I also have personal biases and my favorite moments were spent with ordinary people who are extraordinary on their own ways (without them knowing they're extraordinary).

✈ Because of travel blogging, my network of friends and professional connections expanded greatly like unreal and the new friends I met were not the friends I was accustomed growing up with.

✈ Seeing them appreciate the place where I grew up was beyond compare. It made me value my heritage more—now that's more than any surreal place I've been.


[Ilocos Region, Luzon Island, Philippines]
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Traveling and blogging have brought me to distant and unexpected places I never imagined. I've met different people who made me realize that there is beauty in diversity. At some point in my life, being able to travel while doing a writing or blogging assignment was surreal. It's one of my little dreams that came true.

Because of travel blogging, my network of friends and professional connections expanded greatly like unreal and the new friends I met were not the friends I was accustomed growing up with. I became acquainted, did some collaborations and have worked with politicians, TV hosts & celebrities, amazing people in the blogging, travel & tourism industries and more people from different cultures and beliefs. I believe fellow travel bloggers who started from scratch like me would be able to relate with the foregoing insights.

Of course, I would like to mention that I also have personal biases and my favorite moments were spent with ordinary people who are extraordinary on their own ways (without them knowing they're extraordinary). These people include those witty tour guides, welcoming local hosts and some random people that I became friends with because of common interests.

Two years ago, I was invited to cover a tourism event in ▼ PALAWAN
where I met new friends. Those new friends were extraordinary on their own way but when I was with them, I felt like we were the ordinary guys on the next neighborhood. I just felt carefree and I could stay by myself without any major issues or what. Well that's just me at the very least.

Anyway, three of the guys I met there came to Ilocos. One works at the mayor's office of ▼ #PUERTOPRINCESA
City. The other one works under a tourism department of the same city. The other is a fellow blogger who was also invited in Puerto Princesa that time. This time, I'm the host. Pressure? Yes it was.
✈ Domingo Ramos in Vigan
On the 9th of April, the first one to arrive in Ilocos was my blogger friend Kira Ramirez from ▼ #QUEZONCITY
. She stayed in San Nicolas (near ▼ #LAOAG
) though but she made an effort to travel to ▼ #VIGAN
immediately after her arrival. It was Sunday—Domingo Ramos to be exact—when we met in Vigan. I fetched her at the Partas Terminal of Vigan.

12
[VIGAN] ► Walking at night at Calle Crisologo with fellow blogger Kira

CALLE CRISOLOGO
[SAN VICENTE] ► Dinner at FG Resto and Bulalohan

FG RESTO AND BULALOHAN
[PAOAY] ► Glorious Paoay Church under the moonlight

PAOAY CHURCH

It's Kira's first time in Ilocos so I took charge of everything. I brought her at the Calle Crisologo where we searched for an available space to eat. Unfortunately, all the restaurants were already fully-booked, if not closed.

It was around 10 PM and we were so hungry. Being desperate for food, I ditched to dine at Calle Crisologo. It could have been good to let Kira experience dining al fresco at Calle Crisologo but we just couldn't find a space to eat comfortably. So I decided to bring her to the town of ▼ #SANVICENTE
for the dinner.

Thank God, FG Resto and Bulalohan is relatively away from Vigan's busy tourist zones so we all had the space for our selves. With a hot bulalo soup + delicious conversation over coffee with the owner Annalisa Pascasio, we called it a night.
✈ Tricycle Tour in Ilocos Norte
The next day, I was the one who traveled from Vigan to Laoag to meet the other two—real-life couple Arles and Heather. Both are from Puerto Princesa. However, Heather has Ilocano roots. She speaks Ilocano too. It's time to re-explore the northern side of Ilocandia.

1234
[PAGUDPUD] ► Our tour guides near the Pagudpud welcome arch

PAGUDPUD WELCOME ARCH
[BANGUI] ► Windmills soaring over the beautiful Bangui coast

BANGUI WINDMILLS
[BURGOS] ► Heather and Arles at Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

BURGOS LIGHTHOUSE
[PAOAY] ► The glorious Paoay Church under the moonlight

PAOAY CHURCH

Using public transportation, we explored as many destinations as possible in ▼ ILOCOS NORTE
that we could cover within the day in a pace we were comfortable with. We stopped in Pagudpud and we hired a tricycle. Unfortunately, the standard tricycle tour fee has changed so we had a hard time deciding where to go. To cut the story short, we ditched the northern attractions of Pagudpud and just decided to drop at the welcome arch for photo and selfies.

The windmills of Ilocos Norte have grown in number these past two years so they were basically everywhere but I wanted them to see the birthplace of ▼ SOUTHEAST ASIA
's first windfarm—that's the town of Bangui.

Showing them the giant windmills left them in awe. Kira said it's postcard-worthy while Heather thinks that these mega-projects were the products of a visionary Ilocano leader, that's coming from someone who is not from Ilocos.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse was next in line. Heather said she wished Palawan has historical and cultural landmarks like that but I was quick to point out that Palawan has beautiful gems that couldn't be found anywhere else in Ilocos. Bottomline, the ▼ PHILIPPINES
is just beautiful and diverse.

Meanwhile, in Laoag, I brought them to the Dap-ayan, a place for Ilocano food for our mini-dinner. One day is indeed not enough to explore Ilocos.

