Showing posts with label Ilocos Region. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ilocos Region. Show all posts

Monday, January 30, 2012

Lakbay Norte 3: Surfing, paddleboarding & birdwatching in Ilocos Norte

Blue Lagoon (Mairaira Cove), Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
On Day 3 of Lakbay Norte 3, we drove from Tuguegarao, Cagayan to Laoag, Ilocos Norte.

Chicken Kelaguen at Kapuluan Vista Resort
We had lunch at the Kapuluan Vista Resort in Mairaira Cove, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte where the group went surfing at the famous Blue Lagoon, before proceeding to Laoag in the evening.

Crispy Dinuguan and Higado at Johnny Moon Cafe
Saniata or Dragon Fruit Rolls at Johnny Moon Cafe
Dinner was at the newly-opened Johnny Moon Cafe (Johnny Moon is a funky translation of Juan Luna's name), beside the Museo Ilocos Norte, for some stylized Ilocano food. We spent the night at two hotels: Rosewell Hotel in San Nicolas and the Ilocos Norte Hotel and Convention Center (INHCC).

Pinakbet Pizza at Saramsam Cafe
Poque-Poque Pizza at Saramsam Cafe
We actually sneaked out in the evening for pizza, drinks and videoke at Saramsam Restaurant. Yup, we had Pinakbet and Poque-Poque Pizza.

Lake Paoay
Paddleboarding in Lake Paoay
The next day, we had breakfast at the Malacanang ti Amianan in Paoay followed by birdwatching and paddleboarding in Lake Paoay.

Empanada from Batac, Ilocos Norte
Miki from Batac, Ilocos Norte
We made a brief stop at the Suba Sand Dunes before driving to Batac to stuff ourselves silly with Empanada and Miki. Talk about Double Double!

Check out the video of Day 3 and 4 edited by Carlo Cruise. Also check out the photos of Lakbay Norte 3 in the Ivan About Town Facebook page.

Kapuluan Vista Resort
Sitio Baniaran, Barangay Balaoi
Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
+63 (920) 9522528 / (920) 9285273

Johnny Moon Cafe
La Tabacalera Lifestyle Center
Laoag City, Ilocos Norte

Ilocos Rosewell Hotel
Brgy.1, San Francisco National High-Way San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte.
+63 (77) 6706528 or 6706529 / (927) 4784190 / (918) 4610482 / (923)9502266

Ilocos Norte Hotel and Convention Center
Brgy. 41, Balacad, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
+63 (77) 6708817

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ilocos Sur: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Vigan hotels and accommodation
The Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the popular tourism attractions of the Philippines. Here is a list of Vigan hotels and accommodation within the heritage district of Vigan:

Aniceto Mansion
Plaza Burgos, Mena Crisologo Street
(077) 7222383 to 84 / 7221242
Aircon rooms from Php1700 / Php12000 good for 20 / Php7000 good for 10

Cordillera Inn
29 Mena Crisologo St.
(077) 7222727 / (0927) 3135616
Aircon rooms from Php1500; Fan room Php1050

Gordion Hotel
V. delos Reyes St. cor Salcedo St.
(077) 7222526 / (02) 2461502
Aircon rooms from Php2000

Grandpa's Inn
Bonifacio St. cor. Quirino Blvd.
(077) 7222118 / 6320987
Aircon rooms from Php1680; Fan rooms from Php730; Aircon dorm rooms Php2250 good for 4 / Php3360 good for 6 / Php4480 good for 8

Hotel Salcedo de Vigan
(077) 7221200 / 7222798 / (02) 2461519
Aircon rooms from Php2600; Dorm rooms Php6000 good for 6 / Php7000 good for 10; Economy dorm Php400 per person

My Vigan Home
14 Plaridel St. cor. Bonifacio St.
(077) 7226528
Aircon rooms from Php2500
Note: By reservation only. It's a private residence with spacious rooms on the second floor

Vigan Hotel
(077) 7221906
Aircon rooms with bathroom from Php1495; Aircon rooms with shared bathroom Php695 single / Php895 double; Fan rooms Php395 single / Php495 double / Php 195 extra bed

Vigan Plaza Hotel
Plaza Burgos, Mena Crisologo Street
(077) 7228553 / 7221527 / 6320317
Aircon rooms from Php2300; Dormitory rooms Php8000 good for 7 / Php7000 good for 6

Part 1: Road trip to Pagudpud
Part 2: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan
Part 3: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience
Part 4: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part 5: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Ilocos Sur: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur (Day 3)

Tres de Mayo is a centuries-old fiesta of Vigan citizens to honor the Santo Cristo Milagroso or Apo Lakay. It is held annually every third of May. The day starts with a 6 a.m. Mass at the Simbaan a Bassit or Vigan's Cemetery Chapel.

