Travel is the name of a modern disease
which became rampant in the mid-fifties and is still spreading.
The disease – its scientific name is travelitis furiosus –
is carried by a germ called prosperity.~George Mikes
We reach the last leg of our journey up North and we still have some places to visit before we head home. It’s an inspiring weekend and fun adventure ’till the very end.
3rd Day : All our bags are packed now and ready to go… but wait… we can’t leave just like that!
After breakfast, we headed off to the local market to check out authentic Ilocano specialties, from bagnet to tupig to Sukang Iloko, to longganisa. Mind you our weight doubled these past days with the yummy dishes prepared by our generous hosts. And we still have a few take outs from them.
Not included in our itinerary was a visit to the church of Sta. Monica or also known as Sarrat Church in the town of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. It’s only a few minutes away from Vintar where we stayed, so we grab the chance to drop by.
It’s an old Baroque church in a beautifully arranged red bricks. Further reconstructions were made when the former Philippine President Marcos’ daughter, Irene Marcos, choose the church to be a venue of her fairytale wedding to Gregorio Araneta in 1983. Sarrat Church holds the record of the longest church aisle in the Philippines.
The ruins of a torture chamber can still be seen at the site of the church. In the torture chamber are 2 enormous brick-covered pillars. Filipinos accused of subversion and other major crimes were said to have been hanged from these pillars during the Spanish colonial period.
Our next stop is Batac, Ilocos Norte to visit Marcos Museum and Mausoleum.
Picture taking isn’t allowed at Marcos Mausoleum where the glass-entombed, preserved corpse of ousted President Ferdinand Marcos can be found. He died in exile in Hawaii in 1989 but this dictator is well-loved by his hometown.
Beside the Mausoleum is Marcos Museum where the former President’s military awards, plate number, photos, and his work desk are displayed for viewing.
We found colorful graffiti just outside the museum. Impressive, perfect for a background!
We had the chance to catch the photo exhibit happening not too far from the Mausoleum. Photo collection and memorabilia are displayed on wall with great pride. The newspaper which announces that former President Marcos topped the bar exams and with a score no one in history has ever beaten yet, we were in awe. The first couple’s photos of their younger years were also displayed. Former first lady, Imelda Marcos exudes elegance even at a young age.
Did I mention we have Ferdinand and Imelda joined our group?
Of course we can’t leave Batac City without sampling the authentic Ilocos Empanada. Ohhh, tastes heavenly.
We continued with the long drive to Juan Luna Shrine. The Shrine is the ancestral home of artist and world-renowned painter, Juan Luna (1857 – 1899). It was close when we went there, but we are lucky enough that the curator seen us surveying the area. He let us in and happily gave us a tour in the two-storey house. The restored house is now open to the public after it was converted into a mini museum which showcases various memorabilia and Luna’s works of art. A reproduction of his greatest masterpiece, the Spolarium, hangs on the wall, won a gold medal in 1884.
Interesting point is the genealogy which connects Imelda Marcos to Juan Luna’s ancestors.
We didn’t stay long for we still have to drop by Vigan before heading to Manila. The long journey gave us a free time for an afternoon nap.
Then there was Viva Vigan Festival. Some of the roads were close for the celebration. It is the grandest cultural activity in the North. Crisologo Museum was closed. We decided to have lunch first at the restaurant in Calle Crisologo then we’re off to Baluarte.
Not just a zoo, Baluarte is an interactive wildlife sanctuary and facility, with the breathtaking view of its dominating scenic boulders amidst trees and greens. Some addition I recognized from my 2006 visit is a camel ride, where you can actually sit on it and take photos. A huge dinosaur by the Baluarte signage and Butterfly Garden. There were colorful parrots on display too.
Baluarte is an 80 hectares of gently rolling terrains, hills and mountain sides, the structures of facilities and amenities, its phases of construction is in its best possible realistic and natural habitat for good and sound animal care. It is open to the public and admission is FREE. It is the home of Governor Chavit Singson.
Our day is coming to an end, we made a stop at Barangay Pagburnayan to witness Pottery Making. Burnay means earthen pot. Too bad, it is holiday in Vigan and there were no one in the jar factory to show us the potter’s tool. We did roam around though to our hearts content and check out some huge and broken jars.
We went back to Calle Crisologo to do last minute shopping. We have free time to scour for goods, bargains and Vigan’s best souvenirs. Oh, we did drop by at the town’s market too, to buy the most coveted chichacorn in various flavours, sweet and spicy, cheese, garlic, etc.
At half past 6 in the evening, we left Vigan, fortunately not in a calesa. :-) We stop over at Pangasinan for dinner and safely landed in Manila by 3 in the morning.
To wrap it up, it was a long, three days journey, but it was all worth it. We were able to meet new friends, discover new places, experience the North side of the Philippines, been welcomed warmly by our hosts and Ilocanos we met along the way.
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