Ilocos Sur offers wondrous variety to all who travel there. The land and its scenic wonders range from historical Spanish churches, countryside attractions like fine sand beaches, waterfalls, watchtowers, museums down to the traditional Ilocano wares and edibles.
Prior to Spanish colonization, the settlements of the coastal plain of northwestern Luzon, from Bangui in Ilocos Norte to Namacpacan (present day Luna, La Union) were known collectively as the Ylokos or "inhabitants of the lowlands". The people built their villages in small bays or coves called looc and traded with Chinese and Southeast Asian merchants. In 1572, a Spanish expedition to the Ilocos, led by Juan de Salcedo, arrived in a place called Cabigbigaan. Here he founded Villa or Ciudad Fernandina in honor of King Ferdinand VI of Spain. It was better known by its indigenous name, Vigan, and it became the seat of Spanish rule for the whole Ilocos region.
One need not travel far as when he sets foot on the provincial capital of Vigan, he will immediately feel the historical nature of the place, most famous are the ancestral houses located in Heritage Street. Vigan has more than 200 of such houses along the streets of old Mestizo District, also known as Kasanglayan (Chinese Quarters). Through the efforts of Mayor Ferdinand Medina, the city has gotten the seal of approval from UNESCO, and thus became a World Heritage Site.
One can feel the events of the past by visiting St. Paul's Metropolitan Cathedral, built by the Augustinians in 1790. Its octagonal belfry is located 12 meters south of the cathedral; Burgos National Museum, the ancestral house of Padre Jose Burgos of the Gomburza fame. It also houses the priceless collection of Esteban Villanueva canvasses representing the 1807 Basi Revolt; Sequia Mansion, which served as the venue of official and public functions during the administration of the late President Elpidio Quirino; Crisologo Museum, contains the memorabilia of the Crisologo family; Leona Florentino House, residence of Leona Florentino, mother of Philippine hero Isabelo delos Reyes, the first Filipina poetess to be recognized worldwide.
Also in Vigan, traditional arts and crafts abound like the Burnay Industry, Abel Iloco, Red Clay industries and the Kattokong Craft.
If you are in a relaxing mode, one can travel through the vast and culturally rich land of Ilocos Sur. Ably administered by its famous and industrious leader, Governor Luis "Chavit" Singson, the province has been transformed not just a tourist haven but also a future business haven of the north.
Touring around the province on a cruising pace, one can visit the Santiago Cove, a beautiful stretch of fine sand beach in Santiago town; the hidden Pinsal Falls that features Angalo's footprint, the legendary giant. One can even trace the beginnings of the waterfall by climbing to the top of the waterfall, or shall I say, waterfalls (there are actually three waterfalls that is a feast to the eyes) and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the place. There are other waterfalls in the province namely: Caniaw Falls in Bantay, Gambang Falls in Cervantes, Awasan Falls in Sigay, Barasibis Falls in Santa and Pikkang Falls in San Juan.
Sta. Lucia Church, which houses the Dark Virgin of Sta. Lucia; Sta. Maria Church, a national landmark listed under the UNESCO World Heritage list (actually, Ilocos Sur is the only province that boasts of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the other one previously mentioned - Vigan City) The old church also has the now famous "leaning tower or belfry" and don't forget a visit to its former cemetery site at the other side of the church wherein one can pray in totally tranquility; San Esteban and Sulvec Watchtowers, lookout points for impending pirates; Bantay Church, its belfry located meters away which also serves as a lookout for approaching pirates; Sinait Church, inside is a 17th century image of a Black Nazarene (the other one is in Quiapo District, Manila) found floating in a casket.
Apatot Beach, this beach in San Esteban is where a US submarine surfaced during the last stages of World War II. Tirad Pass, declared as a national shrine, the pass located in the Municipality of Gregorio Del Pilar was the last stand of then General Emilio Aguinaldo against the Americans, Bessang Pass - A monument stands on this strategic gap describing the Battle of Bessang Pass won by the Filipinos on June 14, 1945 ,5,250 feet above sea level. It served as backdoor to General Yamashita's last ditch defense during the last stages of World War II.
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Ilocos Sur is accessible from Manila by public transportation such as PARTAS Bus Company, Times Transit, Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Autobus, Candon Bus Lines and Viron Transportation Company.
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Published on 4/19/05