I have decided that if there is one place on earth where I will never tire of coming to work to, it would be Vigan.
How I wish 26-P of Burgundy Corporate Tower is located in this UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ilocos Sur. I would gladly walk the streets to work in my daily ukay outfits; and wouldn’t mind logging out past 7pm just to see the sepia lights and taste the Ilocano delicacies of this Hispanic-inspired town.
My family went to Ilocos for a 5-day trip (t’was amazing! Thank God for His provisions!), and Vigan was definitely part of the itinerary. It was a Vigan-Laoag-Pagudpud affair (for the 2nd time for me since I’ve been here with friends, 2 years ago). But I have never experienced Vigan on a late afternoon-to-evening time until I walked there with my siblings. Such a charming town, you feel transported in the past where Maria Claras are expected to be serenaded tonight by some Juan or Jose.
Here are some quick points of our Vigan tour:
1. The famed Calle Crisologo – the main heart of the heritage village where souvenirs, tourists, and Ilocano food abound!
2. Padre Burgos Museum – where you will see a lot of vintage stuffs you’ve been dying to collect or perhaps take photos of! We learned that Padre Jose Burgos (of the Gomburza) came from a rich family. He’s half Spanish-half Filipino, as his dad is a Spanish Colonel. Too bad he was martyred by his own
3. The Vigan Cathedral – We were able to sneak into the mass before it ended. Language was in pure Ilocano. So only mom understood, anyway. Hehe.
4. The Baluarte Zoo – Open Zoo, where birds perch on your shoulders and arms. And you can take a free donkey ride. There is a daily animal show – one in the morning, one in the afternoon.
5. Hidden Garden – very refreshing place to visit. You can actually buy their plants at reasonable prices. They also serve authentic Ilocano dishes here.
6. Weaving – Where you get educated on how the weaving tradition of Ilocos continues until this day. Quite complicated ways but mom tells me the bed sheets from here are the best – so soft and comfortable to the skin.
7. Pottery Making – We were lucky to have the master potter (forgot his name!) to demonstrate how to mold a nice tower-lampshade out of mud clay. I tried it myself to my amusement. The end result? FAIL. Haha! It looks easy from an observer’s point of view, but when you actually try it, I couldn’t even form a bowl! There’s always the first time. Experience is key. This place is also where you find the cheapest souvenir items.
Accommodation: Cordillera Inn gave us more than what we paid for Too bad the photos haven’t been uploaded yet. It’s value for money here. The staff are very warm and helpful. The family room that we got is large enough. There is hot/cold shower. And the FREE Ilocano breakfast of Vigan Longganisa the following day is authentic – and yummy! The only down side is there is only 1 parking slot for guests. You can’t park anywhere in Calle Crisologo. Oh, I forgot… Cordillera Inn is right in the heart of Calle Crisologo! The best hotel location ever! For bookings, call/text Ms. April: 0927.313.5616
Some Vigan travel tips:
- Vigan is 10 hours from Manila
- Bring a hat, sun cream, shades, flats, and a lovely sun dress as temperature here is higher than in Manila
- Be respectful to the locals – as they are very kind and helpful, too.
- Affordable souvenir shirts can be found at the t-shirt store just in front of Cordillera Inn (P150-180 each)
- Best Vigan Longganisa can be bought at Tongson’s
- Calesa ride is P150 per hour for 4pax. So make sure you’ve eaten your meals before riding the calesa
- On Sundays, parking is limited. Much of the town central is closed to PUVs. So you walk.
- Try Tummy Talk for lunch/dinner
- Don’t forget Vigan Empanadaan where you can have the famous Vigan Empanada. This is beside the town plaza.
On a reflective note…
We learned that Gabriela Silang is a native of the town. And when she was martyred during the revolutionary era, she was hanged at the plaza (center) for 1 week. Nobody dared to get near her dead body for fear of getting punished by the Spaniards. It was a terrible death. Fear was cast all over the town. Not to mention the town plaza is directly in-front of the cathedral. After a week did her family mustered the courage to put her down from the ropes. It was also in this place where forced labor in the Tobacco Monopoly was enforced. When you get to Vigan you can sense that this town really suffered in their past. It is a place rich in history, as well as sacrifices. You can witness that the people here are hard working and resilient - most likely a by product of their meaningful heritage.