Posts Tagged ‘vigan’

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Philippine World Heritage List: One More to Go!

Ever since I got hooked into Digital Photography, the more I became fascinated with old architecture, more so with old structures and churches. During our travels there is always a part in our itinerary to visit old churches and then it led to visiting Historical and Heritage Sites, this is where the Philippines World Heritage List comes in.

There are eight (8) sites listed in the Philippine World Heritage List and Twenty Nine (29) sites on the tentative list, which the Philippines Government intends to consider them for nomination in the future.

The Eight (8) sites includes the following:

• The Historical Town of Vigan, Ilocos
• Puerto Princessa Sub-terrainian River National Park
• The Rice Terraces of the Philippines, Banaue
• The four (4) Baroque Churches in the Philippines, which are: Miag-ao Church, San Agustin Church, Paoay Church, & Sta Maria Curch
• The Tubbataha Reefs National Park

on the eight on the list, the place which we have not yet visited is the last place in the list, which is The Tubbataha Reefs National Park and we are hoping to visit it in the near future, and if there are any would be sponsors out there who would like to fund out trip we would gladly appreciate and would gladly answer your questions.

The list start off with The Historical Site of Vigan… we visited the town of Vigan, when we joined a group for a tour to the Ilocos Region, where we had a chance also to visit two (2) of the Baroque Churches on the list.

The Historical Town of Vigan is one of the few Hispanic towns in the Philippines where its structures remain intact, and is well known for its cobblestone streets and a unique architecture that fuses Philippine and Oriental design and construction with Colonial European Architecture.

The town of Vigan can be considered an island because it is detached from the mainland by great rivers namely, the Abra River, the Meztiso River and the Govantes River. What is unique with Vigan is its extensive and only surviving historical city in the country that dates back to the 16th century Spanish colonial period.

Vigan was an important coastal trading post long before colonial Spanish gallions arrived, chinese junks sailing from the South China Sea came to Isla De Bigan through the Meztiso river, on board were sea-faring merchants that came to barter exotic goods from Asian Kingdoms in exchange for gold, beewax and other mountain products brought down by the natives from the cordilleras.

How Vigan got its name is told from an anecdote carried by the tongue of generation, which tells of a Spaniard walking on the banks of the Meztiso River, there, he met a native pf the place and stopped to inquire: “Como se llama usted de esta lugar?”

Not understanding a word in spanish, the native scratched his head and upon seeing the Spaniard was pointing to a plant, exclaimed in ilocano “bigaa apo”. Bigaa being Alcasia Marconiza, a giant taro plant belonging to the gabi family, which use to trive at the banks of the Meztiso River. From the name of the plant – Bingaa, hence Vigan derived its name.

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Next on the list is, Puerto Princessa Subterrainian River National Park, which we visited recently. With a lot of other places to visit around Puerto Princessa, including a trip around Honda Bay, Firefly Watching near the Iwahig Penal Colony and lots of excellent restaurants to have your fill with some exotic food like crocodile meat and “Tamilok” or woodworm, which the locals eat.

Puerto Princessa Subterrainian River is one of the most distinguished protected areas of the Philippines, located some 360 miles (580 Km) southwest of Manila. It was established as National Park in 1971 primarily to protect and preserve the intact old forest growth, interesting wildlife, pristine white sand beaches, unspoiled natural beauty and one of the most impressive cave systems in the world.

The Park features a spectactular limestone or Karst mountain landscape and an 8.2 kilometer long underground river that flows into the sea. The lower half of it is brackish and subject to ocean tides, and the associated tidal influences makes it the most unique natural phenomenon of its type to exist. The presence of 11 minerals, scientifically and aesthetically unique speleothems, and a 20 million year old serenia fossil embedded on the walls of the caves justifies the declaration of the underground river as one of The New 7 Wonders of Nature.

The Park contains a full mountain to sea ecosystem and protects forests that are important to biodiversity conservation, which are the most significant in Asia, and is noted for high levels of regional and local endemism. The site is habitat to numerous endangered, rare and endemic wildlife species. In the coastal area, mangroves, sea grass beds and coral reefs are found.

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The Third on the list is The Rice Terraces of the Philippines, which is located in the cordillera region. Our trip here was with a group of volunteers who distributed pencils and notebooks to the school children in the far-flung areas of Ifugao. There are a lot of terraces sites here including the terraces of Batad, Mayaoyao and Bangaan Rice Terraces, which is included in the UNESCO world heritage list.

