Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Blast from the Past : Ilocos Sur

I have been to Ilocos Sur years back but during that time, I was not yet a travel blogger and a backpacker. Even then, I was already fascinated by the different town church that we have passed by, and the greeneries and natural wonders one will see while on the bus.  I have imagined myself then going back to Ilocos Sur and do a town hopping. That imagination came to reality after four years.

Ilocos Sur Capitol
It was June 15, 2013 when I decided to have a backpacking conditioning because I will be backpacking Palawan for 4 days at the end of the month.  I chose to go to Abra and Ilocos Sur, given the fact that Abra is the only Cordilleran Province I am yet to visit then, and I have been planning to have a town hopping in Ilocos Sur since 2012. I first townhopped Abra in June 15 and the story about it can be found here : My Abra Townhopping.

In the afternoon of June 15, I continued town hopping from Abra to the southern part of Ilocos Sur and visited some towns south of Vigan City before I call it a night and checked in at a Bantay inn.


After visiting Tangadan Tunnel in Abra, I took an air conditioned bus bound to Manila but alighted in the town of Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur. Here, I was able to visit the famed Santa Maria Church, one of the four Philippine Baroque Churches inscribed in UNESCO Heritage list. This is actually the 2nd Church included in that list that I have visited. 

Santa Maria Church, Ilocos Sur. UNESCO Heritage Site.
Aside from the church, there are also many old houses in the town as well as some ruins of red-brick houses and fences. The town plaza is also a good place to visit.

From Santa Maria, I again went north to the town of Narvacan. There was a construction in the town plaza during my visit so I haven’t been able to see how it looks during ordinary days. I visited the beautiful Narvacan Church, the town hall, and some old houses along the way.

Narvacan Church. Ilocos Sur.

The town of Santa is the next town I visited after Narvacan. This town is the birthplace of Gabriela Silang according to written history. The town church is also beautiful and a park dedicated to former first lady Imelda Marcos can be found there. Before you reach the town of Santa, you will be passing by this bridge giving you a beautiful view of an estuary : a meeting place of the sea and a river flowing in between mountains.

Santa, Ilocos Sur.
From Santa, I went to Bantay and checked in at Henady Inn. Said inn is just some steps away from Bantay Municipal Hall and Bantay Town Church and Bell Tower. In fact, I had a very good view of the Bantay Bell Tower from the porch of the inn. Unfortunately, when I took a picture of the bell tower from the porch, it was raining very hard. 

Bantay Bell Tower. Bantay, Ilocos Sur
The inn is also just about 450 meters away from Vigan so it’s fine to walk towards Vigan City proper though you can also get a tricycle. That night, I had a stroll in Vigan and watched the magnificent dancing fountain of Vigan City.

Vigan City
The next day, I had a walking tour of the town of Bantay. I visited the town church and also had a 360 degree view of Ilocos Sur through the Bantay Bell Tower. 

From Bantay, I took a bus bound to Laoag so that I can visit the northernmost town of Ilocos Sur, Sinait. I visited the town church as well as the town hall, which at that time is currently under construction/renovation.

Sinait Church. Ilocos Sur.
After Sinait, I then go towards south again, stopping for a short visit to the town of Cabugao. In that town, I visited the Cabugao Town Church and Town Hall.

Cabugao Town Church. Ilocos Sur.

From Cabugao, I then went straight to the museum town of Magsingal, where a branch of the National Museum is located. Aside from the beautiful church and bell tower, Magsingal boasts of its newly built and very beautiful municipal hall with a spacious park beside it. 

Magsingal Munipal Hall. Ilocos Sur.

From Magsingal, I went back to Vigan to buy some pasalubongs such as bagnet and longanisa. I also had a short tour to other parts of Vigan specifically Simbahan sa Basset, a lesser known structure in Vigan. From Vigan, I chartered a tricycle to bring me to the town of San Vicente.

San Vicente Integrated School.

San Vicente has an old Church just like other Ilocos Sur towns. Aside form that, there are plenty of Spanish era structure there such as the elementary school, and an old Catholic school. After my walking tour around San Vicente, I get back to Vigan Bus Terminal and rode a bus to Candon City. 

