Vigan Day 1 - Header

What do unemployed raketeers do while broke and between jobs?

Go on vacation, of course!

My friend Didang and I decided to go on a little adventure of Vigan in Ilocos Sur. We’d heard that the city was a UNESCO World Heritage Site, not to mention incredibly pretty. Didang and I met up at Gateway Mall at 8pm. After some last minute shopping for supplies at Rustan’s, we had dinner at the food court. We killed a little more time (and ended up buying a copy of ROAM – an awesome travel magazine y’all should check out), then took a taxi to cross Aurora and head to the Partas bus station. We bought tickets for the 11pm bus (545 bucks for Ordinary Aircon), but we left at around 10:40pm. Save for the choice of music, it was a pretty smooth ride, with a rest stop at around 2:00am.

Vigan Day 01 - On the Bus

We arrived at Vigan at around 5:40am, and we took a tricycle to Grandpa’s Inn, which would be our home for the duration of our visit. It’s a homey little place, an old ancestral home which was converted into an inn. For those interested, the rate for an airconditioned room for two is 1,580 per night; a fan-cooled room with private toilet and bath for two is 980 per night (which is what we got); a fan-cooled room with shared toilet and bath is 730 per night. Free breakfast is included. After paying for our first night’s stay (as well as an early check-in charge of 200 bucks), we waited for 6:30am, which was when our breakfast would be served. So we went to our rooms and unpacked.

Vigan Day 01 - Grandpa's Inn

Breakfast was served at the restaurant downstairs. Assorted -silog meals (priced at 85 pesos each, but free for patrons) were on the menu, and each order came with coffee or tea. For our first day, Didang had tapa, and I had the quintessential Vigan breakfast: longganiza. We both had coffee.

Vigan Day 01 - Breakfast

After breakfast, we decided to roam around and take snapshots of Vigan in the morning. One of the first things we noticed was that tricycles and motorcycles dominated the roads. There were cars, sure, but it looked like almost every household had at least one motorcycle.

Vigan Day 01 - Motorcycle City

We also got our first look at what made Vigan a World Heritage City. Many houses still retained the Spanish colonial architecture, and a lot of plaster seems to have given way, revealing the bricks used to build the house.

Vigan Day 01

Many of the sidewalks were also paved with terracotta tiles which bore the city name, Vigan. These definitely added to the Spanish-era feel of the city.

Vigan Day 01 - Terracotta Sidewalk

As we resumed our walk around Vigan, we naturally headed for Calle Crisologo, where the cobblestone roads are still preserved, hence no cars, motorcycles, and tricycles are allowed to traverse. The only vehicle you can take is a kalesa. Most of the old houses along the road have either been preserved or restored, and some are still in the process of restoration. There’s one particular house – it’s kinda huge – that’s beautiful but run-down, and looks to be the subject of a court battle. I don’t really understand what’s going on there, but it’s a real pity.

Vigan Day 01 - Calle Crisologo

Many of the ground floors of the houses have been converted into shops selling assorted knick-knacks, pasalubong, and “antiques.” One house was converted into the Cordillera Inn, one of many hotels and inns one can stay at in Vigan.

Vigan Day 01 - Calle Crisologo

We stopped by the Heritage Village Administration Office along Calle Crisologo, so we could each get a map of the city. It’s quite helpful, because it notes down all the important landmarks and tourist spots (including some just outside the city proper), as well as the various inns and hotels, plus where the banks, restaurants, and other important commercial establishments were.

At the end of Calle Crisologo was a Max’s Restaurant, and right in front of it was a statue for Leona Florentino, who was apparently an important poet in Spanish times. Beside the statue is the old Florentino house, which has been converted into a restaurant, Cafe Leona.

Vigan Day 01 - Leona Florentino

Meanwhile, just a stone’s throw away from the statue is the city center itself, Plaza Burgos. It’s named after Padre Burgos, one-third of the GomBurZa martyrs who were executed during Spanish times. There’s a small monument, a statue, a basketball court and stage, and a playground. Plaza Burgos is definitely the center of the city; surrounding it are some, uhh, lesser plazas, a few business establishments (like Greenwich Pizza and Red Ribbon), and the Vigan Cathedral.