I wasn't able to see the Mass last year. So I made sure to get up early this year to attend Mass which is celebrated by the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia on a makeshift altar built under a canopy of fruits and other produce in front of the chapel. While Mass was going on, I also visited the Santo Cristo Milagroso inside the chapel.

Since it was still too early for breakfast at the hotel, I decided to walk around Vigan while there were still no people. It's best to take shots of the architecture early in the morning when Vigan's streets are deserted.

After breakfast, our group visited the ancestral home of Engr. Ric Favis of UNESCO and the Syquia Mansion before proceeding to Hidden Garden Restaurant for an Ilocano lunch.

Crisologo Street is again the focal point for the afternoon activities. Vigan's Chinese roots become evident as a lion dance troupe makes its way around the various shops owned by Chinese-Filipinos. But there are no fire crackers though which always accompanies this practice. Later in the afternoon, we watched the Kalesa Parade.

During the day, notice the ramadas or makeshift canopies decorated with produce that are constructed around the city as part of Tres de Mayo. The ramadas become focal points for each neighborhood during the afternoon since traditional Filipino games are organized for kids and kids at heart under these canopies.

I walked to one of the ramadas while our group was having merienda at Abuelita's Restaurant. After the heavy snack composed of miki, bibingka and empanada. We drove back to Manila which took us about 9  hours with a dinner stop of course.

Part 1: Road trip to Pagudpud
Part 2: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan
Part 3: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience
Part 4: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part 6: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Ilocos Sur: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Historic Town of Vigan was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999. UNESCO inscribed Vigan in the World Heritage List because it "represents a unique fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning," and "is an exceptionally intact and well preserved example of a European trading town in East and South-East Asia."

The UNESCO description of Vigan reads, "Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia."

I woke up early in the morning to take photos around Vigan. If you want to take great photos of Crisologo Street, and other significant places around Vigan, without the crowds and the clutter of the souvenir shops, 6 to 8 a.m. is the best time to do that since the streets are deserted and the shops closed.

Our group was very lucky that Engr. Ricardo Favis of UNESCO was in Vigan at the time we were there. He invited us over to his house for us to understand the unique architecture of Vigan. He talked about the different parts of a typical Vigan house, their uses during the Spanish colonial times and the conservation issues and difficulties to maintain such large houses today without any clear economic benefits for the owners.

A Bangkok-based UNESCO consultant, Ric is one of the people responsible for the preservation of Vigan in the early 1990s. If not for Ric and his group, there would be no Vigan to speak of today. In fact, he was sharing to us that when they started the preservation movement in Vigan, they were branded as anti-development and criticized by the media for it. It was only after a visit by UNESCO officials visited Vigan and said that it was UNESCO World Heritage material did the locals start realizing that indeed there was potential in heritage.

Now that Vigan is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, it has received an economic boost from tourism arrivals. The challenge now to harness the economic benefits of tourism while ensuring the proper conservation of the unique Vigan architecture. In the Philippines, as tourism brings in the needed revenue, many policy makers and stakeholders are blinded and forget why people come in the first place, what the tourism product really is and sadly neglect it. I hope that will not happen in Vigan because they seem to have gotten it right.

Part 1: Road trip to Pagudpud
Part 2: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan
Part 3: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience
Part 5: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Part 6: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Ilocos Sur: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience

Have you ever wondered how it must have felt to dine during the Spanish and American colonial periods? At the Arce Mansion in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, you'll get to experience that, complete with period costumes!

As soon as you arrive, you are given welcome drinks and ushered into the costume room. They have a variety of costumes to choose from ranging from wealthy ilustrado garb to the simple indio, a gobernadorcillo, military officer, bishop or monk. They even have a Chinese costume since Vigan was known to have a lot of mestizos de sangley.

You basically come as you are and try out their costumes. Women don't have much problems with costume sizes since they can easily be adjusted. But for male costumes, unless you're on the slimmer side, it might be difficult to find pants and suits your size. So you're left with the religious attire.

That being the case, you might want to wear your own black pants so you don't have problems choosing a costume. And although slippers are fine, they don't look good on the souvenir photos (for females, the dress is long enough to cover the feet). So best to wear leather shoes for males. But if you don't mind hiding your feet behind a suitcase, slippers, sneakers and sandals will be fine.

