Ilocos: A Not-So Perfect Holiday Getaway

By Mommy Donna and Kib - December 31, 2014

I have already mentioned in my previous blogs about my son and I’s adventures.  Some were okay, some were not so okay.  It cannot really be avoided that there will be some unavoidable circumstances along the way (delayed flights, baggage on another flight, among others), but I guess our latest adventure is the worst so far.

I have already been itching to go to Ilocos for the longest time.  I have been reading a lot of travel blogs so that I will be prepared when that opportunity comes….and it came on December 25th, 2014….

I told my son that it’ll be my Christmas gift to him.  He was very excited to see Ilocos and he had been reading a lot about Ilocos on the Internet and even checking the map too.  I immediately booked the tour at a travel agency when my request to share a room with someone was granted.  I am not really choosy naman since I am a cowboy so I asked if there will be someone who is willing to share rooms with us. 

December 25th was a busy day for us.  We went home from Noche Buena at 2 a.m., slept at around 4 a.m.  Woke up at 10 a.m. and went to Kib’s ninongs and ninangs before heading to San Juan City to visit some relatives and the grave of my father.  We  went home by 3 p.m. to do some cleaning and packing for our trip.  We left our house by 5:30 p.m.

Merry Christmas Lolo!

There were some traffic on the road, but somehow I enjoyed the trip going to our meet-up place (Trinoma Open Parking) because I don’t have to drive, I’m just a plain passenger, hihi.  We arrived before 8 p.m. at Trinoma.  At this point, the problems on our Ilocos trip started.  Let me enumerate them one by one.

1   1.     Van seating arrangement.  I was happy that we will be riding on Toyota Hi-Ace Grandia at least we will be comfortable all throughout our travel.  However, there were some problems on the seating arrangement.  The travel agency didn’t plan the seating arrangement very well that Kib and I still stayed outside the van at Trinoma while the tour coordinator was trying to find a solution on how everybody can sit comfortably all throughout the travel.  Since time was running short, five people seated on the second row of the van up to Petron Lakeshore.  The tour coordinator just transferred to another van from there.  Later on, other passengers confessed that the tour coordinator was even thinking of Kib sitting on my lap all throughout the travel, my golly!

2   2.   Unguided tours.  After confirming payment, the itinerary was emailed to me.  However, on the actual tour, I was expecting that someone will explain the history behind the tour sites, but no one did.  The van driver was also clueless about the story of each venue, plain and simple, he’s just a driver.  The tour coordinator doesn’t also know anything too. So sad, we just went to the tour sites for plain photo opportunity.

At Marcos Museum.  I want to know more about Marcos but no one has explained his life to me.  We just read the notes on each exhibit inside.  Kib was also very curious too, he really stops to read.

3.     Lack of coordination with the resort.  We stayed in Pagudpud, but the travel agency didn’t really made their homework on knowing the amenities of the resort.  We were all hungry from the tour but the resort that we stayed in doesn’t have a canteen!  We still have to ask a staff of the hotel to buy food for us and the food bought was disappointing.  I ordered for menudo but it was all pork fat!  The following day, we requested the driver to make a stop so that we can buy dinner before heading back to the resort.

Apart from the problems on the amenities, one tour group had problems with their own hotel that they needed to be transferred to our hotel.  The tour guide talked to me in private asking me if I want to be transferred to another hotel so that the other group will be accommodated to our hotel.  I said no.  Aba, dehadong-dehado na kami ha?!

4.     The convoy slowed us down.  The travel agency has rented four vans for this trip, but not all drivers are knowledgeable about Ilocos, so there is a need to make ‘alalay’ to those drivers who are not well-versed on the streets of Ilocos.  Also, since it’s a convoy, we have to wait for each other even if other vans are ready to go to the next destination.  Well, it’s okay with me to travel on a convoy, but some passengers don't care that other passengers are waiting too.

5.     My digicam was lost.  Or rather, my digicam was stolen.  I was about to take the LAST PHOTO of our trip at the marker at Café Leona along Calle Crisologo in Vigan when I noticed that the zipper of my bag was open.  I thought I just left it open because I just bought longganisa on the establishment beside Café Leona.  When I was already looking for my camera, then that’s the time I realized it was lost.  I went back to the store just to confirm if I didn’t leave it there.  The owner and the helpers were very kind to assist me.  They told me to immediately report it to the police since there are lots of CCTVs on the area.  I saw a traffic aide and he immediately radioed it to the police station.  Minutes after, a policeman assisted me.  He got my details.  I am so happy that even I wasn’t able to file a formal complaint (we need to get back to Manila already), my concern was taken seriously and an investigator even called me to confirm details.  I am no longer after the return of my digicam but I just do hope that they will catch whoever that person is to teach him/her a lesson.  My son was traumatized that he cried inside the van until he fell asleep.

At Calle Crisologo in Vigan.  This photo was taken using my iPhone, few minutes before my digicam was stolen.

While we are on our way to Manila, I was calling friends just to air out my feelings toward the incident.  I felt relieved that my friends really listened to me and even asked what can they do to help.  Some friends offered prayers to us and one friend even sent credits to my Sun Broadband.  It was a long journey back home and it gave me time to reflect on what had happened to us.  I thought of good things about our vacation and the lessons learned about the incident, here are they:

1.     Still thankful that we still have some vacation photos from the tablet and iPhone

2.     Thankful that it was ONLY the digicam that was stolen and not my wallet or iPhone (good thing I was holding my iPhone when the incident happened)

3.     My son and I were not held up at gun/knife point

4.     My bag was not slashed just to get the item inside my bag.  Thieves don’t have mercy over branded bags. Moral lesson: never bring a branded bag anymore

5.     Don’t go on a holiday on peak season.  This was the second for us (first was a New Year’s holiday at Boracay in 2011).  Traffic is terrible, and you’ll feel agoraphobic with the influx of local tourists.  Imagine, it’s like summer in December in Ilocos!

If you ask me if I want to go back to Ilocos, my answer is: I DON’T KNOW.  It’s really a tiring trip (12 hours or more travel time) plus the trauma that we experienced.  Maybe I will go back there together with friends and family, and hoping that the next time around, it’ll be a perfect Ilocos getaway.

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  1. So sad that you weren't able to enjoy Ilocos much. I went there with my friends and although it was a tiring drive, we still had so much fun! I think it all boils down to the travel agency. Simula palang palpak na. And that's why I also don't do travel agencies anymore. Yung antayan with the other tourists. Yung iba nga kasi walang consideration.

    1. It could've been a fun vacay sana because I really look forward to be there, yun lang I don't have any choice but to avail of a group tour kasi it's only me and my son travelling. I've availed of travel agency services with my other vacations, super konting glitches lang or none at all pero eto talaga ang worst. Anyway, the lesson is not to avail of this travel agency's services anymore for my son and I's future trips =)