January 12, 2013

Wandering Ilocos: Day One - PART 2 - Empanada, Vigan and that Dinuguan

Everybody here knows the stall "Yumpanada" right? Well, in Vigan there's a different way of making it, or should I say there's a "traditional" way of making one.

Well it has some veggies, pork and the one that makes it distinct from other empanadas is the egg and the thin wrapping to provide that crispiness. It's also big, one serving is almost a full meal, and you have to eat it with vinegar to get the full taste of Vigan's empanada.

Bantay Church

The Bantay Church Bell Tower was said to be built first than the Church to see incoming people to the city, 10 years ago this bell tower is not open for public, it can only be watched from a distance, about a 100 meters away and this was the only memory I have when we went to the North 10 years ago. It was nice seeing it opened now for public and tourists swarming all over it, when I went there a decade ago, we were the only ones looking at it!

Then after that we checked out a jar making shop, I tried it and it was hard, the clay they were using were soil from rice paddies, so it's really sticky and forming it while it spins around is just so tricky that I wasn't able to make one. It's a hard art to do, the man said after forming the jar, they let it dry in the open-shaded room where it stays for another 3-4 weeks before being sold.

Crisologo Street, Vigan - The World Heritage site, Vigan, whose original name came from a Chinese (Hokkien) word "Bee Gan" meaning "beautiful shore," is one of the last remaining, untouched, well-preserved old Spanish cities in the country. Its narrow streets could only accomodate two-way Kalesa traffic.

One of the really old houses. You can clearly see the preservation it has undertaken over the years.

Children in a coffee shop.
And of course, I wouldn't miss my signature traveling shot.

 Dinuguan Pizza at Saramsam Restaurant
 We went to a restaurant called Saramsam, particularly for its famous "Dinuguan Pizza" a Pork Viand cooked with Pig's Blood in a Pizza. For me, I just had to try this!!! Because "Dinuguan" is my favorite filipino dish, yes, other people wouldn't dare to eat a black gooey viand, but to me, it's heaven! So we ordered, waited for an hour, which my dad wasn't really fond of, comes out berating the staff for its long service. My mindset was just to eat that Dinuguan Pizza. Then we finally got a taste of it! It was good, and actually, it can be done by anyone, just order pizza, then put the Dinuguan all over the pizza, it's a mix of salty, sweet and sour thing going on there.

Day one ended with a happy tummy and tired legs. I didn't even take a bath first, I just laid in the bed for an hour before taking one. So this ends day one, watch out for day 2! Cheers!

January 5, 2013

Wandering Ilocos: Day One - PART 1 - The Ilustrados of Ilocos

6:15 a.m. - After our night flight to Laoag, in Ilocos Norte, I woke up with my back aching again,it's always been a problem whenever I travel, my scoliosis isn't used to the bed, so I took a 15-minute back stretching to relieve the pain.

7:00 a.m. - Breakfast time! I eat breakfast when I travel, I don't know why I'm like this, but when I am at home, I eat Brunch, because anything I eat before 10 a.m. is rejected by my system.

Loaded Breakfast
I'm traveling with the family, it means everything's FREE! To travel for free is one of my favorite blessings in life.

We left the home we were staying at past 8:30 a.m. and we were a bit late, which I don't like when traveling, especially with a loaded itinerary. We weren't staying at a hotel but in a "Homestay" - They said homestay is more popular than staying in hotels. Actually it feels pretty nice, it's like being in a hotel that offers a full hours for yourself, the breakfast is buffet! Air-conditioned rooms and it's much cheaper too!

This is our "Homestay" only 15 minutes away from the airport.
The first stop - Juan Luna Museum

The house was renovated because it was destroyed by fire. But still, you could see the old remains of the walls were integrated with the renovated parts and it was a great renovation. In the Luna museum you would see how he helped the revolution by designing the uniforms. The story of his paintings are also there, even his brother, Antonio Luna's uniform and sabers were on display. The Luna museum is free of charge, just a little donation would be enough.

Second on the go - Syquia Museum

The Syquia Residence was dubbed as the first "Malacanang of the North" because this is where the late former President Elpidio Quirino would stay, this is also his wife's residence. The wide hallways, the european-inspired furniture and of course, the "peep holes" - it is where the rich would look if they would allow a visitor up to the second floor without them being seen.

Lunch was a so-so, thanks to Maggi Savor, it became my Savior. 
The Third - Crisologo Museum

At first I kept asking myself "Who's Floro Crisologo?" "I must be forgetting my Philippine history." "Who is he?!" - Until I joined a tour guide and said that he was a former Congressman. Then I said to myself "oh, politics, something I know nothing of." The Crisologo residence is also a big one, with a lot of old portraits, the house is also old because I could hear the wooden floor planks creaking with my every step. I kept saying "shit" whenever I hear a big creak. I learned that Crisologo authored the Social Security System or more known as the S.S.S. - Thanks to him. He was assassinated, by the way.

To the Fourth! - Padre Burgos Birthplace

This is the museum I really felt weird, you see, it's a birthplace of a Priest. A Martyr. He was one of the GOMBURZA that were executed - Then they charge an entrance fee. An entrance fee? In the birthplace of a priest? Are you kidding me? Seriously, a birthplace of a martyr, are you kidding me? So whatever, we paid and, OH NO, NOT AGAIN! This museum ain't about Fr. Burgos, it was all about other Ilocos-born heroes. So while touring the house all I saw were the great, the legends of Ilocos. My favorite revolutionary hero Gregorio Del Pilar was also there. The only good things in the museum were the Garrote Replica and the old telephone booth.

The museums are best visited during random days, not post-Christmas trips, it was crowded and it was hard to get photos. This is part 1, see you in the second part! Cheers!