A Travellerspoint blog

Vigan - Paoay - Laoag - Manila

View South East Asia Grand Tour 2023 on Grete Howard's travel map.


Here at Hotel Felicidad in Vigan, they give you a menu in the evening for you to choose your breakfast for the following day. Last night I decided to order some local food to have this morning, but today I regret it – the meat is very tough and unappetising.

Beef Tapa and Rice

Today we are travelling up the north coast in order to fly back to Manila, bringing an end to this tour of Luzon Island.

Sitio Remedios Heritage Village

Created in 2005, homes from various parts of Ilocos region that were about to be demolished were rescued and transferred to this site to be preserved.



Some of the buildings have been turned into tourist accommodation, and there is a restaurant on site.




Today they are preparing for a wedding, but they are happy for us to go around exploring the outside and inside of the traditional buildings, many of which are filled with beautiful antique furniture.


It’s a really peaceful area to wander around, with the grounds filled with flowers and artwork.


Beyond the hotel grounds, there is a lovely sandy beach full of outrigger canoes called bangkas, and I send up the drone to try and get some artistic overhead shots.


The lush hotel grounds

The swimming pool and beach beyond

Lots of canoes used by the local fishermen

My attempt at being artistic


I love the small lighthouses along the coastal road.


The fishermen are out in their canoes here, working as a team with one person splashing the water with his oar to bring the fish to the surface for others to grab.


Spear fishing


Love this cute sign


This sign, not so much




Kusina Valentin

We stop in Paoay for lunch at this modern two-storey restaurant with great views overlooking the church.



So much food, as usual




Pork shoulder and vegetables

Grilled pork with a blood sauce dip

Grilled pork


More vegetables

Dessert - flan (caramel pudding)

Paoay Church

Saint Augustine Church, commonly known as the Paoay Church, was completed in 1710 after two decades of construction, and is one of several Filipino churches inscribed on the UNESCO Heritage List.


The church is famous for its distinct architecture that blends baroque, gothic, Chinese, and Javanese, and the enormous buttresses on the sides and back of the building, created to help the church withstand earthquakes.


Detail of the facade

The interior is fairly plain

The bell tower served as an observational post for Filipino revolutionaries against the Spaniards in 1898 and by Filipino guerrillas against Japanese soldiers during World War II.


Pinili Inabel Center

Inabel is a weaving tradition, particularly used to refer to textiles that are distinctly Ilocano in origin, which is still being practiced by weavers in the province today. It was opened on the 13th of August 2023, as a tribute to the National Living Treasure recipient Magdalena Gamayo, a Filipino weaver who turned 99 years old on the same day.


Now serving as a public space for local weavers in Ilocos Norte to improve their skills, Magdalena hopes that younger generations will learn to appreciate inabel weaving through this centre. Today the young people have travelled to Manila for a fashion show, and the only person weaving is Magdalena herself.


Magdalena learned the Ilocano weaving tradition of making inabel from her aunt at age 16, and her father bought her first loom soon afterwards. On November 8, 2012, she received the National Living Treasure Award.


Balay San Nicolas National Treasure

The building, constructed in the early 1800s, has been declared a national treasure in 2015. It possesses an exceptional cultural, historical, and artistic significance to the Philippines, with the size of the house and its refined interiors being comparable to the typical old residences in Laoag and Vigan.


Now restored, it has taken on a new life as a living museum or gallery.



We continue to Laoag where we arrive rather too early for our flight, so we sit in the car in the rain outside a shopping mall while Rey pops in. After a while, he comes out with fresh churros and some local tarts. Some of you may remember the incident when we first arrived in Manila and I was too unwell to enjoy the churros Rey bought us as a gift, and David ate my portion as well. I have not let him hear him hear the end of it since (jokingly, of course), so David did some research online to try and find somewhere on our route that sells churros, and this is the place. He conspired with Rey, so our stopping here was not at all by chance. Oh, those boys, they are both lovely! As are the churros.


Laoag Provincial Airport consists of two open-plan rooms, one for checking in and one that is the departure lounge. There seems to be a bit of a problem during checking-in, and we are asked to go and sit down, while Rey sorts it out. Richie, meanwhile, hangs around with the car rather than making a start on the long drive back to Manila, just in case there is a problem with the flight. Bless him.

Being such a tiny airport, there are no conveyor belts for the luggage, they are weighed on a parcel scale, and manually handled onto a trolley for taking to the plane.


It turns out that the ‘problem’ during check-in was the staff trying to make sure I am able to sit in an aisle seat on the right-hand side of the plane. Not only that, David is in the aisle seat on the left-hand side, so we have a row of seats each!

The flight is only 45 minutes, so that whole scenario wasn’t really necessary, but I sure do appreciate it. During that time we are served a glass of water and a packet of very tasty dried peas and mango snacks.

At Manila airport, a wheelchair is waiting to take me to the terminal building, where I am transferred into a larger buggy. Only one companion is allowed so Rey walks while David joins me in the buggy. We travel down empty corridors, lifts that are not accessible to the public, and move barriers to get through. By the time we arrive at the luggage carousel, Rey has already collected our cases and placed them on a trolley. The domestic terminal is much smaller than the international one we arrived at, and we go straight to Bay 14 to meet Badi, our driver, Badi, who is waiting to take us back to Bayleaf Hotel where this whole Filipino journey started. Here we have to say goodbye to Rey, which is very hard, as he is one of the very best guides we have ever had (which is saying something considering all the travel we have done over the years) and has become a good friend during the last ten days or so.

Bayleaf Hotel

We are back in the same room and spend the rest of the evening watching a terrific storm sweep through Manila from our bedroom window.


Many thanks to Undiscovered Destinations for making all the arrangements for this incredible Grand Tour of South East Asia.


Posted by Grete Howard 08:22 Archived in Philippines Tagged weaving lighthouses beach storm philippines manila fishermen canoes thunder_storm spearfishing vigan paoay wheelchair churros laoag drone undiscovered_destinations heritage_village drone_photography grand_south_east_asia_tour dronography sitio_remedios heritage_hotel currimao spear_fishing kusina_valentin paoay_church unsesco buttresses pinili_inabel_center pinili_inabel_centre pinili imabel magdalena_gamayo living_heritage balay_san_nicolas_national_trea national_treasure living_national_treasure laoag_airport provincional_airport bayleaf_hotel

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


Aaaah churros ... now I am starting to get hungry! :)

by Ils1976


by Grete Howard

The heritage village looks like it would be a great place to stay, and I love your artistic shot of the canoes on the beach! The weaving looks interesting too. I know how tough it is to say goodbye to a great guide like Rey - he really does sound exceptional :)

by ToonSarah

I agree about the heritage village, Sarah, we said that at the time. Thanks for your kind comments, I have been having fun with my drone on this trip. Rey was one in a million, for sure. ♥

by Grete Howard

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.