Ilocos Travel Diary. (Day1)

Published 12/29/2011 by Neds Rocillo

I am a Travel Management student! I love traveling! ❤

so here’s a preview of our school’s Ilocos Tour!

HMSC with Ms. Angel Lao (Tour guide).

Let me tell you something about the destination. Ilocos collectively refers to two provinces in the Philippines: Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. Inhabitants are called Ilocanos and they speak the language Iloko, also called Ilocano.The Ilocos Region, containing four provinces, is named after Ilocos. 28% of the inhabitants of the region are Pangasinan people, who belong to a different ethnolinguistic group from the Ilocanos.

The Ilocano legacy and the life of the Ilocano – are described as – “the browbeaten, industrious, cheerful, simple soul who has shown a remarkable strain of bravery and a bit of wanderlust.” The Ilocano history reveals his struggles and victories – in battles for colonial independence from Spain and America, to Philippine leadership.


I woke up early because I’m so excited for our Ilocos tour. This tour is our first ever long trip together. Most of the Hospitality Management Students’ Circle (HMSC) members tweet about their excitement for the tour. Before going to school, I checked my luggage if I didn’t miss anything. 7 o’clock, I arrived at Treston but there were only few students. Maybe I’m too early and…..excited!

Finally, my travel and tourism classmates arrived! Dean Joy Sheelah Era, our professor in Humanities and Principles of Tourism, talked to us and told us that she cannot join our Ilocos tour that’s why Ms. Edna Asejo, Business Management professor, substituted her. Since the tourist bus which is DOT-accredited hasn’t arrived yet, we went to Market!Market! to have our dinner.

By 9 o’clock, the bus arrived and Ms. Angel Lao, the tour guide, is introduced to the students. She’s from Travel Ilocandia Tours and Travel.  It was 9:30 p.m. when we left the school. We started our tour with a prayer led by HMSC President and HrM student, Angelo Ampil. My bus seatmate was Angela. She’s my closest girl friend in school. We’re like sisters. Both of us are fond of watching horror movies and we really planned to watch horror in the bus. She brought Dvds and of course, there were horror movies! We watched Insidious, one of our unforgettable horror movies. It’s such a funny thing that Angela had already watch the movie for six times and it was my second time to watch it.

We didn’t notice that we’re already at North Luzon Express Way (NLEX). We had our first stop over at Petron gasoline station. We were given 15 minutes to use the comfort room because our next stop over will be at Pangasinan. All of us fell asleep. When we arrived at Pangasinan, some of them ate mami. I was still sleeping that time. When I woke up, everyone was inside the bus already. They were talking about the mami, like how good it was and how it made them feel warm since it’s very cold inside the bus. I was envious and craving at the same time. 😦  Me, Jeremy, Angela, Jek, Zar, and Heartee can’t sleep, we just sang not even considering those who were sleeping. :))


Tour Tarpaulin 🙂

Day 1: Thursday.September.15. 2011

After singing, we settle down and relax. I can’t really sleep because I just woke up. I was just looking at the window, listening to my iPod, observing the road and praying to God that we’ll arrive safely at Ilocos. I didn’t notice that I was sleeping again. When I woke up, I was surprised to see a beach, a very clean and blue beach! Isn’t it a weird feeling? Haha! I was speechless that time, I was just observing the beach and literally, I looked for the sun (Another weird thing I did.). I looked around the bus and most of them were still sleeping. Sir Noel, used the microphone and woke the students up. Yes! Finally! After 10 hours, we finally arrived at Vigan, Ilocos!!

We went straight to Aniceto Mansion to have our breakfast! “I’m starving!”, that’s all I can say. We ate our breakfast. It was a buffet. Yummy! There’s longganisa! One of the most famous Ilocos cuisine! And uh… MILO! Hahaha after eating, I looked around the place and took pictures of the objects which are considered antiques! I love the aura of the place. It’s relaxing and it brought us back to the past.


