Travel Diaries: Viva Vigan!

Mar 10, 2015


I’ve always wanted to go to Vigan since I was 12. I went through a patriotic phase (I used to read Filipino hero stories about Gabriella Silang, Bonifacio, Rizal, and other unsung heroes) when I was in my pre-teen years and adored Filipino history. Though I’m not hung up on that anymore, I still love all things vintage and old architectures.

I am finally living my dream when Cebu Pacific had a seat sale via Clark airport, I jumped at the chance to visit Vigan. Then here comes Kareen, tempting me to go to Banaue, so that’s why I ended up dragging my red maleta across 5 destinations (a la That Thing Called Tadhana). Mind you, I switched to a red canvas duffel bag for the Banaue leg, I cannot imagine myself dragging my red maleta across the rice terraces. And some people can’t imagine I survived 9 days of backpacking across Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Baguio, Banaue and back to Baguio.

Calle Crisologo

From Clark airport, we rode a van masquerading as taxi, to Dau Terminal (Mabalacat Bus Terminal). The upside about riding a bus from Dau to Vigan is that the bus leaves whenever another bus bound for the same destination arrives. We left around 8 am and arrived in Vigan around 4-ish in the afternoon.

In Vigan, hotels and restaurants are required to design their establishments in Spanish colonial style like that of the heritage city. Most establishments, especially in Calle Crisologo, transform the lower floor into a commercialized area. The tenants probably use the second floor as a stockroom area.

After checking in at Green R Hotel, we hired a tricycle to tour us around the city. We head to Bantay watch tower and had dinner in Cafe Leona in Calle Crisologo. The most-photographed street in Vigan–Calle Crisologo–transforms into a romantic lane in the evening with all the lamp posts casting a muted glow over the pavements.

Calle Crisologo at night

The following morning, we visited Bantay bell tower again (to catch natural light for pictures) and climbed the rickety stairs. The view overlooks Santorini-like white buildings at first glance but those were actually white-washed headstones. Cemeteries are almost everywhere in Vigan like 7 Eleven and Mini Stop. A good number of people must’ve died for our country during the Spanish/American/Japanese times.

Bantay bell tower overlooks white squares of tombstones from the nearby cemetery
Bantay Belltower

We lit candles inside the Nuestra Sra. del Caridad church. Outside the church, street vendors hawk their delicacies such as tinubong and Candon kalamay and a flock of white birds flew in front of us to the top of the church when we passed by. As cliche as it looks like but it was amazing!

Nuestra Senora del Caridad

We want to try our hand in molding a burnay pot and meet Fidel Go, the National Folk Artist, but, it was a bit early for the burnay king to be pottering around. So we just took a shot of the pots instead. 

Why we want to meet Fidel Go
Fidel Go’s burnayan

We were supposed to see the abel weavers next but the distance is a bit far and we might miss the noontime bus bound for Laoag.

Arce Mansion
Arce Mansion – if you look closely, the ceiling has a floral design carving which is common in old houses in Vigan

Next stop is Arce Mansion to wear period dresses. Unfortunately, the mansion was closed with no signs or whatsoever. The number I used to contact cannot be reached. So, we ended up visiting the Crisologo Mansion to compensate for the change of plans.

Crisologo Mansion’s living room
A birthday souvenir in the 70’s

Where we crashed

Based on my Manila friends’ suggestions, we opt for Green R Hotel in Alcantar St.. It is conveniently located near the bus terminal, public market, and grocery outlets. We got a room for ₱750.00 per night. Amenities include air-conditioned rooms, cable TV, and private bathroom.


Vigan Travel Tips

  • Vigan is famous for its Heritage Village. The place can be toured in one day, so I suggest you do more research for other touristy things to do. Since we’re traveling on a really tight schedule (yes, 9 days is still tight when you’ve got loads of places to visit), we ditched the usual tourist spots and focus on the important places to see.
  • Food trip! Try the Vigan empanada, bagnet, tinubong, Candon kalamay and longganisa.
  • If you are planning to go to Pagudpud next, do not buy the windmill souvenirs in Vigan, it is much cheaper in Bangui itself–right at the location of the windmills.
  • If you are traveling solo, or in tandem, it is advisable to do DIY tours. It is cheaper to negotiate with a tricycle driver to take you around the city.

Green R Hotel
Alcantara St., Vigan City

The Girl with Red Maleta

Red Maleta

The Red Maleta story was born out of an idea to travel to new places, learn different cultures and understand the world better. Of course, bringing my red maleta along with me.

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