December 16, 2012
the historic town of Vigan, province of Ilocos Sur - Philippines
Vigan is a World Heritage Site in that it is one of the few Hispanic towns left in the Philippines, and is well known for its cobblestone streets, and a unique architecture that fuses Philippine and Oriental building designs and construction, with colonial European architecture. In 2007 Vigan City was listed by UNESCO as the best preserved example of Spanish colonial towns in Asia. Its architecture is the conglomeration of cultural elements from the Philippines, China, and Spain, making it unique to the rest of the world.
Fast Fact: Vigan is one of the only four UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Philippines
Why should I go there: the place would give you a glimpse of living in the Philippines during the Spanish colonialism era dating back hundreds of years ago
What is there to see: cobblestone pavements, old (really old) houses, and interesting mix of new and old architecture.
This has to be one of the most exciting part of our Ilocos trip last December but We only get to spend a whopping 4 hours in this historical town down south of the Ilocos region. It does not take us so long as the town itself is easily navigable by foot and you wont need anything to discover stuffs that you would and would not expect to find in places like this one.
We first then skipped the town to check out Baluarte. A zoo free for everyone given to the city by Governor Chavit Singson. They say it is his gift to the people of Ilocos. Lots of animals could be found here and the most interesting part is they are freely roaming around. Farm animals like goats, donkey, and horses to name a few to the exotic wildlife of African deers, ostriches and other birds. You could even find a reindeer walking over its grounds. What nice is that everything is completely educational specially for young ones. Do not miss the famous Tiger show during the afternoon which is arguably the most famous animal in the zoo. Despite of this exciting stuffs zoos are not my cup of tea unless its a real life safari so we then just spent our time there drinking our day away with sugar cane juice at a magnificent 33’C weather. Feel the humidity!!
Next stop was Burnayan, a pot making facility that can be found at the outskirts of the historic town. It is just basically a chain of souvenir shops connected to a jar making facility. Pots and clay jars are just few of the famous products from Vigan so they take this craft seriously and they are happy to share this to their visitors. They provide a free demonstration of pottery (Vigan-style) on which afterwards every single lady out there would offer you their merchandise including those intricately sculpted phallic symbols up there. Interesting :)
Due to high heat and our stubbornness we then opted to take the touristy Kalesa (Philippine version of horse-drawn carriages) ride which took us to the nearby Bantay church and around the historic heritage town. From the former president’s residence to the restaurants and plaza, including the major site which were unfortunately closed that day. It would not cost you that much and try to think of it you can get to help the local “kutcheros” with a little spare extra on your travel budget.
After the kalesa ride, I then took a moment by myself to explore the surrounding area. So finally i then used my feet to explore the other crevices and walkways that the Manong kutchero missed and opted not to go round. The feeling was really eccentric feels like im walking by the pages of a Philippine history book and there is a certain breath of fresh air where I could just take it all in and inhale every single old house that surrounds me. I am also amazed and very particular on how the people preserve these structures all throughout the time, ages, eras or whatever you may call it without sacrificing much of the original materials used to build these infrastructures. truly this is one of the gems of the Philippines and a must visit even just for a day trip when you set your feet in Ilocos Sur. Antique furniture and others are generally a living around the area from capiz windows, couches, la mesas, and others. Of course I do not have that much money to buy them and I am not into antiques so I leave them alone quietly.
Vigan is an exceptionally intact and well-preserved example of a European trading town in East and South-East Asia. The architecture is truly reflective of its roots in both materials and design, in its fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning. Vigan is an exceptionally intact and well preserved example of a European trading town in East and South-East Asia. with all these things said and seen, Just watch out for the possible falling debris. ;)
And that concludes my Ilocandia experience!
Que pase un buen día!