of Kiltepan

I will miss those cheap but full dishes (Chicken, vegetables and a large serving of Red Rice) at Sudimay, the vegetable rice at Shamrock Cafe, the Chicken barbecue with matching acoustic music at the new Bamboo Grill and those tasty Yogurt meals at Yogurt house. I regret having not bought a bottle of those Blueberry Rice Wine I was able to taste. Or to zip on the aroma of a mountain tea.

Categories
Food Mountain Province Mountain Province Philippines Travel

Sagada Revisited 02: For your eyes only

Sagada Dap-ay

Sagada’s Dap-ay. They have these “Palay” altar in the middle. It was a sign for the farmers to stop the harvest for a given time and they are not allowed in the ricefields since the “Anito’s” are the ones doing the harvest at that time.

People of Sagada still practices their old traditions and rituals. A walk through their native village of Demang, you’ll sure to pass by a number of Dap-Ay’s. Dap-ay, also called Ato by different tribes is a low-roofed, windowless structure with a small door. In front is a circular structure where improvised stone stools surround the edges and a hearth at the center where they burn fire. This is a sacred place for them as this is where the council of elders makes major decisions regarding socio-political issues, religious rites, settle disputes and where young boys are passed the lessons about disciplines, customs, traditions and taboos.

Speaking of Taboo, women aren’t allowed to go inside the Dap-ay for some reasons. I wasn’t also allowed to take a photo of this ongoing Dap-ay for harvest. They were asking for “Wine” for every shot taken (Ok That was a bit suspicious). which eventually I didn’t give them as I don’t have any at that time.

Preparing a Pinikpikan Chicken

Preparing a Pinikpikan chicken. Blowtorching the chicken after it has been beaten up to death. Had to cover up her face since they really didn’t want their pictures taken doing this. Have to go really far and use my cams maximum zoom to take this shot.

Another interesting thing in Sagada are their food. A tasty meal I heard is the Pinikpikan Chicken, which have a unique way of preparing. It’s actually a ceremonial dish where they patted (more of like beat) the chicken until the blood clots and die. Then they burn (torch) off the feathers after. Animal rights may scream “Torture” on this preparation, but we must understand that this is an old ritual. Originally, before the chicken is broiled or cooked, they slice it open and the blood would reveal a “Reading” which every villagers share.

Categories
Mountain Province Mountain Province Philippines Travel

Sagada revisited 01: A new cave and a fall

Sagada Echo Valley

Echo Valley, Sagada, Mountain Province

I never get tired of this place. It’s my third time coming here and there always seems to be something new to discover. This time, aside from visiting the sites I missed before, I got a little brush with their culture and appreciated more of our history, probably because I have a couple of companions who are into Philippine Heritage Conservation. This trip made me realize the importance of our past and connections of various events in different parts of the our archipelago. I may blame it to our schools as not being as interesting in teaching history as you experience in a place.

Bone remains of Emiliana

An open coffin remains.

One of the amusing discoveries we found is another small burial cave inside the Echo Valley region not listed on their map. I literally, fell on my way there. I didn’t know what happened but I slipped on a side cliff. I tried to hang on to my life with a tripod on one hand as I didn’t know how high I would fall. My grip failed me and I just let myself fall, and for some strange reason I didn’t feel any fear whatsoever. I found myself only 6 or 7 feet high fall with bamboo tree roots cushioning my fall. Thanks to my mini backpack, I only suffered a few scratches and bruises on both arms. Thank God for that! Hahaha. That was a first for me, and my companion told me that it scared him and was ready to deny knowing me if anything happened! Hahaha.

Going back to that small cave, we weren’t actually looking for it, but we were informed of the burial cave discovery and our other companions who have a different IT with us that day were looking for it, missed it by a turn. Out of curiousity and desire to take a photo of a group of hanging coffins on the west side of the valley, we treaded an unbeaten path and found this small cave, obstructed by thorny plants on the end of the path. My companion investigated it while I took a photo and was startled to find more coffins inside. So this is what they were looking for. One coffin was open with the skull clearly visible. The skull seemed smaller than the usual, like a child, but the coffin was quite long. I didn’t want to dirturb it really but I want to take a good picture and had to reposition the skull. Believe me I had wierd dreams that night of a woman speaking to me in a really strange language. That corpse’s name is Emilaiana by the way.