Friday, July 25, 2008

Roaming Ilocos: Paoay Elsewhere

The Municipal Hall
Out of the church, I roamed the vicinity, instinctively propelling myself towards the municipal hall. Hmm, nice one. I mean I approached the building from the back but its good to know that their kind of plaza or activity center is actually behind the municipal hall. Literally! The small plaza and stage are right at the back while the basketball court is beyond which becomes right at the back of the church. Unique I must say, since most everywhere in this country, the plaza, sometimes parks or gardens and the sports centers are usually hemmed in front of the church and the municipal or city hall. In Paoay, you can say that both edifices are facing away from each other. Unique really, and there’s an advantage. The mayor and all its employees are forced to make every side of their municipal hall clean and presentable. Yep, you can ask me how many such munisipyos in this country have their sides or backs serving as dumping areas of this and that. Not in Paoay!

So I passed by the side and reaching front, I ogled at how cute the Paoay Municipal Hall is. It is not big but it looks beautiful. A building probably built during the American occupation period, spruced up here and there, but in general still looks handsomely regal. There are no more grassy greens on its frontage. Everything is concrete, which as I always say, not good. But in this municipal hall, they lack space to serve as parking area and ‘bayang magiliw’ area since a few steps away is already the national highway. So, its fine enough! Oist here is one secret hehe… I was like a fool circling Rizal’s monument a number of times! Why? Because this one in Paoay is probably the only one I saw where the national hero seems to be hiding something! He’s holding a rolled document and hiding it behind him. There was no one to ask as to the symbolism of why he is portrayed so in this monument. If you know anyway, please tell me ha?!

Casa Doña Emilia
It’s a hotel. A boutique hotel so it seems. And it sits right across the municipal hall. Not that I was looking for a place to stay in this town, but the Casa Doña Emilia looked interestingly inviting. So, I crossed the highway going to it. Hmm, nice little place. You’d never think you’ll find something this beautiful in Paoay. It has the look and feel of a ‘definitely better’ accommodation place than many I have seen in Laoag and Vigan. Yes, I’ll stand on that.

“Good afternoon sir, how can we help you”, so said the front desk girl. And I said “good afternoon, just looking around”. She said go ahead and even asked me if I would like her to tour me around. I said not really but I have questions. And she cheerfully answered my questions. Like I learned that there are 15 rooms, 11 were occupied at the moment but all guests were out on a tour and that the owners brought in a real professional architect to design the place. Ah, on that design thing, it was easy to discern what kind of hand wielded its powers. This place is truly beautiful. Its being small I think adds to the dainty attractive look everywhere you turn your head. Even the rooms are at par or better than Fort Ilocandia’s. Well, this place is owned and maintained by the family of a well known movie director.

Herencia Café
After the hotel and municipal hall, I walked back towards the church area again. This time, I wanted to see what those houses were out front of the big big lawn. Voila, I stumbled upon Café Herencia! So I thought that was incidentally time for a snack! I was wrong, it became another lunch at just about a few minutes to 5PM. Why? Because I asked what was the house specialty. And, I was promptly informed it was the “crispy dinuguan” and “pinakbet pizza”. Yes, I’ve heard about them on TV sometime ago, and I knew it was in Ilocos, though I did not imagine I would have been in the very place. OMG!

The pizza was too big, argh! They don’t have small sizes nor do they sell slices. Waitress told me they only start cooking a pizza when someone orders it. So I naturally swayed to the crispy dinuguan which he said was actually good for two but he thought I could finish the whole thing alone. Yes, I did! But I had to consume 3 cups of rice and two cans of coke with it. Need I divulge it here?! Yes, masarap that I forgot I only have one stomach hahaha!

Just so I won’t forget… while I was eating my crispy dinuguan, one lady at a table of 7 came to offer me a slice of the pinakbet pizza! They overheard how I wanted to taste it and since they ordered two, she thought there was more than enough for them that they spared a slice for me. Wow! Well, I said thank you and bit into the slice. Am not sure if it was because I was already very full with 3 cups of rice and the crispy dinuguan, or am still not good at eating halaman. It did not fit quite well with my tastebuds hehe. Eh I very seldom eat the real pinakbet in the first place. What did I expect, anyway?! And to think, I almost ordered a whole pinakbet pizza just to taste it! Oh my!

See? I only wanted to see the famous church and I’ve seen and eaten more than I wanted.


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