Me and my fellow legionaries decided to make our Summer function a little more special so instead of hitting a nearby resorts in Cavite, we all decided to take our trip a little further. We just had a three day vacation in Ilocos and that’s the longest trip we had. From Cavite City to Ilocos , it took us more or less 13 hours of travel time. Take note, we have no particular itinerary and it just so happened that one of our members who also owned the vans that we rented has been here so he took in charge of the whole 3 day trip in Ilocos. We left Cavite by dawn and we reached Ilocos Sur around 3 to 4 in the afternoon and by the time we get to Vigan, it was already dark.
The welcome arch of Ilocos Sur! The arch is adorned with many interesting details that symbolizes the province. The carved image of Vigan Cathedral and the famous Calle Crisologo can be found on both upper side while the image of Our Lady of Charity (Apo Caridad) can be found on the lower left. You can also spot calesas on top of the arch which is one common means of transportation in the province as well as the pots which represent “Pagburnayan”, a popular pottery place in Ilocos Region.
Before reaching the historical town of Vigan, you have to pass through the Lagben or Abra River. Here, you will come across two popular bridges, the Banaoang Bridge and the Quirino Bridge.
The Quirino Bridge (the one with steel trusses) is more scenic and more iconic than the newer bridge. It is named after the 6th President of the Philippines Epidio Quirino. Interestingly, this bridge which miraculously survived the bombings during the second world war is no longer passable for huge and heavy vehicles yet still accessible for the tourists. It was highly praised because of its impressive architectural engineering and design. A part of it, however was damaged by a recent typhoon but it will still give you a picturesque view of the Abra River and the two connecting mountains. It also became one of the most visited tourist attractions in the province.
We passed by the Banaoang Bridge, the newer bridge where vehicles can pass through. Unlike the Quirino Bridge, this one is supported by red guard rails and a series of electric light posts on both sides.
Me and my fellow legionaries!
Interestingly, we just made it in time for dancing fountain in Plaza Salcedo, one of the major attractions in Vigan. It was passed 6 pm yet the crowd in the streets is really overwhelming. The Plaza Salcedo can be found just in front of the Saint Paul Cathedral (Vigan Cathedral) and is named after a Spanish conqueror, Juan De Salcedo. It is also interesting to note that the Plaza is also known as the site of execution of Gabriela Silang, the first woman leader of the Philippine revolution. Although the plaza is best to be visited by day to embrace the beauty of its landscape, the place is also popular attraction by night due to its dancing fountain.
The dancing fountain is one of the newest attractions in Vigan. The show usually starts at seven and will last for more or less thirty minutes. The colorful fountain is accompanied by a series of catchy music. The fountain is interestingly synchronized with the music and is moving in every beat!
The crowd will gather around the square so if you really want to take a nice view, then you might consider arriving early to secure your spot.
Another thing that you might need to secure are your gears. Take note that it is going to be a wet and wild show so you might consider bringing some plastic bags or anything to cover your gadgets. Believe me! My camera got wet here and I started to encounter problems the next day.
On the other side of the plaza are these sprouting fountains. You can spot kids playing around.
The Saint Paul Cathedral as viewed from the plaza!
The Vigan Cathedral by night!
The Cathedral has a separate Bell tower (the tower is located on the other side of the street). It notably has a weather rooster on top, which symbolizes Saint Peter. I am going to post more about the Vigan Cathedral on my next entry.
Saint Michael Archangel
The Bell tower of Vigan Cathedral
After the dancing fountain, we headed next to one of the most popular attractions in Vigan, the Calle Crisologo! This street is what really made Vigan a major attraction in Ilocos. It was like a journey back in time as the cobbled stone streets were surrounded by Spanish Style houses that are well preserved and restored.
