Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur Roadtrip: Marcos Trail


The woman souvenir shop owner was invisible while her young and pretty daughter did the salesmanship. They sold masterpieces of handiwork at dirt cheap prices. I was completely taken by a rainbow color capiz shell wall hanging. ” That’s not for sale. That is my Mama’s private collection.” yet I fingered it and lingered– yet again she refused to part with a piece that could have fetched her enough to buy good make up.( All the time when her daughter sold us items, the lady sat on the side probably painting her face before a small mirror camouflaged in the shop’s brick a brak). 

Then as we finished paying for the fortune we were carrying home, the mama in make up finally got up and revealed her rounded features and her artwork on them. I was still gazing at the steel of her Smokey eye make up , when she shoved  her hand deep into my bag of purchase.

There it was– the red scarf  that had caught my eye when I had just entered her shop!

I had admired it, wrapped it around and kept it back as our family got step by step seduced by every other item in the shop. That and a red tote bag and a key ring– just given — for nothing. Like mirchi and dhaniya shoved into vegetable bag back in India when buying from a regular hawker.

Her shop, her girl, her man, her collection, her make up– once again it all dissolved. She emerged– a silent OBSERVER who judged, rewarded, and I suppose punish too, if she saw something amiss.

People, pride, passion, poverty and idiosyncrasy– the connection that cannot be made in malls. The sing song “Good evening Ma’m- Sir s !” of Manila’s booming economy were missing.



It was plainspeak all along in the towns right atop the Phil map, and much as I enjoy the salespersons sing song voices in Manila, I didn’t miss it  when in Ilocos, at all.

So many things have remained unsaid…but that’s no reason not to try again. 

Be well until we meet again When in Manila.



Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur Roadtrip: Marcos Trail