Mount Pulag: Wandering in the Playground of the Gods

Dubbed as the Playground of the Gods, Mt. Pulag, the third highest mountain in the Philippines (Mt. Dulang-Dulang is a few meters higher) and the highest in Luzon is undoubtedly the most prominent mountain in the country. Despite its easy-trail via Ambangeg, it will take you eight-hour hike to summit and back compare to the other trails where it will take you days to finish its traverse. Climbing Mount Pulag has been in demand these days. Almost everyone, from beginners to veteran mountaineers wants to climb Mount Pulag. Who wouldn’t want to visit Mount Pulag? It’s a worthy-destination you should include in your bucketlist. Here are top five reasons why you should climb the “playground of the gods” and why you should do it now!

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1. Experience the majestic view. Once you reach the first summit, the only thing you’d want to do is to bring out your camera and take photos of the captivating view at the summit. Anywhere on top of the mountain is majestic and you will definitely fall in love with every view.

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2. Everything is rich in nature. Everything Mount Pulag offers is purely nature. It is a home of the nation’s rare and endangered species of flora and fauna. It is the natural habitat of the endemic Dwarf Bamboo and the Benguet pine which dominates the areas of Luzon tropical pine forests found on the mountainsides.

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3. Chase the beautiful sunrise. One of the best reasons why Mount Pulag is one of the best destinations is because of its magical sunrise that you get to witness on its peak. Baguio Hotel

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4. Be amaze of the clean environment. Mount Pulag offers you an opportunity to appreciate the goodness of the land. Because of its clean environment, the beauty of the mountain cannot be taken for granted. The park is well-maintained by the DENR and the locals. That is why it’s called the “playground of the gods”.

5. Dream above the “sea of clouds”. Mount Pulag is prominent for its “sea of clouds” that you can view at the summit. It is like heaven on Earth when you reach the peaks of the mountain. The view is just surreal. It is one of my main reasons why I want to climb Mount Pulag. And I just got lucky to witness the sea of clouds because of a perfect clearing at the top.

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Another bucketlist unlocked this year. It has been my dream to climb Mount Pulag. I was lucky enough that have traveled in the best time where the weather is good and there is clearing, good enough to witness the sea of clouds. It was an experience I will never forget, but surely will do more.

Trail Love

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Trail Running became a trend nowadays.  With a combination of running and hiking over trails, trail running is more challenging and more exciting. In trail running, you would enjoy peace and quiet of the trails. Aside from the difficult courses you’ll have to go through running on trails, it requires you mental and physical power to start and finish a trail run race.

Are you an aspiring trail runner? Or just curious how trail running is played on trails? Here’s a guide on how you can start and hit the trail head. Trail Love: A Beginners’ Guide on Finishing Your First Trail Run

 

Feed Goals: 5 Instagram Accounts That Will Inspire You to Get a Follow-Worthy IG Account

Everybody’s into Instagram. From celebrities to foodies, to travelers, to photographers, or to any ordinary individual who are into social media has if not one, more than an IG account. Instagram’s sole purpose is to view and post photos you have randomly snapped at least daily be it the food you’re about to eat at the restaurant, a photograph you captured during your trip or a sunset you witnessed by a chance when you passed by Manila Bay. Instagram is basically telling your stories through snaps.

But there is more to having an IG account. Being an active user and posting worthy photos on your feed means attracting followers and users to like your posts. Over time, people using this application have worked hard to achieve a follow-worthy account. Because Instagram is about pleasing your followers, and fulfilling your followers’ expectations means keeping a good Instagram account. Need inspirations? Check out the list below who are worthy of the hashtag #feedgoals.

  1. A$AP Rocky – IG account: @asaprocky

I am not into hip-hop thingy but this guy’s got a dope IG account. The artwork you see in his feed is just follow-worthy. Rocky hired a digital artist named Gallardo to design and layout his IG feed with a different perspective. It depicts a series of photo collage. Most of Rocky’s images are juxtaposed against his clothes and/or logos of names. It is more of a digital mural and it just rocks!

