Vigan: Wonder City, 2

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Saturday, July 26, 2014


THIS time we are tourists in Vigan and we enjoy the hospitality of Mayor Eva Marie S. Medina. She is out to prove that Vigan is really a wonder city. Vigan is a proof that the Spaniards brought new technology and design to change and Christianize the landscape of the country.

The introduction of “Cal y Canto,” or the use of stone and mortar, clearly modified building materials and facilitated the construction of heavier and higher structures. Stone edifices, like the church and government building called “municipio,” became the center of bigger towns and settlements. The two-storey “bahay na bato,” or stone house, supplemented the major nipa huts of the earlier nobles.

The bell towers and the massive ramparts built then are still stand as lasting legacies of Spanish architecture in many towns. The foremost examples are the walled city of Intramuros and the old buildings in Vigan. The Spanish influence can also be seen in the concepts of interior design and decorations that have westernized the local ethnic structures.

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From the Conversion of St. Paul Cathedral, we will proceed to the Arzobispado de Nueva Segovia. This was built in 1783 and the only surviving 18th century Arzobispado in the country. The Arzobispado of Vigan is the official residence of the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia.

It served as the headquarters of Manuel Tinio Aguinaldo in 1898 and the invading American forces under Col. James Parker in 1899. (You will remember this if you see the movie “El Presidente”.) Its Musso Nueva Segovia showcases ecclesiastical artifacts, antiques, portraits of bishops, a throne room, archdiocesan and other religious paraphernalia gathered from various colonial churches all over Ilocos Sur.

Our next target is the Fr. Jose Burgos National Museum. This is an excellent showcase of archaeological and ethnological treasures, antiques, dioramas of local historical events and photographs of Ilocano heroes and achievers. One of the most illustrious sons of Vigan who fought for ecclesiastical reforms during the Spanish colonial period is Fr. Jose Apolonio Burgos (of the Gomburza fame).

We will have a look also at Pagburnayan (Ruby Jar Factory). This is a pre-colonial product of Vigan. In here, we will try our skills in jar making using century-old foot-driven potter’s wheel. It reminds us of our “Maninihon,” the potter’s village in Barangay Guinhalaran.

Silaynons will go on eco tour! Mira Hills is considered as the lung of the city. Trees are abundant in this place where visitors can relax and savor fresh air. It has a swimming pool, an open amphitheatre, and situated in the park is Buridek Children’s Museum. First of its kind in Northern Luzon and the third to be established in the country, the Buridek Museum is a perfect venue for visitors to interactively learn the culture and history of Vigan.

Added attraction is the CHEERZONE (Children’s Ecology and Energy Recreational Zone). Kids have a great time in this adventure area for it consists of a zipline, monkey trail, Basang’s ladder, parallel wire cross, and Ballong’s crawling net.

Our tour guide will take us to Abel Weaving at Camangaan (Christy’s Loomweaving). We will observe the process and experience the making of “abel-iloco,” another pre-colonial product of Vigan and one of the major exports during the Galleon Trade.

We will not miss also Baluarte, the residence of Gov. Chavit Singson. It has a mini zoo, a butterfly garden and an animal encounter show (not with Governor Chavit). Not to be forgotten is Hotel Luna, a new hotel located at the heart of the heritage. Hotel Luna is the first and only museum hotel in the Philippines.

As the night seeps in, our feet will take us to Calle Crisologo. We will go down the memory lane where time stops to bring back the mood of the historic Spanish times within the serenity of old ancestral houses built by Chinese mestizos (Fil-Chinese); an excellent place to shop for souvenir items, antiques and furniture.

We will have early dinner at Café Felicitas or Café Leona. Eating in Vigan is a date with history. Food makes history. Historians write only. At 7:30 p.m., we will catch up a “Dancing Fountain Show” at Plaza Salcedo. We will experience romance under the sky.

After an hour, we might be tired and prefer to go back home. It will be a four-hour travel to reach home, Baguio (the City of Pines).

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 26, 2014.

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