November 2012
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"How I wish that after 50 years, this festival will still continue and evolve to be one of the grandest in the country, and after 50 years, this blog entry will still remain."

A very small town west of the city of Vigan in the province of Ilocos Sur, it is very interesting to know that in spite of the small size of the town, it has managed to evolve as an important portion of the economy of the province. Dubbed as the vegetable bowl of the north, the little town of only 9.68 sq. km. in area is blessed with limited fertile farmlands. For the town, size doesn't matter.

Larga Festival | An Overview

Larga Festival | Sta. Catalina,Ilocos Sur

Sun-Kissed Farmer's Hat


The little town of Sta. Catalina is an agricultural town. But unlike many other agricultural towns, it does not mainly host rice fields. Interestingly, the agricultural lands of Sta. Catalina are planted with cabbages, onions, cauliflowers, and others. The crops I mentioned are just the major produces of the town.

This is the first ever Larga Festival in town with the goal to promote the industries and local products of the municipality especially their vegetable products. However, there are also rice fields and corn fields. So just imagine how diverse the crops grown in this little town.

Larga Festival | Sta. Catalina, Ilocos Sur

Fiesta Crowd


This is so far, the first Larga Festival in the town and I am blessed to have witnessed this celebration dedicated to the vegetable farmers in town.

Yes, the farmers deserve a break and recognition since they serve as the foundation of almost every rural town's economy.

Fiesta scenes in town

Crowd in front of the town hall


Local Products in one stop


Town Plaza crowd


Purple Cabbage, a must-try in Sta. Catalina


It is very uplifting to know that you don't need to be big to dominate. For Sta. Catalina, they own the vegetable trade and market in the province. Their farm products are also sold to other provinces and even to Manila.

It is my first time to see the town so lively and happy. The people were there, anticipating that great things are happening in their small town. I can witness their excitement and fascination. 

One must-try product in Sta. Catalina is the purple cabbage. It is not main stream and yet, the town has been producing it for several years. They say you can eat this raw like lettuce. Unfortunately, I didn't have the chance to try it.

Street Dancing

Fiesta Banners


Preparing for the street dancing


And yeah! There was a street dancing. It was the highlight of the celebration. The dancers were little kids from the 7 elementary schools in the municipality.

It was not as grand as the other popular festivals in the Philippines but for a simple quiet town like Sta. Catalina, this must be something worth watching and cherishing for.

I don't know why this event feels like so special to me. I don't live here although some of good friends of mine are from here. Maybe because I have a deep respect to farmers because the way they raise their families as farmers are just greater than anyone else on my point of view.

Now the kids, on which I am sure some of them are children of farmers are dancing on the streets promoting their products with good pride and greatness. That's the essence of this festival! Yes, I might have discovered why it feels so special to me.

It was a pure celebration. The farmers' kids themselves danced gracefully with pride in their gestures. Unlike any other festivals that become so commercialized leading to real competitions (although I am not against with the concept), Larga Festival was more of a passion. The children for sure can't help but to perceive that the town's farmers (their parents, and including them) are real heroes. Without their parents, this festival is meaningless. Indeed, the festival was full of meaning. This is their day!

Caroza in motion


Little vegetable vendors, a simulation


With emphasis on the green necklace made from Sili


Shy little girl


Baskets of vegetables


Kids on street party!


A necklace made from fresh sili


And the real celebration began as the street dancers put on their feet to the streets with colorful costumes and props.

There was only 1 background music used and it played so loud so that the whole poblacion and the people watching along the main street can hear. Imagine how loud should that be and I was just near to one of the speakers.

They wear Abel Iloko, a locally woven fabric.


Larga Festival | Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Head carry


Yellow


In motion


Eyes closed


Being in sync


Being at the back


Contingent#5


Larga Festival | Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Graceful!


Larga Festival | Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

So Colorful!


Larga Festival | Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Big smile!


Larga Festival | Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Big moves


Larga Festival | Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Partners


Larga Festival | Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Cute little boys in green


Larga Festival | Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Cute little boys in red


Larga Festival | Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Waisted


Larga Festival | Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Bending to the left


Larga Festival | Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Trio



Click the Map to explore more of Sta. Catalina.


How I wish that after 50 years, this festival will still continue and evolve to be one of the grandest in the country, and after 50 years, this blog entry will still remain.

For that, I will be more than glad to say that I was a part of history and will still be and tell the younger generation (if I am still alive that time) that "Hey look at my blog! I was able to document the first ever Larga Festival in your town!"

Please pardon the low-quality photos, but I hope you were able to get the message I wanted to bring out that even the most expensive camera can not deliver.
NAGUSTUAM DIAY NABASAM/NAKITAM? MABALIN MO MET I-LIKE.
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"So it was possible to experience a pebble beach and a black sandy beach in one place. This is my observation in Farola Beach."