  1. Beautiful Destinations – IG account: @beautifuldestinations

If you love traveling and photography, follow Beautiful Destinations. They posts beautiful pictures of different destinations around the world. Though they have their own photographers and videographers, they feature photos from other users who are willing to share their captured travel destinations.

  1. James Reid – IG account: @jaye.wolf

Well, yeah James Reid is one of my favorite instagrammer. In his IG account, James showcases his artistry side. From the snaps he took with girlfriend Nadine Lustre, to his travels with siblings and best buddies, hottie James Reid surely makes his feed a follow-worthy not just to his fans but also to users who are into photography and loves the works of arts. James’ IG is definitely #feedgoals!

  1. Mark Essex Javillonar – IG account: @mark_essex

Another Filipino IG user that is worth following is Mark Essex Javillonar, a pre-med student from Manila. Mark’s feed contains photos of his adventures and love for nature, and not to mention his love and expertise in photography (that makes me so jealous).

  1. Emily Wang – IG account: @emwng

If you want to have a clean-theme Instagram feed, check out writer and content creator from Los Angeles, California Emily Wang for inspiration.

Basically, the main key to achieve a follow-worthy Instagram feed is to be aesthetic. Think of a theme how you want your feed to look like. To keep your feed flow naturally, you have to use similar filters for your photos to have a consistent approach. Use apps like VSCO Cam to modify your photos (if necessary). It’s always fun to play with your account until you get to decide what your feed should look like.

Hey, don’t forget to check-out my IG Accounts (I have two BTW) and I’ve been experimenting my feed. @belleofjune for my travels and adventures and @jhayann.santos for my personal collage of photos I took spontaneously.

11 Reasons Why you Should Include Philippines in Your 2017 Travel Bucket List

With over 7,100 islands the Philippines is made of, aside from its tropical climate every tourist is dying to have, you can never go wrong exploring each majestic site this small but tourism-rich country could offer.

Philippines is known to have one of the best beaches if not in the whole world but in Asia. Have you heard of Boracay Island? I bet you did already. What about Palawan? Rice Terraces? There’s too much to that though. Being dubbed as one of the favorite summer destination, visiting the Philippines is always worthwhile.  But why do I endorse this island too much? Aside of course because it is my motherland, the Philippines is worth to be in your bucket list in 2017. And here are the reasons why.

  1. Go island hopping. Well, with at least a hundred of its thousand islands. Too many islands to explore. But seriously, explore as much island as you can when you travel to the Philippines. First on the list is the Boracay Island, it was once awarded as the 2012 best island in the world  from The International Magazine and top the list for best destination in 2012 and 2016. The island is known to its white sugary  and powdery sand and a postcard-sized tropical paradise. Next to Boracay is Palawan, an island province consists of stunning islands such as El Nido, Puerto Princesa and Coron Island to name a few. Bohol, another small island that is worth to explore. Experience river cruise at Loboc, go scuba diving in Panglao and try diving the 25-feet tall Mag-aso falls, and many more to do. Cebu is another perfect island to visit. Dive with the whale sharks at Oslob, Cebu.  Yes you heard me right; I really meant whale sharks, but the friendly versions. These are just few. Explore other islands and experience more fun. Ilocos Norte Hotels

