The City That Never Sleeps
My name is John Mark Francia. I am, a Filipino. I find it hard to name things I hate (because i barely hate anything). I'm 18 and I don't mind being shy.I try my best at everything and never fear failure because I believe that there is a reason for everything

posted : Thursday, April 12, 2012
title : -- ILOCOS SUR Tour

Months ago, i and my friends (Keyzl and Kristel) planned to take a short vacation after class semester, but the location and dates remained undecided until we come up with the idea to visit the historical city of VIGAN.

It was April 1, 2012 when we departed through the Deluxe Bus of VIRON TRANSIT. Originally, our trip is slated at 9:00PM but we were in the terminal already at 4PM so we decided to just take the 5:30PM Trip bound to VIGAN. The bus is so comfortable, with foot board and good air dispenser. It has also wide aisle and good seats, perfect for long hours travel. During our trip, we had stop-overs somewhere in Tarlac, in Sison, Pangasinan and VIRON Terminal in La Union.

I can describe our trip as gaudy, due to our unlimited laughs. HAHA. I may not be able to sleep throughout the trip but the bonding still worth it.

We arrived in the heart of CANDON CITY, ILOCOS SUR at exactly 2:00AM. It was my first time in Ilocos Province so i got so excited to get off the bus. Upon aboarding, we were welcomed by an indescribable scent. It was the time i realized the scent of a ”baul” mixed with the fuzzy smell of the Tobacco plants. We were fetched by Keyzl’s auntie Belen in the Calamayan section of downtown Candon. I thought i finally can lie down to bed and take some sleep, but our tricycle ride begins the Ilocos Adventure. We passed by another town of Ilocos Sur which is GALIMUYOD on our way to Brgy. Salvador 2nd of Candon. I imagined the place would be near the boundary of Candon, Galimuyod and Banayoyo since it is way too far from the ”Bayan”. We passed by hectares of tobacco plantations, no street lights, and an arduous road that makes me reminisce the movie, The Road. Our spine were tingling as we look back to where we came from — ZERO Visibilty!

APRIL 2, 2012

We woke up at around 9:00 AM, and I was flabbergasted by the view of a mountain, and another tobacco plantation. As i smell the scent, my nose began to act aberrant as i started to have colds and irritation. We decided to just roam around the place on our first day in Ilocos Sur. We took a bath in a ”poso” which made me missed my childhood. It’s a good feeling that after a decade, i experienced again the ”poso-bath”. We had our piknik in a drained dam, few steps away from the community. Then we had the time passed on our stay in a nipa hut. ^____^ Feels so GREAT!

In the afternoon, Keyzl invited as to her cousins’(?) house in Sitio Sampatingan where we met her cousin, Rop-Rop. We also had a free taste of their Halo-Halo and a glimpse to a cute puppy strolling nearby. Just beside the Sitio is Baranggay Ban-Banaal which is already a part of the municipality of BANAYOYO. Our reason for visiting the place is because of a baby cadaver that never rots for the past years. On our way to the chapel where it is placed, we were almost chased by a crazy woman named Juliet. :) ) We felt very nervous that time because i thought it was the baby’s relative and she doesn’t want us to take photos of the baby cadaver, since I am holding a DSLR that time. ~~~~ hoooo! HAHA. Upon seeing the body, i was not really amazed but i remember the time it was featured in Rated K and Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho.

APRIL 3, 2012


It was around 9:30 AM when we left Salvador 2nd and we reached the City Proper of Candon at 10:00 AM. We bought some chips, drinks and fried chicken from a grocery store before riding a bus to VIGAN. We rode some ordinary bus that really pissed me off. Aside from the over passengers, it stayed motionless for half an hour waiting for the ”konduktor”. Ang ineet pa naman! HAHA. At first, i am thinking that we are going to reach VIGAN for an hour but it took us 2hours. We passed by the municipalities of Santiago, and the majestic white sand beaches of San Esteban. We also passed by Narvacan, and the fantasic Banaoang Bridge that separates the municipalities of Santa and Bantay. The bridge is being featured on various Ilocano music videos so its kinda popular to me. Aside from the bridge, the view of San Quintin, ABRA and the splendid Abra River that connects the Ilocandia to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) adds to the view. ^___^

We arrived in VIGAN CITY at 1:00 PM. I felt very excited that time because our plans are becoming into life. After aboarding the bus, we immediately looked for a Carinderia where we can eat lunch because we were all very hungry that time. While walking in the sultry Vigan, i saw this Aling Beth or Ninang Beth’s Restaurant. Though the foods are expensive, the experience, the amenities and the yummy Ilocos Chopsuey do worth the price. The taste of the chopsuey is very different from that of everywhere. I know it was traditional and original recipe inherited from the Spanish settlers.