The place was not a big surprise, although it is one of the most memorable places I have been because it is where I saw a lighthouse for the very first time. What is interesting in this beach is that the shoreline is divided into two types of beach.

Farola Beach in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur

Farola Beach in Tagudin


It has two types of beach in one place. The shore nearer to the sea is lined with pebbles, thus a pebble beach, while about 100 meters away from the sea is a black sandy beach.

Well, it is just an observation and it was the way I saw it. 

Pebble

Pebble Beach

Black Sandy Part of Farola Beach

Black Sandy Part of Farola Beach


So it was possible to experience a pebble beach and a black sandy beach in one place. This is my observation in Farola Beach. 

This beach is mainly known in the town because of the historical Farola Lighthouse and it's historical importance as landing site of missionaries from Belgium who came Christianize the country.

Farola

Raft at the Beach


Farola Beach in Tagudin

Fishermen of Brgy. Farola


Although the beach is not as popular as any other beaches, it's importance in the community is as big as other beaches for the reason that many people in this coastal barangay earn a living from this beach.

So there's no way to underestimate any beach I am seeing. A beach does not need to be as powdery white as Boracay to consider it important. In the long run all beaches were made by God in different forms as a blessing to the people.

Map of Tagudin


I am not against if businessmen will establish their resorts here. But if I were to be asked, I would rather keep the beach as it is and leave the fishermen undisturbed if business establishments will be the reason of the modification of the natural beauty of the beach for personal profits.

How to get here? 

Just get a tricycle near the municipal hall and just tell the driver to drive you to Farola Beach. Fare is around 30-40 pesos if you are alone. Please negotiate for the fare first. The fare is cheaper individually if you are in group since you have to divide the total fare among yourselves. Enjoy! Don't forget to see the lighthouse too and the Kandaruma Park at the beach.


NAGUSTUAM DIAY NABASAM/NAKITAM? MABALIN MO MET I-LIKE.
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"I think it is safe enough to tell that I am not overrating the bridge because as I see people passing through the bridge, they too, stand amazed."

It was a motorbike stroll to Caoayan, a very small town south of the city of Vigan. My target is to see the Caoayan Bridge. I don't have any idea how it looks like but just because the RHU Physician of the said town suggested that I have to see it and photograph it, I waited for the sun to go down to finally see what the RHU doctor was telling me.

A Grand Entrance!

Caoayan Bridge was undoubtedly stunning.


The road I have to take while driving the scooter was not as bright as the scene I saw in the town. So upon making a left turn going to Caoayan poblacion, the boring night turned magical!

I can't resist my self to ride off the scooter and to just park it along the bridge and decide to just walk and enjoy the magic of the dark night!

The lights of the bridge made the dark night so bright.


It was indeed a grand entrance to the town. The ordinary bridge becomes extraordinary at night. Even some motorists and vehicle owners driving to Caoayan can't help but be amazed and to get off their rides and cars to take photos.

Quick Walking Tour


The inviting bridge has made me decide to just walk.


I think it is safe enough to tell that I am not overrating the bridge because as I see people passing through the bridge, they too, stand amazed. They get off their rides and take a photo while staying for a while to feel the magic it brings.

Caoayan Town Hall

Caoayan Town Hall (Sorry for the wrong photo label)


I have crossed the bridge and the scooter-stroll-turned-walking-tour lead me to the Caoayan Municipal Hall. The town poblacion was really quiet. Some barbecue stalls around are still open. I was glad to see that a big investment has come to town when I saw a super-mart chain standing at the middle of the small town.

The municipal hall has been finished too! It's been a while since the last time I visited this town. The once small, old and not-so-good-looking municipal hall has transformed to a beautiful building!

Light reflections in my scooter's side mirror


It's nice to be back here. I discovered it has something new to offer aside from the popular barbecue stalls that are attracting foodies from the town and nearby towns.

The quick night walking tour in town was a quick reminder that I don't need to ride an airplane just to see great places because some of the great places are just actually near you.
NAGUSTUAM DIAY NABASAM/NAKITAM? MABALIN MO MET I-LIKE.
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"I have to say you need to experience first before concluding and I found out that people at the remote barrios are warm, accommodating and kind."

Seeing a hanging bridge over a great river, well, over a creek will do too, has always been a fascination whenever I travel. I said it is a fascination because I rarely see a hanging bridge since I am a [component] old city dweller wherein what I see everyday are >100-year-old houses and multi-century-old structures, parks and palace. Looking at individuals crossing different types of hanging bridges sparks a different kind of feeling in me. At last, there is something "new" in my sight, not really the old thing I am already used of seeing daily.

Overview

Ambalayat Hanging Bridge
Hmmm, I am very much confident to say that the town of Tagudin should be a must-experience destination when it comes to HisTourism (History + Tourism) because unknown to many, major events in our history which are actually 'firsts' happened here. I will talk more about this for the next posts.

