Moving Around Marcos Country (Ilocos, Part 2)

Woke up at 5:30am.  Ugh, just 30 minutes from my usual waking time.  Opened the TV for some news while stretching.  After showering and dressing up for the day, we had our breakfast outside.  We both ordered longganisa and it was good.

After breakfast, I went to the reception area and met Mr. Samuel Blas, the owner.  He was really nice and even offered us to join him and his friends for a tour.  I declined because we already made our plans for the day.  Anyway, he suggested places to go and thanked him for that.

Our itinerary for the day was tourist spots in Batac and Paoay.  We skipped Sarrat because we’ve been there when Dad had a project years ago.  Our tour guide, Junjun, with our transportation, the famous Laoag tricycle, picked us up by 9:30am.  Our first destination was Paoay.

A 30-minute ride from Laoag, the first place we went to was the Malacanang of the North.  After signing on the guestbook by the outpost, we walked the driveway to the front of the museum.  This was built as a residence of the former President Marcos whenever he was in Ilocos Norte.  It overlooks the famous Paoay Lake.

Paoay Lake

Legend has it that a village lies under it.  The lost village was reputedly peopled by affluent families that refused to aid a beggar.  As punishment, torrents of rain began pouring over the village.  Flood waters rapidly rose until the village was submerged and Paoay Lake was formed.  It is said that fishermen sometimes catch fish wearing gold rings, a testament to the extravagant lifestyle of the people who lived in the submerged village.  Geological studies indicate, however, that it was formed by a massive earthquake that caused the ground to sink and be filled with water from underground springs. (excerpt from the Ilocos Norte travel brochure)

From the museum, we travelled around the lake and stopped to take some pictures.  We then moved on toward Paoay Church.

Paoay Church

Also known as St. Augustine Church, it was built by using coral blocks and stucco-plastered bricks, making it a unique combination of Gothic, Baroque and Oriental architecture.  Construction of the church started in 1704 and completed in 1894.  A few meters away is the coral-stone belltower which served as observation post of Katipuneros during the Philippine Revolution and again by guerillas during the Japanese occupation.  The church was officially inscribed to the Unesco World Heritage List in 1993. (excerpt from the Ilocos Norte travel brochure)

Bell Tower, Paoay

We went up the bell tower, all 95 very steep stairs.  I was even kind of hesitant because some of the wooden steps looked really old and worn out that it might not carry my weight, hehehe.  I had to step on the sides and not the middle.  We were like climbing a ladder because of the wide space between steps as you go higher.  Hah! Made it and loved the bell and the view.  Going down was a bit tricky, especially those with wide spaces between steps.  And the feeling that you’d just topple down- whoa!

It was a little bit past 11am when we left the church and decided to make a run to the Marcos Mausoleum in Batac.  It closes at 12 noon for lunch and reopens a bit after 1pm.  We got there after a 10-15 minute drive.

We met the caretaker and he opened the mausoleum for us.  Cameras/taking pictures and pointed objects not allowed inside, a sign posted on the door says.  The room was dimly lit, the walls were all black or dark gray- couldn’t really tell.  Marcos’ glass coffin lay behind the divider near the front of the room, a single spotlight on it.  He was covered in wax, which explains his smooth exterior.  The room was cool, temperature being maintained so the wax will not melt.  The coffin was in a mini granite garden, with chains bordering around it, making it look like the tomb of the unknown soldier in the US.

Marcos Museum, Batac

From the mausoleum, we took the tricycle around the block to the Marcos Museum.  It showcased items from when Marcos was president like written memos, his working desk and even the car plates used.  There was a history on his birth and even a family tree, which was missing a lot of names.  Junjun said that there was a better version in Sarrat, Marcos’ birthplace.

Our guide then brought us to a series of stalls that sold the famous Ilocano empanada.  We were shown how it was made and I didn’t even think of recording it- sheesh! The empanada starts off with an orange dough of rice flour (think street food qwek-qwek orange), flattened ala tortilla wrap.  Then, it is filled up with grated green papaya, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, longganiza (special) and a whole raw egg on top.  The orange wrap is then folded to enclose the ingredients and formed like a shell or fan, then dropped in hot oil in a frying pan.  We were served the recently cooked ones and after adding some Ilocano vinegar, it really was good!

After that satisfying break, we went to visit the Marcos Photo Shrine.  Well, it was more like a warehouse with pictures of the former president and first lady and their political and personal affairs.  It was also the receiving area/office of the current governor of Ilocos Norte, Imelda Marcos.  The four walls were filled up with pictures from top to bottom, like a wallpaper collage! I started off looking at each and every picture but after a minute, I was already getting dizzy.  There was just too much to look at and the heat was not helping! Halfway to the gallery, there was a guestbook.  Hmm, a short break, hehehe.  When we stepped out after making a fast run-through of the remaining half, I was really relieved.  I did not want to see another collage in the next few months.

On our way to Fort Ilocandia, we passed by some stalls selling souvenirs.  Intending to buy some local cornik, we stopped and instead had a field day getting blankets- hahaha! We got the cornik, too.

At Fort Ilocandia, a deluxe hotel, we just breezed through the lobby and looked at the garden.  There were no guests visible during our visit so was wondering if the hotel was even filled up.  Oh, well… on to other places.

On our way back to Laoag City, it began to rain.  We passed by the inn and dropped off our stuff before we proceeded to the market.  At the wet market section, we placed our order of longganiza and bagnet for delivery on Sunday.  We had Junjun have a late lunch and went around to look for souvenirs.   We bought shirts and Ness bought more blankets.  We suddenly had a dilemma as to packing all these blankets because they were bulky.  Hmm, better get an extra bag.  We dropped by Jollibee for a quick bite and texted Junjun after.  While waiting by a convenience store for him to arrive, I dashed in to get some water and juice.  We were back at the inn after a few minutes.

We lounged around then took our showers.  We decided to have dinner at C&E Pizzeria, two blocks from the inn.  We tried their bagnet pizza- not bad.  When we stepped out, we noticed that the road was wet.  I guess it rained while we were eating.  That worked fine because we did not bring umbrellas.

Watched some TV while solving the crossword puzzle.  Slept early- we have a big day tomorrow.  Off to Vigan!

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