After you change into your costumes, you will be ushered into a room for souvenir photos colonial style, complete with all the props which includes large chairs, vases on pedestals and large fans for the ladies. After that's done, it's time for dinner.

The dining room is air-conditioned so don't worry about eating in your costumes. They serve local Ilocano food. And while eating, you are serenaded with vernacular folk songs.

After dinner, you are ushered into the main living room for dessert, tea and coffee, and more photos. It got quite hot. So after the photos, those in the group started changing out of their costumes. This was definitely a fun experience! And Camp Suki does this in Taal, Batangas too!

Arce Mansion
87 Quirino Boulevard cor. Abaya Street
Vigan, Ilocos Sur
(02) 7250819 / (0917) 8246900

Part 1: Road trip to Pagudpud
Part 2: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan
Part 4: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part 5: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Part 6: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Ilocos Norte & Ilocos Sur: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan (Day 2)

The drive from Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte to Vigan, Ilocos Sur was an interesting one too. After breakfast and checking-out from the Kapuluan Vista Resort in Mairaira Cove (Blue Lagoon), we drove down to Laoag to catch lunch at Saramsam Restaurant.

On the way, we made sure to stop at the Pasuquin Bakery to taste their really delicious soft biscocho bread. That stop is well worth it. The drive to Laoag is about 2 and a half hours and we were there just in time for lunch.

Saramsam Restaurant is also know for its Ilocano pizzas, particularly the Poque-Poque Pizza which has an eggplant and egg-based Ilocano dish for toppings. Also try out the Longaniza Pizza and their Dinardaraan (Dinuguan) Pizza. We also had local dishes that included igado, insarabsab and blanched vegetables with KBL (kamatis, bagoong and lasuna). Dessert was malunggay sherbet with kalamansi which was surprisingly good.

After Laoag, we went straight to Vigan which was another two hours away. We wanted to catch the street dance parade of the Viva Vigan! Binatbatan Festival so we made sure to leave Laoag as soon as we could reach Vigan before the parade started at 4 p.m.

As soon as we arrived, we checked-in at My Vigan Home, a by-reservations only private guest house. And we were off to Crisologo Street to enjoy the street dancing at the festival.

Part 1: Road trip to Pagudpud
Part 3: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience
Part 4: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part 5: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Part 6: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ilocos Sur & Ilocos Norte: Road trip to Pagudpud (Day 1)

I found myself on the way to Ilocos Norte again for our Ultimate Philippines tour of the north! The first leg of the trip involved a long drive from Makati all the way to Blue Lagoon (Mairaira Cove) in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. With stopovers, the trip took 20 hours.

We left Makati 11 p.m. the night before and arrived in La Union at 6 a.m. for breakfast. Oasis Country Resort has a 24-hour restaurant beside the hotel which is very convenient for travelers.

After breakfast, we went straight to our first stop, the Sabangan Cove Weaving Village in Santiago, Ilocos Sur which was two hours away. When you near the town proper of Santiago, watch out for signs pointing to Santiago Cove. The weaving village is where some of the higher-quality abel iloko cloth is woven. Ask around for the house of the barangay captain where many of the looms are located.

From Santiago, we drove over to Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur to visit the Sta. Maria Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was inscribed as part of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines.

I was quite surprised vendors were selling grapes at Php25 a bag by the church. It turns out, these are grapes that are grown locally in Ilocos Sur. They're a bit small will large seeds bu sweet nonetheless. I wonder if a wine industry will follow.

We made another long drive to Batac, Ilocos Norte for a quick snack stop at Glory's Empanada. It's about two hours from Sta. Maria. For me, the best Ilocos empanada is the one served in Batac. Near the empanadahan is the Marcos Mausoleum where the preserved body of President Ferdinand E. Marcos lies in state.

We had a late lunch in Herencia Cafe in Paoay, Ilocos Norte which is most know for its Pinakbet Pizza, Dinuguan Pizza, Bagnet Pizza and other fusion and traditional Ilocano dishes. In front of the restaurant is the Paoay Church, a majestic example of Philippine Baroque architecture, and another UNESCO-inscribed church.

Our last two stops for the day were the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, a National Cultural Treasure, and the Bangui Wind Farm Project or the Bangui Windmills.

There were just too many people in the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. I think it's about time they charge a little entrance fee to help in its upkeep and preservation with crowds wearing out this cultural treasure. There aren't even any restrooms.

For the Bagui Windmills, most people only pass by the view deck. But you could actually drive down to the beach for a better and close-up view of this massive sustainable energy project.

