BALUARTE NI CHAVIT SINGSON

Wrapping up our Byaheng Ilocos Sur, our last destination was Governor Chavit Singson’s Baluarte – an interactive wildlife sanctuary and facility, with the breathtaking view of its dominating scenic boulders amidst trees and greens in the heart of Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

Baluarte is a ten minute drive from Vigan City. It is owned by Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson and sometimes called Chavit’s Fortess.  Unlike other zoos, Baluarte is a wildlife sanctuary dedicated to facilitating education, conservation and protection of endangered species and wildlife. Visitors of Baluarte are guaranteed to rediscover life amongst the animals in unique and entertaining ways through first-hand experience. In fact, one can come and play with the animals inside Baluarte. It is so interactive that visitors can feed them, pet them, whistle with them and even roar with them.

There are so many things one can do there interacting with the animals. In my part, I had fun riding a small horse-drawn carriage called “tiburin”. I also enjoyed whistling and playing with the parrots. I visited the butterfly garden and petted some exotic iguanas. It was incredibly awesome. I also had the chance riding a camel. It was actually my first time to see a camel and riding on it was a rare experience. There were plenty of snakes and pythons there too but I can’t just go nearer. I’ll die if I do. I have huge fear for snakes.

The most unforgettable experience I had at Baluarte is my close encounter with the tiger. It was a new experience for me. At one point I’d like to cuddle the tiger as if it was a huge stuff toy but the moment it moved, I felt apprehensive. I had a perfect photo with the tiger though.

There are more to see and more to do in Baluarte. Indeed, it is more than just a zoo. Going there will surely be an extraordinary adventure especially for families. For us, visiting Governor Chavit Singson’s Baluarte was a perfect treat to end our Ilocandia Tour. The best thing about it – IT IS ABSOLUTELY FREE! Yes, you read it right – admission to Baluarte is FREE!

TRAVEL SERIES: Byaheng Ilocos Sur, Lakbay Ilocos Norte

  1. PAGUDPUD: The Charming Tropical Paradise of the North
  2. The Humongous Windmills of Bangui
  3. KAPURPURAWAN ROCKS: The Prized Gem of Burgos, Ilocos Norte
  4. Sunset at the Sand Dunes of Ilocos Norte
  5. Visiting Malacañang of the North
  6. Beholding the Grandeur of Paoay Church
  7. The Heritage City of Vigan
  8. The Picturesque bantay Church and Bell Tower
  9. Baluarte Ni Chavit Singson

BEHOLDING THE GRANDEUR OF PAOAY CHURCH

I’ve been a huge lover of church structures – may it be old or new, baroque or modern. Whenever I get to visit one place, I make it a point to visit at least one church, first to pray and second to see what’s inside. There is something in churches that I consider special.

If there is one thing I love about Ilocos Norte, it is the fact that the Province is home to the many century-old churches in the Philippines. The most prominent of those is the Paoay Church also known as the San Augustin Church located in the town of Paoay. This historical church is in the bucket list of my dream churches to visit.

From Malacañang Ti Amianan, we drove straight to the town proper of Paoay. The church is located at the very heart of the town. It was nearing dark when we get there but I was so ecstatic to see the grandeur of the Church. As I stepped out of the van, it was the tranquil view of a 300-year old church that welcomed me. It was so peaceful that I can feel its serenity inside me. I moved to the front alley and from there gazed in full admiration the century-old structure that I have been dreaming to see. It was so admirable.

Paoay Church is perhaps the most admired “earthquake Baroque” church in the Philippines. It is a unique combination of Gothic, Baroque and Oriental architectural designs. It is among the first churches in the Philippine listed in the famed Unesco World Heritage List. It is for this reason that at one point, Paoay Church was used as the tourism emblem for the province of Ilocos Norte.

For more than 300 years, San Agustin Church of Paoay has lasted with the test of times – from destructive storms to devastating earthquakes. It has played significant role in the lives of the Ilokanos and has played a vital role of the Philippine history. Above all, it has witnessed the changes and challenges of the town yet remained strong and proud.

The Church was already closed when we got there. A substantial restoration and renovation was going on at that time. We did not get the chance to see what inside but just like the grandeur of the façade, we knew it was as equally magnificent.

