Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Travel Guide: Where to Go in Ilocos Sur


Ilocos Sur is accessible either by land or air. It is roughly a 10-hour drive from Manila, the capital of the Philippines.  You can bring your own service or take a bus ride to the province of Ilocos Sur. Bus companies with regular trips to Ilocos Sur are Partas Bus Co., Dominion Bus Lines, Viron Transit, Farinas, Florida, and Philippine Rabbit. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of transportation that will eat too much of your time, you can take a plane bound for Laoag (the airport terminal in Ilocos Norte) and cut the 10-hour trip down to just 1 hour.


Ilocos Sur has a lot to offer, from impressive infrastructures, historical sites, and beautiful natural environment. Provided below are some of them:
Calle Crisologo
Opens Everyday - anytime
Admission: Free
Calesa passing by one of the old structures in Calle Crisologo
This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hailed to be one of the most preserved part of Spanish Colonial town. It is the only town during World War II that was saved from destruction because of the love of Japanese General to his child and Filipina wife. He saved the town from destruction by retreating and moving to Ilocos Norte along with his army.
Calle Crisologo, also known as Heritage Village, is a half kilometer street of old Spanish structures – the most beautiful street in the Philippines, if I may say. This place of history is very famous on its cobblestone streets, old houses, and calesas. Some of the old structures around the village were converted into inns or a place to stay for tourists; others were converted into a museum like the Syquia Mansion. You can find cafés, restaurants, and souvenirs and antique stores around the area.
They said that Calle Crisologo is more stunning at night. I have yet to see that.
Baluarte
Opens Everyday - 7am - 6pm
Admission: Free
The famous marker in Baluarte
Baluarte is 80 hectares of gently rolling terrains, privately owned by former Ilocos Governor Chavit Singson. It is open to the public so anyone who wants to see various kinds of domestic and wild animals as well as rare bird species can go and visit this place.  Balauarte is basically the “zoo” of Ilocos Sur.  Aside from sightseeing, people can have a close encounter with various animals. I just hope that adult people will stop riding the ponies and I wish the caretaker will stop whipping them just so they move. They are so frail and small. Have pity!
Governor Chavit claims to love nature and exhibits passion for animals, but that is not completely true. I just saw a photo of him and his daughter posing for a picture with a dead tiger they shot helplessly for the sake of “fun and sports”. I know that shouldn’t be a part of this article, but I can’t help pointing that out. Forgive me.

Pagburnayan Pottery
Opens Everyday – 9am - 5pm
Admission: Donation
Top photo: The potter teaching my friend how to make a jar.
Below Photo: Our end products. Beautiful, aye?! :) 
Pagburnayan is a name of a Barangay in Vigan where you can witness how to make jars in old and authentic methods of pottery. Its root word “burnay” is an earthenware jar crafted through the aid of a potter’s wheel. Pagburnayan Pottery in Vigan dates back to pre-colonial times when immigrants from China came and settled in the country. The material used in creating jars is fine sand called “anay”, meticulously molded and heated in high temperature to ensure durability.  The local bagoong (fish sauce), sugarcane vinegar, and basi wine taste best when fermented in burnay jars.

Bantay Church and Bell Tower
Opens Everyday – 9am - 5pm
Admission: Donation
The facade of Bantay Church
The Saint Augustine Parish Church has a deep brown color with neo-gothic façade. It is located in the Municipality of Bantay, Ilocos Sur, thus it is also called as the Bantay Church. Established in 1590, the church is one of the oldest in the Ilocos Region.
Aside from its impressive structural design, this church is also famous for being the shrine of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Charity (Nuestra Señora de La Caridad) which was crowned as the patroness of Ilocandia on January 12, 1956.
The Bell Tower
The Bell Tower (Bantay Belfry) is an old historic belfry of the church which was built in 1591. It sits on a hilltop overlooking a green pasture. It served its purpose as a watchtower for invading enemy forces during the wartime because of its strategic location. From the top of the tower, you can see the neighboring province of Abra.
It is said that the ground adjoining the church and belfry had been a place where Diego Silang and his troops were said to have fought with the Spaniards in 1763.
***Other places I failed to visit but you might want to add on your list: Vigan Cathedral, Burgos Museum

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