It's already the 10th of April... I am supposed to be updating my weight now, but since I knew I would be traveling and I often gain weight when I travel, I decided to just update my weight come next month. For now, let me just share my recent trip with my favorite girls: my mom, my sis, and my friend Ria.
As a Catholic country, we recognize Maundy Thursday 'til Black Saturday as national holidays. Since 09 April is also a national holiday (Araw ng Kagitingan), it was the longest holiday period. That prompted one of mom's colleagues to book an Ilocos getaway, and since mom knew I wasn't able to enjoy my Ilocos Norte trip in 2008, she decided to tag me. My friend Ria and I have planned to do same kind of trip, so I told her about it and she was happy to join us. At first, sister wasn't part of the trip as she has work, but when the restaurant's management said they will close the establishment from Wednesday 'til Saturday and that one of mom's colleagues had to back out from the trip because she found out she is pregnant, sister just grabbed her slot.
This will be a long post... so I will just share a picture every step of the way.
Bulacan Pit Stop. We all met in Makati around 9pm. There were 10 of us for this trip, plus 2 (a young couple) to complete the 12 passengers they needed per van. Mom, sis, and I were able to secure a good seat, but the van wasn't comfortable because the seats didn't have a head rest. Anyway, somewhere in Bulacan, we had a pit stop so we all could eat a decent dinner. Mom and I shared a burger as we weren't that hungry.
Quirino Bridge (Bantay, Ilocos Sur). Our Ilocos trip officially started around 4:30am of Thursday (06 April) while waiting for the sunrise at Quirino Bridge. I have traveled to Vigan so many times, but I only could hope to take a picture of the bridge from the bus' window, and now I am on it! This bridge is closed to heavy vehicles now as there is a new bridge, so we were able to walk on it. Some early joggers would cross the bridge, which I wanted to try, too, but 1/4 of the way I could feel the wobble and I was quite afraid. We stayed there for nearly two hours... and before going back to the van, sister and I took the risk of going down the base of the bridge. It was such a windy day - mom got worried we might get hurt, but it was a relief that we were both okay. This is by far my best travel portrait. :)
Breakfast (Vigan, Ilocos Sur). Checking the itinerary given to us, we were supposed to eat breakfast at Cafe Uno located at Grandpa's Inn, but we were told a group of 100 people just dropped by to have their breakfast, so we had no choice but to eat elsewhere. This is the start of the Holy Week holidays so most establishments were closed - we decided to eat at Chowking. I went for their Wanton Noodles, but ate just half of it and packed my siopao (pork bun) for later.
Vigan Cathedral (Vigan, Ilocos Sur). This wasn't part of the itinerary, but because it was near Chowking and we wanted to enter the church to say our prayers, we took a little time to visit the church.
Baluarte (Vigan, Ilocos Sur). The van then took us to Baluarte zoo. It was quite a hot, sunny day already, and because I have visited the zoo quite a number of times in the past, I just took a few pictures and asked sister to take this picture of me as it was something I haven't done yet.
Fidel Go Pottery (Vigan, Ilocos Sur). Next place to visit was the Pagburnayan. There were two pottery stations, some tourists took turns in having their pictures taken at the station, but none of them really wanted to touch the pile of soil. When it was my turn, one of the factory workers asked me to use my thumbs to create a hole, and just there I got my hands dirty! I am not good at pottery, but doing it was sort of fun and therapeutic.
Crisologo Museum (Vigan, Ilocos Sur). Near the Pagburnayan was the Crisologo Museum. At that time there were just way too many tourists (I guess we all wanted to grab the long holiday to go out and tour), so I wasn't able to really take pictures. My mom and I posed at the Cadillac the former Vigan governor Carmeling Crisologo used when she got ambushed (she survived it and is still alive as of this writing).
Lunch (Batac, Ilocos Norte). Based on our itinerary, we were supposed to eat at the Food Court in the town of Batac in Ilocos Norte (a different province). However, since it was a holiday, the place was closed, so we had no choice but to eat at Chowking yet again. I wasn't in the mood to eat, but I had to, so I just went for a bowl of Chowfan.
After eating lunch, we checked out the Marcos Residence (Ferdinand Marcos was one of the Philippines' former presidents), but we weren't able to fully roam around because the tour guide said we were pressed for time. We did get to see the former president's resting place, but camera's weren't allowed, so no picture.
The tour guide then took us to this building showcasing a lot of the Marcoses' photos, but since all they had were pictures, we weren't able to really checked each picture.
Malacanang of the North (Paoay, Ilocos Norte). Malacanang is the president's office / residence. This was constructed during President Marcos' regime, and this picture of mine was taken inside the masters bedroom... overlooking the Paoay Lake. It was a huge house indeed!
From here, we were supposed to visit Paoay Church, but the tour guide decided to transfer it to Day 3 of the trip.
Next stop was Cape Bojeador (Burgos, Ilocos Norte), but there were just way too many tourists that we were told it would be best to put it off for now.
Bangui Windmills (Bangui, Ilocos Norte). We then proceeded to our next stop. It was one of the places I look forward to see as I only got the see the windmills from afar in 2008. However, something tragic happened - my camera had an accident. What happened was, I asked one of the tour guides to take a jumpshot of sister and I, and Ria also handed her camera for a few more shots. The guide had to sit on the sand to get the shot, but he didn't turn off my camera, so when he handed the camera back to me, some sand were already inside my my camera lens. Uh oh... my last camera died because the lens caught sand, and now I am facing the same fate? Sheesh.
I wanted to confront the guide, but I decided not to, as it wasn't completely his fault - as Ria told me, it was I who asked the guide to take the picture. Anyway, turning it on was okay... turning it off would cause a lens error. At that point, I felt I was being punished... the Holy Week was supposed to be a moment to reflect and pray, yet I was out touring. I wanted to cry, but sister said I shouldn't.
Dinner (Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte). Nearly 24 hours on the road... we then reached our main destination - Pagudpud. Before checking in to the resort, they took us near the public market where we ate some empanada. I was told the best Ilocos Empanada can be eaten at Batac, but since I wasn't able to eat in Batac, the one we had in Pagudpud seemed to be a good option. Well, if this was the same kind as the one in Batac... then it was indeed much better than the one in Vigan.
We checked in at Jun & Carol's Beach Resort in Pagudpud. Supposedly, there should be 4 people in each room, but since the young couple weren't really part of our group, they shared a room with other people in the tour (there were two vans for this tour). Ten of us shared two rooms - five per room. Mom's boss joined us since she was alone - our other companions tagged a family member. I wasn't able to take pictures of our room because the soonest time we got there, my companions quickly occupied the beds. The room didn't have a television, so we basically had no choice but to sleep early tonight.