Thursday, September 11, 2014

Roaming Around the Town of Bangued in Abra Province

Roaming Around the Town of Bangued in Abra Province is more fun traveling with tricycle. The town is nestled in a valley between the fascinating mountains of Abra & Ilocos Sur.  I opted a tricycle on a half day tour around the town. Cost about Php 100 for a solo traveler like me. The people in Abra is very kind, hospitable, friendly,  God fearing, adventurer and fun loving. A familiar fast food restaurant like Jollibee is always thought that the presence of a positive sign of progress in the Province or a places I've been through. The center proper of Bangued is packed with different establishments, restaurants, lodges, hotels , money changer, restaurants, clinic, drug stores, internet cafes, grocery stores and other business can be found here. I enjoyed the whole trip and I want to go back here soon to explore other tourist attraction in other towns and municipality of Abra Province.

Abra Province | Bangued Municipal Hall

Passing through the Bangued Municipal Hall in Abra Province (Home of the People of Bangued). This building is located at the center of the main proper of the town and near the Abra Provincial Capitol. Every town in the province boast a great architectural design of the "municipio" were locally known to its name. You can also find the heritage Spanish Colonial Era design of this establishment. I still hear some comments or negative stories about the place but as long as you are kind to the people and you don't do any mistakes to local people here, you were safe here. I don't see anyone carrying guns or military around Bangued during the time of my visit. Make your travels more adventure and safe.

Old Heritage Church of San Lorenzo Ruiz Shrine in Abra Province

Another place to visit in Abra Province. From the town proper, It took about 5-10 minutes travel to see this heritage old church of San Lorenzo Ruiz Shrine in Abra Province. The church is both a historical and religious attraction in this place. It is also made of clay bricks and two bell tower at the side located at Barangay Camposanto in Bangued, Abra Province on the western part of the town. The rains pour down I wasn't able to go inside the church to take a pictures. I just took photos at their church façade during a rainy afternoon. This church hails you as you enter  the nearby cemetery in its vicinity of the shrine.  A very nice architecture Spanish design and It just one of the unnoticed places in the country.

St James The Elder Cathedral or Bangued Cathedral Church in Abra

Next stop, St James The Elder Cathedral or Bangued Cathedral Church in Abra Province. I love the architecture design of the church façade were painted with off-white color. This was built in 1807 during the Spanish colonial era which is used as military hospital. Located at Main Road,  Zone 5 Taft Avenue, Bangued, Province of Abra, A nice place to stay for visiting the province. The Holy Spirit Academy School is located at the side of the church.  I wasn't able to go inside because the door is already closed, so I took a lot of photos and get back to the proper to buy pasalubong & I Love Abra shirt for a souvenirs collection.  I enjoyed traveling around Bangued were made me easier to transport to one place to another by riding the tricycle that rule the town's streets. Cost is Php 100 for the half day tour. A trip in Abra will never be complete without a visit in their old heritage churches. Please check out my next post about - Old Heritage Church of San Lorenzo Ruiz Shrine.

Rainy Morning at Bangued Town Plaza in Abra Province

It was a rainy morning when I finally set my foot on the ground of Bangued in Abra. The weather is cold & bumpy road trip from Vigan City (approximately 1 hour travel from Ilocos Sur via public transport). Located in front of Abra Provincial Capitol & Saint James The Elder Cathedral Church, this area is use for school affairs, fiestas and other provincial gatherings. I just took a quick rest before heading to other tourist attractions of the province. They also have a covered court area with a stage and a lot of tall trees surrounding the whole town plaza. One of the best thing to do at the public plaza is to try their ihaw ihaw in front of the church and just sitting down at the grass area. The road side of the plaza is a busy street where you can find a lot of tricycles passing towards the market, vendors walking around and kids playing at the center of town plaza.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Abra Kadabra | Welcome to Abra Provincial Capitol