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    Sunset in Pagudpud Beach
  1. Go feed yourself. Indulge with the foods. Filipinos are recognized to be great cooks and well, we love to eat. And like most Asian countries, the staple food of the Philippines is rice. The cooking style and the food are origins of mix cuisines such of that of Malay, Indian, Spanish, Chinese and American. While The Philippine islands are home to various ethnic groups resulting in varied regional cuisines, there are specific specialties from each region. A good example is the pinakbet and bagnet in the Ilocos Region, sisig in Pampanga, chicken inasal in Bacolod, lechon in Cebu and of course the famous adobo which is always present in every Filipino household. Don’t forget to try balut an exotic Filipino food every tourist must try. These are just little palatable gastronomy in the Philippines. You will discover and learn to love more of our foods. Diet is never an option.
  1. Go shopping. The Philippine shopping lifestyle is no doubt one of the common norms for every Filipino. From the thrift to the extravagant shoppers, we’ve got something for everyone. Haggling at street market stalls are all over the country. It is so much cheaper to travel and enjoy around Philippines. 
  1. Go extreme. The Philippines is an island full of adventures. If you’re looking for an adrenalin rush, well this is the right place to be. Get wet and wild with white water rafting in Cagayan De Oro. Get into mountaineering. It’s no secret that the Philippines is also rich in hills and mountains that you and your friends can climb any time of the year. Appreciate majestic view from summit to summit of our beautiful mountains like Mt. Ulap, Mt. Pico de Loro, Mt. Batulao, Mt. Pinatubo, Mt. Pulag and many more. There are just too much to mention. Try canyoneering or canyoning in Kawasan Falls in Cebu. How about surfing in Baler, La Union and Pagudpud? Don’t forget to visit our own sand dunes in LaPaz to try sand boarding and 4×4 ride – for those who are hydrophobic. That is definitely an adventure.

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    Campers at Mt. Ulap
  1. Go celebrate fiestas. Fiestas or festivals in foreign language are very much celebrated in the Philippines. From small towns, to provinces, to every region of the country, fiesta is renowned. It is a part and bundle of Filipino culture. Celebrate with the locals’ different festivals like the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo Aklan, Sinulog Festival in Cebu, Dinagyang in Iloilo, Panagbenga or Flower Fest in Baguio, the Moriones Festival in the Island of Marinduque, Pahiyas in Lucban, Laguna and so on and so forth. Too many to mention! 
  1. Go appreciate history. The Philippines history is a very interesting topic to learn. Be amazed of our story by learning historical facts and visiting historical places. Include in your itinerary the historical Cebu – the oldest city and it is where the first Spanish settlement took place. It is also considered as the Fount of Christianity in the Far-East. If you are looking for a well-preserved Spanish colonial and Asian architecture, visit Vigan, on the West Coast of Luzon Island. Be mesmerized with rustic mansions, cobblestone streets, baroque-style cathedrals, horse-drawn carriages and the culture itself. The Corregidor Island located at the entrance of Manila Bay is another site where it could bring you to the past. Now a historical monument, among its attractions is the Pacific War Memorial with its dome ceiling and marble altar, the 830-foot-long Malinta Tunnel, and the Filipino Heroes Memorial.  The island also has forest trails, a jungle survival camp, bird watching opportunities, scenic boat rides, and even a beach. 

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    Kalesa –

    a horse-driven carriage used in the Philippines

     

  1. Go embrace the Filipino Culture. The Filipino culture is our way of life we Filipinos preserve. From the first settlement of Melanesians, to the engaging of trading with China, India, Palau, Malay, USA and other countries introduced by the Austronesia, to  the colonization of Hispanic influence marked a heavy impact on Philippine culture. Being colonized by the Spanish, the Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic nations in Asia-Pacific, the other being East Timor. The Filipino arts cover a variety of forms of entertainment.  Folk art and ethnographic art consist of classic and modern features that flourished as a result of European and Indigenous influences. Our education has been influenced by Western and Eastern ideology and philosophy. Filipinos are also competitive in all forms of sports. Arnis, a form of martial arts is our national sport. 