It was already dark when we arrived in ▼ #PAOAY
where we witnessed the Paoay Church's glory under the moon before we called it a night.
✈ Motorbike Ride from Vigan to Santa Maria
On the 11th of April, my three Ilocos guests had a taste of the other side of Ilocos—Ilocos Sur. Touring the traditional southern realm of the Ilocano people had a twist—we did it using motorbikes.

123
[ILOCOS SUR] ► The Abra River separates the two congressional districts of Ilocos Sur province.

ABRA RIVER
[SANTA MARIA] ► Beside the UNESCO world heritage baroque church of Santa Maria

SANTA MARIA CHURCH
[SANTA MARIA] ► With Heather and Arles + the sunset as seen from the Santa Maria Church

SANTA MARIA CHURCH

I brought them first to some of the cultural destinations in Vigan such as the National Museum Ilocos Regional Complex that takes charge of the Padre Burgos ancestral house and the old provincial jail, the birthplace of Elpidio Quirino—one of the presidents of the Philippines. We also did a quick walking tour around Vigan. I showed them the Vigan Cathedral until Kira saw something that made her scream, "I want bibingka!"

With our motorbikes, we visited Vigan's Damili Village, specifically the Hidden Garden in Bulala Centro, the Pagburnayan (jar factory), Crisologo Museum and Baluarte Zoo and Park.

▼ #BANTAY
was part of the itinerary so we visited one of the country's most popular watchtowers--the centuries-old Bantay Watchtower and the Shrine of Apo Caridad (Saint Augustine Church).

We started to drive our way southward and took the national highway. Our first stop on that long ride was the old Quirino Bridge between the towns of Bantay and ▼ #SANTA
where I showed them the scenic Banaoang gap and the mighty Abra River draining to the West Philippine Sea.

On our way to ▼ #SANTAMARIA
, I lead them to the beautiful Sulvec Port Road, a lovely coastal road in Ilocos Sur located in ▼ #NARVACAN
town. We ended at the UNESCO World Heritage baroque church of Santa Maria where we enjoyed the beautiful sunset. It took us around one hour to reach Santa Maria from Vigan.

We went back to San Vicente and a free dinner was offered for us by no other than our lovely sponsor FG Resto and Bulalohan. However, a Board Member of the second district of Ilocos Sur (Hon Gina Cordero) discreetly paid for our food that night!

123
[SAN VICENTE] ► Dinner at FG Resto and Bulalohan with the owner and Hon Gina Cordero, Board Member of the second district of Ilocos Sur.

FG RESTO AND BULALOHAN
[VIGAN] ► Touring Calle Crisologo after the dinner

CALLE CRISOLOGO
[VIGAN] ► Kira, standing at the corner of Calle Crisologo and Calle Encarnacion

CALLE CRISOLOGO

One of the highlights of this reunion was the wedding proposal at the said restaurant. Of course, Heather said a big "Yes!" I'm so glad that I've been a part of their heart journeys.
✈ Ending Thoughts
This is the summary of our reunion in Ilocos and more specific stories and insights will be written by me later from each destination we visited.

As I mentioned above, traveling has brought me to distant and unexpected places I never thought it would happen. Eventually, I met great people from different parts of the world. But you know what was the most surprising effect of these journeys and my ever expanding network of friends and connections? That day when I became an ambassador of my own hometown with extraordinary people choosing to meet me and become their tour guide over anyone else. Seeing them appreciate the place where I grew up was beyond compare. It made me value my heritage more--now that's more than any surreal place I've been. There's no better feeling to make people happy by offering them the taste, feel, sight, sound and smell of my own undying culture and heritage.  | end |



▼ BLOG TIMELINE
MY ILOCOS ADVENTURES THROUGH THE YEARS

▼ 2016
[ILOCOS] ► Vigan-Pagudpud Motorbike Ride and Challenges Along the Way
Sandwiched by the Ilocos-Cordillera mountain ranges and the West Philippine Sea, the result is a breathtaking landscape of the ocean, the narrow plains and the mountains.

AYUSAN SUR, VIGAN
▼ 2017
[VIGAN] ► Reunited in Ilocos After Two (2) Years
You are on this page.

Map Showing the Location of Ilocos Region

MAP OF ILOCOS
► FOOTNOTES, DISCLAIMERS, ACKNOWLEDGMENT, ETC

✈ The above story is a summary of an upcoming blogserye.

✈ This post was filed under the category "Travel Diaries." See more posts related to this below.


✈ The maps I used on this post are from maps.google.com.ph.

✈ All photos are mine.

✈ The insights, condition and name of places or properties I mentioned here are based on the facts and situation on the day of my visit. Take note that you may have a different experience when you try or see the properties or places mentioned here. Names of places and properties may also change by time so it's not my responsibility to update all the information on this blog because once published, I already consider it an archive and I won't update my narratives because I want them to become my references of what have happened in the past. I'm very particular of the dates because I want my amazing readers to understand that I am writing stories based on my perspective and insights on the day of my visit. You can see dates almost everywhere on this blog. Exempted from this rule are my travel guide posts that need to be updated.

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EDMAR GUQUIB

Born and Raised in Vigan, Philippines. Hardcore Ilocano. Genuine Bigueño. Sucker of Long Land Trips. Loves the Highlands. Professional Nurse on Weekdays. Coffee Addict. Travel Blogger in Between. For sponsorship, advertising, event invites and collaborations email me at edmaration@gmail.com.

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