Surprisingly, we were greeted by an overwhelming crowd. It was not the kind of Calle Crisologo that I used to visualize. It was really a huge crowd and it feels like you were on a wet market or something. Interestingly, despite of the huge crowd, you can still embrace the beauty of this place. You can still appreciate those Spanish style old houses and you can still feel the excitement of roaming around this street. Take note that Calle Crisologo is just one of the many streets in Vigan. The Calle Crisologo , however is the only one that captures the beauty because of the well preserved houses and cobbled stone streets.
Calle Crisologo is almost 500 meters in length traversing to five short blocks. History wise, the famous street is named after a famous Ilocano writer and politician Don Mena Pecson Crisologo. Crisologo is a well known influential clan in Ilocos. There was even a museum dedicated for them showcasing their achievements in both business and politics (I will have a separate entry for that).
If these houses can speak, they sure have so much stories to tell. Surviving 400 years in history is truly a remarkable thing. The Calle Crisologo and its incomparable beauty is also one of the reasons why Vigan is now considered as one of the New 7 Wonders Cities along with Beirut, Doha, Durban, Havana, Kuala Lumpur and La Paz!
For full experience, you might consider exploring the Calle Crisologo and the nearby streets through Calesa. You can avail the Kalesa tours for 300 pesos and they can tour you around Vigan for one whole hour. This, however is best experience by day!
Of course, you better not leave the Calle Crisologo without buying any souvenirs. You can spot an overwhelming amount of Souvenir shops along the busy streets of Crisologo. From tshirts to key-chains to some of Ilocos famous delicacies!
Lucy’s Antique Shop is definitely a spot that you should not miss when visited Vigan. It is the last remaining antique shop in Vigan showcasing wide range of items including some old paintings and sculptures.
Some items inside Lucy’s Antique Shop
It was a very tiring yet super rewarding night for all of us. We made it to Vigan safe and sound and we finally got the chance to explore Calle Crisologo. It was not a super satisfying atmosphere that I expected but still an amazing journey. I also realized that Calle Crisologo is actually equally beautiful as the cobbled streets of General Luna in Intramuros (Check : Journey to The Past : Intramuros) ! The only thing that makes Calle Crisologo more special are the well preserved Spanish houses. The place is not overly commercialized and I hope they will keep it that way.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT VIGAN
►There are two different stories about the origin of the name Vigan. The first one came from the Chinese word “Bee Gan” which means Beautiful Shore (Vigan was once a settlement of traders from China). Another source of the name is the Biga’a Plant which once grew abundantly along the banks of the Mestizo River.
►Vigan was once named as Villa Fernandina
►At the start of World War II, Vigan was one of the first places in the Philippines invaded by Japan
►In 1999, Vigan was listed by UNESCO as the best preserved example of Spanish colonial towns in Asia.
►In 2014, Vigan was named as one of the New7Wonders Cities.
►Just few walks away from Plaza Salcedo is the Plaza Burgos which is known for its empanadahan
►The Dancing Fountain of Plaza Salcedo starts at 7pm
WHERE TO STAY IN VIGAN
►Since we are a huge group, we realized that it is more practical for us to get a transient house in Vigan. We stayed in Carlainton Transient House which offers a very spacious set of rooms (good enough to accommodate us all). They have an Honest Store here which is really a new experience for me. Anyway, there’s an overwhelming amount of lodges, transient houses and hotels in Vigan. If you are looking for a luxurious hotel experience, you might consider hotels like Ciudad Fernandina (Check Details Here) or the Hotel Salcedo De Vigan (Check Here). For Solo Backpackers or Couples who are in budget, you can try Balai Mestizo which is just one kilometer away from Calle Crisologo. Check the list of affordable Ilocos Sur Hotels here! (I personally prefer TravelBook Ph because of their “Pay At Hotel” service which doesn’t require any credit cards when booking).
This concludes our first day in Ilocos. We utilized all our time for our second day in which we explored all the famous attractions of Ilocos Norte. I’m going to post more of our Ilocos Tour in my next entries!
For the mean time, feel free to watch the video summary of my Ilocos tour below (and don’t forget to subscribe
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