It’s been awhile, and my blogging commitment has reached its lowest point, and I don’t deserve an applause for this. Anyways, I want to get back on track, because it’s already May and I haven’t revamped my life for a single bit [at least for me, though]. This post was supposed to be entitled “Bring Me Back To Vigan” but I find it too commonplace, so I just decided to change it to something new to my ears, and hopefully for yours, too. Before I forget, even though I’m lagging a day behind the legendary Star Wars day, I’d say, May the 4th be with you!
Susceptibility to both culture and heritage that I’ve developed over the years has compelled me to see Vigan in a different light. I’ve been to this city before, but back then I wasn’t really interested in all things old and native. Calesa rides agonized me, the humidity of the place made me feel uneasy, and creepy looking centennial houses scared the life out of me, but all of these circumstances were already a piece of cake when I went back recently to this famous heritage city of the North.
Vigan, a couple hundred or so kilometers away from the metro definitely takes you back to how it felt like to live in the Spanish-era. It succeeded in keeping our Filipino-Hispanic heritage intact and alive and kicking. Although known for its rich historical and cultural treasures, it also boasts of great food, biodiversities, and heartwarming people. It is definitely a place to be if you want to make the most out of your 3-day Ilocos trip.
Our first stop was at Baluarte Park and Zoo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. It is widely known for its wild but domesticated animals which are interactive to kids and adults alike, hence giving them the chance to be educated about wild animal traits and welfare. Their horses, ponies, birds and ostriches are free roaming, walking alongside tourists and spectators, and deers, reindeers, tigers and snakes, are of course taken care of inside big, wild-simulated cages.
All services inside Baluarte are for free, as mandated by its owner, former Ilocos Sur governor Luis “Chavit” Singson. Inside, there are also rows and rows of souvenir shops, refreshment shacks and photo-op spots, all giving the visitors the opportunity to make the most out of their visit. Here are some snapshots:
(From left to right: Behind me is the 10-storey home of former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, and a picture of me with a free-roaming white pony, or shall I say, mini-horse.)
Next up, our calesa driver, also known as the “kutsero” [but in our case was a woman, so she is a “kutsera”], took us around Vigan City to explore some of its notable tourists destinations, one of which is the Shrine of the Nuestra Señora de la Caridad located inside the St. Augustine Church in Bantay, Ilocos Sur. Although destructed by the war, the 400 year old ruins of the old church were incorporated in the rebuilding of the new church building and its façade.
Just a few steps away from the Shrine is the Bantay Bell Tower, a 400 year old bell tower that houses 6 bells that served the different church functions during the Spanish era, was also used in the Philippine Revolution against the Spaniards by the Ilokano Katipuneros, and in World War II as a watch tower for both approaching aerial and naval attacks from the West Philippine Sea. Although the bell tower was over more than 400 years old, it was still stable and tourists can still climb it and marvel at the rich heritage it houses. The biggest bell inside it has a hole, and for a matter of fact the hole was used to pull the Panday’s sword at the famous and classic Panday movies of Fernando Poe, Jr. The bells aren’t put to use anymore, for its vibration can affect the structural integrity of the tower and eventually might cause its collapse.
And now for the main event of this Vigan Day Tour, our kutsera took us to the famous Vigan Heritage Village. We traversed along its streets and marveled at the Spanish-era inspired houses that were still inhabited by several families and business establishments.
We passed by the Syquia Building which was the former residence of former Philippine President Elpidio Quirino. When we reached the world-renowned Calle Crisologo, rows and rows of old Philippine houses never fail to amuse me. They withstood the weathering of time and is now contributing largely to Vigan’s economical and cultural industries. It has definitely put Vigan in the map of the world because at the time of writing it is nominated as one of the Seven Wonder Cities of the World. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take good snapshots of the place but here are some that I have:
Our Vigan Day Tour was only limited since we had to head back to Manila within just a few hours. Too bad we didn’t have the chance to visit the Pagburnayan Pottery and Vigan’s Hidden Garden, but I’m sure that in the future, there’ll be a time and a chance for that.
I was really glad to take a trip down memory lane in Vigan, because being a teen in such a fast-paced world makes us forget the past that has molded us into who we are as a people and who we are as a person, often times making it hard for us to succeed in our future endeavors.
I know in my heart that I have wrapped up my Ilocos tour the right way, and going back to Manila with so many fond memories of what the North has to offer are definitely enough reasons to be back and be reminiscent of the good things in life that came and those that are yet to come.
On to the next one!