la ciudad VIGAN

October 28, 2011, 11:59 pm
I just got through our gate after fumbling a while with the lock trying to get it open. It is supposed to be an easy task right? Well, not for someone who’ve had a few number of beers(LOL).
I just barely made my promise to my mother , “mama” as I call her (not the Spanish sosyal manner, but more like the jologs Pinoy manner), to not come home in the wee hours of the morning since we had a scheduled trip over the long week to the oldest city of Philippines’ northern island, VIGAN CITY <in a beauty pageant manner/execution>
October 29, 2011 12:45 am
After drinking a couple of cold glasses of water to combat hang over (who would want to travel with a hang over?? That would be a problem right?) then hurriedly packing clothes good for the long week end, i was finally able to hit the sack. Our family was originally scheduled to  start travelling by 4:00 am. So that would mean, I’d be lucky to get a least two hours worth of sleep. But then again, I would be able to sleep throughout the entire estimated travel of 8 to 12 hours (YES, you got that right!). I knew that it would be a very very bumpy ride.
5:00 am
Everybody was in the car which was finally able to accommodate 5 adults and one kid, well more comfortably than our last car(thank you Jesus!). We prayed the rosary first, well they did. I dozed off already off to a bumpy dream land that jerks me awake every hour having to cramp myself to a sleeping position that would work.
Traffic JAM
Since this long weekend was due to All Souls Day, majority of the corporate slaves of Metro Manila were flocking to get out of the city either to visit their dead or just to totally get away. Our family was for both. Good thing that Vigan is where my papa’s (again, not the Spanish sosyal manner, but more like the jologs Pinoy manner) parents were buried.
We hit a bunch of traffic jams while trying to out of the city. The express way were, well, express. But when we hit the provinces, there were jams here and there particularly in the cities that we passed through.
Still Travelling
8 to 12 hours is really a long way to travel. This is not by plane just by land. There is an option for plane but again it would not be an economical options for us. Although we have made this trip for several times already when we were younger and might I add, smaller that we would comfortably fit in a Toyota Corolla car. Now we have an Avanza but there was just one catch. We got bigger too. LOL and I mean BIGGER. HAHAHAHAHA.
I have no idea as to how far Metro Manila was to Vigan but by now you guys would  have figured out how far it was from the travel time that I mentioned. We had to pass through around 10 provinces I think so imagine that. And my Papa did all the driving all on his own. Snaps for him.
We did have a number of stop overs  on a way so there were moments where we can stretch our legs, eat, water up and so on and so forth. But there was something that I never did, smoke. If you are a nicotine addict, you would understand my sentiments. I thought for the entire trip there would be no nicotine intake for me. I actually accepted that fact already so i knew i have to busy myself. So i slept.
Vigan City
After about 12 hours of driving plus about 3 to 4 hours stopover in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, we turned left to enter Vigan City. Imagine that 12 hours of driving! It was exhausting for me a passenger but imagine the exhaustion level for Papa.
Our lolo and lola’s house was located in of the barrios near the outskirts of the city. We would have to pass by “Baluarte”, the former governor’s residence that was converted to a zoo. Our accommodations was changed when my lolo passed away. The old one was a 2 floor wooden house with big capiz windows. I loved that house. Too bad that the wood was devoured by termites a.k.a. “anay”. So the wood was replaced with a bungalow made of cement. The wooden house was much better but the bungalow had the same appeal. There was still the “balon” or well where we get water. But we mainly use the “poso” or manual water pump to get the water we need for bathing, washing the dishes. It was old school. Just the way I like it. The thing that i love the most with the compound aside from the trees are the “duyans”  or hammock right below them. It is the best place to relax, read the newspaper or for our generation, get our daily doze of social networking.
Paraiso ni Juan (Juan’s Paradise)
The Philippines being an archipelago is known for her beaches. Ilocos Sur is not excepted.
There is this beach were we normally pass through to get to Vigan that has amazed me every time we go there because it has this big  dead corals sticking out of the waters that leads to a grotto a few yards, well it me it felt a LOT farther, of, i think, John the Baptist. Well it was really picturesque PROMISE. I personally think the walk toward the grotto was more like the challenges that we face every day: you need to tread carefully to not be a victim of slippery rock, itchy seaweeds, enormous gaps, and trashing waves. It was a good thing the sea was a bit calm. What made it magical was the sunset that was ruined by guess what, torrential rain. It was still good fun.
FOOD TRIP! (yeah! \m/)
Now, an out of town trip to the north is not complete without PIG OUT moment of local delicacies! For Ilocos, below are the must eat:
1.       BAGNET – pronounced as “bagnet”, this is a piece of belly meat (i am not sure) that has been deep fried for hours so that the pork skin is all crispy and golden brown. You eat this with rice after dipping it to vinegar with garlic salt and pepper and alamang (shrimp paste). Uhm uhm. Salivating are you? I am too.
2.       VIGAN LONGANISSA – longanissa is the Pinoy version of sausage. This one is composed of minced pork then a ton of garlic. Fry these babies and it is recommended with vinegar or tomato salsa.
3.       VIGAN EMPANADA – this (i think again, hmm.. i have a lot of this.. maybe i’m a bit of an assumptionista. LOL) is a Spanish inspired sort of pastry with egg and vigan longganisa filling with a bit of veggies. IT IS SOOOO GOOD!
4.       TINUBONG – this is a “kakanin” or..or..hhmmm.. i have no idea on the English translation. i think it’s called rice pudding (me and my assumptions). the kakanin is cooked and eaten in inside a bamboo segment. Really a heavy snack for us.
5.       CHICACORN – these are corn kernels fried with a dash or two of salt. Can be eaten per piece but that would just be a waste of time, so eat handfuls.
6.       SINANGLAO – this a pig innards stew. I’m not a fan need i say more.
7.       KALAMAY – another sweet stuff. It’s brown , a bit chewy, with coconut shavings. Really good
Well there you have it. These are the things that you can buy from them stalls. Your trip would not be complete without eating these.
Calle Crisologo
This is a street within the city’s plaza complex where the Spanish designed houses are lined up with souvenir shops on the first floor and the 2nd floor is livable.
If it is your first time to visit Ilocos, I would recommend going to Calle Crisologo first since there is a Department of Tourism Office here where there are people who can give information about which places to see depending on your preference.
You can hail a calesa here to tour you down the street but you can ask the “kutchero” or the driver to give you a tour of the city. They charge per hour but you can bargain for a calesa ride to historic places.
Aside from souvenir shops, there is a hotel, two cafes (Cafe Leona and Mocha Blend [yes!]), a restaurant,  a disco bar, furniture stores and, yes, a funeral parlour(you got that right. I was shocked too)!  Souvenir comes from the usual t-shirts, key chains, coin purses, ref magnets, Iloco fabric, wood work and so on and so forth.
It is recommended that you visit Calle Crisologo at night where the street lights make it more picturesque and it is not that hot. It takes my breath away each time at night.
Well that is just about it. For pictures, check out the pictures in my Facebook account. Here is the link:http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2584212843149.2144795.1189330393&type=3 and http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2558675684736.2143932.1189330393&type=1
I really enjoyed this particular trip to Vigan probably because I was really looking forward to it. Thanks to all my relatives for accommodating us and touring us as always. Till me meet again!

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