Perks of working in Tourism Office for the Government is you get to travel for free! But of course we are still on duty and working hahaha! The public teachers had seminar to attend at the north region and we happened to be the organizer of it.
The seminar would be in Ilocos Norte which is the home town of the Former Philippine’s 10th President—-Ferdinand Marcos. But before we reach that place, we needed to prepare ourselves because it’s going to be a 10 hour drive. So lot’s of chips and a soft pillow to cuddle!
1st stop, Ilocos Sur–home of 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Heritage City of Vigan and Baroque Church of Santa Maria.
Vigan is the capital city of Ilocos Sur, the old structures are still intact and you can feel the spanish colonial era through the old houses and pathway plus the kalesa or known as the horse wagon. Actually it was my second time to visit Ilocos Region because when I was still studying Tourism Management, we used to visit different places to learn and study it’s culture for a short period of time and Ilocos Region happens to be one of them. Anyway, so I was with my colleague following and monitoring the movement of the teachers to make sure no one will be left out of the group, while following we get to have some fun and take some pictures. It was hot but it was worth it.
After raoming the famous streets of Vigan, we decided to go to Baluarte Zoo which owned by Chavit Singson, province’s former governor and politician. There you will see his pet tiger, yes pet. He is fond of petting a tiger. You’ll also see deer and ostrich. Even if it’s super hot, we managed to visit the Safari Gallery which is located at the top hill of the zoo and Chavit’s trophy gallery of the preserved remains of the animal he hunted in various parts of the world. After looking around, we decided to wait for the teachers to be finished before heading to Ilocos Norte.
Finally we arrive in Ilocos Norte, after letting the teachers have their dinner we just went straight to our room and rest for a while before deciding to go to the pool. It was night time, breeze were cold and only us in the pool. We just had some chit chat then later on go to our bed and sleep.
Early morning, we were in the hall to prepare everything for the seminar. Since the seminar only took half of the day, we headed out to Ferdinand Marcos’ house known as The White House of the North or Malacañang of the North. During spanish colonial era, if the ground floor of the house was made of brick, stone and cement while the second floor was made of wood, you are rich. Well it’s kinda obvious that time because poor people’s house are mostly made out of nipa hut or what we called Bahay Kubo. Now the house was turned into museum located in Paoay. When we entered the house, it feels peaceful especially when looking at the view of the Paoay Lake, It is a historical place since the former president resided in here and political meetings where done in here. After that we stopped in one shop to buy Chichacorn, Ilocos’ famous snack, before it only has 2 flavors, Plain and Garlic and now since tourists are loving it they decided to experiment and include other flavors which tourists and even locals favored—Cheese, Barbeque, Sweet and Spicy! Oh boy I bought a lot of it to bring it home for my family hihi!
So after we bought some goods, we went to Batac Museum wherein the wax body of Ferdinand Marcos’ resting, it was there for over 27 years until the government allowed him to be buried in National Hero’s Cementery (He is the most controversial president since he declared martial law during his term). Some people claimed that the body inside the museum was only a replica and the real wax bodied of the former president was already buried underneath the glass coffin inside Batac Museum. Inside, you will also see the gowns used by former first lady Imelda Marcos, the presidential decree, old plate numbers, pictures of General McArthur, wedding photo’s and other historical items.
After our visit there, we went to Paoay Church which is famous for its distinct architecture highlighted by the enormous buttresses on the sides and back of the building. It is declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the Philippine government in 1973 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the collective group of Baroque Churches of the Philippines in 1993. We briefly visited sand dunes and where the windmills are located and decided to go back to the hotel, sleep early as we are going home the next day. On our way going home we also stopped to buy Empanada, it is a type of bread where it will be folded into crescent and inside are meats and vegetable. It really is delicious. Also when visiting Ilocos, I suggest to taste and eat Bagnet except if you have hypertension because it might get your blood pressure a little bit high and Puki-puki (eggplant).
It was really a loooooooong and tiring trip but worth it, it feels different when I was still studying because during college days, mostly our visit was for leisure. But this time it’s different, we are the ones to provide the things needed by the teachers, I need to organize their room lists, their bus attendance, their foods and their requests. I learned a lot from this trip as an employee now, and it’s cute to see the teachers acting like a kid again. It’s like I’m the tour guide and they are the students. Oh! and I didn’t know that my teacher in high school is teaching now in public school, he just approached me and was surprised by him (I haven’t look at my list so I didn’t know that his name was there). He told me how proud he is to what I have become and my heart melts knowing that I was still remembered by him and hearing those words made me proud as well!