I had a quick trip here at Bangued, Abra from Vigan in Ilocos Sur. About 2 hours travel, you'll see this laidback town municipality of Bangued. First, I went to their Provincial Capitol facing the Bangued Church & at the heart of  their town plaza. The façade is painted with off-green and has a unique architecture design inside. This is the capital of Abra Province, where people here are nice, helpful and very accommodating as well. There are a lot of nearby establishments, fastfood like Jollibee and commercial business. Bangued is not an unusual to most provincial places in the country because of its people and how hospitality is "Abrenios"  are a like to other provinces. I must say that the Town of  Bangued and the province of Abra are not killing environment as most people think it is. I think there may be incidents of political killings but as long as you are nice, civil, friendly & honest to the locals you should be safe here like what I did on my solo backpacking trip here. Just experience it by yourself.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

How to Get to Baluarte in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Going to Baluarte from Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
This place is great for kids and animal lovers like me. Free entrance (open to public) and with souvenir shops inside and outside the compound. From Manila take a bus going to Vigan City or Laoag City will cost you Php 750 per passenger. Travel time is 8-9 hours depending on traffic situation. From the public market of Vigan rent a tricycle going to Baluarte takes you around 10-15 minutes. Fare is Php 25 pesos per way. Operating Hours from 7:00am until 6:00pm only  - 7 days a week. Park Policy: Entrance is FREE & Rides is FREE as well. Trying to be respectful to me its like it is publicly accessible to a private zoo if that makes sense to other tourist & locals. It was so generous of the governor to share what he has with the visitors and locals. I also admired the owner's (Chavit Singson) house situated on top of the hill were golden building is stands tall and it served as a great photo opp as well. Happy Trip Everyone - Bisayang Manlalakbay around the Philippines.

Awesome Experience of Baluarte in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

This was the last part of my travel journey here in Ilocos Sur. It was a memorable experience to visit Baluarte for the first time which is privately owned by Chavit Singson with its special animals and free public viewing to all tourist and locals. The nature has been preserved in the area. Don't get me wrong, the area is very wide and amazingly unique from the other zoo & conservation area. You could see a few uncommon animals in the zoo but it was really the tigers, pony and ostrich were animals roam freely. Good place for kids and adventurer like me. I also like those gigantic dinosaurs sculpture at the center of the park.
However, taking pictures with the tiger will cost you Php 100 only good for 4 persons. Check their official website as well to learn more about Baluarte of Ilocos Sur. Overall, A family friendly place with lots of interesting animals to check out which makes the place a little bit smelly.

A Beautiful Facade of St Paul Metropolitan Cathedral or Vigan Cathedral Church

Also known as "The Great White Church of Vigan" really amazed me even when I saw it for the second time around. It is a beautiful church in a beautiful town of Vigan in Ilocos Sur, Philippines and was great wonderful for its age. I always wanted to know much more of the place I've been to like churches in the Philippines. I love the beautiful facades of the Cathedral and Bell Tower at the side are perfect spots for picture-taking. There are also some old effigies of saints and Mother Mary with a nice gold painted at the ceiling of the church. The church matches the lovely colorful flooring and with nice location near food stalls, restaurants and other tourist attraction of the city.
The history of the church has been written at the entrance on a large plaque. A taste of Spanish colonial era, for those who want a little bit adventurous you can try the local Ilocano delicacy called "Sinanglaw.

Touring Around the Heritage City of Vigan in Ilocos Norte

Vigan City is so special for me and considered as one of UNESCO Patrimonio Mundial World Heritage Site. This seal is located infront of Burgos National Musuem & facing at their Municipal Hall which is really quite amazing learning experience at the end of my tour. It was declared as one of the heritage town in 1999. You can also experience touring around the city on a "Kalesa" ranging Php 500 and above depending on the location you want to go & explore. More importantly, the old architecture design during colonial era of Vigan relates the story of Filipino. Be satisfied your eyes on how people of Vigan City maintained this world famous world heritage site. Did you know that during 8th day of September, local government celebrate "World Heritage Cities Solidarity Day" and keeping the wonders & history alive is apparently more fun in Ilocos Region where defines types of natural, cultural & modern architecture.  

