Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ilocos Sur Heritage Tour: Vigan and Beyond

A Mang Inasal in Calle Crisologo doesn't seem to fit right in. That was my first impression as I was strolling along this famous cobblestone street in Vigan during my visit last January. Don't get me wrong, I devour Mang Inasal's tasty chicken often too, but I would have wanted this modern fast food chain to have stepped back a bit from this site, or at least should have followed the existing old and vintage architectural theme rather than taking a pervasive modern look. In its stead, I would have wanted a local shop selling burnay jars or other native products in that spot. 

A UNESCO Heritage Site, Calle Crisologo is among my favorite spots in the country, but I'm a bit concerned seeing how this old-charm city seemed to have caught up with the modern time. 

The thing I have with visiting Vigan is that each time we meet, something new is added and something old is lost. As I look at the old photos I took back when I first visited it in high school, I can see how this historic city have changed -- the commercial establishments around and the number of visitors strolling by obviously increased. 

While I understand that nothing stands still and that change and development are inevitable, I feel that some of our cultural heritages are at risk of a slow demise, and Vigan, a so-called "living museum," should not succumb to this kind of fate. The key lies in the active pursuit to preservation and conservation. 

Vigan is one of the cities that inherited a beautiful heritage by default. In the 18th and 19th centuries,  Vigan or Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan is said to be the third most important city after Manila and Cebu. The sights we see there today -- the museums, cathedrals, plazas, and the food that are depicting Hispanic influences --  are the treasures left of the bygone days of Spanish colonial power in the north.

Although Vigan changed through time, I still feel that it's one of the places in the country that has retained much of its history and a place definitely worth visiting! I've noted here some of the places I recommend while in Vigan and other parts of Ilocos Sur.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Vigan City is among the 'New 7 Wonders' finalists

Our very own Vigan City has been shortlisted as one of the 28 finalists in the campaign for the 'New 7 Wonders Cities' of the world.

Vigan, a vibrant city located in northern Philippines, is a prime tourist destination and home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Heritage Village. A gem of Ilocos Sur, Vigan showcases the rich Spanish heritage through its many well-preserved architectures and ancestral homes. It's also home to old museums, tasty local dishes, and a heritage church. A true world- class heritage city, indeed.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Heading North: A Guide to Ilocos Norte's Top Spots

The Ilocos provinces are two of my favorites in the country. Both are like one-stop destinations for tourists who are hunting for historical landmarks and heritage churches, or looking for beaches with amazing sunsets, or those chasing waterfalls, and beautiful natural and man-made structures.

Ilocos is a wonderland that had consistently amazed me during my last four visits. I feel almost apologetic that I've overlooked blogging about it in the past years. Given its many notable attractions, Ilocos rightfully deserves a spot in Backpacking Pilipinas.

This post will focus on the gems of Ilocos Norte, the other half of the Ilocos provinces. I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite attractions to give you an idea of what to see and expect on your next trip to the north.

Here are the top spots you may check out while in Ilocos Norte:

Bangui Windmills - Also known as the Bangui Wind Farm, these 20 giant wind turbines that stretch along the coastal town of Bangui is worth a visit. The first in the Philippines and considered the biggest in Southeast Asia, I like how this renewable energy wind farm provides electricity to Bangui. These turbines are visible even in the coasts of Pagudpud, but nothing beats getting near them up close. 

I highly recommend going there during the sunset as the sea breeze gets colder and the windmills provide a perfect backdrop that's great for photography. 

How to get there:

Take the Laoag to Cagayan route, then ask the bus driver to drop you off at Burgos. Check the marker on the left side of the road that leading to the Bangui Bay. From there you could already see the windmills. Follow the road leading to the bay which leads straight to the windmills.

Travel time from Laoag to Bangui is approximately 1.5 hours.

Laoag – Bangui BUS: P50.00
Tricycle within Bangui: P20.00 – P30.00

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Backpacking Pilipinas 101:Travel Tips for Every Juan

We all want to travel once in a while, right? Whether we choose to scale a mountain, or go to the beach or learn history, there's always something that seduces us to traveling. For some it has become a way to escape a chaotic daily grind; some find pleasure in exploring the off-beat paths; some for the simple reason of spending some precious downtime moments with love ones; some want adventure; some wants to challenge their capacities; some want to experience the culture and bring home lessons and experiences they will live by forever. For whatever reason you have, I think our innate desire to be mobile is the root of this bug called traveling.

When I started backpacking Pilipinas in 2009, my reasons were to simply run away from the city life every once in a while. But over time, when my travels increased from rarely to  monthly, this whole backpacking trip has become more of a passion, something that I want to share to many who reads this blog.

After visiting 80 of the 81 provinces in the Philippines, I learned some practicalities that I feel worth sharing. I hope this list will help or inspire those who want to travel but haven't started yet, and those who are already on the road. :)

1. Travel within your means. You should not rely on your credit cards that promise the "travel now, pay later" mentality. It is best if you have available funds that would actually finance your trips. Relying heavily on your plastics would cause more headache long after the trip is over. Lesson: Save up!

2. Be a poorpacker. I consider myself a poor tourist not really because I'm financially depleted but because I find some work-around in my budget to accommodate my micro-vacations. I wait for budget airlines seat sales, I sleep in cheap accommodations, I do DIYs instead of hiring a tour guide, and I walk a lot. I prefer to go low on accommodation and allot most of my funds on food and tour.

3. Visit a museum. I notice that not so many people I know are fond of museums, and I think they are missing out on a wealth of information because of this. My museum visits around the country taught me a lot about our rich history, culture, and traditions that are often not seen in our textbooks or taught inside our classrooms. Some of my favorite museums are in Batanes, Zamboanga City, Dumaguete City, Marinduque, Dapitan City, Marawi City and Manila.

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