April 24, 2005

Almost famous (Laoag escapade part 3)

Here's the blog that hotmail lost somewhere...

Our second day in Laoag (April 3) was a flurry of sightseeing and city tour. Aileen’s cousin became our all-around tour guide and driver for the day. And since my digital camera decided to die on me the day before, we were so grateful Aileen’s uncle lend us his trusty Canon instamatic. Yey!

First stop was the Marcos Museum. On Sundays only parts of the museum is opened, including the mausoleum where the body, or should I say a replica, of the former strongman lies preserved in a glass coffin.

Cameras are not allowed, and people entering the mausoleum are not allowed to stay too long inside. That’s fine with me, though. Not only that I don’t have a camera, I’ve no plans of lingering inside that dark and musty room – I think I have seen much the late dictator in action during my younger days to even bother looking at his lifeless image now (darn, am I that old?). It was interesting, though, browsing through the artifacts and mementos shown in the museum (Marcos’ handwriting was rather, uhm, scratchy).

Paoay Church was our next stop, and the first thing that caught our attention was the UN citation posted at its front grounds. It named the Paoay Church as one of the five baroque churches in the Philippines, and that it is important that these structures be preserved for the benefit of mankind. Okay. That made me think. I need to read more about the baroque churches of the Philippines, and why UN wants them preserved.

When I was in highschool, I was told that one is entitled to three wishes on their first visit to a church. Since then I made it a point to visit a Catholic church, and say my little prayer with the three little wishes in it, everytime I’m in a new place.

The practice has become special to me somehow. More than the wishes, it’s the chance to leave all your burdens and problems to the Higher Being through prayers – and the aura of old churches like Paoay Church seem to offer a solace that is hard to find these days.

Next stop was Fort Ilocandia.

My first impression was the whole place was dedicated to catering to our Asian neighbors. Posters of various promos and packages in English, Korean and Chinese abound. Pictures of Ms China, Ms Thailand, Ms Singapore, among others, from the Ms Earth beauty pageant decorate every wall. I was later told that the property is indeed owned by a Korean national. That explains it.

Too bad we didn’t get to play at the casino, which opens at around 12 noon. We were there at 11 am.

So off we go to Malacañang Palace in Ilocos.

The structure is unmistakably reflective of the opulent lifestyle fit for a head of state and his family. I have nothing much to say, except that I wish the palace tour guide speak a bit clearer and louder. It’s nice, though, that the local government preserves places like this one.

After lunch, we went to Vigan to visit the famed old street and search for the famous Vigan empanada, Marsha’s bibingka, and Lynn’s ever-elusive fabric called “hablon”. After asking around, however, we doubt if the latter even existed in Ilocos. Maybe Lynn meant “abel” and not “hablon”.

The famous old street of Vigan is a wonder in itself – a small stretch of cobbled street that, with enough imagination and appreciation, can take you back a century in time.

Antique furniture littered the sidewalks, matching the faded facades of row houses that showcase old architecture. Galloping handsome horses with guardia sibil riders in spanking starched uniforms occasionally fill the street with a staccato of clippetty-clops of shiny horseshoes on old pavement. Ladies in baro’t saya walk around, chatting among themselves while easing the hot weather with their lovely fans. Borgee Manotok walking alone, inconspicuously weaving his way through kalesas (horse-drawn carriages), sightseers, and church-goers, followed by a small band of crew lugging cameras, tripods, and lighting equipment.

Okay, the last one snapped me back to present day.

Eating is always the best part of the trip, and two orders of empanada at the Vigan plaza really hit the spot. Yum! A quick stop at Marsha’s for bibingka and brownies completed the day. The queue of buyers at Marsha’s reminded me of Collette’s buko pie. It really pays to be the best in something, especially when it comes to food. I hope my friend pushes through with her dream to compile her list of the best of the best in Philippine foods (Hi Rubs!).

It was raining when we got back to Manila the next day, Monday, at 3 in the morning. Office work and Monday blues await at 9am. Back to reality, and reality bites, but life is a joyride, after all. ^__^

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