When In Ilocos…

Ilocos is definitely one of my top local destinations – it has just about everything you could want, from beaches to a little cultural immersion. And the food ain’t that bad. In fact, Ilocanos take great pride in their local delicacies. 
Sand Dunes
There are many sand dunes to suit your fancy in Ilocos, wherever you may be in the province. Usually, tourists would head out to Laoag but since we didn’t want to drive out that far (again – since we’ve already driven to Pagupud and Laoag a few days before), we just settled for the sand dunes in the town of Sto. Domingo, about forty-five minutes away from Vigan.
We had to climb a steep, rocky/sandy passage before we got a glimpse of the rolling hills of sand, but it was worth it. I mean, I have never seen sand dunes before so a five meter high climb was not about to stop me.
Oh, and not to mention the mounds of human trash (be imaginative, you know what I mean). But I really wish the people living in the area would not throw used diapers or use the sand dunes as their public toilet.
My first glimpse.

It was so hot, you cannot walk barefoot. Good for those of us wearing closed shoes but not so for those who were wearing only their trusty Havaianas.
Soooo hot! One of our friends even got blisters on his feet.

Pagburnayan
This was not the first time hubby and I visited the pagburnayan in Vigan. But I only got to sit behind the potter’s wheel and try my hand at pottery, ala Demi Moore in Ghost on our second visit (I must say, I did it after much prodding from hubby and friends).

Trying to make a burnay – an earthenware jar made from fine sand, which is later fired at high temperature to make it more durable.

Dunno what this is called – a sand pit, perhaps? 😀

Finished product.

I wasn’t able to produce even a single jar, but I gained a new-found admiration to the manongs who work tirelessly behind the wheel. It’s hard work to push that wheel with your foot and mold a jar!

How can he do it so effortlessly?

Monasteries and Seminaries
One of the earliest Catholic territories in the country, Ilocos is bound to be full of old churches (see my earlier post), architecture (isn’t it uncanny that where the Catholic faith is strong, you can bet that old structures and history are well preserved in that place too? Proves true then that the Catholics are the guardians of history), and monasteries and seminaries. You don’t even have to go very far from Vigan as there is a minor and major seminary in the city itself, and a Benedictine monastery.
Love the bright colors of the Benedictine monastery against the azure sky.

We also paid a visit to the major seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Vigan, a sprawling compound with lush trees,and, would you believe – sheep lying peacefully in the garden?
A quaint wishing well.

I would love to take long walks here, lost in the towering and intertwining trees.

Baluarte


This is perhaps one of the most well-known tourist spots in Vigan (aside from Calle Crisologo, which I’ll blog about later), and probably the largest as well, covering about 80 hectares. What’s more, even with admission free (yes, FREE), the zoo is very well-kept, even more so than the public zoos in Manila.

Colorful  birds greet guests at the entrance
I didn’t get to see my old tiger and orang-utan friends from my previous visit as I spent most of my time chasing butterflies in the butterfly garden. There aren’t that many kinds of butterflies but the ones there are all so big that I just had to get photos of them.

My favorite butterfly shot.

Bear cat

Proud peacock!

Albino snake

Errm, just trying out the macro lenses I got for my iphone.

The required group shot

Yellow submarine. Yes, Gov. Chavit has one (heard he actually has a working submarine somewhere in the open seas).

A pony? Donkey? Whatever, this little guy was roaming around freely and I didn’t want to get too close (hey, what if he chases me, right?

Ostrich
Deer, with a tag on its ear. I wonder, maybe it was this deer’s turn to be roasted that Easter?

Next post: Calle Crisologo and Museum Hopping
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