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Ilocos: NORTHERN EXPOSURE (Exploring Vigan and Pagudpud)

September 15, 2008


A day after Christmas of 2007, me, my sister and my two college buds were off to the first leg of our Ilocos trip which is Pagudpud. We took the Partas bus going to Laoag from the Partas bus station in Cubao (right below the flyover going to Sta.Mesa) with a departure time of 11 pm. We wanted to get the deluxe or first class bus type for the added comfort but since there is quite a long ticket queue in front of us, only regular buses are available by the time we purchased our bus tickets. I noticed that the most deluxe and first class buses have the earlier departure times so if you are planning to take this type of bus make sure that you take the earlier departure times . Regular bus fare from Manila-Laoag is Php667 (as of Dec.2007).


Quick Tip: Partas have a ‘No Reservation’ policy. Be there 3-2 hours before the departure time of the bus to purchase your tickets.


Of rolling waves and raindrops

We reached Laoag by 8am and it is another 2 hours ride to Pagudpud. From the Partas station we took a tricycle to the station of the mini buses going to Pagudpud. The mini bus brings back to memory the Marikina Autoline buses plying the route of Makati-San Mateo during the 80s and early 90s. For a fare of Php70 these mini-buses will guarantee a breezy (the mini bus are not equipped with aircon units) and scenic (watch out for the statuesque beauty of the windmills in Bangui) ride to Pagudpud. The driver of our minibus was kind enough to drive us directly to Saud Beach Resort but of course for an extra fare.


After 12 hours of weary road travel, 1 bus transfer and roughly 2 hours of sleep, we were greeted by the rolling waves in the latte colored shores of Saud Beach, Pagudpud and a drizzle of rain.  In serious need of nourishment and some power nap, we were able to explore Saud beach late in the afternoon.


By mid-afternoon, the wind has picked up resulting to bigger waves and the patter of rain has not shown any signs of stopping, we abandoned all hopes of donning our suits. Armed with hooded jackets and our trusty digicams, we traversed the latte-colored sands of Saud beach; stopping here and there to strike a pose for the camera. Most of the sandy stretch of the beach is near Saud Beach resort and Aryana. The rocky portion of the beach is located at the other end near Apo Idon resort; this is also where one can get a vantage view of the statuesque Windmills of Bangui.

Long walks along the shore, loads of picture taking and a quiet night capped our Pagudpud experience.


IMHO (In My Humble Opinion):

Food is quite expensive when you compare the amount as to the serving size. Food quality and taste is average. Bring lots of snacks, biscuits and breads so you can just buy the main meals from the restaurants.


Brace yourself for quite a long wait when you dine at La Helene Restaurant (near Apo Idon), there are more food choices as compared to Saud Beach Resort Restaurant but you have to wait…and wait…and wait


Of calesas and cobblestones


As morning arrives at the sandy shores of Saud beach, it was time for us to start our journey back to Vigan City. After a 4 hours drive (Pagudpud-Laoag-Vigan) along the scenic route of the Ilocos region, we arrived in Vigan at around 11:30 am.


We stayed at Gordion Inn Bed & Breakfast and are very much delighted with our antique-themed bedrooms and comfy Iloko blankets. The rooms are very clean and well-maintained. Though the toilet is a bit small and the towels provided are a bit threadbare.


Deciding to grab a quick lunch before we have our calesa tour, we spotted the famous red ‘M’ arch near Plaza Burgos. But as we are walking in Plaza Burgos we passed by the white stalls of the famous Vigan empanadas. With no second thought, we settled in one of the tables and ordered empanadas with extra vinegar dipping, okoy and a bottle of Pepsi. The empanada is made of ground meat and vegetables rolled in a thin flour wrapper (resembling the lumpiang shanghai wrappers). The okoy is humongous and is good for two people. The okoy is made up of a nice helping of small shrimps fried in egg. No empanada & okoy meal will be complete without the Iloko vinegar dipping.


After a satisfying empanada & okoy encounter, we made our way towards the line of calesas. We picked out a nice horse named Brono (this is the visayan-version of Bruno). The calesa rate is fixed at Php150 per hour. Our calesa tour included: Bantay Church Belfry, Crisologo Museum, Burgos Museum, Pagburnayan Jar Factory and Baluarte.


Bantay Church Belfry

Bantay Church Belfry with its old brick structure sits atop a small hill. The endless stretch of the clear blue sky serves as its perfect backdrop to complete a picturesque view. Upon climbing the church tower, you can be treated to a bird’s eyeview of the surrounding areas.


Burgos National Museum

Burgos National Museum is the ancestral house of Padre Jose Burgos of the famous GomBurZa priests. There is a Php10 entrance fee and guided tour. According to our tour guide, there have been no major renovations made on the house.


Crisologo Museum

Crisologo Museum is the ancestral house of the famous Crisologo clan that was turned into a museum in honor of its patriarch, Floro Crisologo, who was assassinated in Vigan Cathedral in the 70’s. The museum contains clippings, articles, memorabilia, artifacts and antiques of the Crisologo clan. Also on display is the car where the former Governor Carmeling Floro (wife of Floro Crisologo) is riding during a foiled assassination attempt. There is no entrance fee in this museum.


Pagburnayan Jar Factory

Pagburanayan Jar Factory is where the burnay jars are made. The jar maker kindly allowed my sister to sample molding clay but sad to say my sister’s final product was like a disfigured empanada. There are stalls in front of the factory that sells mini-burnay jars that you can buy as souvenirs.




Baluarte is a property of Chavit Singson, which he turned into a mini-zoo with ostriches, monkeys, deers, small horses etc. There is no entrance fee.



After a tiring but delightful calesa tour, it was time to hit the famous cobblestone-covered street of Vigan which is Calle Crisologo. Walking along Calle Crisologo is a walk down memory lane during the Spanish era in the Philippines. Old houses with Spanish architecture line the long stretch of this street. The click-clock of the calesas is the constant noise as you walk along the street. Nowadays, souvenir shops abound this street.


With weary feet and growling stomachs, we headed to Café Leona for a sumptuous

dinner. We ordered a serving of bagnet and pinakbet, both are famous Iloko dishes.

I also tried a chocolatey tiny cup of Vigan Tsokolate.


Still in the mood to explore Vigan at night, we walked towards Plaza Salcedo, Vigan Cathedral and Nuevo Segovia Museum. Since it’s already quite late, the fountains are already turned off in Plaza Salcedo and Vigan Cathedral and Nuevo Segovia Museum are already closed for the day.


To cap the final night of our northern exposure, we had a cool tall glass of yummy milkshake at the bar room of Gordion Inn, a toast for a memorable road trip into the culture-rich northern province of the Philippines.


Quick Tips:


  • You can buy your pasalubongs/souvenirs at Vigan public market since it is cheaper there as compared to the souvenir shops in Calle Crisologo.
  • Recommended souvenirs/pasalubongs:

         Vigan bibingka



         Iloko blanket


         Iloko Vinegar


  • Bagnet & Vigan longganisa have fixed price for all the stalls in the public market.
  • Marsha’s Bibingka is highly recommended even if you ask the locals. There is a stall in Partas station. Consider grabbing a few boxes before hopping into the bus.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 28, 2010 6:54 pm

    Hah I’m actually the only reply to this awesome article?!

    • outonvacation permalink*
      May 29, 2010 4:50 pm

      Hi! Thanks for appreciating my blogpost about Vigan and Pagudpod

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