Vigan City is the capital city of Ilocos Sur. The city itself (Historic Town of Vigan) has been designated as UNESCO Heritage Site in 1999. It is unique among Philippines’ towns because it is the most extensive and only surviving historic city of the country that dates back to the 16th century Spanish colonial period. It has also been recognized as one of the New7Wonders Cities of the world in May 2015.
1. Baluarte ni Chavit
Owned by Gov. Chavit Singson, “Baluarte ni Chavit” is a wildlife sanctuary dedicated to facilitating education, conservation and protection of endangered species and wildlife. This place offers personal encounter with animals, allowing visitors to feed, pet and play with them. The best part about this zoo is, it is absolutely FREE! 🙂
2. Pagburnayan (Jar Crafting)
Prepare to get literally dirty when you pass by Pagburnayan, the iconic pottery place in the city. Pagburnayan comes from the word “burnay”, a hand-crafted earthenware pots made from Vigan. They are made of “bantog” clays that were dug from the western barangay of the city. These jars were commonly used before as tea cups, whereas at present, these are used for fermenting brown sugar, basi, and bagoong.
3. Hidden Garden
Though not literally hidden, Hidden Garden is located in a way out from the city center and can only be accessed through a tricycle or rented calesa or a private vehicle. The garden blossomed from a personal venture of passionate retired engineer, Engr. Francis Flores.
The garden will be a heaven on earth for moms who have hearts for plant ornaments. There are also plants and crafted stuff for landscaping needs. If you get hungry while strolling around, they have an open-aired cafe in one of the corners of the garden, the Lilong & Lilang Restaurant. It offers varieties of Vigan specialties and delicacies (longanisa, empanada, bagnet, poqui poqui, etc) and refreshments.
4. Crisologo Museum
This museum was established in honoring the late Floro S. Crisologo, the patriarch of the clan and a congressman known for landmark legislations. The most common was the Social Security System (SSS) which served the whole populace to this day.
The death of late politician is an evidence of how dirty politics this country has. He was shot in the head in St. Paul’s Cathedral on a Sunday of October 1970. The family had announced though that they won’t take any action for revenge; the murder case remains unsolved to this day.
5. Syquia Mansion
Syquia Mansion houses the extensive memorabilia of the late President Elpidio Quirino, the country’s 6th president. This mansion was actually owned by his wife, Dona Alicia Quirino. Dona Alicia’s ancestor, Sy Kia was a Chinese merchant who made his fortune in the robust trading in Vigan. His descendants later adopted the hispanized “Syquia” surname.
The former 1st lady’s amusing ancestral home was where some of the President’s functions were held during his term. You can feel the magnificent gatherings that have taken place amongst its elegant furnishings.
6. Bantay Bell Tower/ Bantay Church
Built in 1591, Bantay Bell Tower or Bantay Belfry provides a commanding view of Vigan from its highest portion where it is allowed to be climbed. It was said to be the residents’ watchtower as their defense that helps in alerting the people against possible enemies.
At the end of the tower climb, visitors are greeted by a huge old bell. One can also endlessly gaze upon the city view together with surrounding towns and mountains as far as Abra’s.
St. Augustine Church/ Bantay Church is amongst the oldest surviving churches in Ilocos Sur. It incorporates baroque architecture style to save the structure from destructive force of earthquakes that visit the land.
The surroundings of the church & belfry were historical because these were where Diego Silang & his troops had fought w/ the Spaniards in 1763.
7. Calle Crisologo (Vigan Heritage Village)
The most simple and extreme main reason why I wanted to be in Ilocos is this famous village. The village streets are so picturesque and feel surreal when you get there. Photographs taken from this famous site are very appealing that attract their viewers to witness it first-hand.
Filled with Spanish-style houses, Calle Crisologo transports its visitors back to Spanish colonial period. Visitors can admire more closely the intricate craftsmanship and architecture employed inside some of the houses that turned into stores and museums. You can walk or take a calesa ride to roam around the village.
The streets are closed to vehicles at any time of the day. The lamp-lit street, however, adds charm and romance to the ambiance through its stillness and shadows comes night time.
Travelling to Ilocos has been worthwhile and budget-friendly to many. Tourism has been extremely increasing over the past years. So why miss the chance of experiencing what these cities can offer?
Enjoy and have fun!
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