The first time I’ve been here was way back 1996, one summer’s day in May. My favorite aunt was getting married. I was one of her bridesmaids.
I know that the province, located in the northern part of Luzon in the Philippines, is famed for its rich history and picturesque setting.
But all I remembered was the 12 hour drive. The sweltering heat. And the tacky gown that they made me wear for the wedding.
And the reception that followed? I swear that it was the longest wedding reception I have ever been to. EVER. (It should have been quite a novelty since I was a city person, but the long travel and that silly gown left me sulking in a corner. I was so bored I was ready to cry.)
The province has its beguiling and irresistible charm, though. And it was relentless in its persuasion, beckoning me to come back, to go on that 400 km joyride to the North, to reconnect with each other again.
And in 2012 I did. This time I brought my husband and three children with me, to see with new eyes the beauty I have once shamelessly overlooked because of my own petulance and immaturity.
The Quirino Bridge was named after the 6th president of the Philippines Elpidio Quirino. I felt that this bridge connects Ilocos to the rest of the world. You can almost hear it speak, in full strength Ilocano (the dialect spoken by the locals), “Naragsakak nga isasanbay!” Welcome! (Or something like that.)
Sta. Monica Church, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. Believed to be the biggest church in Ilocos Norte, and perhaps the whole Ilocos Region. This is where my aunt’s wedding took place.
The church’s bell tower. Ravaged by time, but still hauntingly beautiful.
Saint Augustine Church or commonly known as Bantay Church, Ilocos Sur. One of the oldest surviving churches in the Philippines.
The Marcos Mausoleum. We just had to be here. We want to see for ourselves. But no cameras, please!
Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, Vigan is “the best-preserved example of a planned 16th century Spanish colonial town in Asia.”
The Bangui Windmills, set against the nearby Pagudpud beach. We arrived there nearly sundown, against my aunt’s advice. The windmills were more spectacular during the daytime, she said. No matter. The sight just took my breath away.
The Marcos ancestral house is located just a stone’s throw away from my aunt’s house. Whatever political leanings you might have, this place is still worth a visit.
A lot of people might say that the journey is more important than the destination itself. And I agree with that. But it’s way so much better if the destination is as fun and rewarding as the journey, isn’t it?
Ilocos will always have a special place in my heart. We were not properly introduced the first time around, but it was finally good to meet again. You are so very lovely indeed!