Vibrant Vigan

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Vigan has always had a bevy of things to attract tourists. This pulsating city is the capital of Ilocos Sur, and one of the few existing age-old historic cities in the Philippines. Be dazzled by the affluence of this metropolis brimming with kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) and ancestral houses stirred by Spanish and Chinese architectural flair.

Here are some of the attractions that makes the city an old favorite of local tourists:

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Vigan Heritage Village- Stroll around the cobble stone alley of Calle Crisologo – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or better yet hop on a kalesa as you gaze at the sight of elegant ancestral houses that have witnessed bittersweet events during the Spanish colonial era.

Plazas – Welcoming tourists arriving in Vigan is the Plaza Salcedo, built in honor of the late conquistador Juan Salcedo. This place is also where the Ilocano heroine Maria Josefa Gabriela Silang was hanged. Meanwhile, the neighboring Plaza Burgos is a tribute to Padre Jose Burgos of the Gomburza trio – the famed martyr-priests sentenced to death by the Spaniards on charges of mutiny.

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Museums – Some of the well-preserved ancestral houses in Vigan has been transformed into museums and together they make up some of the greatest anthologies of the city’s historical treasures. Visit the memorabilia of the Crisologo family, owned by the prominent political dynasty in Vigan as well as Crisologo Museum. On the other hand, the opulent SyquiaMansion contains memorabilia of the late 6th President of the country - Elpidio Quirino. This museum is the inherited house of his wife - Doña Alicia Syquia. Do make time for Burgos Museum which houses the memorabilia of the martyr priest Jose Burgos as well as ethnic art pieces of the Tingguians – an indigenous group residing in the mountains of Abra, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. Also worth checking are the religious museums like Museo Nueva and Museo San Pablo.

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Century
Old Church– Crowning the Vigan city center is the gigantic Saint Paul Metropolitan Cathedral (Vigan Cathedral) inspired by Baroque architecture. On April 30, 1575, the Augustinians decreed that a church and convent be erected in honor of the Conversion of St. Paul at Villa Fernandina (Vigan city’s full name at the time of its foundation). Another old church worth-visiting in the nearby town of Bantay is St. Augustine ParishChurch. This beautiful structure houses the statue of Our Lady of Charity, believed to be (possibly) the oldest Marian image in Ilocos and has a stunning bell tower that stands on a hill.

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Camarin (Jar Factory) – Meet the friendly Fidel Go, owner of Ruby Pottery and descendant of the first Chinese potter in Vigan. In 1990, Go was awarded as the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan (National Folk Artist Award) by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts. Try your hands on his pottery wheel and get a primer on how this durable earthenware called burnay (Vigan jar) is made. You can also enter the brick-and-clay ground kiln where these jars are fired at high-temperature. Barangay VII also known as Pagburnayan, is the place to look for camarin (jar factory). Take home miniature versions of burnay sold as souvenirs here.

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Balaurte – When in Vigan, you can take a side trip to Balauarte, located in Brgy. Salindeg, this 80 hectare mini zoo – owned by Chavit Singson – is a children’s favorite. Lions, tigers, iguanas, monkeys, python and peacocks are just some of the animals that can be seen here. Pose for souvenir photos at the massive dinosaur replicas here. Along the way to Balaurte, stop by at the Hidden Garden Restaurant in Bgry. Bulala and indulge on delicious local cuisines. You can also buy plants here for your garden.

How to get there:

From Manila, take a bus en route to Vigan or you can also ride a bus to Laoag and just tell the driver you are headed to Vigan. Alternatively, you can fly to Laoag from Manila via Philippine Airlines and from there, ride a bus to Vigan.

Where to Stay:

Metro Vigan Inn

Bayubay Norte, San Vicente Metro Vigan

2726 Vigan Ilocos Sur Tel : +63 77 674 0448

Email : villie@metroviganinn.com

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/MetroviganInn

Gael Hilotin is the blogger behind The Pinay Solo Backpacker.