After our lunch, we rode a tricycle going to our first destination: the VIGAN HERITAGE VILLAGE or The Mestizo District. It is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site city in the Philippines. Upon seeing the welcoming Calle Crisologo, i finally realized that VIGAN is one of the few Hispanic towns left in the Philippines. We had the chance to see all the cobblestone streets, and those unique architecture that fuses Philippine and Oriental building designs and construction, with colonial European architecture that i see in pictures or Philippine History Books. It is one of my dream destinations since elementary, and finally i see myself already stepping on it.

I also noticed the streets were named CALLE which signifies Spanish Colonization. Also, the MAX’s Restaurant, McDonalds and any other fastfood chains and commercial establishments were housed in a Spanish-European buildings (because there is a City Ordinance that the styles of commercial establishments should be alike or coordnated with the Heritage Village). While traversing the famous CALLE CRISOLOGO, there were lots of Calesa (Horse-drawn buggy) that comes along our way that rides some tourists from other countries). There were also lot of friendly Souvenir shops, so we took pictures with their products like the hats or the”salakot”. Halfway the Calle Crisologo, we decide to take the Calesa Ride which will tour us to different exciting places in Vigan. The ride costs 150 per hour which is already cheap since we were four. And the price is worth it since our tour guide shared some interesting facts and a bit of History of VIGAN. hehe


Our first Calesa Ride destination is the adjacent town of Bantay. If you are not aware of Geography, then you would assume that it is still a part of VIGAN City. We visited the Bantay Parish that serves as the Sanctuary of Nuestra Senora de La Caridad or the Queen of Ilocandia. The church and bell tower is considered to be one of the oldest in the province as they were built on 1590 (accdg to our tour guide). Just beside the church is the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Bell Tower!!! It has been the setting of Panday Movie way back in 1990s. The view of the bell tower is astonishing as we gets closer… and closer. We went up the Bells, and had a surprising view of ABRA, Bantay and Vigan City — though it was scary climbing the stairs.

On our way to our next destination, we passed by the South Arch of VIGAN which serves as the boundary between the two towns (Vigan and Bantay). After few minutes of Calesa Ride, we finally reached the Pagburnayan where the famous Ilocano jars are being made. Keyzl and Kristel had the chance to make their own pots which is another remarkable experience!


We ended our Calesa Ride at 3:00 PM, and we were dropped infront of Crisologo Museum. The Crisologo Family were once the most influential politicians in Ilocos Sur, from Governor to Mayor. It is the former house of Governor Crisologo before it was converted into museum. We saw a lot from the gallery, from suits to guns and chariots to cars. The actual picture of Gov. Crisologo after he was shot inside the church were also in the exhibit. The second floor of the museum is the house itself, left untouched. We were able to sit on their bed, see their wooden refrigerator, their chairs and the vintage facilities of the old mansion. The floors maybe feeble already but can still manage to accomodate tourists and visitors.


At 3:30 PM, we decided to go to BALUARTE which is a mini-zoo located in Baranggay Salindeg. It serves as the boundary of VIGAN City to the municipality of Caoayan. It is famous because it is owned by Chavit Singson. The first animals that welcomed us are the two big tigers just beside the gate. It’s the second time i saw Tiger in person (First in Ninoy Aquino Wildlife). There were a lot of animals in the area like Ostrich and Camels which are touchables. :) ) The area is a bit big, and further improvements are already taking place. We also had the chance to witness the Animal Show at 4:00 PM where Free Wi-Fi can be accessed. There were also Souvenir shops inside the zoo, a big BALUARTE Signage ang the giant Dinosaurs!