By the way, we’re wearing our new club shirt! Our green HMSC shirt! Isn’t it nice?! In the picture, I’m with Zar, Hiro, Big John, Lek, and Lari. They’re all HrM students.

After eating and taking pictures, we walked to St. Paul’s Cathedral which is beside Aniceto Mansion.Saint Paul Metropolitan Cathedral or much known as Vigan Cathedral is a baroque church basked in cream and white stands at the eastern edge of the plaza.


We met our other tour guide, Sir Pepito. He is the father of Ms. Angel. Sir Pepito brought us to St. Paul’s Cathedral and to Arzobispado de Nueva Segovia. Arzobispado de Nueva Segovia is also known as the Archbishop’s Palace of Nueva Segovia, this is the seat of power and the official residence of the archbishop of Nueva Segovia which holds authority to most of present day parishes all throughout Ilocandia and some parts of Cordillera.


Areas in Vigan, still utilized the predominant bahay na bato and baroque architecture to adapt in its surroundings. Even Jolibee and McDonalds nearby has also the same motif!


Vigan was certainly one of the memorable and fantastic place I’ve ever been in our tour, I must say. Although it seems to be just a small town, everything in that place seems to be very nice and cool. The place itself could draw a certain feeling of excitement and most especially “curiosity” since obviously, the houses or infrastructures built in that place look very archaic. The laidback and charming heritage city in fairness can be toured within half-a-day with several stops, appreciating Vigan’s nostalgic beauty.


That morning we also went to Bantay Church with its trademark gothic architecture in its main church and the landmark stand-alone belfry situated on top of a hill overlooking the town proper and the city of Vigan. The church is mostly made of red bricks and stone, it stood the elements of time and nature. Bantay is just near Vigan. It’s just like another barangay.  One thing that really attracts me with Ilocos so much are those antiquated Catholic churches.

The Lady of Charity (or La Nuestra Señora de la Caridad) forever guards the citizens of this town as the legend says. one of the major reasons why it was build separate from the church is to prevent collateral damage to the place of worship since the belfries usually fall first before the rest of the establishment.


Not just a zoo, Baluarte is an interactive wildlife sanctuary and facility, with   the       breathtaking view of its dominating scenic boulders amidst trees and greens. And so we went to Baluarte! I was so excited because I love animals so much! And I’ve heard, there are animals  that can’t be seen in an ordinary zoo! I would also like to see Gov. Singson’s tiger!

There were ostrich, ducks, swans, horses, birds and snakes. They also have a butterfly sanctuary. I’m amazed with the Baluarte’s dinosaur structure. All I can say is WOW! It looks real. The place is very big that animals could walk around freely as if they’re in their natural habitat.

We were also given the opportunity to meet Gov. Chavit Singson, the owner of Baluarte. We went to his house and took some pictures with him. 🙂

There’s a short program for all the guests of Baluarte. Guests were given a chance to interact with the animals. The host asked for volunteers and they’re letting the volunteers hold unexpected animals! I would like to volunteer but I think I’m just gonna cry in front of everybody. . So nevermind. Ahaha!


The Heritage Village

   Too bad, it rained. We were not able to enjoy the entire place of Baluarte. We went to the Heritage Village to buy souveneirs and pasalubong for our friends and family in Manila! I didn’t buy anything because I’m assuming that we will still be able to see lots of souveneir shops along the way. I want to buy pasalubong on the last day of our tour in Ilocos.

Since everyone is still buying souveneirs, me, Jek and Angela together with Ms. Asejo rode the Calesa or Kalesa. Kalesa is the main transportation in Ilocos.  Tok-tok-tok-tok, the stomping of horses surrounds the city, somehow giving an ambiance of going back through time Vigan in a calesa tour.  In fairness for Vigan, despite the encroachment of modernity, calesas are still part of the public mode of transportation although they cater more to tourist nowadays.

We were so happy because we’re able to experience buying food in McDonald’s through the calesa in a drive-thru.  I will never ever forget that experience.

