Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ilocos Road Trip Part 3

We left Vigan for Ilocos Norte, a little after lunch. Along the way, we made several stops in small towns, most of which have historical significance. We also took the opportunity to do our Visita Iglesia. A Visita Iglesia is a traditional Holy Week tradition of praying the Station of the Cross at 7 different churches. Well, in our case, it's just praying...none of those prolonged station of the crosses, while the kids are pulling our shirts, impatient to leave.

One of the best things in an Ilocos Road Trip, are the littles stops along the way, before you reach your final destination, in our case, Pagudpud. If you are a history buff like me, you will enjoy this route.

Badoc Church, in the town with the same name, is one of the quaintest church whose facade I fell in love at first sight. The church is just small, and "nakakasilaw ang puti" in the noonday sun. The patron of the Church is Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

The old man tending the candles, ask about our whereabouts, and when we told him we're just passing by, on the way to Ilocos Norte. He gamely told an anecdote about their dear Patron. (it was the usual tale, about the statue being suddenly lost, and then being found somewhere else, and/or ten men trying to carry it to move to another church, but are not able to do so.. a sign that the icon won't leave their church..) Quite a character. I bet if you go there today, he's still there.

Badoc town is also the hometown of the famous painter, Juan Luna. We visited his huge bahay na bato (stone house), beautifully restored by the National Historical Institute. I don't really mind paying for an entrance, for these kinds of places. They have a donation box, where we willingly put our share for its upkeep.

It was very evident that the Lunas were rich in those days. In the absence of modern-day cars, the status symbol in those days, were the caruajes (kalesa). They have a garage for one or two caruajes. They also have a prayer room in the terrace and their own "balon" or well. Aside from his photos, and that of his family, some memoirs, there are also replicas of his famous paintings like the huge Spolarium, and the renowned Parisian Ladies, which years ago created a stir when it was brought by GSIS using members' funds from Christie's of London. But I'm deviating....

The Queen of all churches in Ilocos Norte is, of course, Paoay Church. Anywhere you aim your camera, it's a postcard-friendly, feast for the eyes. The architect of the church must have planned the church to be something "to behold." There is an immense space in-front of the church. That distance, allows the visitor "to behold" the grandeur of the church, as one approaches it. Really beautiful! This scene alone is worth the trip!

Across the plaza is a small restaurant that sells Pakbet Pizza. Having several doses of pakbet awhile back in Vigan. We didn't have an appetite for anymore of it, more so, in our pizza. We, instead, had the local Lomi. Sticky homemade noodles. Ilocano Lomi has some achuete, so the liquid is reddish. Quite yummy! We ran out of memory in our camera, and we didn't bring our laptop. So, we looked for an internet shop to download them in our memory stick.

Internet cafes are not hard to find, since Paoay is a university town, because of the presence of the region's biggest university Don Mariano Marcos University, named after the father of the former dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.

Speaking of Ferdinand Marcos, our next stop was his hometown of Batac. Batac is now a city, thanks, of course, to the numerous tourists visiting the tomb of the former president. I've been here during my college days courtesy of my roommate from laoag, reylah espiritu. But I noticed the exhibits have taken-in the minimalist style. Gone are the houseful of Marcos' life-like mannequins, all wearing various ceremonial outfits. What's left is a few exhibits of the bills he passed, huge photos of his handsome young self, and needless to say, his air-conditioned tomb.

some marcos' nonsense sayings outside his tomb:

The scene is quite eerie because of the carnival-like atmosphere. It feels like going inside a horro house! Unfortunately, photo-taking is not allowed. One enters the dark chamber smelling of sampaguita, with eerie music in the air. Then, at the center of the room, is the tomb, and the wax figure of Marcos lying on top of it, with a solitary spotlight. Eeew. the stuff that nightmares are made-of. The place reeks of negative energy.

We left the place immediately. We are now traversing the route towards Laoag. We can see the beaches on our left side, and the mountain ranges, on the right. Hey, this is what we studied about Ilocos Region during my high school days. The lack of tillable land made the Ilocanos, what they are now, not kuripot but "matipid."

What happened in Laoag.. did not stay in Laoag. It's up next!!

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