The first tiring, yet very rewarding adventure of my life was our Baguio-Vigan Trip from August 27-31, 2010. I know, 6 years have passed, but I’m still haunted by the memory of my first great wander outside Visayas, Philippines. I am reminiscing the travel and I dare, care to share it here.
Our group of officemates and friends came from Cebu where we all have a living. We actually book our flight by January 2010, to get a promo fare as most travel savvy people do, for our August trip for us to have enough time to prepare.
Come August of that year, we made our planned travel to Baguio and Vigan via Pampanga into a reality. We hired a private van and travelled almost three hours from Clark International Airport, then Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, in Pampanga to Baguio City for a night stay. Well, it’s August and it is expected that the weather will be very cold due to the rainy season in this tropical country. We hardly get some sleep that night because of bone-chilling cold apart from the spooky ambience of the transient house.
Early morning the following day, we never wasted time to hit the road down to Vigan since it’s still approximately four hours of travel. We even grabbed our breakfast along the way, enjoyed the scenic view of rice fields, mountain ranges and trees around, and took random naps as much as we can.
Upon reaching Ilocos Sur boundary, we went directly to the Fortress of Vigan or Baluarte Vigan as locals preferred to call it. It was actually my first time to see real tigers and ostrich and some endemic animals of our country in their mini zoo. We stopped by the Bantay Church and its watchtower Bell Tower, Vigan’s iconic pottery hub at Paburnayan and witnessed the painstaking loom weaving of the locals at Abel Loom Weaving in Caoayan.
There are many restaurants within the city of Vigan, but we opted to try their taco-like Vigan Empanada, which is very different from the usual empanada I’ve known and eaten, at Plaza Burgos. Vigan is also popular for their longganisa, bibingka, and of course bagnet, and tried for the first time as well. We were so lucky to have Manong Floro (the van driver) with us because he also served as our guide, a great guide indeed since he knows how to speak their language, Ilocono, making our tour much easier especially in transferring from one spot to another.
Who doesn’t know about our history of the Spanish colonization in the Philippines? This is still much alive at Calle Crisologo, which is part of the Vigan Heritage Village. If you were looking for a destination for reflection or just a quick recollection of our history, this historic street would be the best. Every traveler/tourist of the city is actually driven down to this laid back street where you may think of living a simple life during the time of the Spaniards.
It’s actually best to roam around the street onboard a kalesa (a horse-drawn carriage) for 50 pesos (that’s in 2010 and I guess it’s already 150 pesos now) per person or aimlessly meander with your two feet so you will be able to visit the surrounding retail stores to get some stuff for souvenir. We tried both to make the most of our stay there. I couldn’t remember the name of the hotel where we stayed for the second night, but we were tired of the whole day activities so we went to sleep so sound early so we all have energy for another long travel back to Baguio City the next day.
On our way to Baguio City, we spent some minutes at the Bridal Veil Falls in Tuba, Benguet, which really looks like a long white veil that rests on a towering rock face from afar. We still have to cross a metal hanging bridge with the Bued River below to reach the falls and have photo-ops.
After an hour drive from the falls, we already saw the famous Lion’s Head along Kennon Road, leading to the City of Pines. At last, we reached our main destination for this trip although it’s raining almost the entire staycation.
Donning our coats, we were able to take a walk along the popular Session Road, which is its main avenue and commercial center. Amongst other beautiful and must see spots we had include Burnham Park, Baguio Cathedral, Camp John Hay, The Mansion, Wright Park, Mines View Park, Philippine Military Academy, and Lourdes Grotto. We included the Strawberry Farm in our itinerary, but we decided not to visit it due to heavy rain.
Shopping for keepsakes and pasalubongs is already part of every traveler’s visit anywhere in the world. We cannot simply go back to Cebu without bringing custom t-shirts, ref magnets, and jars of strawberry jams and peanut brittle for our loved ones.
Yes, it has been years and I am still longing to visit those amazing cities again and do things I failed to accomplish.
August 27, 2010
45 minutes (via plane) — Cebu International Airport – Clark International Airport
3 hours (private van ride) — Clark International Airport – Baguio City
August 28, 2010
4 hours – Baguio City – Vigan
Fortress of Vigan/Baluarte Vigan
Bantay Church and its Bell Tower
Abel Loom Weaving
Vigan Heritage Village
August 29 and 30, 2010
4 hours – Vigan – Baguio
Bridal Veil Falls
Lion’s Head along Kennon Road
Camp John Hay
Mines View Park
Philippine Military Academy
August 31, 2010
45 minutes (air travel) — Clark International Airport – Cebu International Airport
–Home Sweet Home–
Estimated Budget/Pax for a Group of 11
Approximately 6, 000 (all-in)
More about the Philippines here.