By: Ms. Margarita Perez
A teacher’s life is not easy as it seems to be. It’s not just about accomplishing tons of paper works. Being a teacher is tiring both for the body and the mind.
There was no dull moment every time we ride the van. Jokes, stories and laughter filled the entire vehicle and those made the entire ride both entertaining and energy boosting.
After the 12 hour drive, at last, we reached our first destination, Vigan. It sure was a pretty long drive, but the scenery that lay before our eyes convinced us that it was all worth it. Being in Vigan felt like traveling back to Spanish Era. The Spanish-colonial abode of dark-wood mansions, establishments with the touch of antiquity, cobblestone streets and clattering kalesa are all over the place. I could not help but admire how they made the known fast food chains look like our ancestors have enjoyed them from the time being.
To complete our Hispanic adventure, we rented a kalesa, a horse-drawn carriage. Riding a kalesa, we roamed the major attraction in Vigan, the Calle Crisologo. The said street is full of Vigan’s best product such as antiques, abel woven products, bags, basi wine, burnay and dimili products, chicharon, jewelry, sweets, Vigan vinegar and woodcrafts. Our eyes feasted on the different souvenirs that we can buy for the loved ones we left in Batangas. We fought the urge to buy souvenirs in bulks for we still have a number of places in our itinerary list. After relishing the streets of Vigan, we went off to Bantay Bell Tower. People come to visit the tower, not only because of its cultural and historical substance, but because of its breath-taking view of Vigan from its peak.
Though we were enjoying our time in venturing the different historical places in Ilocos Sur, there was no doubt that our bodies were crying for some rest. To satisfy our bodies’ thirst, we journeyed to north to check-in in Vybe Hotel, which is situated in the province’s capital city. The sophisticated and soothing ambiance of the hotel erased all the exhaustion we felt.
As soon as we’re freshened up, we got ready for another exhilarating quest in Paoay. Your Ilocos vacation would not be complete if you’ll not get the chance to experience the heart-stopping Sand Dunes Adventure. Riding a 4x4 for an hour, you’ll get to go through sand boarding and thrilling drops on steep sand ridges that will make you scream in excitement. It was like depending your life on the vehicle’s bar of steel while having a whale of time. Indeed, Paoay Sand Dunes Adventure is not something to be missed up north.
Unlike the first day that we used much of our energy, the second day filled our eyes with picturesque panorama of the north’s treasures. Our first stop was the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. Refreshing breeze and breathtaking scenery welcomed us as we walk to the lighthouse. Sauntering around the place and up the tower, we had a fair view of the West Philippine Sea and the historical octagonal tower.
Still overwhelmed with the beauty of Cape Bojeador, we traveled to see the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation located at the rocky coast of Burgos, Ilocos. Once we saw the different rock formations, we did not mind the scorching heat of the sun kissing our skin and we immediately took photos of the spectacular art of the nature. Seeing my co-teachers enjoy the surroundings, I just thought how magnificent God is for giving us such astonishing masterpiece.
Going to places from morning till noon under the heat of the sun, we all felt haggard and muggy. Thank goodness, Villa Manuela in Pagudpud helped quenched our skin voracious of the sea water. With its fine white sand and glistening, blue water, it helped our body relax. Its waves washed away all the fatigue we had. Above all, it is as if the water has magical powers that made our bond as family even stronger.
Aside from being known for different tourist spots, Ilocos will always be associated with the Marcoses and the province’s former governor, Chavit Singson. For the last day of our tour, we were given the chance to have a sneak peak on the lives of two of the most prominent families of the province.
The last day of our ‘slow down’ started with checking out the Vybe Hotel. Bags were carefully tucked below our seats and other available areas living enough space for our legs and of course our pasalubongs. Once everyone was set, we began our 30 minute ride to Batac, Ilocos Norte where Marcos Museum is situated. The museum highlights Marcos through the years. A video narrating late President Ferdinand Marcos’ life welcomed us when we entered the museum. Unlike any other museums, this one doesn’t need a tour guide to assist its visitors. There are provided arrows that will aid its guests around. Some of the best parts of the museum include Marcos’ early years in Batac, including his childhood. The details of the late president’s journey to politics and public service, starting out as the representative of the 2nd district of Ilocos Norte before becoming Senator serves as the museum’s highlight. There’s also an area dedicated to his 11-day romance with Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, who he wooed into marriage in just 11 days.
I may not be a fan of the Marcoses, but it is still a big privileged to see the former house of the Marcoses and have a glimpse on their life during their regime. Aside from the family member’s individual rooms, the biggest room on the first floor attracted most of the guests who came to visit the place. The said room is divided into three parts - the Diplomacy Gallery, the National Building Gallery and the Agriculture Room. The Diplomacy Gallery gave as the sight of the office or working area of the late president Marcos. Books that narrate the president’s life can also be found here. The National Building Gallery features all the projects that had been built during the Marcos government. The last part of the museum is the Agriculture Room which shows how rich the agriculture was during Pres. Marcos' time.
Still stunned by the different attractions inside the Malacaňang of the North and the sight overlooking its balcony, we travelled back to south. Setting foot again on the land of Vigan, we answered our tummies’ call. We tried eating some of the Ilokanos’ version of the common delicacies such as the mamy, goto and chicken barbeque. They’re as much the same as we usually have; only they tasted saltier.
We then proceeded to our next destination, Chavit Singson’s Baluarte. At first glance, it may seem like a typical zoo with different kinds of wild animals. As the saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Being astounded was indeed an understatement of what we felt when we reached the heart of the place, the Safari Museum. This museum doesn’t only hold photographs of former Gov. Singson’s encounter with different animals in Africa, it also has the actual remains of those animals. We were really flabbergasted to see the authentic skin of the animals haunted by Mr. Singson preserved and mounted for the guests to see how big or small those animals were.
We then came to the final point of our three-day tour. The breathtaking dancing fountain at Vigan plaza summed up the joy we felt during our vacation.
Indeed, travelling from Batangas to Ilocos is a long ride if you take it by land. A lot of people will think that the 10 hour journey would be dull and bland. However, if you are with wonderful persons, it would be the other way around.
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