I’ve been to the Ilocos province a grand total of two times.
The first was way back in the 90s when my mom’s side of the family went on a Northern Luzon road trip. We left Manila at the godawful hour of three in the morning, and arrived in Ilocos some time in the afternoon. I remember seeing huge churches, running around white sandy beaches, swimming over gorgeous coral reefs, and walking along a street lined with a lot of crumbling old buildings. I remember enjoying the beach and snorkelling, while thinking the latter a waste of my time. I was eleven.
A little over a decade later, I came back and discovered that the street with the crumbling old buildings was actually the historic town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and unlike my 11-year-old self, I found the entire area quite charming and romantic.
Vigan, I learned, was established in the 16th century and is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Located in the delta of the Abra river, it is the perfect illustration of East meets West, as its architecture and planning reflects the coming together of different cultural influences, from Asian building and design to European colonial architecture and planning.
Apart from the sense of nostalgia the place evokes, what I really love about Vigan is that the place is absolute heaven for texture photography.
The same can be said for the rest of Ilocos, with its collection of Heritage churches, carefully preserved Spanish colonial homes, and lighthouses.
A visit to Ilocos is literally a walk down memory lane—one I hope to take again soon <3