After our BALUARTE Trip, we are set to go on MINDORO BEACH. Unfornutately, the fare is quite high and a ride back to downtown VIGAN is unsure, so we decided to come back in Calle Crisologo and have a walk for the last time. We also felt that our stomach is already calling us so we had a taste of Buko Express in a Food Court nearby. We also walked in Plaza Salcedo where we had the chance to take a look inside the St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral. At 5:00 PM, we went to the National Highway and rode Domininion Bus Lines back to CANDON City. Eventhough we were already tired the whole day, we still manage to tickle each other with jokes and epic faces! HAHA. At 6:30, we arrived in the City of Candon and tried the Ilocos EMPANADA. I was surprised by the taste because it was so different, and is so MASARAAAP! hehe :) )

APRIL 4, 2012

First day of bonding with Ate Manilyn (Keyzl’s ate) and Rop-Rop. Though hiking is not in our To-Do list, we decided to go up the mountains where a cemetery is situated. I know we had a hard time climbing the mountain, but the view is more worthy than the effort. We were eating some chips while having a look at the Province of ABRA. On our way down, we saw a Mango tree with a lot of yields to give. We took some fruits, perfect for the Alamang.

We alos went to the city proper to have our Facebook-life updated! We also went to a Beach called Bliss where lots of ”bangca” for fishery were anchored. It is also known for its gray sand and nice sunset view! Though we only have ample time to go swimming, we still enjoyed it. But it is more enjoyable and exciting on our way home. I and Kristel got chased by two dogs while on a tricycle on our way home to Salvador 2nd. HAHA. :) ) Panic attack!

APRIL 5, 2012

Since it is GOOD Friday, we decided to just stay just around in the sitio. We had our lunck/picnik beside the Dam and we also played some cards. We were addicted to Pusoy Dos, Bullshit and 1 2 3 Pass. HAHA. :) ) We stayed in the nipa hut for quite a long time, before we were invited in Brgy. Sacaang in Galimuyod, Ilocos Sur. We continued our card games there, and we made fun of each other to kill the boredom since there was no signal in the place.

At night, we had shared some ghost stories before getting into sleep.

APRIL 6, 2012

We are supposed to go home at night but it would be very risky so we decided to just depart Sunday morning. We celebrated the Black Saturday in the beach, wherein hundreds of people were also there. The Bliss suddenly grew into a crowded area with small businesses near the sea like Halo-Halo and ”Ihaw-Ihaw”.

While riding the tricycle with Keyzl’s family and relatives, I suddenly think of my family. How are they celebrating the Black Saturday concerned me. My sister was left in Quezon City, while my parents are in Isabela. It is just so sad that i am not with them in welcoming the Easter Season, but being with friends would still be worthwhile. We dropped by at CSI Mall in Candon to have some taste of Buko Shake, and to inquire about the PARTAS Evening Trips.

We arrived in the beach at 1:30PM while the sun is still blazing! Wearing the swimming outfit, we came accross the salty water of West Philippine Sea at 2:30 PM. We stayed in the sea for almost 3hours, that’s why our skin turned dark! We also had the chance to ride the”bangka” which costs us 120 Pesos. It was so thrilling because we didnt have any life jacket as we navigate kilometer away from the shore. The high and deep waves further add into our excitement, but still it was very unsafe :)) Good thing, there was no harm!

At night, Kristel and Keyzl shed some tears while on the ride home. Even though we just stayed there for a week, we felt like we are already part of their family. We will surely miss all the bonding, and of course, Ate Manilyn and Rop-Rop. We will miss the house, the dam, the tobacco scent and the experience we had.

I know it would be mushy, but i really wanna cry before leaving the place. I want hugs from them, but i feel so timid that time so it didn’t happen.

APRIL 7, 2012

We bid our last glance in the place at 11:30AM, the sad part of leaving! haissst! We bought some pasalubongs like Bibingka and Calamay before riding the Dominion Bus Lines bound to Cubao at 2:00PM. Since, the Holy Week was just finished, millions of cars are already going back to Manila. The heavy traffic in Rosario, La Union really pissed me off. I know it is normal for this time since it is where the bus going to Manila, and from Baguio meets. Aside from that, there were also heavy traffics in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan and to various parts of Tarlac. We also stayed for a long time in SCTEX and NLEX Toll Gates. The 8-hour trip became 11-hour trip which really annoyed me.

We were fetched in the terminal by Kristel’s NEW Toyota Car! HAHA. ~ I arrived at home at 2:00AM, and finally lied down to get some rest!


Here are some of our photos:

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