Visiting Paoay Church was a dream come true. It is a sheer experience I will truly cherish. Indeed, when we wish for something and we push to make it happen, it will really come true! I may not wander inside the Church but being just there staring at its full grandeur is enough to say, “I WAS AT PAOAY CHURCH”. It used to be dream and finally a reality.

The Travel Teller with his RTour Travel Buddies

TRAVEL SERIES: Byaheng Ilocos Sur, Lakbay Ilocos Norte

  1. PAGUDPUD: The Charming Tropical Paradise of the North
  2. The Humongous Windmills of Bangui
  3. KAPURPURAWAN ROCKS: The Prized Gem of Burgos, Ilocos Norte
  4. Sunset at the Sand Dunes of Ilocos Norte
  5. Visiting Malacañang of the North
  6. Beholding the Grandeur of Paoay Church

VISITING MALACAÑANG OF THE NORTH

Still on our second day of Lakbay Ilocos Norte, one of the most important landmarks of the whole province that we did not miss to visit is the Malacañang of the North locally called as “Malacañang ti Amianan”.

“Malacañang ti Amianan” is one of the rest houses of the late President Ferdinand Marcos located in Suba, Paoay, Ilocos Norte. The rest house is actually a gift from her wife, the former First Lady Imelda Marcos, in time for his 60th birthday. It is also considered as their official residence in Ilocos Norte during the former President’s regime.

“Malacañang ti Amianan” is a two-storey mansion built impressively on a 5-hectare property in Suba, Paoay. It sits on a beautiful landscape overlooking the serene Paoay Lake. Its design is a mixture of both Spanish and Ilocano influences.

The entire structure is very impressive. From grand living room to the elegant dining rooms, attractive guestrooms to the grand master’s bedroom – everything is a work of art. It has also an equally elegant grand staircase that compliments the grandeur of the whole mansion.

“Malacañang ti Amianan” is among the properties of the Marcoses sequestered by the Philippine Government when former President Marcos was removed from power. For than 20 years, it was under the care of the Philippine Government until it was finally given to the care of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte. After going through series of restoration and renovation spearheaded by the incumbent Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, on January 1, 2011, it was open to the public as one of the Province’s key museum.

I am glad that I was able to visit the Malacanang of the North. To enter and personally see one of the most famous houses of the most influential families in the land on their time was a rare experience. It is like seeing history. So, when in Ilocos Norte, never leave the province without visiting this part of Paoay endearingly called by the Ilokanos as “Malacañang ti Amianan”.

FOOTNOTE:

“Malacañang ti Amianan” is strictly open from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM from Tuesdays to Sundays. It has an entrance fee of Php 20.00 collected for the maintenance of the mansion. The Malacanang of the North is accessible by tricycles and by cars from Laoag City, the capital of Ilocos Norte, however; if you are doing the trip by car, it is important to make sure you have a reliablemotor trade insurance to fully cover you in case of any accidents.

TRAVEL SERIES: Byaheng Ilocos Sur, Lakbay Ilocos Norte

  1. PAGUDPUD: The Charming Tropical Paradise of the North
  2. The Humongous Windmills of Bangui
  3. KAPURPURAWAN ROCKS: The Prized Gem of Burgos, Ilocos Norte
  4. Sunset at the Sand Dunes of Ilocos Norte
  5. Visiting Malacañang of the North

SUNSET AT THE SAND DUNES OF ILOCOS NORTE

I never knew that one day I’ll be setting foot exactly to the set where superstar Nora Aunor once shouted a reverberating epic line “Walang Himala!”, the same location used to film that Joey Gosiengfiao’s classic movie Temptation Island. If I never traveled far north to Ilocos Norte, I would have no inkling of how vast and picturesque the Sand Dunes of Ilocos Norte are. If I never braved that 13 hour long journey to this Province, the Sand Dunes of Ilocos Norte will forever remain a part of my classic Filipino movie experience.

Still on the second day of our Lakbay Ilocos Norte adventure, we hurried towards the town Paoay to take a glimpse of the most famous sand dunes in the Philippines – the Sand Dunes of Ilocos Norte.

