Vigan City, Ilocos Sur — Unknown to many, the famous Mena Crisologo Street traversing the Spanish ancestral houses at the world’s well-known heritage village in Vigan City is rich in history.
From century to century, the more than 500-meter long Crisologo Street visited by tourists today was established even before the time of the Galleon Trade or even the before the coming of Spanish explorers to the country in the 15th century.
[caption id="attachment_164042" align="alignright" width="432"] Calle Crisologo de Vigan today appears like a blast from the past. (Jojo Riñoza)[/caption]
Place of the Chinese
Upon the discovery of Vigan by Juan de Salcedo in 1572, the attractive street was called Calle Escolta de Vigan and served as the commercial hub in the entire Northern Luzon.
It was also called “Kasanglayan” or “place of the Chinese,” which was the business center of the migratory traders not only Chinese but also Spanish, Mexican, Japanese and other European businessmen, says Bigueño historian Mel Andino.
“Before the coming of the Spaniards, the Galleon Trade already found its way to this street as it served as the drop point of all goods brought by the traders from the western and mid-eastern countries,” Andino said.
However, Andino said that when American rule was in the country in the late 1890s, the Calle de Escolta De Vigan was renamed to Washington Street.
“According to my ancestors, one of the most popular businesses in the street during the American time was the “Washington Soup Factory” owned by the ancestry of Steve King – now the owner of the Standard Lumber and Hardware in Vigan,” says Andino.
The Americans had established a civil government in Ilocos Sur on September 1, 1901 with Don Mena Crisologo, a delegate to the Malolos Congress, as the first provincial governor.
After retiring from government service, Gov. Crisologo, highly revered by Ilocanos as a writer and politician, died on July 5, 1927 at the age of 82.
Following his death, Washington Street was renamed again to Mena Crisologo Street in honor to the late governor.
“However, I’m not sure when the exact date that the former Washington Street was changedto Mena Crisologo Street,” Andino says.
Through the years, Calle De Crisologo or Mena Crisologo Street became famous as it served as the center of well-preserved Vigan houses.
“Few decades after the World War II or during the 1970’s when then President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared the Vigan heritage village as national treasure to protect and preserve its existence,” recalls Andino.
During the time of Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor in the administration of former President Fidel V. Ramos work was done to turn Crisologo Street’s flooring into cobblestone. It was also closed to motor vehicles.
“It was during the time of Secretary Gabor when the site of the Spanish ancestral houses was called Vigan Heritage Village,” adds Andino.
Now, Calle Crisologo de Vigan is on the road to becoming probably the main attraction in the quest of Vigan to be one of the New Seven Wonder Cities of the World.