Aside from historical sites in the town, just in case you are already tired of bombarding your brain with thoughts that will compel you to invent a time machine just to be able to understand history and/or going back to school to stare for 1 hour for that boring history teacher, then I can suggest a place for you that is not related to Persian Gulf Wars, rocket science and Ming dynasty.

Location of Tagudin on Map

The people call this as Ambalayat Hanging Bridge, some also call it Ambalayat Foot Bridge. But it is more popularly called as a hanging bridge maybe because motorcycles can also cross the river using this bridge and not merely by foot. (#edmareasoning)

It is located in Brgy Ambalayat, hence the name, the last frontier of Tagudin town at the east. Ambalayat hanging bridge connects this remote barangay to the rest of [mainland] Tagudin. The barrio is being detached from the main landmass of Tagudin because of the Amburayan River that separates it. So don't think this is an island the moment I said that it is detached from the mainland.

It is actually located at the parts of Tagudin wherein mountains start to appear closer and going further at the east would be another mountain town already.

The Little (or more) pain of Going

Road to aAmbalayat
I am sharing this to show you how to go there and to encourage you to think twice. Yes, seriously, in case you  are a senior citizen with osteoarthritis or a good-looking man yet asthmatic exacerbated by off-road travel if ever you are unlucky enough to have that condition.

As I said, just "in case" you want some off-road adventures and careless travel memories, I am suggesting this. But of course, I won't tell you that it is as stunning as the Golden Gate Bridge so I am carefully writing this post so as not to overrate the place.

However, I believe if you have that spirit of a traveler, adventurer, or explorer of just any town, you will love this especially if you want to discover this town deep in your heart.

Before reaching Brgy Ambalayat where this bridge is located, you have to take a mixture of cracked, muddy, and rough road. But I believe it depends upon the season. If it is dry season this is the version: Before reaching Brgy Ambalayat where this bridge is located, you have to take a mixture of cracked, dusty, and rough road. Did you notice the difference?

Reaching Ambalayat

Ambalayat Hanging Bridge
It was an another mission accomplished. This bridge is actually on my list since a brochure of Tagudin tourism has included this as one of the points of interests in the town.

As I arrive at the place where the bridge was located, it was a mix emotion, on my part. It was an instant relief. I tell you the place is so peaceful and relaxing. There was no noise, but there are sounds, lovely sounds of the birds, and the moving air creating friction to tree branches filled with leaves. I saw the river upon reaching the place. It was calm, there was no rush. But during typhoon, practically, I believe it becomes harsh.

Crossing Ambalayat Hanging Bridge

Ambalayat Hanging Bridge
I can say reaching the place is safe. The people won't harm as per experience which is contrary to the belief of many that it is not safe here for strangers.

I don't really know why most people consider remote barrios as dangerous destinations. I really hate this kind of stereotyping. I have to say you need to experience first before concluding and I found out that people at the remote barrios are warm, accommodating and kind.

Tambay Kids along the bridge

Ambalayat Hanging Bridge
I am loving this experience. It was truly fulfilling that at least, I am able to immerse myself in Tagudin and even to get familiar to the town.

As per experience, solo travel is already enough to get immersed and to discover the town by heart.

The people I met

The moment I set foot to this remote barrio, the people already knew that I am a stranger here. Just before I crossed the bridge, I saw a group of men playing card games.

I can hear them talk about me, like "Who is that?" and they look at me with facial expressions that it is their first time to see or meet me. I did interact with them and the people were warm.

One of them was telling that he is thankful that someone like me is visiting their barrio.

A Woman Crossing the Bridge

I went to the other side of the barrio after crossing the 200-meter hanging bridge spanning the Amburayan River. It was about to rain but I still continued the journey. I walked down this new barrio, meeting new faces, seeing new places.

It was great! The unsafe rumor was just really a rumor. I went down near the river and savored the peace and "safety" of this new destination. As droplets of rain fall to my skin gently, I feel like the rain was part of the warm welcome. The experience was very memorable.

Leaving the remote barrio



It was that simple bridge that made way for me to discover the beauty of the barrio and I would not dare say that it is an ordinary bridge.

Without that bridge, I may not be able to meet kind people, to encounter a peaceful community and to experience this very beautiful barrio.

Ambalayat hanging bridge as seen from the other side




Souvenir Photo

No regrets. Going here was not easy, at least, if you are still coming from other towns or other provinces. But I don't care whether or not this place is considered a tourist attraction. Well, I am not about that concept. The mere fact that the experience was memorable is already more then enough :)

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You are reading the Part 4 of our Tagudin town series

Prelude | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
NAGUSTUAM DIAY NABASAM/NAKITAM? MABALIN MO MET I-LIKE.