Sightings in Vigan | Father Jose Burgos House - A National Museum

One of the historical old landmark in the heritage city of Vigan. Its consist of collections and memorabilia of Father Burgos like jewelry, clothing, photography of their family and antiques located near the Ilocos Sur Provincial Capitol. This was the ancestral house of Father Jose Burgos converted to a museum.  During my trip, Unfortunately I wasn't able to go inside because the museum was closed to visitors and this landmark is walking distance from town plaza & church. So, I just taking up photos at the opened window of the museum and proceed to Vigan Cathedral Church. Did you know that Padre Burgos House was built in 1788 and it will just cost you Php 20 pesos entrance fee to see real artifacts showing old Ilocano's way of living.

Another Attraction in Vigan City | Ilocos Sur Provincial Capitol

It's stands at the center of Plaza Salcedo facing Vigan Cathedral Church located at Quezon Avenue, Burgos, Vigan City with nearby tourist attractions like Vigan Musuem, Dancing Fountain, City Hall & Old Houses of Vigan. The whole building is painted with yellow-white color  and perfect for the architecture style of the city. I also noticed the big kamagong tress which known as one of the hardwoods trees in the country located at the side portion of the capitol building. Since its not my very first time here which I already knew where to go.

Surprisingly Vigan Dancing Fountain of Ilocos Sur

Located in front of Vigan Cathedral Church & at the center of Plaza Salcedo this additional attraction here is a must see attraction. It has a blue clear water during the morning and a light show presentation during the night. It starts every 7:30pm in the evening and last for 30 minutes and it is for free to all tourist while during weekend it doubles its presentation. Your kids will surely love it and fountains are synchronized with it. The area is huge, lots of fountain spouts, the area is clean and colorful lights at night. Anyway, surprisingly world class facilities, well maintained and an absolute favorite for those wishing to visit Vigan City and its probably great display but does feels out of place among the century old cultural townscape.

UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vigan City in Ilocos Sur

Also known as to be the "Heritage City of the North" were back to the old ages of Spanish Era. The place was neat and really amazing architecture houses design and great feeling standing on the cobble stones of the street.  I felt that sudden excitement on my 3rd day of Solo Backpacking Trip Up North because this is the place that I am really looking forward to when traveling old heritage landmark. I wish all cities in Metro Manila can have this feel and vibe and it is worth the shot for any camera click addict like me. This was my favorite UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Philippines and truly love this place because it shows how laidback those days I traveled the city of Vigan. I hope that they don't limit putting up more arts, antique pieces and book shop as well.
Did you know that Vigan City in Ilocos Sur as one of the finalist for New 7 Wonders Cities of the World. To Vote Vigan for the #New7WondersCities Here's the link: or you may vote via SMS: Text VIGAN to 29290777. Please vote guys. Thanks

Where to Buy Pasalubong in Vigan City

The experience was like travelling back in time and I really want to collect antique memorabilia and pasalubong to my family. The streets in callle crisologo is a one stop pasalubong bargain with a reasonable price. This is where all the classic Ilocano favorites can be found in one place  like longganisa, bagnet, chichacorn, bawang Ilocano, vinegar, empanada, bagnet and many more. Look for Quiel's meat shop with the authentic Vigan Longganica & Bagnet and Sag-Sagat Furniture for your additional antique items in affordable price range. I also recommend "Collado Souvenir Shop" for their wide variety of shirts, keychains, ref magnet, malong, wood pieces, home decors, bags and other choice in a reasonable price and the best thing about this is that everything is made from local materials where the bargain hunt makes it more worth it. Every time I traveled to other places in the country I make sure I bought pasalubong to my family which can promote or help locals to their business.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Calle Crisologo at The Heritage City of Vigan