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    The Saint Augustine Church in Paoay – A UNESCO World Heritage Site
  1. Go surfing. Unknown to many, the Philippines have a long list of great surfing spots. It has become a culture to water adventure-aficionados. Though we do not have those giant waves like in Hawaii, our waves from small to large sizes are promising for beginners to novice surfers.
  1. Go underwater. Did I mention the Philippines has over 7,100 islands? Well, let me say it again – over 7,100 islands. That is why there are too much to do with our salt water surrounded in our land. Aside from having world-renown beaches, we are also known for diversity of our marine life. The Philippines is Asia’s Dive Capital. We are blessed with world’s most beautiful natural harbors. Discover underneath our tranquil waters. 
  1. Go discover the wildlife. The Philippines include significant number of endemic plants and animal species. We are a tropical country with Tropical rainforest climate. The influence of tropical climate serves a vital role to our plants and animals. Almost one fourth of the country is covered with forests. The Philippines is also rich in endangered species like the Philippine eagle, mouse deer, tarsier, whale shark, marine turtles, the Subic fruit bats and the cockatoo who are now on the list of endangered species in the Philippines because of its extinction. Thus, the authorities are doing their best to make sure that wild life in the Philippines is still well preserved. 
  1. Go meet the locals. The hospitality of the Filipinos is incomparable in the world. Filipinos are known to be kind and friendly people. We are known for always smiling and happy, and we also love to sing and dance for whenever there is an occasion to celebrate.
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Here’s a smile from your local girl 🙂

Why is there no reason not to travel to the Philippines? Read again from the top.

Weekend Climb: Mt. Talamitam, Nasugbu, Batangas

Going outdoors is my kind of weekend. There is nothing like stepping outside, feel the Earth and breathe.

Mount Talamitam in Nasugbu, Bantangas is one of the easiest and shortest climb in the Philippines. For newbies, and for some hardcore mountaineers who just want to have a good time outdoors, Mt. Talamitam is a must-climb. Also, it’s a good place to train for those who are aspiring to become trail runners (like me).

Reaching the summit is like no other. The view is such a beauty. You’d also get to see Mt. Batulao on the other side. My friends and I took a lot of photos and we enjoy every view.

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Stopped by the bahay-kubo for a rest
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At the summit
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Stopped at the bamboo-hanging bridge
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Friendship goals
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Photo with our super nice guide, Eugene

Here are some tips/guide if you plan going to Mt. Talamitam on a day hike.

  • It is a less than 2-hour drive from Manila if you’re in a private vehicle taking SLEX-Nuvali-Tagaytay-Nasugbu route
  • You may also take public buses going to Nasugbu, Batangas and stop at the registration site itself.
  • The registration site is at Barangay Aga, Sitio Bayabasan
  • Registration fee is PHP40.00 per head
  • Guide fee depends how much you want to give  your guide. As for us, we gave Kuya Eugene PHP400 + food
  • Note: there respective fees if you want to use their toilet and have shower.
  • Camping or spending over night is also possible with corresponding fees.
  • Sidetrips: Layong Bilog River (optional)
  • Rappelling activity is also available at the campsite of Mt. Talamitam.

First Time in Singapore

Singapore is one of the top places I wanted to visit. Singapore is undeniably one of the most visited countries by tourists. Because of its handful touristy spots such as the Universal Studios Singapore, Marina Bay Sands, Merlion Park and many more to mentions. Singapore could be a top tourist destination but I must admit, one of the most expensive places to go for Philippine passport holders and budget travellers like me.

My three-day trip to Singapore composed of mostly site-seeing their most popular landmarks. My first day was a whole day at the Universal Studios Singapore (USS). Boy, I must say a day in USS is quite not enough though. Me, together with my three travel buddies arrived at the place just before the gates opened – because we wanted to maximize our time inside the studio. Once entered, I felt like a child full of enthusiasm. The humid climate didn’t stop us from exploring the whole place. We were all sweaty but didn’t mind. Who cares? We are having lots of fun. Purchase your tickets online and enjoy promos offered exclusively for online purchasers. Book Tickets Online

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Me at the Universal Studios Singapore Entrance Archway
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The Universal Studios Store
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Ancient Egypt

After a whole day fun at USS, we dropped-by the Orchard Road – known to be Asia’s most famous shopping street.

