Published: January 2nd 2006December 27th 2005 This is part 2 of our Ilocos Trip. Please refer to previous and next blogs for Vigan and Pagudpud entries.
Paoay Church, a UNESCO Heritage Site
According to our cuchero, we can either take the mini-buses or Partas going to Laoag. He said that if we take Partas, travel would take less than 2 hours.
After a breakfast of Vigan longganisa at Aniceto Mansion, we set off towards the Partas bus station. We had to wait 1 hour before the next bus to Laoag came. The trip was boring and contrary to our cuchero’s tip, it took more than 2 hours. It was also double the price of the mini-buses (P121 each, I heard mini-buses were only about P50-60 each).
We were meeting a cousin of a friend in Laoag who so generously offered to take us around Laoag. Carol and her husband Hector picked us up at the Partas bus station in Laoag and helped us check-in at Hotel Tiffany where Carol has a huge discount.
Hotel Tiffany is a far cry from our hotel in Vigan. Situated downtown, it is a small, clean, modern hotel which at P870 / night for standard room, double occupancy with
Our cute room at Hotel Tiffany
breakfast is very reasonable thus highly-recommended. Our room had 2 single beds, aircon, cable tv, hot and cold water and polka-dot walls :)
We had lunch with Carol and her husband at the hotel’s restaurant called Macy’s Diner. The place, like the hotel, had black and white framed posters of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles. There were red vinyl booths and a bar, giving a real 70’s American diner vibe. The food was also great with prices much like our Gerry’s Grill. Must-try are their bagnet and sizzling squid.
ALL AROUND ILOCOS Fort Ilocandia
After freshening up, we met up with Carol and Hector again for a tour of Laoag. First stop was Fort Ilocandia where Carol was formerly a tour guide. Fort Ilocandia is a beautiful hotel but according to Carol was not worth the price really. Standard rooms start at P5K+ with some rooms costing up to P9K. Secret gateway
Next we pass by Marcos’s secret gateway to Batac, driving by the famous sand dunes, Malacanang of the North and Paoay Lake. There’s nothing much to see here but the roads were really good so the drive was enjoyable. Paoay Church
Macy's Diner - our hotel's restaurant
Next we visited another UNESCO Heritage Site, the Paoay Church. The old church is picturesque outside but they said it does not look as good inside (the church was closed when we got there). Apparently, no repair or restoration has been done to this church, not a single beam or window has been replaced. Must be scary to hear mass here knowing it can crumble any minute :) Marcos Museum
After Paoay, we set off for Batac, Marcos’s hometown. The Marcos museum was nothing spectacular, the old home was being restored and we almost didn’t get to see the crypt as the caretaker was missing (even if it was officially viewing hours).
The crypt was creepy. Mozart plays 24-hours in the dark-tiled, dimly-lit, fully-airconditioned crypt. A wax effigy of the former President lies enclosed in glass, under the insignia Sagisag ng Pangulo ng Pilipinas. Locals believe that the real body of the President is still there, covered and preserved by the wax but all the tourists seemed to think alike: there was no body at all in the glass coffin, it was all wax. Anyway, the Marcoses purportedly spend over a million pesos a month for the airconditioning
of the place to preserve the body. Talk has it that the old man of power will be properly buried because the family cannot afford to pay the bill anymore but so far, it’s just talk. (Note: Cameras are strictly not allowed inside the crypt. Don't risk it. Many people have lost their precious cameras to the caretaker.)
The ancestral home where Imee Marcos now lives is not in very good shape. In fact, I was surprised to learn that they actually live there. Imee Marcos is currently Congresswoman of Batac and Bongbong Marcos is Governor of Ilocos Norte. Both are on their second terms. Both will run for another term and then swap positions. The Marcoses will forever be powerful in Ilocos Norte, an idea that locals accept out of habit, but one that does not promise progress. Bagnet!
Finally, we hie-off to the public market of San Nicolas where I bought 2 kilos of bagnet (they call it chicharon) for pasalubong. Tourists need not be wary of the public market because it is clean and small so you won’t get lost inside. All the sellers of bagnet and other fried innards are centralized in one enclosed
area. Just ask the tinderas for directions. Downtown and the Vigan empanada
Back in our hotel, we took a nap and watched some TV. In the late afternoon, we walked around the downtown area, passing by the Capitolyo, going towards Dap-Ayan sa Ilocos Norte, a compound just across the Capitolyo where the Ilocos empanada sellers are concentrated.
The Ilocos empanada is so different from the Vigan empanada. For one, it’s a bright orange, much like the orange eggs we see here in Manila. It’s made mostly of monggo and egg, and the special ones come with longganisa. It costs P30 each and one is enough to fill you up for half a day! We also had lomi (P35) but it wasn’t so good. It’s just different because the noodles are thin and it had chicharon (pork skin) as toppings.
Again, it’s an early night for us city girls. There’s nothing else to do but watch TV.
There are more photos below