Bring back the hands of time that is Calle Crisologo looks like with its unique heritage houses & old fascinating walkway. When you're standing at the center of the street its just as though suddenly travelled back into a different era and remarkable that the people & government of Ilocos  have preserved this place. They won't allow tricycles or other transportation to pass this street but only calesa can be found along the street. I was really amazed to see with my own eyes the very old Spanish colonial design architecture of those long ago houses in Vigan which is one of the most popular tourist attraction. There are a lots of antique pieces surrounding the main street that are sold in the area and nostalgic feeling is never lost.
Travel Tips: walk early morning when the crowd is still small or late night in the evening to experience romantic feeling of the lights and its old fashioned ambiance would be maintained for the years.

Vigan Food Trip: Good Food on A Budget

If you're looking for budget - friendly and affordable foods in Vigan, go to plaza burgos where the stall vendors put on a show of making-delicious and authentic recipe of Vigan Empanada and check out their public market to buy some pasalubong like Bagnet & most tasting Vigan Longganisa just get there early to try out fresh variety & sizes. A must try food in Ilocos Sur which is affordable for a budget traveler like me. Its really best to try places where locals frequently buying foods. On my third day of my trip in Ilocos Region, it was fun, adventure and really enjoyed Vigan food. Their food made Vigan more special, more tasty and you'll surely want to take home before leaving this province. Ilocanos has their best cuisine and authentic food in the country and definitely satisfy your gastronomic cravings which is a lot of local and foreign tourist do a bit of restaurant-hopping after a day of touring "The Heritage City of Vigan".   

The Historic St Augustine Cathedral Church in Vigan City

After visiting the bell tower, you can also see the church of St Augustine Cathedral and light some candies for your payer before heading to you next tourist destination. The locals say its one of the miraculous churches in the province and love this red brick of the church façade. There are five bells on the tower for everyday mass, christening, procession, funeral and wedding. The main cathedral has three alters, gorgeous stained glass windows and wood bench seating. Also with a high ceiling , nice architecture design and picturesque sight in the province.

Fascinating Bantay Bell Tower in Ilocos Sur Province

It's very interesting & historical spot in the province of Ilocos Sur  The bell tower watch originally built as a look out tower located at Bantay, Vigan City,Ilocos Sur and there are no fees in the area, just only donation at their tourist assistance desk. It's good uphill walk but it sure is nice seeing the view from up there. It has a great view when you get to the top portion of the tower and this tower serves as a "Bantay" or Guard during the Spanish era and alerts the guards of attack from enemies.  From Vigan it takes about 10-15 minutes ride via jeepney transportation, actually Bantay is another town district of Vigan. It is nice to see and know a little bit history and It  adds up knowledge to my work as a travel blogger. For those who like historic sites and place visit the place first before heading to other part of Vigan & Ilocos Sur. Next to the bell tower is at St Augustine Cathedral Church. It is yet another historic landmark and religious place of interest.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Say Good Bye to the " Sunshine City of Laoag" on My Last Day

Yes its probably that there's always a special place for special people like me for a place of unending fun and adventure. Going to start your Ilocos adventure, you are most likely start in Laoag. Take a quick & walking tour around the city & you will know how people here is accommodating & nice. It is much proud of an Ilocano the largest ethnic in the Philippines. I just ended up my tour here in Ilocos Norte at their public plaza fountain & city hall which is one of the best place to visit at the heart of Laoag. Did you known that the word "Laoag" means light in Ilocano dialect. It's truly a serene place to visit even perhaps to retire and invest as well. This is one of the best experiences of my life and some of my bucket lists were checked. Laoag is a quiet geared to a very simple living in the province and I make sure to going back again & again. Happy Trip Everyone - Bisayang Manlalakbay around the Philippines.