The Sand Dunes of Ilocos Norte stretches widely from the municipality of Currimao in the north and curves it’s way to La Paz in Laoag City then to Suba in Paoay and lastly in Pasuquin in the south.

The home of Ilocos Norte’s Sand Dunes in Paoay is located in Suba. Suba has the most extensive and unbroken stretch of coastal sand dunes compared to the other towns of Ilocos Norte. With an extensive stretch averaging to 800 meters wide, I felt like I am in a real desert.

It was nearing dusk when we get there – a perfect time to chase a glorious sunset setting at calm waters of the vast West Philippine Seas. As the sun retired, the whole place was slowly swathed by the hypnotizing sunset hues. It was so enthralling we were all at loss of words. Glorious! Glorious! Glorious! The only adjective I kept on murmuring as I glued my eyes on a glorious sunset that was laid before me. I was like staring at a stairway to heaven. To be honest, I was carried away. I wept for no reason. It was just so glorious.

Lured by this spectacle, I seized the moment. While the remaining hues were still there, I playfully posed in front of my camera hoping to own an epic sunset photograph of myself romancing the most beautiful sunset in the Philippines. And it never failed me.

With BFF Sarah

Contended by what we saw and experienced, we left Suba so delighted. I knew it was the pleasing view of the Sand Dunes of Ilocos Norte and the glorious Sunset of Suba that just made our long day on the second day of our Lakbay Ilocos Norte!

KAPURPURAWAN ROCKS: The Prized Gem of Burgos, Ilocos Norte

I would say one of the most beautiful sights to visit today in the whole Ilocos Region that is perfectly crafted by Mother Nature can be found in the town of Burgos, Ilocos Norte. In fact, it becomes one of the most photographed sights in the Ilocandia Region beating other equally famous tourist attractions in the province. I’m talking about the impeccable beauty of Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, the prized treasure of Burgos, Ilocos Norte.

Still on the second day of our Lakbay Ilocos Norte adventure, we moved this time to the town of Burgos, around 30 minutes drive from the Windmills of Bangui. Our point of destination is the now famed Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. 

Kapurpurawan Rock is accessible from the highway. Going there, the handsome view of the bonsai forests the abound both sides of the bumpy road alluringly caught our interests. These pygmy foliage in various hues was so attention-grabbing. Spectacular. It was a good sight to start our encounter with Kapurpurawan Rock.

Reaching the jump off area, we waited no second to hike down a cemented path leading to the open field. From here, the welcoming view of the vast South China Sea now known as the West Philippine Sea is superb. From afar, Kapurpurawan Rock can already be seen.  Few minutes of hiking passing through coastal rocks, pools of sea water and bonsai mangroves, a scenic view of this unique sight become more alluring. And when we finally get to its base, the splendor of the whole place immediately captivated us. Staring it from where we stood, indeed, it was a magnificent sight to behold.

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation offers a breathtaking view of different rock shapes that can completely amaze tourists that visit the place. It is completely different from the common sharp coral rocks found at hand. The whole formation has smooth curving. It has shapes that look like iconic head, cradle and the resting dragon. But the most amazing thing about Kapurpurawan Rocks is its white creamy color. Kapurpurawan actually comes from an Ilocano root word “puraw” which means white. According the locals, these rock formations become even whiter during the months of April and May. I also noticed that one side of the rock formation is soft and has a chalk-like texture. At one point, my black shirt and my black shoes were covered with cream colored dust as I tried climbing the peak of the Kapurpurawan Rock.

Aside from the rock formation, the whole environs that encircle Kapurpurawan is also a charming sight to see – the breathtaking blue waters of the West Philippine Sea, the ravaging waves splashing on the plain rocky shores, the bonsai mangroves nearby – everything looks gorgeously charming!

Without a doubt, Kapurpurawan Rock is the prized treasure to be discovered when in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. It is not only a tourist destination to see but a prized masterpiece perfectly crafted by Mother Nature.

TRAVEL SERIES: Byaheng Ilocos Sur, Lakbay Ilocos Norte

  1. PAGUDPUD: The Charming Tropical Paradise of the North
  2. The Humongous Windmills of Bangui
  3. KAPURPURAWAN ROCKS: The Prized Gem of Burgos, Ilocos Norte