Candon Church and Bell Tower. Ilocos Sur.
I also did a walking tour around Candon and bought their famous kalamay and chichacorn. From there, I took a jeepney which then brought me to the last town in my itinerary, the town of Santa Lucia.

Santa Lucia Church. Ilocos Sur.
Santa Lucia also has a very big Spanish era church. You can also find some old houses in the town proper as well as their seemingly old town hall. After some minutes of taking pictures of Santa Lucia, I flagged down a bus going to Manila and called it a day... A very memorable and fulfilling day for a history and heritage structure buff like me!


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About the Author

I am ROMEL RAFOR JAIME, the man behind San Josenyong Gala. My travel blogger name came about because I am a proud resident of the City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. In real life, I am a licensed librarian who works in a college in Gapan, Nueva Ecija as a librarian and teaches general education subjects from time to time. My goal is to visit all the 81 provinces of the Philippines before visiting other countries. As of 2017, I have already visited 73... :)


  1. Talagang kinarir! Nag-San Vicente ka pa ha. Sayang di tayo nag-kaabot. Nasa Mindanao pa ako yung mga time na nandito ka. Next time :)

  2. travelling is really fun, you can consider it a treasure since you have different memories to share. Take care dude :)

  3. those buildings are to die for! thats in my bucketlist when i go back in philippines. i am not so religious or I am not so much fond of history but looking at this magnificent buildings is just breathtaking! nice shots!

  4. i love that wet loof of Vigan, and all your pictures are bringing me there, thanks for taking us to this historical trip, love those churches

  5. All those pictures are lovely vista of Ilocos. I haven't been there yet and I wish to see the place someday.

  6. Thank you for the tour! I have never been to any of these places and glad to see it through your photos.

  7. Ay, ang aking province. Dami palang magaganda rroon. Puro sa morenang chics lang kasi ang tinitignan ko. BTW I am from the town of Cabugao.

  8. What a beautiful city to explore. I have not been to Ilocos Sur. I hope someday my family can explore some beautiful cities in the Philippines. I like all your pictures :-)

  9. Now this is the one place we haven't visited locally yet. The ancient look of the cities are so inviting! I would love to go visit someday. :)

  10. I love visiting old churches. This makes me get to know the culture of the particular city I am in.

  11. I wanted to visit Vigan n Ilocos soon! :) thanks for the info :) will be planning our trip with friends nxt year :)

  12. I've been to Vigan City before and it made me travel years back when I've seen the beautiful old buildings.

  13. Beautiful shots I must say! Wow! You give me one more reason to go to Ilocos Sur someday! The capitol building caught my attention. It is amazing how all capitols now in Philippines are new and constructed alike. I think it is a great thing!

  14. The pictures are amazing. Anyone who sees it will definitely be enticed.

  15. Ahhh.. I can't forget the days when I visited Ilocos Region back in May.. A must see place for all of us.. marami pang places to explore like what you have mentioned

  16. I've never been to Ilocos.. Sana makapunta din ako sa Sta. Lucia church! I have friends who visited Ilocos last summer..

  17. beautiful pictures and thanks for sharing your trip to us! anyway, i love to go back again to ilocos region...i've been there in 2008 when we did some work in san nicolas, ilocos norte for a week. so we've made few stop-over along the way...vigan, baluarte, marcos place were the places i remember we went. i hope our family can visit ilocos the next time we are home. :)

  18. ang dami talagang magagandang lugar sa Pilipinas, kailangan lang talaga nating matutong magpahalaga and i-appreaciate those beautiful places...
    sana makapunta rin ako jan kasi ang dami ko na ring naririnig tungkol sa kagandahan ng Ilocos Sur especially sa Vigan :)

    khim girlie garcia

  19. Ang ganda talaga sa Vigan ~~ makakapunta din ako dyan. Hoho. :))
    Philippines is really amazing. Sa bawat lugar ay masasalamin ang mga kultura ng mga Pilipino. ^^ - Inah de Guzman

  20. BIG~ Wow Sta.Maria church! :) too old, yet worth complementing for..
    - Juven Jimenez

  21. I am Proud to be a NARVACANEAN... thanks for the beautiful ilocos sur spots...

    1. Thanks for dropping by Ms. Cherry Ann... You might want to check out my detailed post about Narvacan... :)