Vigan City and The Quest to Find Pinget Island

I am on a road trip covering the North Luzon Loop. I started in Laguna and headed North via EDSA, Bulacan, Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union and Ilocos Sur. My first stop was Tagudin where we learned that the First Sundial of the Philippines might actually have inaccurate data engraved on it. We also took a quick sidetrip to see the Abra Tunnel and finally crossed the Abra River to explore Vigan.

vigan_mistress

Hhmmm.. Actually we are not going to explore Vigan. Vigan is a very famous tourist destination. Holy Week or not, hundreds, if not thousands of people flock to this World Heritage Site famous for its Spanish Colonial Architecture, museums, churches, and it’s empanada. Because I hate crowds, I thought of the places where there might be fewer people.. Where I ended up?

The afternoon heat was too much that I figured most would stay out of Baluarte ni Chavit. It’s a wildlife sanctuary where you will get a chance to get up close with some animals like birds, snakes, and even a tiger. I was almost correct. Everyone stayed out of the sun in the open and we were cramming ourselves in every shade we could find. I didn’t stay long.

Baluarte is about 3 kms from Vigan City proper. Entrance is free!!

Baluarte is about 3 kms from Vigan City proper. Entrance is free!!

No one dared to step out of the shade. It's best to visit this early morning. It's open 7AM-6PM

No one dared to step out of the shade. It’s best to visit this early morning. It’s open 7AM-6PM

I was here with LMC in November 2010

I was here with LMC in November 2010

You can pet some of the animals. There's also a live animal show.

You can pet some of the animals. There’s also a live animal show.

Dear Mr Chavit, I hope someday you can get some "robotics" integrated with these cool dinos. That would be WIN!

Dear Mr Chavit, I hope someday you can get some “robotics” integrated with these cool dinos. That would be WIN!

Baluarte is indeed "more than just a zoo"!

Baluarte is indeed “more than just a zoo”!

I left Baluarte and decided to visit the neighboring town of Bantay. I have seen most of Vigan but not the equally-famous Bantay Bell on the other side of Mestizo River. Along the way, I saw a sign pointing to a Vigan Heritage River Cruise. Yeah, I noticed the sign because I almost read all those posted signs along the way. I don’t want to miss that ‘No Entry’ traffic sign and end up in Calle Crislogo. I don’t wanna be “that douche that raced a kalesa on the historic street”. I didn’t know there’s a river cruise in Vigan and when I read it, i thought of Venice.

Even if I was all by myself, I only paid P100.

Even if I was all by myself, I only paid P100.

The 45-minute tour uses a recording that narrates the history of Vigan as it sailed on the historic Mestizo River

The 45-minute tour uses a recording that narrates the history of Vigan as it sailed on the historic Mestizo River

There are life-sized tableaus along the shore depicting the event being narrated. You may also read from the brochure you will get start of the trip.

There are life-sized tableaus along the shore depicting the event being narrated. You may also read from the brochure you will get start of the trip.

Admittedly, I was disappointed that we didn't pass by any historic landmarks or structures; just the tableau. Anyway, there's always the sight of the day-today life of the residents living along the river.

Admittedly, I was disappointed that we didn’t pass by any historic landmarks or structures; just the tableau. Anyway, there’s always the sight of the day-to-day life of the residents living along the river.

One entry on my bucketlist is taking my motorcycle to as many islands as I can (haven’t decided on the exact number yet). One of my goals on this North Luzon Loop trip is to get to Pinget Island. I saw it on the map protruding from the shores of Ilocos. It’s connected to the main island of Luzon by what seems to be a small strip of land yet it is labeled as an island. That’s weird. I have planned to visit the island the following day on my way out of Vigan when I’m on my way to Laoag but I was too excited and ditched the plan to visit Bantay and head to Magsingal. It’s about 20 kms from Vigan City. Time check, it’s 5PM.

Based on the map, the access road leading to the island is in Magsingal. I asked around, no one has ever heard of it.

Based on the map, the access road leading to the island is in Magsingal. I asked around, no one has ever heard of it.

This is the Magsingal Belfry. Behind it is the Magsingal Musuem.

This is the Magsingal Belfry. Behind it is the Magsingal Musuem.

I asked a few more people. The only island they know is Poro Island. I know Poro Island, I have seen it on the map. It is in Cabugao more than 20 kms from Magsingal. They haven’t heard of Pinget Island. I tried going in a barangay road hoping it was the right way. It was a dead end. The sun was starting to set. Desperate, I turned on the maps on my phone and brought up  Pinget Island on the screen. I headed back to the main highway and asked a police officer. He said that the access road to the island is in Sto. Domingo. I headed back to Sto. Domingo as fast as I could. I found the access road. The island is about 7 kms from the highway.

I thought, the blue route in Magsingal leads to island. In fact, the access road is in Sto. Domingo (red route highlight)

I thought, the blue route in Magsingal leads to island. In fact, the access road is in Sto. Domingo (red route highlight)

It was getting dark. The road was not in good condition but at least cemented. I can tell I was nearing the island because there are mounds of sand everywhere. I fishtailed a couple of times but luckily, I regain control every time. I had my eyes fixed on the next 10 meters of the road that when I looked up, I was already at a beach! The view was beautiful and no one was there. Dhona and I have the beach by ourselves. It is one of the best sunsets I have ever witnessed.

ahhh.... sunsets!

ahhh…. sunsets!