Vigan Day 01 - Plaza Burgos

One of the newer establishments is Vigan’s version of the mall, Plaza Maestro. It’s a cluster of new buildings that look like they belong in Rodeo Drive, but are built with the same Spanish-era architecture of the surrounding buildings. (Good effort.) There’s McDonald’s, Jollibee, Chowking, National Bookstore, and, strangely enough, Guess.

Vigan Day 01 - Plaza Maestro

After walking around Calle Crisologo and Plaza Burgos, we went to the Empanadaan, which was right beside Plaza Burgos. It was sort of like a fastfood of various stalls selling empanada. The special empanada was 30 pesos, and it had shredded papaya and carrots, shredded longganiza, and one whole egg. It was delicious! It was to be the first of many empanadas I would have during the entire trip.

Vigan Day 01 - Empanada

We then continued our exploration of Vigan on foot. The first thing we checked out was the Vigan Cathedral, also known as St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was right beside Plaza Burgos. It’s a very old church, and very historic. It survived a few fires, earthquakes, wars, and even the site of an assassination.

Vigan Day 01 - Vigan Cathedral

It was actually quite overwhelming inside, seeing all those religious relics and, of course, the architecture. The old grave markers from the late 1800s to the early 1900s were also quite haunting.

Vigan Day 01 - Vigan Cathedral

From there, it was a quick walk to the Arzobispado de Nueva Segovia, or the Archbishop’s house. Vigan is the seat of the archdiocese of Nueva Segovia, which covers pretty much all of Northern Luzon. The house has been around since Spanish colonial times, just like much of Vigan. It also hosts the Museum of Nueva Segovia, but it was closed when we got there. The Arzobispado faces another plaza, Plaza Salcedo. Beside that is the Vigan City Hall, and beside that is the UNESCO World Heritage Site marker.

Vigan Day 01

We’d been walking nonstop since our arrival in Vigan, so we headed back to Grandpa’s Inn for a shower and siesta. After lunch, we resumed our walking tour of Vigan, turning down yet another barrage of offers from tricycle and kalesa drivers.

We made our way to the National Museum, also known as the Burgos Museum, formerly known as the Ayala Museum. It is located in the house where Padre Burgos was born and grew up in. The museum was closed when we got there, but we would return there on the last day of our trip.

The street in front of the museum lead to the Provincial Jail, which had a bright sign announcing that it was, indeed, the Provincial Jail. The marker looked more like a sign announcing the town fiesta rather than the marker for the jail, so it was amusing to both of us. Needless to say, we didn’t go to jail.

Vigan Day 01 - The Happy Jail

We walked through the busy streets of the city proper during rush hour, and while there were quite a few cars, tricycles and motorcycles still dominated the roads. There weren’t many traffic lights, but traffic wasn’t as heavy as it would be back in Manila. Didang and I walked through Quezon Avenue, where most banks and business establishments were located.

At the end of Quezon Avenue was Simbaan a Bassit, or Camposanto, the other church in Vigan. Didang remarked that it looked like a Mexican church, and given our country’s history, I guess that’s not too surprising.

Vigan Day 01 - Simbaan a Bassit

The church itself, unfortunately, was closed by the time we got there, but the gate leading to the cemetery right beside the church was open. Naturally we took some pictures in the creepy cemetery.

Vigan Day 01 - Cemetery

That was officially our last stop of the night. We headed back to Grandpa’s Inn to rest and recuperate before hunting for our dinner. We found ourselves back at the empanadaan, where I consumed two empanadas for dinner. Plaza Salcedo was lit up by various red lanterns which were really quite pretty. The Vigan City Hall had a large belen outside. Vigan at night isn’t as bright or loud as Manila, but that was just perfect for us.

We headed home and decided that the next day, we would be going to the beach!

To view all the photos full-size, check out my Multiply site, particularly these albums: