Vigan, A Walk Back in Time

During our last visit to the Philippines, we spent some time in the Ilocos region. More specifically we stayed for a few days in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

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Vigan is a quaint historic town that features old architecture and culture. My wife spent some of her formative years in this town, so for her coming to this place is more than just a tour or a visit. It is homecoming.

First of all, we stayed in an old Spanish house that was made into a hotel, which was aptly named Grandpa’s Inn. According to the owners, it was their grandparent’s ancestral home.

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front lobby

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the inn overlooking the street

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spacious hallway upstairs

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inviting sitting area

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the kalesa room where we stayed

True to its motto: “a home away from home,” we felt right at home in this comfortable inn.

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There are many ways to tour the town. The most classic is to ride on one of the many kalesa (horse-drawn carriage), while the kutsero (driver) gives you the insider’s history of places you will pass through. The other way is to walk around with somebody who grew-up there (like my wife), and hear the history of this town in their personal perspective. The last one is just to run around (preferably in the morning, when there’s not much traffic and people yet) on your own, and get both your cardio exercise while touring the place at the same time. Well, I did all of that.

The most well-known part of Vigan is the Heritage Village. This is a preserved tourist attraction, with cobblestone street lined with houses and buildings that retained their relic-like appearance.

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Walking in this village is like walking back in time.

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Heritage village in the early morning, when it appears deserted.

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Heritage during bustling hour.

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colorful merchandise

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even the brooms looks festive

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hotels and inns at Heritage

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This old building in Heritage village was transformed into a movie set in Fernando Poe Jr.’s “Ang Panday.”

In the middle of the town is Plaza Burgos, built to remember the martyrdom of Father Jose P. Burgos who died in the hands of Spanish colonizers.

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Part of the nostalgia of Vigan are its old historic churches.

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St. Paul’s Cathedral; kalesa line in the gate, waiting for the parishioners

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St. Augustine Church with Bantay Bell Tower

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Bantay Bell Tower

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stairway to the top of the Bell tower

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the bells

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View from the east face of the bell tower; the cemetery with the rising sun and the Cordilleras in the backdrop.

Everywhere you look in Vigan are old houses and buildings. Some are well maintained.

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Father Burgos house which is now a National Museum

Some houses are needing repair.

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Some old houses were renovated and look like new.

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But sadly to say, just like everywhere else, some old buildings are being eaten by progress and commercialism.

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I also wandered with my wife, places that she used to go way back when. This includes the public market.

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public market

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my wife walking under the canopy of Bougainvillea in front of the city market

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looking for something to eat

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vendors readying their goods

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For more authentic feel, we even sample the sinanglao from this vendor.

Just like a homecoming, you would not miss to walk again in the streets where you grew up. So my wife and I walked through old neighborhoods that are dear to her heart.

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My wife said she learned to ride a bike in this street.

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House where my wife and her family lived and rented sometime in her childhood’s past.

Vigan. A wonderful place. A city indeed rich in heritage, both in our national history and personal memories.

I hope to visit this place again, in the future. Someday. Soon.

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me lounging at Heritage village