En route to the northern provinces of the Philippines, I almost always wake up just before the bus I’m riding in crosses the Abra River. From the newer Banaoang Bridge, I look out the window and gaze at the defunct Quirino Bridge. And almost always, the bus would zoom off the bridge without me being able to take even a single shot or let alone take my camera out from my bag.
The chance finally came for me to photograph the twin bridge that connects the town of Santa and Bantay in Ilocos Sur as I revisited Vigan City a month ago. Aboard a van full of media peeps, we traversed the rain-slicked roads to Barangay Banaoang and alighted just before the twin bridges.
But we were there, not really to take photos of the massive structures, but to cross it using a zip line.
Welcome to the Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone. The recently opened adventure center is the newest attraction this side of the province. It caters mostly to adrenaline junkies and adventure freaks with its climbing and rappelling walls, kayak center and of course, its 400-meter zip line.
Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone is about fifteen minutes away by car from Vigan City and is perfect for tourists wanting a bit more than visiting museums and cobbled streets. For those without their own transportation, Sta. Maria-bound buses pass by the area, fare is at about Php25.00. Just make sure to tell the driver to drop you off at the zip line if you’re not too familiar with the place.
It was drizzling on and off during our visit so I decided to pass off on the zip line. My companions however were all just too excited to do the river traverse. Secretly, what I really wanted to do was to walk towards the old Quirino Bridge and take photos.
So as they were busy strapping in, zipping off and taking selfies across the Abra River, I forged ahead towards the defunct bridge, an umbrella on one hand instead of a tripod.
Quirino Bridge was just a few minutes’ walk from the Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone, and I immediately wished I brought my tripod along. The steel-supported bridge looked really picturesque as I peeped through my viewfinder and snapped a few frames.
Damaged by super typhoon Feria in 2005, it was replaced by a parallel bridge two years after. The old Parker-Type Bridge, which was named after former Philippine President Elpidio Quirino, a Bigueño, was retained as a tourist landmark. And rightly so, it is one of the country’s most beautiful bridges.
From where I was standing, I spotted a beat-up stone staircase that led down to the banks of the muddy Abra River. Of course, such opportunities were not to be passed off. I gingerly made my descent until the brown waters of Abra River was just a few inches from the soles of my shoes.
My curiosity and photo addiction satiated, I finally went back to the Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone as the last of my companions were whizzing back in to the Bantay side of the zip line. It was a heck of a ride, too bad you didn’t try it, one of them told me as he was undoing the clasps of his safety gear. Well, to each his own, really, I silently replied.
Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone
Address: Brgy. Banaoang, Bantay, Ilocos Sur
Zipline Rate: Php450.00 (two way)
Rappelling Rate: Php100.00
Wall Climbing Rate: Php100.00
Kayaking Rate: Php100.00
GPS Coordinates Map: 17°33'36.8"N 120°27'56.3"E