The Philippines Rice Terraces was carved into the mountain over a 2000-year period, by the ancestors of the indigenous “Ifugao” people. The Rice Terraces commonly referred to as the Eight Wonder of the World is located approximately 1500 meter above sea level and covers about 6,487 square kilometers of mountains. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rain forest above the rice terraces. The system comprises of dams, sluices, channels and bamboo pipes, which are open or closed in co-operation with each owner and are built using hand tools only. The locals here still plant rice and vegetable but wet weather causes damage and the steps need constant repair.

The Rice Terrraces are stone-walls which can reach as high as 50 feet and are constructed along the contours of the mountain side. The Terraces are then backfilled and another wall is built at a slightly higher elevation, this process is commenced from the valley floor upward. The Terraces require an elevated water source to flood the fields during the growing season. They also dam the water dirung construction to aid in moving boulders and earth. The irrigation water is channeled long distances by stoned lined channels or bamboo aqueducts that traverses the sides of the mountains.

Tourists prefer other locations nearby than that of the Terraces of Banaue, which include, Batad Rice Terraces, Mayaoyao Rice Terraces, Hapag Rice Terraces and the Kiangan Rice Terraces.

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The next four on the list, are the four (4) Baroque churches in the Philippines, the first of which were built by the Spaniards in the late 16th century. Their unique architectural style is a reinterpretation of European Baroque by Filipino craftsman, which I had written in my blog.

Here they are in detail:

San Agustine Church

Concealed behind the walled city of Intramuros, built by the Spaniards in 1570, is the church of San Agustin. This church is a significant monument to the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, being the first religious structure built in the island of Luzon, after the Spanish relocated from Cebu in the south.

Built within the administrative center of the Spanish government, San Agustin church enjoyed privileges not commonly dispensed to most colonial churches. It was built by the Spaniard Juan Macias in 1586 and was completed in 1606. Luciano Oliver later renovated it in 1854. The book Great Churches of the Philippines points out that the church was designed “according to the plans approved by the Royal Audencia of Mexico and by a Royal Cedula.”

Jesus Encinas, who wrote San Agustin Manila, states that the design of the church was derived from other churches that were built by the Augustinians in Mexico. Pedro Galende, OSA, in his book San Agustin Noble Stone Shrine, adds that the Augustinians “who came from Spain and those born in Mexico had a great opportunity to observe and study the South American monastic architecture which they later used in the Philippines. They took into consideration the quality of the local stone and the weather conditions which required them to sacrifice aesthetic requirement for durability.”

This practical and banal approach to aesthetics is evident on the church’s facade. It may have been the most sought and copied facade in the colonial period, but its static appearance and dark adobe stone lack grace and charm. Even the Augustinians themselves were not too kind with the church’s displeasing appearance. In another book, Angels in Stone, Galende recalls the Augustinian historian, Agustin Ma. de Castro’s critical comment of the church’s facade: “It was of triangular form, very ugly and of a blackish color; flanked by two towers, one of which has no bells and does not serve for anything. Due to the frequent earthquakes in Manila, they (towers) have only one body, ugly and irregular, without elevation or gracefulness.”

Sedate and direct to the point, the facade follows the style of High Renaissance. The symmetrical composition are prefixed by pairs of Tuscan columns that flank the main door of the two-tiered facade. The vertical movement of the paired columns is adapted at the second level by equally paired Corinthian columns. At the second level, mass and void alternate in a simple rhythm of solid walls and windows. The two levels, are emphasized by horizontal cornices, are then capped by a pediment that is accentuated with a simple rose window. The facade’s hard composition are held together by two towers; unfortunately, the missing left belfry further exaggerates the lackluster facade. It was taken down after a destructive earthquake hit the church in 1863 and 1880, splitting the tower in two.

The facade has a touch of Baroque by the ornately carved wooden doors that depict floras and religious images. Baroque is also evident in the carved niches that quietly reside between the paired lower columns. The church is bequeathed with Chinese elements in the form of fu dogs that emphatically guard the courtyard entrances.

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Santa Maria Church (Nuestra Señora dela Asuncion Church)

Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion: Municipality of Santa Maria, Province of Ilocos Sur Built in 1765 under the direction of the Agustinian order, the ensemble resembles a citadel sited on the crest of a solitary hill rising above one side of the Santa Maria town plaza. The architectural ensemble presents its side and detached pagoda-like bell tower rather than its façade to the town. Thick contrafuetes (buttresses) are attached to the walls, reinforcing the structure against earthquake damage. The bell tower is constructed a distance away, protecting the main church structure from possible earthquake damage. Approached on foot by ascending a long, wide flight of Piedra china, steps that rising from the edge of the town plaza, the small, cramped plaza at the top of the steps is bounded by the church façade that faces the convento, enclosed by an arcaded bridge that connects both structures.

