In the past few years, I’ve been to Subic and Tagaytay, but the last time I was ever way waaaay out of town was in 1996, in my mother’s home province of Palawan. Like I said, I hate packing. Adding to that, I hate the travel time.

But given that I don’t have a job and I’ve only one life to live, the invitation by Nautilus Comics to help conduct the comics seminar in Ilocos Sur was a good change. And it ended up to be a wonderful experience for me.

Sure, the travel time was at least eight hours. We had a flat en route at ten in the evening, right smack in the middle of nowhere. At the seminar, the venue was hot, the acoustics were bad and the sound system was iffy. We had another flat while on a side trip to Abra.

But overall, I had a smacking good time. Elbert, Jaime and Rex were delightful companions, with free-flowing comfortable – and occasionally inane – conversation that made the long trip bearable. Thanks to our sponsors at AZcom for helping us along.

Vigan's got everything an artist’s soul needs – atmosphere, scenery, ambience, and Plaza Maestro. (That’s the mini-mall which has Jollibee, McDo and National Bookstore.) You could sit all day at the spacious Plaza Burgos or Plaza Salcedo (with its fantastic postcard-perfect fountains) to write or draw your masterpiece, or simply wile the time away and reflect. Activity dies down at around ten in the evening. Very provincial, that.

It's a great escape, and I’m thinking of going back someday by myself.

The first of two flats, one hour away from Vigan.

Hebrew script adorns the main door of the Our Lady of Charity Parish Church in Agoo. At left is detail from the mural inside the church. The lady on the right side is said to be Imelda Marcos.

The seminar held at the Ilocos Sur Polytechnic College (ISPC).

Me, Rex, El and Jaime with the guys from AZcom and ISPC.

At Plaza Burgos.

At the master's bedroom of the Crisologo Family museum.

Yes, we had lunch at the "Plaza Sanitary Restaurant". We felt relieved.

Fountains and kalesas at Plaza Salcedo.


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