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

THE PICTURESQUE BANTAY CHURCH AND BELL TOWER

Adjacent to the Heritage City of Vigan is yet another charming town of Ilocos Sur called Bantay. Just like Vigan, it is also a place to behold as it boasts ancestral houses and some historical sites. The most famous landmark of the town is the Bantay Church and Bell Tower.

Bantay Church and Bell Tower is about 15 minutes Kalesa ride from the Calle Crisologo ofVigan City. To be honest, I was amazed to know that the town of Bantay is just minutes away from the city proper of Vigan. In fact it is a walking distance from the heritage city. I never knew there are towns like these two so closest to each other. And being adjacent, Bantay is also part of the Vigan Heritage Tour where it highlights the visit to Bantay Church and Bell Tower. 

Bantay Church is also known as the St. Augustine Parish Church. Built by Augustinian Friars in 1590, it is considered as one of the oldest churches in the Province of Ilocos Sur. Bantay Church is a baroque-gothic style church. It has a separate belfry situated on top of a small hill few meters away from the church.

The picturesque Bantay Bell Tower overlooks the stunning view of the mountains in nearby province of Abra and the vast South China Sea (now West Philippine Sea). During World Wars I and II, the belfry was used as a watchtower for invading enemy forces. Clearly, this manifests how Bantay Church and Bell Tower became monumental witnesses to different significant and historical events during those days.

Today, Bantay Church and Bell Tower is a great reminder of the rich history not just of Bantay as a town but the Philippines as a nation. It is a true remainder of our past that tells us we could withstand our future. Bantay Church and Bell Tower truly is a must visit piece of our history in this part of Ilocandia.

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

THE HERITAGE CITY OF VIGAN

I have a huge fascination for anything that is antiquated – antique furnishing, vintage stuffs, old houses and everything that has a touch of antiquity. So when I travel north to Ilocandia, I was full of astonishment to finally see the Heritage City of Vigan, the capital City of the Province of Ilocos Sur known to be the only heritage city in the whole Philippines.

Vigan City is one of my dream destinations in the country. It is incredibly exceptional among the other cities and towns in the Philippine because it is the country’s oldest surviving Spanish colonial city that dates back to the 16th century colonial period.

In fact, Vigan City is officially included in the UNESCO World Heritage List of Sites and Monuments. This is the list of more than 600 cultural and natural properties of exceptional universal value in entire the world.  In the Philippines, it is one of the only five heritage sites found in the whole country.

As a World Heritage Site, Vigan City is the perfect example of a Spanish colonial town in Asia – eminent for its cobblestone streets and a unique architecture with the fusion of both Asian and European building design and colonial architecture. Being the oldest surviving Spanish colonial city in the Philippines, Vigan City preserves and restores antiquated houses and cobbled narrow streets making it the perfect colonial city to visit in the whole country.

Visiting Vigan City for me was a very remarkable experience. I was like traveling back to the old Spanish colonial days while walking around its cobbled stone streets and entering its antiquated houses. Being there, I experienced the feeling of being a true Filipino taking pride of its colorful history and rich heritage. Everything there is a source of pride. Vigan City, for me, is another national symbol of the Filipino people.

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

BYAHENG ILOCOS SUR, LAKBAY ILOCOS NORTE: The Travel Series

If someone would ask me about the longest travel time I spent on the road, indisputably I would say it happened during my tour at the equally stupefying provinces of Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. Longer and exhausting it may seemed but experiencing the wonders of these two provinces is truly electrifying. This is Byaheng Ilocos Sur, Lakbay Ilocos Norte, the first ever Travel Series of the Travel Teller for 2012.

From Davao City to these two provinces of Ilocos Region, The Travel Teller spent three fun-packed days of adventures and excitements going around the must-see, must-experience destinations in this part Ilocandia. Touristy as it may seem but these places define the Wealth and Wonders of this part of the Philippines, a country of fun and excitement.

Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte are two significant provinces belonging to the Ilocos Region located in the northwest of Luzon. These two provinces offer a number of popular destinations for tourists, local and foreign alike. They are famous for their cultural heritage and natural wonders. They have various natural attractions that guarantee unparalleled adventures. Both are exceptional destinations best for those who quest for fun, culture, heritage and nature.

For beach lovers and sun worshippers, these two provinces are equally paradise to consider. Their proximity to the South China Sea now called West Philippine Sea lures tourists to come and enjoy the heat and waves of Ilocos’ sea and sands. Speaking of sands, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte are both homes of the famous Ilocos Sand Dunes, favorite location for local and international film. Beyond that, there are many spectacular and inviting places to see in these two provinces.

Join me as I chronicle this exciting adventure from my home in Davao City to the sparkling white sand beaches of Pagudpud, to the majestic Windmills of Bangui, to the amazing Kapurpurawan Rock of Burgos, to the vintage street of Calle Crisologo in Vigan and many many more. To date, this is the longest travel time I spent on the road but every bit of it is worth it. This is the longest trip I surely will never forget.

This is “BYAHENG ILOCOS SUR, LAKBAY ILOCOS NORTE: The Travel Series”.

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
(From L-R) Christopher, Tina, Ariel, Arthur, Ophelia, Mary Ann, Hannah, Me, Sarah, Mario, special thanks to Kier Ashley Lim for this group photo

A grateful shout out to my RTOUR friends, my travel soulmates on this memorable trip.