Like what I've said on the demotivational poster slash cover photo of this post: MISTRESS - It's not always another woman.

Like what I’ve said on the demotivational poster slash cover photo of this post: MISTRESS – It’s not always another woman.

Dhona also wanted a solo shot. How could I say no to someone who never failed me. hehe!

Dhona also wanted a solo shot. How could I say no to someone who never failed me. hehe!

I “landed” in Sto. Domingo Beach. This is not yet Pinget Island. The island is nearby and I set out to find the way. It was tough riding on sand with street tires. I also have limited time because it was getting darker by the minute. Finally, I reached the sandbar that connects Pinget Island to Luzon. It is cemented but the shore is just meters away on both sides. Just a few feet away from the cemented road, I saw that the beach showed evidence that it was under water just hours ago; probably during a high tide.

The sea on both sides just meters from the road.

The sea on both sides just meters from the road.

Bottom pic is the "ripples" of sand just near the road showing it is underwater just hours ago.

Bottom pic is the “ripples” of sand just near the road showing it is underwater just hours ago.

I spoke to a man on a Motorstar Xplorer 200R on the island and learned from him that their island is called “Puro Pinget” or simply “Puro”. It seems that the island is in fact Pinget Island but since the community is classified as Brgy Puro, “Puro” is more commonly used. Inside their community, I was getting strange looks. I was wearing my reflectorized yellow vest and my Hi-Viz helmet so everyone noticed. Life was simple in this community. The houses were small and the families seemed large. There’s a lot of kids running around and just as many adults standing or sitting idly along the streets.  I smiled to them but how would they know when I’m wearing a balaclava mask.

I have taken a ferry to an island and has crossed a bridge to get to another island and now, I was able to ride my motorcycle to an island! It would’ve been a thrilling story to end the day, but another highlight is waiting in Vigan City. Hint: Bellagio in Las Vegas

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About Dom de la Torre

The rider is a 20-something Filipino that rides a Honda Wave 125cc underbone. He knows little about motorcycles yet loves the experience going places on two wheels. Rider Ako is a motorcycle-slash-travel blog. The rider not only shares to you travel destinations and what to see there but also the experience of getting there. You will read about the thrills and adventure when he rides solo, the romance of riding in tandem, the camaraderie riding with a group, the excitement participating in events, and anything that he thinks you might find interesting.When he's broke and the fuel's empty, he will share stories about motorcycling how he sees it through his helmet visor.
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11 Responses to Vigan City and The Quest to Find Pinget Island

  1. gretchel says:

    Very detailed Logan!Im so happy 4 u.you get to visit places with your mistress and write about them.i haven’t read the other blogs,as soon as i have enough time,i’ll check them all. 😉

  2. I’m so loving the series! Hehe.. Sulit ang time sa pagbabasa. Kainis din minsan talaga dahil yung mga tao di nila alam ang mga pangalan ng lugar nila, hehe.. Yes, Pinget is not known (unless you love reading maps). There are 4 Puro islands in Ilocos (Caoayan, Cabugao, Badoc and Magsingal) hehe… Pero and pinakasikat na Puro island is ‘yung Pinget Island sa Magsingal, LOL!

    • Hey Edmar, salamat. yun nga, like what I posted in your blog, kung maaga ko lang nabasa yun madali ko lang sana nahanap yung Pinget. Nakipagtalo talaga ako sa locals na hindi Poro Island yung hinahanap ko. Nakumbinsi lang ako nung pinakita ko na yung map sa cellphone at Puro pa din yung tawag nila. Anyway, sulit pa din sa excitement!

  3. Pia C. says:

    I really hope the management of Baluarte, as well as the tourists, come to realize that they should be more sensitive to the plight of the dwarf horses. The Baluarte offers free carriage rides by the dwarf horses to their detriment. Today, I witnessed a sight of exhausted and wounded dwarfed horses being whipped every 3 seconds so as to carry a load of an average of 3 adults at a quicker pace. Animals are not machines and people should be more aware of this. Attached is a photo of one of the wounded and very exhausted dwarf horses.

  4. elleica says:

    Very nice article! I am planning a trip to Ilocos and want to DIY as much as possible instead of availing a packaged trip. I came upon your blog and find it a nice breathe of air from the usual blog posts about Ilocos trips. 🙂 Kudos! Keep up your unconventional travels. 🙂 They inspire me as much as the conventional travels.

  5. Skye_08 says:

    Doms, hi. sarap basahin ng blog mo. I got intererested kasi pupunta kami ng kasama ko sa Vigan this August 15 using his motorcycle din. May alam ka bang murang matutuluyan to spend the night sa Vigan?

    By the way, if from Vigan going to Pagudpud, ilang oras ang travel kapag naka MC? thanks in advance sa reply. God bless.

    • Thanks! Almost same lang din mga rates ng not-so-fancy hotels sa vigan. Nasa 300-500 petot usually. Vigan is only 150kms from pagudpud pero ang daming magagandang stops along the way. Good luck sa byahe.I hope to hear your story when u’re back. 🙂

  6. Allan says:

    I just went to Vigan last month. Its my first time on that route. I did it alone. Just trying to familiarize with the place (good memories never fade). When I read this blog a year ago, I said to myself, Ill ride where you ride. But Ill do it somehow my own way

    nice catch phrase.. “ferry to an island, cross a bridge to an island.. ride to an island”

    ill try my northern explorations beyond Vigan next time.. like you said… what you already seen, you pass and what you are about to see, you explore

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