Sunday, January 31, 2010


OF course, as long as we're in Laoag, we might as well check out Vigan, too, right? Well, we did. I have to say my first and only memory of the place from the same 2006 Cebu Pacific media fam is equally memorable and quite surreal as my account below will attest.


Outside of Cebu and a good part of Manila, I don’t there’s any part of the country that best preserves our 19th century Spanish heritage better than Vigan. Passing by several churches including the very famous Vigan Cathedral is like being part of some sort of time warp.

One of the oldest and historic churches in the country, the cathedral remains a must-stop in every Vigan visit. In a province known for their beautiful old world architecture, it stands out as a stunning historical monument, marred only by the unfortunate memory of the assassination of the late Congressman Floro Crisologo, whose gun-riddled vehicle is still on display at their nearby residence, now known as the Crisologo Museum, that also houses other memorabilia of the once powerful political family.

Give or take some fairly recently cemented roads, the famous cobblestone streets that punctuate the old Spanish structures remain remarkably intact. The equally popular calesas and newer establishments like McDonald's and Max's Restaurant that strangely seems to seamlessly blend with each other there makes our visit all the more surreal.

Old Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze jokes aside, the pottery-making process as demonstrated by National Folk Artist Fidel A. Go of Ruby Pottery is a hoot. Turns out the burnay or earthenware jars crafted by a potter’s hands with the aid of a potter’s wheel is a big industry in Vigan.

Even more amazing is the fact that disfigured burnays are never thrown away and in fact, commands a higher price and a bigger demand than their perfected counterparts.

Interesting trivia: Our tour guide told us that aside from his burnays, Mang Fidel is also known for having several wives. Matulis! But that’s another story.

The restored house of Juan Luna was also a nice stop for us although I have to admit being a little disappointed when I learned that only printed reproductions of his original paintings were displayed instead. Still, it was quite a time warp trip to be in the house of a national hero and a prized artist at that.

Another highlight of our Vigan sidetrip was a visit to the house of former Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson where his not-so-private zoo that open to the public for free. Characterized by big bold letters that spell “Baluarte,” the sprawling complex also houses Chavit’s impressive collection of animals, ranging from gazelles to kangaroos to peacocks to an Alaskan Husky snow dog to of course, lots of tigers. The brave and the bold can also have his or her photo taken with those tigers, too. The governor was not around to entertain us but her sister, who I understand is also a local official at the province treated us to a nice merienda of pancit and more Ilocos empanadas.

I wish we had more time to explore Vigan further as it is the wonderful place that people say it is. Hope to come back here soon. 

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