We were friends with our cutsero. Our cutsero, Kuya Guillermo brought us to the house where a lot of horror movies were shoot. We also saw the Calesa which was use by Irene Marcos during her wedding!! It doesn’t look like an ordinary calesa, it looks like a calesa of a princess.

We also saw the house of Ronald Singson. We didn’t notice that our 30 minutes is over and that we have to go back to the Heritage Village. We really enjoyed our ride. It was Angela and Gerald’s first time to ride a calesa and I think it was their first time in Ilocos. I already went to Ilocos with my family when I was in grade school, but honestly I still enjoyed our tour, knowing that I’m with my friends.

When 30 minutes was overWe paid the cutsero and took some pictures with him and his horse. We went back to the bus.. And oh..oh! I’m starving again. Fortunately, It’s lunch time!

Our Tour Guides :


Lunch Time@Aniceto Mansion and Burnayan

 We had our lunch again at Aniceto Mansion! They again served delicious foods. I will never forget the taste of their bagnet. It’s so yummy! I’m craving for it again. Anyway, we enjoyed our lunch time at Aniceto Mansion. They have this tradition were in those September birthday celebrants will go in front and the Ilocanos will sing to them a traditional Ilocano song. The HMSC’s sepetember celebrants are Scarlet (Travel Management) and Erin (HrM). They’re asked to sit in front. We were told by Sir Pepito, our tour guide, to get the flowers from the vase in give it to the celebrants. He also gave us coins and he instructed us to throw it to the celebrants so they will be lucky when it comes to money. We were so happy that we even dance and sing to the tune of “Happy Birthday”. 🙂

We went to the Burnayan after eating. The burnayan or pottery place is a one stop shop for pottery and any souvenirs from Vigan. Their primary material is the rich red Ilocos clay. At present, burnay is used for decorative functions, coming in new shapes, sizes and designs from the plant pots and fanciful ashtrays.

“Burnay” is used in the fermentation of fish sauce, vinegar and “Basi”, the Ilocano wine from sugarcane juice.” They still do it the old-fashioned way in the burnayan and it’s impressive that they took pains in maintaining it.

The trip to the burnayan turned out well. A trip to Vigan is basically a way of taking a glimpse of the past. The burnayan is a small portion of that.

(c) owners of this pictures 🙂




I can say that this was the best activity that we did in Ilocos! It was really unforgettable, fun and very very challenging! I will never forget each and everyone’s faces while sliding the steep surface of sand. The Sand Dunes are framed by the China Sea. In this activity, we had to ride a 4×4 car so we could go through the sand. There were foreigners who tried the sand dunes and they were very happy with their experience. We had to slide from the top of the sand to go down. I was about to cry because I’m really afraid of heights. But I’m proud to say, I still made it! Haha I was able to go down by myself.

Too bad! Nora Aunor wasn’t there this time with her reverberating walang himala lines in Ishmael Bernal’s Himala movie.


Fort Ilocandia and Dinner@La Preciosa

 After a long tiring trip from Manila and after all the activities we did for our first day in Ilocos, all I wanted to do is sleep. When we arrived in the hotel, Fort Ilocandia, we didn’t have much time to rest. We just fixed our luggages, and changed our clothes. My roommates were Angela, Diane and Scarlet.

Around 6:30, we left the hotel to have dinner at La Preciosa. I’m so tired and starving again that time. 😦

We ordered Bagnet! It was so yummy. I love it. We finished all the food and even the fruits. I guess all of us were very hungry. It was a nice feeling eating while an acoustic band sings in front of you.  We all know that the HMSC Legacy members are musically inclined and so we jammed with the acoustic band. I sang just the way you are by Bruno Mars. Jeremy and Gaye sang also. Angelo did the “beatbox”. Although, all of us were already tired that night, we still managed to smile and sing. That’s the spirit guys! 🙂 After dinner, we went back to the hotel to get some sleep..

So yeah, this is the end of my first day travel diary! :>

To be continued…

One comment on “Ilocos Travel Diary. (Day1)

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