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Paoay Church (San Agustin Church)

The best-known earthquake Baroque church in the Philippines is Paoay Church, which has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The cornerstone of the church, was laid by the Augustinian Missionaries in 1704, while the cornerstone of the belfry was laid in 1793. The people already used it even before completion in 1894,but it was formally inaugurated on February 28,1896. It is said that large coral stones were used for the lower level of the church structure, and bricks were used for the upper levels. The walls, which were made of coral blocks, tree sap, lumber and stucco-plastered bricks are 1.67 meters (more than 3 feet) thick, and are supported by 24 massive buttresses of intricate design. The church was partially destroyed twice by earthquakes in 1706 and 1927.In the restoration, permanent columns were built to support the ceiling. Today, this uniquely beautiful church still stands, wowing tourists with its majestic structure of Oriental, Gothic and Baroque influences.
The belfry stands a few meters from the church. As in other belfries of Ilocos churches, Katipuneros used the belfry as watch point in the 1896 revolution, and guerrillas of World War II also used it to check out coming enemies.

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Miag-ao Church (Sto. Thomas de Villanueva Church)

The town’s first church building was constructed in Ubos by Nicolas Pangkug, the first capitan of the town. The church was completed three years before the first Spanish priest came in 1734, but this was burned by the Muslim pirates in 1741. Miag-ao was officially created as a parroquia on May 15, 1734.
The second church was constructed under the leadership of Parish Priest Fray Fernando Camporedondo (1746-1747). This church was also burned and looted by the pirates. The raids discouraged the people from building another church. But they needed one not only as a house of worship but also as a stronghold against pirate attacks. So they decided to build a third church in Tacas where the townsfolk have a commanding view of the mouth of the Miag-ao river, the usual route followed by the pirates in entering the town. This church still stands after defying elements and catastrophes for two centuries.
Construction of the present Miag-ao Church was started on a Saturday, the town’s market day, in December 1786, half a century after the founding of the Miag-ao parish. The parish priest at the time was Fray Francisco Maximo Gonzales and the town head was Capitan Domingo Libo-on. When it was finished in 1797, Fray Gonzales was still parish priest and Tomas Paguntalan was the town capitan.
The blocks of stones used in the construction of the church were quarried at Sitio Tubog in nearby San Joaquin town and in the mountains of the town of Igbaras. Work was supervised by a certain Matias, a fore-man from Igbaras, who later on was replaced by a certain Aquino from Alimodian, Iloilo, when the former was called to direct the church construction in his own town.
In baroque-romanesque style, the church sinks six (6) meters deep into the ground with walls, one-and-a-half (1 1/2) meters thick and buttresses thrice thicker in size. A truly ‘Philippine Church’, it exudes a native touch. Its artistic facade is decorated with a relief sculpture of St. Christopher carrying the Christ child amidst coconut, papaya and guava shrubs. A large stone image of St. Thomas of Villanova, parish patron saint, dominates the center. Carved life-size statues of the Pope and St. Henry with their coat-of-arms above them flank the main entrance. Supporting the facade are the twin belfries, one towering two-story and the other three-story high.
When finished in 1797, the left tower was lower than the right. In 1830, thirty-three (33) years after it was finished, an additional structure was added to the left belfry to make them equal in height. Fray Francisco Reyes was then the parish priest and Capitan Bernabe Paguntalan was the towns-head.
Now 206 years old, Miag-ao Church is one of the few remaining old churches in the country. The earthquake of January 24, 1948, the strongest ever to hit Panay, toppled the bell tower of Jaro and the old church of Oton as well as many other Spanish-built churches in the island, but not the Miag-ao Church. Only a small portion of its concrete beam gave way sending some stoneblocks loosened by heavy tremors.
While Miag-ao Church stood the test of time and calamities, it did not somehow escape the trauma of two wars. It was burned during the revolution against Spain in 1898 and during the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1944.
When liberation came in 1945, the people of Miag-ao undertook the herculean task of reconstructing the church. Led by then Reverend Father now Msgr. Wenceslao Enojo, parish priest, contributions came readily and it was not long after that the church was put back in shape.
When Msgr.Fernando Javillo took over as parish priest in August 1959, he not only continued the rehabilitation work but also expanded the repairs and renovations. Msgr. Javillo renovated and restored the church facade and the twin towers that were left untouched for more than one century and a half.

