Let me share an efficient way to tour the city without the need of a travel agency, kalesa and less ride to a tricycle (the main transportation in Vigan). This is more applicable if you are staying outside the heritage site and recommended for a budget traveler who enjoys walking. Please be reminded that it’s going to be a long but rewarding walk since most streets of Vigan are absolutely picturesque.
You won’t regret walking in the city for it’s considered as one of the best walkable cities in the Philippines. Discover how Vigan Transformed from Day till Night by simply roaming around the City. It’s safe, fun and FREE!
1. St. Augustine Church and Bantay Belfry Tower
Start your trip at St. Augustine Church and Bantay Belfry Tower. Located at Municipality of Bantay, approximately 5-10 minutes’ walk from City Center.
Cost – No fee, but you will be asked to give a donation upon entering the place.
Constructed in 1591-1592 as the belfry of the church and at the same time the watch tower of the town.
I just stay here for a couple of minutes. I’m concerned about my safety since I felt that the wooden floor was fragile.
I wasn’t able to take pictures inside the church because of an on-going mass. This place was one of my favorite spots in Ilocos Sur. The tower reminds me of Cagsawa ruins in Bicol.
2. Plaza Salcedo, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Municipal Hall and Burgos National Museum.
Best visited for an early morning walk, fewer people, calmer and to avoid too much heat from the sun.
The original cathedral was built in 1574. Another version was constructed in 1641 but destroyed by an earthquake. A reconstructed church was gutted by fire in 1739. The current church was constructed in 1790 and was finished in 1800.
Standing in front of Plaza Salcedo is the Municipal hall. I really admire its construction. However, I didn’t take a picture since I’m disappointed with the big Christmas Tree blocking their Hall. At the back of the hall is Burgos National Museum, which is currently under renovation.
3. Calle Crisologo, Crisologo Museum and Syquia Mansion.
When thinking about Vigan, I believe that Calle Crisologo is everyone’s top of the mind. It’s absolutely the Heart of Vigan City.
No wonder why it is one of UNESCO’s Heritage sites here in the Philippines. A perfect example of a best preserved Spanish colonial town in Asia. I was captivated by the elegance of Calle Crisologo. A short walk along the cobbled street makes me feel that I’m walking back to 16th-18th Century. Once, a mestizo district where prosperous Filipino, Spanish, and Chinese people are living. Simple and Elegant Houses are standing gracefully along the street surviving many calamities throughout the centuries. Now, Number of Old mansions along Calle Crisologo has been converted to Hotels, Restaurants, Cafe’s and Souvenir Shops.
The house of former president Elpidio Quirino houses some memorabilia of their family. This mansion is actually owned by his wife. Dona Alicia Quirino. Entrance fee is 30php.
When visiting Syquia Mansion. Make sure that you will be toured by Kuya Ferdinand. He knows every story inside the mansion and narrates it very well.
The lady in the painting is Victoria Quirino-Delgado. The second daughter of President Quirino. She fulfilled the duty as the youngest first lady in the Philippines when her mother; Alicia Syquia, and three siblings were massacred by the Japanese during their occupation. The 2nd presidential daughter to make a debut in Malacañang Palace and the 1st presidential daughter to be wed in the palace.
Paintings hanging on the wall are identified painted by national artist Fernando Amorsolo.
Next stop is Crisologo Museum, a century-old mansion of Crisologo Family converted into a museum. I’ll be honest that most parts of this house gave me goosebumps. Especially inside the law office, where the bloodied clothing of Floro Crisologo was displayed. He was the former congressman of Ilocos Sur was shot to dead on Sunday in October 1970 inside the St Paul’s Cathedral. The Museum is open for public viewing without a fee. However, you will be asked to give a donation. Unlike, Syquia Mansion no tour guide was assign to this museum so I didn’t appreciate the history behind every memorabilia.
Coming from City Center, you can take a Tricycle going to Baluarte also known as the fortress. Baluarte is approximately 20 hectares wide which is privately owned by Ilocos Sur Governor. Chavit Singson. The best thing about this place is, a big part of the area is free for public visit.
Hundreds of people are coming to this place every day to take a view of Chavit’s personal collection of animals which was bought from other countries and endemic here in the Philippines.
What made me amazed was to saw different species of animals, freely moving around the area without a clash. Although, I wasn’t able to explore some parts of baluarte. I noticed that most cages are empty. Still, it’s a big expense for someone to maintain this kind of “mini” zoo
There is currently a construction of a museum and posters of upcoming wild animals to be added to Chavit’s collection. Without a doubt, Baluarte will be continuously improved.
Vigan at night
You can’t definitely leave Vigan without having a tour at night. It is equally or more stunning than a morning walk. Before 7:30PM during weekends make sure that you get a perfect spot at Plaza Salcedo for its Vibrant Fountain Show.
The Dramatic Lights at Calle Crisologo made me feel that I’m traveling back to the past.
Update: May 8, 2015, when Vigan was officially inaugurated as one the new 7 wonder cities in the world. Vigan which was established in 16th Century represents a fusion between the Philippines, Europe, and China which formed a cultural element that is uniquely Vigan.