Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Roadtrip to Ilocos: Our Last Waltz in Mestizo District

Time has come to conclude my family’s holidays in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. We loaded our stuffs in our AUV as early as 7:00 a.m., (Friday, December 30, 2011) to prepare for the next 14-hour journey back to Pasig City. We will definitely miss the friendly smile of our hosts and the quaint, rustic life during our brief stay in Evangeline Beach Resort. We took final glance of Saud Beach Cove, marveled its charm once more and finally; vowed to be back.


The rustic charm of Saud Beach Cove

Our journey plan will include a brief stop-over in Vigan Heritage Village to do some shopping for souvenirs and pasalubong. We will also make a side trip to Batac to visit former President Ferdinand E. Marcos mausoleum and then to St. Augustine Church, the lake in Paoay and MalacaƱang of the North.

Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center

It was mid-morning when we arrived in Batac. We visited the Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center located along Marcos Avenue and right in front of the Immaculate Conception Parish Church and Batac City Hall.


The Marcos Museum & Presidential Center

The museum houses various memorabilia and collections of the late President during his reign. The center, renovated and preserved its Spanish look was the ancestral home of the Marcos folks in Batac. Also located in the museum, the remains of the late President laid and preserved in a refrigerated crypt.

Click on the play button to start the slideshow presentation.





Paoay Church

After our visit in Marcos Museum, we headed west driving along Marcos Avenue and after passing the Don Mariano Marcos State University, the town of Paoay with its famous landmark - Paoay Church was in view. The sight was enthralling. We wondered about seeing the actual landmark we only came to know in pictures.

Paoay Church (St. Augustine Church) is located in the municipality of Paoay, Ilocos Norte. In 1993, the church was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Paoay Church is a Roman Catholic parish church and a prime example of Baroque architecture constructed to adapt the seismic condition in the Philippines.


Paoay Church in Paoay Ilocos, Norte

Construction of the church started in 1694 by Augustinian friar Father Antonio Estavillo and was completed in 1710. The church facade exudes Javanese architecture while the sides and back of the building is highlighted by the enormous buttresses.

During the Philippine revolution, the bell tower served as an observation and viewing post.

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We need to cut short our itineraries in Paoay because of time constraint. Paoay Lake and the MalacaƱang of the North were way too far from our homebound route so we decided to drive towards Vigan City.


Vigan Heritage Village

By 4:00 p.m. we arrived in Vigan City.

The proverbial streets lined with Spanish-era ancestral houses with ancient tile roofs, massive hardwood floorings, balustrades and azoteas in varying Spanish, Mexican, and Chinese architectural styles and the famous cobble-stoned streets, transported us back to reminiscent interlude.


The cobble-stoned street of Vigan Heritage Village

The Heritage Village mostly covers two streets: Plaridel Street and (mostly) Mena Crisologo Street. We took a leisurely walk along the cobble-stoned street feasting our eyes and hunting bargains for souvenirs and pasalubong. My wife took interest in some arty crafts for home decoration made of local materials. She purchased several bottles of Sukang IloKo (ilocos cane vinegar), several kilos of Vigan Longganisa (native pork sausage) and Bagnet (deep-fried crispy pork). The rest of my family purchased souvenir shirts depicting naughty thread less graphics which I find quite amusing.


Souvenir shirts on sale & the Pinoy's naughty nature

On the main road before Plaridel and Mena Crisologo Streets, Plaza Burgos and its surrounding streets are teeming with afternoon strollers and moderate striding traffic.

After completing our shopping spree, we made our way to the famous Vigan Empanadahan, a reserved location where visitors can sample Vigan's famous empanada, ukoy and sinanglao (traditional hotpot made of beef innards). The celebrated empanada banquet is located at the eastern part of Plaza Burgos.


The renowned Vigan Empanada
The crispy Ukoy

Having empanada in Plaza Burgos was an exciting experience for my family. The preparation and cooking technique of this renowned street food is a show in itself. Several rows of stalls with occupied Manangs or the pastry cooks roll doughs into soft shells, fill- in the ingredients, cook the empanadas right before your very eyes and serve them crispy fresh off the pan.

Vigan empanada is made from freshly-rolled dough of rice flour and egg whites. The crust is prepared thin, crispy and pale yellow in color. The fillings are blend of egg, mongo sprout or parboiled mongo, grated green papaya, cabbage, carrots and the local Vigan longganisa. The dough with filling is deep-fried in a large pan until it turns into a crispy shell.

Aside from empanada, we ordered Ukoy. Ukoy is made from a batter of rice flour and onions topped with small shrimps. The concoction turns crispy after deep frying for several minutes.

This smorgasbord of crispy street food delights are served in a platter and comes complete with a bowl of sukang iloko (ilocos cane vinegar) vinegar as condiment.

To enjoy the flavor and distinctiveness of Vigan Empanada and Ukoy, you must be ready to eat them bare hands. Just make sure you keep paper napkins handy to wipe oil off your hands as well as the dripping vinegar from your mouth.

A regular blend empanada sells for P5 while the special blend goes for P25. Ukoy sells for P25.

Click on the play button to start the slideshow presentation.





Homeward Bound

It is roughly ten hours since I took the wheel. Traffic along our route was moderate, the weather is undoubtedly in decent mood, and the music playing in my stereo are certified highway hits – guaranteed to keep me awake and alert for the rest of the cruise.

It has been a very happy holiday for me and my family. We cherished and enjoyed each other’s company. Those incessant complaints, frequent naggings, persistent teasing, unceremonious nuisance, untimely annoyance, premature mood swings, the contagious laughter, sincere admirations, boisterous acclaims, childish discovery, juvenile innocence, humorous talks, sumptuous curiosity, unyielding understanding and our eternal love have always been part of our personal discovery. As I have shared in my profile, always see to it that your personal discoveries are far from less yet never in excess.

Our road trip to Ilocos Region was an adventure in our lifetime worth keeping and remembering.


My wife left this lovely inscription in the beach

Four more hours of safe driving and we will be home. Home to where we will spend the upcoming joyous tradition,  New Year (2012) and home to where we will stage our next road trip to Bicol Region.



End of my Roadtrip to Ilocos chronicle
0318Hrs. December 31, 2011

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