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And the last on the list which we are hoping to visit in the near future would be the Tubbataha Reefs, hope to see this pristine place before it is lost. More detail on this part when we have visited it and will be posting photos for sure.

All photos are owned and copyrighted by Joey Rico (also known under these names: alien_scream).
All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use, copy, editing, reproduction, publication, duplication and distribution of the digital photos, without his explicit permission, is punishable by law

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.

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Third day of my experience brings me to VIGAN and its nearby places.

Woke up around 5:30am and prepared to meet the group at the lobby of Grandpa’s Inn and by 7:00am we went to the plaza to eat breakfast. The place beside the plaza called Sinanglaoan sa Plaza where there are stalls lines up with tables and chairs in between where you could order your food and sit down to eat (turo-turo style). There is the usual orders of pancit, miki and lugaw and their specialty ilocano soup or SINANGLAO which is only served in the morning and made up freshly butchered beef innards. It is served in a bowl in big slices and in front of you are sliced into bite size pieces which tasted like pinapaitan and adding sukang ilocos and pait (bile) changes the flavor and with siling labuyo to make it spicy which is eaten with rice. After tasting the sinanglao I would really go back for more but this soup should be eaten hot because if it cools down you could see the fat accumulating in the spoon.

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After breakfast, we headed our way to bornayan famous for its pottery and pot making where mang constantino (the most photographed pot maker) showed us how to shape pots, with more that 30yrs of experience he shapes pots with ease and finesse and looking at him amazes me on how concentrated he works and could be a contestant in EAT BULAGA’s Kagat Labi.

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Further down, is the place called HIDDEN GARDEN. The name puzzles me because if a lot of people knows the place it would not be hidden any more but anyway, hidden garden is a place where there are lots and lots of plants and I think almost all kinds of plants even bonsais and herbs. After going around we stayed in a spot inside the garden where they serve merrienda like bibinka, fruit shakes and halo-halo. I chose the halo-halo and tasted so good.

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Going back to the plaza we rode the calesa going around and stopping at Crisologo Street to buy some pasalubong and souvenirs.

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After pasalubong buying headed back to the hotel to freshen up, eat lunch and check-out of the hotel. Lunch was at Grandpa’s Inn which includes a dish called PUKI-PUKI (eggplant mixed with eggs) which really tastes good.

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Next destination is Chavit’s BALUARTE and need I say more! With birds and other animals free roaming the place would really appeal to the kids which there are a lot which is part of their field trip, and a part closed to the public and with MAHJONG tiles on the gate with the 2,5 and 8 tiles on it.

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After baluarte went back to vigan and bought more pasalubong then traveled south to candon. At CANDON we bought some candon suman and chichacorn as pasalubong and passed by old churches including Santa Lucia Church with its big dome

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After Ilocos is the province of La Union, and in Sto. Tomas we bought some dried fish and the owner cooked some and let us tasted the different types of dried fish. As stop over at Chowking in Saitan, La Union where we ate dinner then proceeded back to manila passing through Pangasinan, Tarlac, SCTEX, NLEX and final stop was at Mcdonald’s EDSA/Quezon Ave. where we said our good byes and me headed home.

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Thanks to my group mates and TRAVEL ADVOCATE for making this a wonderful experience and would like to experience it again…

Till the next trip, see you
HAPPY TRAILS!!!

My next destinatio is the Laid Back Island of Cagbalete

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Another day… Another place to experience!

Woke up at around 5am of 20th of February and packed my stuff, ate breakfast of eggs and sausage at the restaurant of the hotel and checked out of the room at La Ellana Hotel and by 7am we were on our way up north passing by the town of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte with the domeless bell tower where the dome and bell fell to the second floor of the tower

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Traveling further north passing thru Pasuquin and stopping at Cape Bojeador Lighthouse where a third generation lighthouse keeper named Mang Jun guided us up the lighthouse and explained how the lighthouse works and its solar powered too.

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Going down the stairs we sampled some KARIOKA from an old lady who sells them for only Php5.00, and I had eaten two sticks and wanted more but there was none.

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After Cape Bojeador, passing thru some great scenery on beaches, cliffs and mountains we arrived at one of the places I like to see… Bangui Windmills. The ‘Wind Farm” as it is aptly called consist of 15 wind turbines. The turbines are on-shore and arranged in a single row spaced 326 meters apart. The turbines hub height (ground level to center of nacelle – that part holding the blades) is 70 meters high (roughly equivalent to a 23 storey building), each blade is 41 meters long (just 9 meters shy of a Olympic sized pool) giving a rotor diameter of 82 meters and a wind swept area of 5,281 square meters.

