Friday, December 15, 2006

laoag city, ilocos norte

12/06/2006 06:00am
left work really early so i can come home soon and get ready for laoag. i've checked my clothes, my pocket money, my kikay kit, my equipment, and everything. i took a quick shower as soon as i got home and got dressed. i've said goodbye to everyone at home and told them that i was leaving. i thought i'd be late for the 10:30am partas bus trip, but i just got there on time.
12/06/2006 10:45am
the bus left cubao terminal and headed north via edsa. i've tried to look for a good seat, thinking that i could just seat on any seat. i didn't know that there is a seating arrangement. hahaha. anyway, no one bothered to ask me to leave my seat. maybe they've gotten scared of me. :) the bus was half empty, the seats were a little claustrophobic, there was not enough room for my bags, and the air conditioner was a little low. it wasn't really bad until i've realized that there was this bar on my window which is blocking my view. it was too late for me to find another seat with a better view when i've realized that. "i should have just taken the 10:00pm deluxe bus trip to laoag," i've thought. but if i did, i wouldn't be able to see the roads, so that was the reason why i preferred to take the morning trip.

12/06/2006 01:00pm
it was a very long trip. it took us four stops, and almost eleven hours of bus ride before we've reached the municipal office of san nicholas, laoag city. i remember us passing by provinces like pampanga, tarlac, la union, and ilocos sur. we've also made a very quick stop at the partas terminal in vigan, which made me so excited for the next two days. my most favorite part of the trip was when the bus was crossing quirino bridge, in bantay, ilocos sur. it was really dark outside and all i can see was the strong full moon. it was so strong that it made the bantay mountains' silhouette appear like a scene in lord of the ring. the light from the moon touching the waters on the river, making a bright line of light on the strong waters. it was really breathtaking.

12/06/2006 10:30pm
tita lina, my step grandfather's older sister picked me up at the municipal hall in san nicholas. she was with her granddaughters and grandsons. they were my hosts during my trip in laoaog city. she had a little chat, and i went up on the second floor where my room was. i was so tired from the trip, i didn't notice that i fell asleep. got a busy day the following morning.

12/07/2006 06:20am
tita lina woke me up to have breakfast. after a little breakfast, we went straight to the palengke to buy food for dinner. we bought longganisa ilocano, some veggies for her pinakbet, bananas, mineral water, a small notebook, and a pen. i've tried to make it really quick because i only had a day to tour the entire city of laoag. as soon as we've gotten back to her house, i took a shower right away and got dressed. edward, her nephew will be our driver, and he will be driving us around laoag's historical landmarks on his owner type jeep.

12/07/2006 09:00am
first stop: marcos museum or commonly known as the malacaƱang of the north. it has old houses too, a small photo and artifact museum, and a big room made out of enormous rocks which stores the clay version of mr. ferdinand e. marcos, lying inside a coffin, made out of glass. many believe that the real body of the former philippine president actually lies, underneath it. the distinctive smell adds a little eeriness to the place. it smells like an empty cabinet unopened for five years. it has a very high ceiling and all the walls are painted in black. there are also flowers on each corner of the room, and the coffin was dramatically lit by four incandescent spotlights. what makes the place more weird was the music. the orchestra and the vocals were overwhelming. i thought the music was just a little too loud. on the other building, we saw the rest house of the late president. too bad visitors were not allowed to come in, but are allowed to look thru its doors and windows. everything i saw in that place looked both old and expensive. the old house contained old paintings, furnitures, and accents.

12/07/2006 10:30am
this would be the main event of my visit in laoag. this would be my first time to see paoay church in person. i've always wanted to see this church all my life, and the feeling was quite overwhelming and it left me speechless, and i am not even a catholic. from its majestic entrance to its baroque architechture, there is no other church like paoay church. tita lina told me that it is where her daughter, ate rose, had gotten married. she said it was free, and so i was like, "but there is no free wedding in manila." it was surprising that life in the province can be both simple and grand.

it took me almost an hour and a half to take all the pictures that i want. there were even school children visiting the church, so i took pictures of them too. then i heard my tummy making some rumbling noise. i thought i should stop taking pictures and eat something not-so-heavy. there was this stall on the side of the church selling toknene, squidball, kikiam, gulaman, and buco pandan drinks. toknene's made out of quail eggs, covered in flour with orange food coloring and eggs; very filipino. gulaman on the other hand is a street drink served ice-cold and made out of water, red and brown food coloring, brown sugar, and gulaman, an agar-like substance, just like gelatin, but a little softer and smoother.

