Parking is free at the Manaoag Church compound. But if the parking lot is full and you have no choice but to look for available parking space outside, be forewarned. Don't think all the boys/men who approach and guide you in parking your vehicle mean well. They will direct you to the side streets or vacant lots where you will have to pay them later for "guarded" parking. Parking outside will be at your own risk. They will leave your car as soon as you leave, and look out for new "customers". ..And don't assume you can just give any amount as tip. Ask beforehand how much you have to pay; otherwise, you might get into disagreement later.
Unique Suggestions: As the saying goes, different strokes for different folks... In a nice manner, you can request the boy/man to carefully watch your car and not to go far from sight. Or, you can matter-of-factly tell the boy/man that you should see them within sight of your car when you come back, otherwise, you won't pay.
Fun Alternatives: Patiently wait for a vacant slot inside the free parking space of the church.
Despite the presence of security guards, vendors of candles and religious articles are able to slip into the church compound and parking space. If you succumb to their pitiful stories re: why the have to sell candles and religious articles, you'll be surprised to know later that their prices are MUCH higher than that of the church religious store.
Unique Suggestions: Just tell them to look after your car. Even though it's supposed to be free parking, it won't hurt your pocket to dish out P10 as tip, or even give a sandwich or cookie. In my personal experience, the kid-vendors really stayed within sight of our car.
Fun Alternatives: Just ignore them.
It was my first visit to Manaoag on Aug. 5, 2007. I'm not a devotee of the Our Lady of Manaoag icon. I just accompanied my sister and other family members there. Upon reaching the area, young men carrying candles asked me if I was going to the church. I said yes. He motioned me to follow him. I did. He led me to an open parking space located on the left-front side of the church building. Upon alighting from the car, they charge me a P40 parking fee. The man who handed me the unofficial (being sold over-the-counter) receipt even begged me to give him a P10 tip. I did.
At the same time, were were swarmed by extremely persistent little children selling prayer booklets for P20 each. They were murmuring memorized "please buy this" phrases over and over again. My companions were "forced" to buy candles at P10 each (only P2. 50 at the back of the church) and overpriced flowers by men who blocked our ways as they were persistently selling their items. I gave a boy and a girl P10 each just to allow me to proceed to the church. They took the money but did not stop begging me to buy prayer booklets from them.
Inside the church I saw my brother and asked him where he parked the car. He said there's a parking space at the back of the church, which is free, guarded, and shaded with trees. I was stunned. I just paid P50 for the treeless and hawker-filled parking slot. After lighting a candle, I proceeded to my car and drove to the church's parking area. Some men selling religious icons told me that I was victimized by the very enterprising men who have been flagging down motorists to lead them to the expensive parking area filled with tourist-preying hawkers.
Unique Suggestions: I guess if it's your first time to go to manaoag, don't let the aggresive hawkers and hustlers think that you're a first-timer. I don't know how you do this but it would help to act like a regular visitor of manaoag. If you were lured to the wrong parking area, don't park. Proceed to the exit and drive to the parking area at the back of the church.
Fun Alternatives: Ask a tricyle driver or other people along the street the entrance towards the nice, free parking area.