We arrived at the Kapuluan Vista Resort in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte at about 7 p.m. just in time for a sumptuous buffet dinner. The main dish was Kahlua Pig, which is pork cooked the traditional Hawaiian way, wrapped in banana leaves and buried in a pit of hot charcoal under the sand. We also had salads, grilled chicken, marlin kilawin and seafood sisig among other stuff.

Part 2: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan
Part 3: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience
Part 4: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part 5: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Part 6: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Ilocos Norte & Ilocos Sur: Book now for the Ultimate Ilocos Culinary, Heritage & Beach Tour!

It's about time you experience the ABCs of the Ilocandia: antiques, bagnet and churches! In Ilocos, nature and history is intertwined. But at Ultimate Philippines, we think this is combo best savored with bagnet and beer so we're exploring this provincial belle... our style!

Let's journey up to the north and take a time-warp through the colonial city of Vigan. We'll walk through cobbles, munching our way through the town's traditional street fare and home-cooked feasts, from yummy empanadas to tasty longganisas.

More historical bites and pinakbet pizza as we take a peek at the life of ex-strongman Ferdinand Marcos in the town of Batac and admire two masterpieces of Ilocos' unique Earthquake Baroque architecture: Paoay and Santa Maria Church.

Capping off, we'll surf through the waves of Mairaira Beach in Pagudpud ending our journey in time to join the revelries of the annual Tres de Mayo fiesta in Vigan.

Tour Route will include the Sabangan Cove Weaving Village, Santa Maria Church and Paoay Church (UNESCO World Heritage Sites), Herencia Cafe, Marcos Mausoleum, Glory's Empanada, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, Bangui Windmills, Blue Lagoon (Pagudpud), Saramsam Cafe, and Vigan (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and its Tres de Mayo Fiesta where we'll have feasts at an old house and garden restaurant and savor its street food in style!

Tour fee is Php15,000 per person inclusive of van transportation, overnight accommodation at the best resort in Pagudpud (Kapuluan Vista Resort) and at a very-private hotel at the heart of the heritage town of Vigan (My Vigan Home) and full board and all meals. We're only accepting a maximum of 20 people for this May 1 to May 3, 2010 tour. So book now!

For bookings e-mail or contact my tokayo, Ivan ManDy at (0917) 3291622. For posts about last year's tour, check out: Ilocos road trip, Mairaira Cove (Blue Lagoon), Ilocos culinary adventure and Tres de Mayo Festival.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pangasinan: Hundred Islands boat tour in Alaminos, Pangasinan

Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan is for me, Pangasinan's best beach attraction. While other beaches such as Patar Beach in Bolinao and Tondol Beach in Anda are equally great, there's more to do at the Hundred Islands than simply frolicking under the summer sun.

For one, there are a lot of islands to explore, over a hundred of them in fact. The two most visited islands would be Governor's Island (which has a view deck with a great view of the Hundred Islands and the Big Brother House) and Quezon Island (with its many water activities and rental facilities).

During our boat tour around the Hundred Islands, we got to see some unique islands including Bat Island, host to a population of nocturnal fruit bats, and Cathedral Island, with its large cave. We also saw several islands with secluded beaches which you could have all to yourselves, such as Lopez Island, where one could stay for the day without much fuss from other visitors who usually troop to Quezon Island. On weekends, you might have to choose some of the lesser known islands for your own private beach.

Quezon Island is where most of the facilities are including picnic pavilions, huts and kayak and snorkel rentals. There's good snorkeling around the island. Notice the giant clams around the area which are a result of the giant clam seeding project at the Hundred Islands.

We had a wonderful lunch at Quezon Island hosted by Dir. Martin Valera of the Department of Tourism. If you want to have a picnic lunch as well, our caterer was Gemma (0919) 6520570. She prepared a sumptuous spread of seafood, grilled pork, vegetables and seaweed, and fresh fruits for dessert.

Hundred Islands Visitors Center
Rey Livara (0917) 6104144

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

La Union: Surfing lessons with the Billabong Surf School in San Juan

San Juan, La Union has become very popular because of surfing. And one of the better places to learn is the Billabong Surf School of the San Juan Surf Resort, popularly called the Surf Camp.

Right after a great morning in Ilocos Norte, we went straight to La Union for surfing lessons. And training the group was Luke Landrigan himself, Asian Beach Games silver medalist and owner of the Billabong Surf School, together with his pool of local surfers.

It's obvious the group had a lot of fun! Lessons at Surf Camp are Php400 per hour, inclusive of board rental. You can call them up also for accommodation. Aircon rooms start at Php1,260. Fan rooms are start at Php650.

La Union Surf Resort (Surf Camp)
Brgy. Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
+63 72 7200340
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