For this trip, we visited the provinces of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. Our first stop was Vigan, the capital of Ilocos Sur. Legend says Vigan got its name from the biga'a crop which was previously abundant in the locale. A Spanish captain was asking what the name of the place was, but the local he was speaking to thought he was pointing to one of the plants and thus replied, "biga'a" which later on became Vigan.
During pre-colonial times, Vigan served as a trading port between FIlipinos and Chinese merchants. Many of the latter settled in Vigan and eventually married Filipinas. Thus traces of Chinese influence are still present today. The ancestral houses along Crisologo Street can attest to this. Tourists can opt to ride a horse-driven native calesa along cobblestoned streets. Feel the rustic ambiance and be taken back in time to when there was no electricity and the air was pollution-free.
Here are Ilocos Sur attractions that we visited:
Bantay Church and Bell Tower
St Paul Metropolitan Cathedral
Some interesting facts about Ilocos Sur:
- Ilocos Sur has 2 ancient baroque churches built in 1765 and 1827. Sta Maria Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Crisologo, Syquia Mansion, Magsingal and Padre Burgos Museum mostly belonged to prominent families around the Spanish era and are ancestral homes.
- Crisologo was the founder of Social Security System (SSS).
- The abel cloth is an original product of Vigan. Its history is traced back even before the Spanish came to the country. Is is said that Spain loved the colorful high-quality cloth so much that Spain's local textile industry almost collapsed due to its popularity. Traditionally, abel was used by locals from birth to death, throughout special ocassions in their lives.
Ilocos Norte has its own set of charming attractions.
Juan Luna Shrine
Paoay Lake and Sand dunes
Marcos Museum and Mausoleum
Burgos Lighthouse (Cape Bojeador)
Timmantang Rock and Bantay Abot Cave
Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
- Paoay Church is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the oldest baroque churches in the country.
- Each of the 20 majestic windmills stand 70m high and possess 41m long blades.
- Cape Bojeador was built during the Spanish era. It boasts of a panoramic view of the West Philippine Sea where galleons reportedly sailed during that time.
- Patapat or Ilocos Viaduct stands 31m above sea level and stretched 1.3km long, literally off the edge of Luzon.
- Blue Lagoon is also called Maira-ira Beach, situated in Sitio Malingay which is the northernmost tip of Luzon!
We paid a short visit to Malacanang of the North but were too hungry to take photos. It is also a good spot to admire the vastness of Paoay Lake. Aside from these attractions, we really enjoyed eating in Ilocos. Known for its wide usage of bagoong, pinakbet and dinengdeng were surprisingly yummy treats for us, meatlovers. Of course don't leave without trying bagnet and Vigan longganisa. For pasalubong, make sure to get different flavors of chichacorn. Local basi and sukang iloko would be nice to take home as souvenirs from your trip.
Tip for those on a budget: Instead of staying at overpriced hotels, opt to do a homestay. It is cheap, comfortable and a great way to mingle with locals and experience Ilocano hospitality.