The long trip to Ilocos is my first this year. I had a blast. Driving past lovely beaches, quaint houses, and quiet thickets, I thought: “Why go out of the country when Philippines alone is already lush with amazing sceneries?” Well, I still want to go to places besides these islands but I would love to see more of the awesome sites in my own territory first. Everything was breathtaking to me. That’s coming from someone who see buildings and hear honking cars all the time in the city. These noises and nuisances have become pretty painful to look at, let alone the four walls of my room. Don’t get me wrong. I love my home but it would be nice to have occasional trips to the woods and beaches. I still have a hang-over from the trip. I miss the vast landscapes, the cold weather, and the food! Let me share these happy memories with you in 2D.
First Stop: Baluarte ni Singson and Bell Tower
This huge 80-hectare park/zoo/ranch/fortress welcomes visitors with a few pairs of parrots at the entrance gate. Admission is free but you have 20 Php for the short (I mean really short) ass ride. Okay, pony, as my niece called them. I believe the trip used to be free as well but they started collecting a small amount for maintenance. After all, it’s just Php 20. 😀 My cousin and I thought the ride would tour us around the entire place though, but it only ran around the ranch. That was only less than five minutes.
Cordillera mountain serves as Baluarte’s head-turning backdrop. No wonder Mr Chavit Singson and some of his amigos loved staying there for a vacation. I would. If only I were rich, I would buy a property near that place and turn it into my personal sanctuary. Not bad. I was a little disappointed but not bad enough for us to walk for two hours checking out the animals and taking pictures. I guess it disappointed me that we couldn’t take pictures with the tigers. 😀 That would have been the day’s highlight.
My brother-in-law had been driving for eight hours at that time so he bailed and decided to take a nap while we enjoyed sight-seeing. At 2 pm, we were on our way to the Bell Tower in Bantay, just a few minutes away from Baluarte and Heritage Village.
Just seeing the tip of the tower made us giggle. It’s amazing how the people were able to preserve them. We were walking toward history. The trek the very ground that friars and heroes walked on. Well, there were no goosebumps, lol! But it was simple captivating. The sun was shining so bright but the wind was blowing cold. It’s a fine weather if only the seat was cool enough for us to sit on. Our butts were burning while taking pictures! Finally, we went up to the Bell Tower and enjoyed the breathtaking view from the top.
Nice, isn’t it? It’s beautiful by day but it felt like a beheaded ghost of a Spanish priest would appear at night. The structure was ancient but sturdy enough to survive eons. Although intact, we always watched our step due to the very old wooden floor. If you are coming to visit the place, there’s nothing to worry about. I suggest not to come with a paranoid cousin with a machine gun mouth. 😀
Another ancient ruin lies near the Bell Tower. It was once a portion of a church that people turned into a mini garden or shrine. We checked it out and took some pictures, of course. While my cousin wanted to capture her moments, I wanted to capture the magnificence of the 14th century remains. Thank God I got my own camera!
We passed by these awesome walls towards the Sagrada Familia garden. I actually forgot the exact name of the spot but this is situated behind St. Agustine Parish. I checked out the Church’s interior but there’s nothing really special to see. The Chapel of the Souls on the left side near the entrance was not really interesting. No wonder my companions drifted to the art gallery and left me! 😀
From Bantay, we still had 1.5-hour drive to the hotel. The hot sun and seemingly endless walk consumed much of our energy. The lunch we ate in one of the diners near Heritage Village (Ilocos’ special Sinaglao and rice) had served its purpose. We all felt hungry on the way.