Vigan in Ilocos Sur is worth checking out if you have the time and you’re in the area. Of all of the places in the Philippines, this one stands out as an example of the fusion of Spanish and Oriental architecture. Despite the cookie cutter, souvenir shops that line the cobblestone streets of Old Town Vigan, you can get a feel of how it may have been in the 17th century.
Calesas (horse-drawn carriages) were popular in the Philippines during the 18th century during the Spanish colonial period. While it is definitely touristy in Vigan, it’s still the easiest way to get around to see everything without having to trek in the heat. The calesa driver will take you to the highlights of Vigan, some of them interesting, some of them not. You can stay as long or as short as you’d like though.
Spanish Bell Tower
History of Filipino People Museum
Garrotte - Spanish execution instrument. Never knew about this one.
Vigan is also known for its pottery. Eat your heart out, Chris Cooley.
The large mound running down the length of the building? That’s the kiln.
Old Town Vigan
An example of some of the fine crafts sold in Vigan. Of course, there are legitimate pieces to be had, but a majority of stores sell bulk items made in China? Yes, those are made of real frogs. Authentic frog leather.
I’m mainly impartial when it comes to cockfighting, but I definitely don’t have an attachment towards roosters as I do to, say, dogs. So seeing two feathered warriors go at it to the death doesn’t bother me. Megan dared to say that “it was boring.” Love it or hate it, it’s one of the world’s oldest sports and it’s not going anywhere. Cockfighting still takes place in Latin America, Europe, Asia and up until 2007, it was still legal in the United States. <gasp>
The place to be on weekends.
The Original Octagon. Two cocks enter - one cock leaves.
Cock matchmaker. The cockfighting version of weigh-in.
Starting them off young.
Always loyal to fallen heroes.
* Yes, I know that “Rooster” is about Jerry Cantrell’s Vietnam vet dad and it’s predictable for this subject matter, but it works so well.
I’ve gotta get one of these when I get back to the States. One of the primary modes of transportation, unlike the jeepney, tricycles are relatively new. I asked my dad when they came about and he said they weren’t around when he left for the States in the late 60’s, so they must of come up in the 70’s/80’s? Most motorcycles in the Philippines are low CCs, so it also translates to tricycles. It’s not unusual to see seven or more people piled onto one. Fares are usually around P8 (US 19 cents).
What I find interesting are the different variations of tricyles. It’s like adobo, each region has its own version. One day, I want to make a coffee table book of “Philippine Tricycles”.
I wonder if it’d be cheaper to buy a tricycle in the Philippines and have it shipped over or to have one fabricated in the U.S. Probably the first option, huh?
Cousins, nephews and nieces.
Ahh - Paoay Church. This is another go-to spot when visitors come to the Philippines. Completed in 1710, the Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte is a prime example of a Baroque church in the Philippines with its extreme buttresses. It’s made of coral stone and bricks. All of the pictures I took of the church over the years have always been in daylight, so these night pics are a first.
When I took these photos, a town talent show was going on. Saw some pretty good acts - two boys singing Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” and one of the town elders singing an old, traditional love song. Tender.
If you have a foreign driver’s license, you can drive on it in the Philippines for up to 90 days. I’ve heard it’s common for police officers and traffic enforcers to “hold” your license until you give them a “fee” when you get pulled over, especially with foreign drivers. I guess that’s one of the perks of being Filipino-American; won’t get messed with as easily. Sometimes, they’ll tell you to go down to the LTO (Land Transportation Office) to pick it up, for a fee of course. Sounds like a nightmare, but on the street, you can usually “work it out” for around P100 (around US $2).
To avoid having to worry about my Virginia license getting snatched, I got a Philippines license while in Batac. It was fairly simple to do. I just transferred my US license to a Philippines license and took a couple of hours at the LTO. No written or driving test, but I did have to take a drug test and a vision test, which I almost failed. The vision test, that is. They also finger printed me and took my picture, so I’m officially on the Republic of the Philippines’ radar.
The Batac empanada. It’s filled with sautéed garlic, shredded papaya, mongo, egg, and Ilocos longganisa (meat). The dough is its signature orange color because of food coloring. Batac has an empanadaan - a food pavilion featuring the Batac empanada and other regional goodies. Yes, balut included.
I love that arroz caldo is standard issue at the airport in Manila. Arroz caldo (hot rice) is a Spanish influenced porridge with rice, chicken, ginger, scallions and calamansi. It’s a comfort food that’s perfect when you’re under the weather. A lot of Asian countries have their own version of it: congee, juk, chao, chok, kayu, hangul.
Intramuros is one of those spots that you always bring visiting friends and relatives to. We all have those spots in the cities we live in. It is a cool place. Within its walls is Fort Santiago. It was one of the first projects of the Spanish when they decided to make Manila its capital in 1590. Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal, was imprisoned and executed here by Spanish colonialists. Today, it stands as a testament to the heroism of the Filipino throughout the centuries.