12/07/2006 12:00nn
we made a quick stop at the maharlika hall which is a place where wealthy locals play golf and meet. our driver, edward, said that there is no place to eat in maharlika. so, what a bummer. i took some pictures of the flags outside the building, the facade, and the wide road and big land right in front of it.

12/07/2006 12:20pm
we drove straight downtown laoag city, the main city proper. it is where the sinking bell tower, and saint william's cathedral are located. not really my favorite place to see because there were a lot people walking and looking at me while i was taking pictures. there were hundred of tricyles driving about which were making loud screeching sounds, making my ears to bleed. and the scorching heat of the sun was so strong, it didn't feel like i've left manila. i've looked for a nice shade to protect my big bald head from getting sunburnt.
the sinking bell tower was really magnificent, and it was a great challenge for me taking its pictures because of the electrical wires blocking my view. it felt like i was in intramuros again.
saint william's cathedral wasn't that far. it was only half a minute away from the sinking bell tower. it was a bad time visiting this cathedral because it was being repainted, but i've thought that it's alright. it would bring a little theatrical effect to my photos.

12/07/2006 01:00pm
we visited cromwell's grill chicken ati-atihan, only a few blocks away from the cathedral, for lunch. edward suggested this place. i've trusted him on our itinerary, same with the food. i've ordered chopsuey (vegetables with very little amount of sauce and meat), chicken sisig, and sizzling blue marlin. my favorite is the sizzling blue marlin. it is a special fish but tastes like chicken meat. it is very healthy and doesn't taste so fishy, served with sweet and tangy sauce. it was a great meal, and i've really enjoyed it. but the best part is the bill. it only costed us approximately php280 for everything, for five heads. that is really cheap but one of the best parts of the tour. i would definitely come back.

12/07/2006 02:00pm
second to the last stop of the trip was the museo ilocos norte. it's a limited engagement or event that will run up until the first quarter of next year. php20 for adult, php15 for college students, php10 for high school and elementary children, php5 for 5yo and above, and FREE for kids below 5yo. the museum showcases all the things, craftsmanship, cuisine, and the people, that are definitely ilocano. i took a lot of pictures inside and outside of the museum and they were so beautiful. the visit to the museum was very,very long and it was overly exhausting, but it was worth every second of it.

12/07/2006 04:00pm
fort ilocandia is the most expensive and the most beautiful hotel is the entire city of laoag. you will not see how grand the hotel is just by looking from its exterior. you have to come in to believe. it has long hallways, marbled floorings, beautiful and well-dressed employees, and great smiles. it also has more than adequate space on the back of the building where special events are held like weddings, birthday parties, and others. other attractions are the large swimming pools, a golf course, a beach resort, cafes, and a recreation area for horseback riding, go carts, and others.

12/07/2006 05:00pm
we headed back to tita lina's house to conclude the day's trip. everyone was tired but we had great fun. i took a quick shower and gotten read to look for a nearby internet cafe to transfer all the pictures that i took to my ipod. afterwhich, i've had dinner at tita lina's house; longganisa ilocano and pinakbet.

12/07/2006 09:00pm
tita lina, tatay pedro, and their grandchildren went to the municipal office of san nicholas to take more pictures. it was a nice place to take pictures because of the beautiful lights and there were lesser number of vehicles passing by. i took picture of the san nicholas municipal office, the plaza, and the christmas decorations at the intersection. i've had to cut the photo shooting short because it was getting late and we had kids with us that had to come to school the following morning.

the entire trip was eventful and stressful, but it was something that i would remember the rest of life. i will remember the people, the long wide roads, beautiful churches, and the cool fresh air of laoag city.

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