Sunday, July 17, 2016

It All Began in Vigan, Ilocos Sur

I used to be an active lurker of Philippine travel forums when I wasn’t still aware of the existence of travel blogs during the early 2010s. It was exciting to meet people who have the same passion as I do and I was amazed by how many Filipinos are traveling to the different parts of the globe. It was thrilling to read about their adventures even though I don’t really know them personally. It was also at a forum wherein I saw an open invitation to join a group on a three-day trip to Ilocos. I was hesitant of course, it would be a first to join strangers on a trip. So I invited a kaladkarin friend who was also up for some new experiences. We decided to take a bus, an exhausting 14-hour ride to the historical city of Vigan.

ilocos sur

If you are a Filipino history geek, or even just a traveler who enjoys looking at old Philippine architecture, it is a must that you visit Vigan in Ilocos Sur. The city is one of the surviving heritage cities in the country, and you could expect feeling like you’ve stepped into a time machine and was transported back to the Spanish colonial period. It was honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was also awarded by the New7Wonders Cities Foundation last year. The city has some unique architecture, mixing in styles from Spain, Mexico and China which is evident from its cobblestone streets and long-standing houses.

a common sight around Vigan

We were to meet our new travel buddies in Vigan, we didn’t really know what to expect because I only talked with the group’s leader a couple of days before the trip. We left Manila a couple of minutes past 1 in the morning and we were told we’d reach Vigan around 12PM, what a lie. My friend and I managed to reach our destination by 3 in the afternoon, making our stay in Vigan for only a couple of hours, however, we still tried to maximize our stay and enjoy the city with that limited time.

vigan cathedral
my prime lens trying to take all the beauty of Saint Paul's Metropolitan Cathedral (Vigan Cathedral) in one shot – not possible..
We alighted at Plaza Salcedo, with our bus driver waving with a smile “Welcome to Vigan!” We were actually overwhelmed when we stepped out of the bus, thanks to being lightheaded (from not getting proper sleep on the bus) plus feeling disoriented because we were unaware of our surroundings. It felt like I was not in the Philippines, but had to pinch myself and remind that I can see Jollibee right there. Haha.

It was at Syquia Mansion where we eventually met face to face with our new travel buddies. It is one of the popular landmarks in the city, being the ancestral house of one of the prominent families in the province, and being the previous home of one of the Presidents of the Philippines, Elpidio Quirino. This house is now turned into a museum dedicated to the late politician.

Syquia Mansion

Our next stop was the private property of the controversial political figure of Ilocos, Chavit Singson. I didn’t imagine that I would be seeing animals inside the Baluarte, I was hoping to see something like a collection of Chavit’s most prized possessions such as cars, antique items, etc, but then again, animals are priceless. There were some exotic and interesting animals such as tigers, peacocks and snakes. I am not sure if owning a tiger is legal in the country (I hope it is) but it seems like they are well taken care of anyway. 

baluarte ni chavit

my friend getting to know one of her Chavit's pets
a dinosaur in the park, yeps!

We then got a peek of Ilocos’ one of a kind craftsmanship at Pagburnayan. This is where they make pottery made of ‘burnay’ or terracotta using the old methods passed down from generations. Some might think that these are easy to make, but it takes precise timing, skill and years of practice to perfect these.

Our group concluded the tour with a stroll around Calle Crisologo while waiting for the sun to go down. The cobblestone street is actually quite short, about 500 meters, but we were thoroughly amused looking at well-preserved heritage houses and souvenirs for sale. It was said that only wealthy families lived in this area during colonial times, and back then it was called Calle de Escolta de Vigan and was later renamed after Don Mena Pecson Crisologo, a well-known politician in the region. The area transforms by night thanks to the lovely streetlamps installations that gives a wonderful glow to the place. So dreamy.

calle crisologo

calle crisologo vigan

I wish we had more time in Vigan because frankly, everything seemed so rush and I wasn’t able to savor my time in the city, but I still enjoyed it very much and hope to come back again some time. 

Vigan is only accessible by car or bus since the nearest airport is located at Laoag, which is 4 hours away from the capital of Ilocos Sur. One way trip from Manila can take about 12-14 hours depending on the traffic.

1 comment :

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...