A Day Trip at Robinsons Ilocos Norte During the Rainy Season

Also known as Robinsons Laoag located at Maharlika Highway, Barangay 1, San Nicolas, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. This is one of the biggest mall in the province which caters a various national and local food and retail tenants in the country. The mall has a department store, supermarket, appliances store and 3-state of the art movie cinemas. I love the lush greenery landscape outside the mall and wide parking space of Robinsons Ilocos Norte with the unique interior design at the ground floor. If your coming from city proper of Laoag, take a jeepney cost you Php 15 per passenger and travel time is 5-10 minutes. The location of the mall is part of a larger and bigger urban development of the area. Soon, hotel, residential and office buildings will rise to further boost growth.


Good View of Ilocos Norte Provicial Capitol in Laoag City

Walking towards the capitol building during the night is probably one of the good view because the lights facing in front of the building which is more unique than other establishments around the area. I just posted photo during the daytime because I have no battery at night before my departure to Laoag City. The façade has a very unique architecture and main ceiling of the capitol. I like their tile flooring at the main lobby so very unique & fascinating chandeliers above. It is located along J.P Rizal Street, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte the capitol was erected and was built in 1917 under the administration of Governor Florencio Castro. Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol contact number: +6377-771-5631. Nowadays the province has always been Marcos territory and the family enjoy a moderate amount of popularity in the whole Ilocos Norte Province. To commute: Tricycle  is the main source of transportation around the city.

Disappointed with Museo Ilocos Norte in Laoag City

After eating a quick lunch I immediately go to the Museo Ilocos Norte near the Provincial Capitol & public plaza, but unfortunately the museum is closed. What a bad day for me on my second day in Laoag City. I wasn't able to go inside the museum to check out historical pieces and how people survive during the American Forces War. I like the green grass landscape at the center of the museum.  So I decided to go at the nearby Provincial Capitol and take photo inside before heading to their public fountain.

Where to Stay in Laoag City on a Budget?

Affordable hotel in Laoag City with a good service and cheap accommodation loacated at Abadilla, Hilagang Ilocos, Laoag City.  I just walked through their market and I saw this hotel called UKJ Ever Hotel then I immediately inquire to their front desk and ask for a 2 nights accommodation and they charged me for Php 600 per day without breakfast promo. They assisted me at the third floor of the hotel. The location is good and very strategic since it's near the town plaza, public market, supermarket, pharmacies , some fast-food resto and other places that can visit by merely just walking around the city proper. The room is comfy, toilet are clean and cable & air-conditioning system is functional.

Ilocos Norte | Saint William Cathedral or Laoag Cathedral Church

One of the landmarks in the city is Saint William Cathedral also known as Laoag Cathedral Church is small but lovely inside where you find a great view of the altar and it's centrally located. This amazing cathedral was constructed in 1580 as per the plaque posted at its front area. It has wonderful historical significance. The American Forces used it during the 1898 Revolutionary War and by Diocesan Congress. The columns at the side are embellished with gold-color paint with a unique chandeliers above the ceiling. 
Located near the Cathedral are the sinking bell tower, fastfood like Mcdonalds infront the church, Supermarkets & Hotels. Very accessible to the center of the city. I love to go places or side trip along the way with its historical value especially when its well preserved.  Be sure you will visit this landmark when you're in Laoag City.  

A Sinking Bell Tower at The Heart of Laoag City in Ilocos Norte

As part of my 3 days trip in Ilocos Norte, I find my self touring around the city proper and check out this heritage old bell tower of Laoag City. The place is busy with tricycles, restaurants and motor speeding near the tower. You can't get good pictures without the hanging electrical wires and crowded establishments around the area.   It's hard to have a good picture of it so I ended up to take photos at the vacant lot near the school. Is it amazing to know how it is really sinking. According to the people & locals around the place, the bell tower is not actually sinking. It is just that the main roads are getting higher and higher were the times & years passing by which is a symbol of the religious heritage of the people of Laoag City. This area is just not well maintained and look like a very necessary work in progress was abandoned by the provincial government.



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