On our second day, we returned to Sentosa Island and look around some more attractions minus the USS. For a cost of SGD4, you’ll be given an admission to enter the island. Once you’re in the island, you’ll be able to see different attractions and activities with corresponding fees. Our list includes the Skyline Luge Sentosa which is SGD16 per person. It was one of my favorite activities done in Singapore. You get to ride the luge, which is a self-driving car system in which riders control the speed by pushing a pair of handlebars back and forth. The luge ride goes downhill and when you reach the end of the hill, you are going to ride next the Skyride which uses chairlifts bringing riders and luge carts back to the starting point. Sorry no photos have been taken during our Skyride and luge ride. I really enjoyed the luge ride. Me and my friends raced our way to the end point. The Skyride gives you a magnificent view of the whole Sentosa Island. I have a fear of heights but I forgot I had one when I was on top overlooking the island. We got to see other attractions in Sentosa Island, and took a lot of photos. For a complete list of activities and attractions with admission passes, check out their official site. List of Sentosa Attractions

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At the Port Side

 

After our trip to Sentosa Island, we headed to Clarke Quay and had a bottle of beer for chillin’ before going back to our hotel.

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Sunset view at Clarke Quay

On our third day and probably our last day in Singapore, Marina Bay is in our itinerary. There are also a lot of famous attractions in Marina Bay, Singapore. We went to Gardens by the Bay, get to see the Singapore Flyer, took photos of the Marina Bay Sands and took more photos at the Merlion Park. Inside the Gardens by the Bay, we bought tickets to get inside the Flower Dome where a various of species of spectacular flowers and plants were displayed in big room with a temperature of 23-25 degrees Celsius which is according to Guinness World Records has the largest glass greenhouse. Gardens by the Bay

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Gardens by the Bay with the Marina Bay Sands in the background

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Flower Dome

 

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Merlion

It was a long-day-walk but was all worth it. After our day tour at Marina Bay and before heading our way back to our hotel, we were taken to dinner by our Singaporean friend at a local restaurant where we got to try out the famous chicken rice of Singapore.

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The Financial Center on the Background

Three days is not actually enough if you want to go around Singapore. If you plan to visit all the attractions the Lion City can offer, I strongly suggest you plan for an itinerary for atleast a week. Definitely I would love to go back to Singapore. Despite the remarkable attractions, Singapore is the cleanest city (by far) I have visited with a well-disciplined citizens. Not to mention their food were great.

  • PS: I used GoPro Hero 4 and iPhone 5c in taking photos.

Wandering in Ilocos

We wandered the provinces of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur for a quick 2-day DIY itinerary. For only two days, we managed to visit not all, but most of the tourist attractions of Ilocandia.

We left Manila at about 11 o’clock in the evening. We took the TPLEX route that is why we only travelled seven hours from Manila to Laoag. If you take the bus, travel time is eight to ten hours.

After we had our breakfast at our home, we headed to our first leg of our tour. First leg is visiting some notable tourist attractions in the north.

We started at Cape Bojeador which is located in Burgos, Ilocos Norte approximately 50-kilometers from Laoag. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is a cultural heritage structure established during the Spanish Colonial times.  Normally, a visit to the lighthouse requires an entrance fee of PHP40.00. Luckily, when we were at the gateway to the lighthouse, our student tour guide told us that for now the entrance is free until the national election. It is a way of the incumbent Governor of Ilocos Norte, Imee Marcos’ way to promote tourism and bring tourists to appreciate the site for free.

Our next stop was the Kapurpurawan Rock formation also located in Burgos. It was just a few kilometers away from the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. The Kapurpurawan Rocks are formations created by the forces of the ocean on the rocky coast of Burgos. In Ilokano dialect, Kapurpurawan means white. We were stunned by the beauty of the formed white rock which is the main attraction. They say it was formed thousands of years ago by the forces of sea waves and wind.

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Kapurpurawan Rock Formation – Burgos, Ilocos Norte

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After seeing the beautiful rock formation, we took a stop at Bangui Wind Farm. The windmills in Bangui are a tourists’ favorite. Standing on the windswept shores of Bangui, these mighty giants are not only a tourist attraction but they serve as producers of electricity up to maximum capacity of 1.65 MW, for a total of 24.75 MW. A project of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. in 2005, the Governor of Ilocos Norte at that time, this was highly prioritized to build up the power shortage of the province that slows down economic growth.  Be mesmerized with the dancing wind turbines as the wind blew swiftly from the coast. These were first in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia.