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Next stop was Pagudpod where we stayed at Hannah’s Beach Resort and ate lunch of Sinigang na isda (sorry don’t know what fish was it but it was really tasty, Inihaw na Liempo, and Veggies.

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After lunch and some rest we were off to Patapat Viaduct, Patapat Viaduct is an elevated concrete highway constructed along winding/rocky headlands near the northernmost roadway section in Ilocos Norte (could be considered second northernmost roadway section in Luzon) This viaduct was constructed to solve the problem of landslides in the area which have caused so many vehicular accidents in the past. Footed on the rocky seashore just several meters from the mountain side it gives motorists a spectacular view of Pasaleng Bay.

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Retracing our way back to Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte we stopped at Davila (Salt Capital) where they make salt and took the opportunity to see how they make salt here (which the process is different from the process made in pangasinan and other places). Inside the huts they place seawater in a large flat container and adding rock salt they cook it and make salt.

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And to Poblacion2, Barangay Biscocho where rick says sells bisnueve which is as you know just plain biscocho where a lot of people were lining up and buying their baked goods, and tried to sample it and it really great tasting. After Pasuquin and Laoag we stopped at a place where rick explained to us that it was the place of Elizabeth Marcos-Keon the sister of President Marcos.

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Elizabeth Island (named after her) is an abandoned place accessed by a broken bridge which at one time held parties almost every night and they were not kidding when they said that they put tiles at the rocks on the beach… and this place really gives me the creeps so I went back to the van.

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Arriving at Vigan, we checked in at Grandpa’s Inn to wash-up and meet for dinner which was in café Leona set-up at a closed portion of a street. After dinner went around the plaza to watch a pageant then stolled at crisologo street and took some pictures. Back to the hotel for a couple of bottles, why a couple? Because they were closing up and it was only 11pm so I decided to call it a day and rest up for tomorrows experience!

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I’ve read a lot about how really beautiful vigan is and seeing all those great pictures of the old streets and buildings in vigan I said to myself I had to go see it but hadn’t had the chance to go see.

Then while browsing multiply I came across a post made by TRAVEL ADVOCATE and offering reasonable rates I said to myself I had to go in this tour called THE ILOCOS EXPERIENCE

And here is what I experienced…

Meeting place for the tour was in Trinoma, 8:30pm on the 18th of February and was really surprised to see my fellow photographers from the group PHOTOKALYE there and will be also joining the tour. After introduction and exchanging of pleasantries with other members of the group we left Trinoma before 10pm with stop over along the way including a stop at Rick’s Café in Sison, Pangasinan where we ate lugaw

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Arriving at Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur past 5am of February 19 and took the opportunity to take sunrise and slow shutter speed photos of the Nuestra Señora de la Asunsion Church listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and is famous for its leaning belfry

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Next stop is the Banaoang Bridge with spread across the Abra River connecting the rocky mountain slopes of the town of Santa Fe and the trail enda of Bantay. The Bridge was destroyed and damaged when one of the steel spans was washed away at the height of super typhoon Feria on July 4-6, 2001 and you could notice in the photo that the third span is different.

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We had breakfast at the Cordillera Inn in Vigan, Ilocos Sur and continued our travel till we reached Laoag, Ilocos Norte and checked in at La Elliana Hotel for some rest and freshening up. Lunch was at Golden Cow then off to Sarrat, Ilocos Norte which is the Birthplace of President Ferdinan Marcos and hometown of military leader General Fabian Ver (we just passed by their houses)

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Next on our itinerary was a stop at Batac, Ilocos Norte where the Museum and Mosoleum of President Marcos is located (sorry no taking of pictures inside the mosoleum) and where we ate some great tasting taro and sweet potato (kamote) chips and the popular empanada made of monggo sprouts and green papaya with vigan longganisa and eggs which is deep fried and eaten while its hot with the usual sukang ilocos, I ordered a double which means double longganisa and double eggs. Then off to Paoay, Ilocos Norte stopping first at Ilocano Weaving Center (Abel Ilocos) and the church of Paoay which is also listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and was really fascinated by its looks because it reminds mo of Ankor Wat where I would like to go some day.

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With the day coming to an end, we made our way to catch the sun seeting at Suba Sand Dunes which is a favorite of movie makers and where the movie Born in the Fourth of July and Temptation Island were shot including the famous award winning movie HIMALA

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At nightfall came at Fort Ilocandia and having our dinner at Golden Cow we headed back to our hotel to rest for the next days trip further up north

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SEE YOU TOMOROW!!!