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Windmills in Bangui, Ilocos Norte

After watching the dancing giants along the shore, our group headed to Pagudpud beach to have our lunch. We took some time to rest and headed our way to Patapat Viaduct to watch the sun sets. Unfortunately, we were not able to catch up the setting of the sun. Though we did not catch the sunset, our trip to the viaduct was still awesome and took a lot of photos because of the majestic view of the coastline of West Philippines Sea and the long-high bridge connecting Ilocos Norte and Cagayan Valley.

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Patapat Viaduct in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

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Pagudpud Beach 
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Pagudpud Beach during sunset

On our second and last day of our short Ilocos trip, before heading to Ilocos Sur we took a short stop in Batac, visited the Marcos Museum, the formerly ancestral house of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos. We were amazed by the untold stories of the Marcoses most especially the achievements of the late dictator from surviving the World War II until his political years where good and bad tales were told. And were able to see his body in his Mausoleum.

After our tour in the Museum, we headed downtown and had miki and empanada for our late lunch. A trip to Ilocos Norte is incomplete without a food trip in Batac, the home of the famous Ilocos Norte empanada. Miki, a homemade thick noodle with orange soup, sprinkled with green onions and chicharon (pork rind) plus a hard-boiled egg is also one of Batac’s pride. Our tummies were super satisfied with what we had and forgot about getting tired.

And because we regained our energy from the tasty lunch we had, we traveled to Paoay, Ilocos Norte and took a short visit of the Saint Augustine Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The church was just an amazing structure. It was built in 1694 and completed in 1710 where it took almost a decade building it. The church is made up of coral stones and bricks and known to be a prime example of “Earthquake Baroque” design. The Paoay Church stood the test of time. It has survived wars and countless tremors and typhoons. Although it was partially damage during huge earthquakes, the church has been reconstructed and repaired that makes it looks unscathed. Today, the Saint Augustine Church in Paoay stood still as the mighty icon of the whole Ilocos Norte province. Tourists fall in love with this royal structure overtime and are one of the most visited places in North.

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The Saint Augustine Church, Paoay, Ilocos Norte

From the north, we headed to Ilocos Sur and took a very quick tour in Vigan (leg 2 of our tour) – known as the home of ancestral houses and sites. Like Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur is also rich in historical stories. In fact, the province’s capital, Vigan, now a city is known for its well-preserved Spanish colonial and Asian architecture. Due to an insufficient time we have, we were only able to visit The Baluarte or fortress, a must-see attraction in Vigan that offers a mini zoo with various animals from different countries and others endemic of the Philippines. It has also a butterfly farm, a track for horse riding and a skeet shooting range. The Baluarte has no entrance fee from 9AM until 5PM.

After wandering inside the Baluarte, we headed our way, in fact our last stop in Calle Crisologo. The Calle Crisologo is a historic walking site. History lovers like me will enjoy strolling in the streets. A historical site Vigan City is famous of. We reached the historical streets of Vigan before dark and the view of the whole place was just nostalgic and returns you to olden times. It is just wonderful. When you get to visit Calle Crisologo, don’t forget to ride on a calesa and have a joyride around the historical streets of Vigan. You’ll be able to see remarkable old Spanish-inspired houses around. Make the most of your stay in Vigan City and you will not regret.

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Calle Crisologo
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Old Spanish-style houses at the Calle Crisologo
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Calle Crisologo at night
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Taking a photo in the middle of the street

Before we headed back to Manila, we had dinner at my uncle’s ancestral house in Bantay, a small town near Vigan City.

And that concludes our two-day trip to Ilocos. Our original plan was just to spend a day in Pagudpud beach but we were fortunate to cover some different attractions the Ilocandia can give.