Vigan

Vigan is a city in Ilocos Sur, Northern Luzon. Its Spanish colonial influence in local architecture and old-world charm make it a unique city in the Philippines.

Understand

History

The area of Vigan was once a settlement of traders from Fujian Province, China. At the time of Spanish colonisation, the Chinese settlers, whose language was Southern Fujianese (Minnan, often referred to as "Hokkien" by most Filipinos), referred to the area as "Bee Gan" (Chinese: 美岸; pinyin: Měi'àn), which means "Beautiful Shore." Since the Castillian and Basque Spanish conquistadors interchanged V and the B to refer to the B sound, they spelled the Hokkien Chinese name "Bee Gan" as "Vigan", which is the name used to this day.

In pre-colonial times, Vigan was an important trading post for Chinese merchants trading gold, beeswax and other products from the central Cordilleras for exotic Asian goods. Many Chinese traders settled in the mestizo district, marrying locals and starting new bloodlines.

Vigan was captured and settled by the Spanish in 1572, and grew to become a centre of Spanish political and religious power in the north of Luzon. In 1758 Vigan became the Seat of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia.

Interestingly the town was also a hotbed of anti-Spanish politics. Diego Silang was perhaps the most notable resistance leader, but was assassinated by his friends (on commission from the Spanish) in May 1763. Undeterred, Silang's wife, Maria Josefa Gabriela Silang, assumed leadership of the uprising but was later captured by the Spanish and publicly hanged in on September 20, 1763.

Local legend has it that Vigan got its name from a simple communication breakdown. A Spaniard walking along the Metizo River apparently met a local and asked which the city's name. Not understanding what he was being asked, but seeing that the Spaniard seemed to be pointing to a tree, replied "Bigaa Apo" (a giant Taro plant that was common in the area). It is from the word "Bigaa" that Vigan is said to have derived its name.

Orientation

Vigan is a relatively small city with two hearts: the recreational and shopping area around the adjacent Plaza Salcedo and Plaza Burgos in the north, and the commercial centre around the public market in the south. The mestizo district is focused along Plaridel and Mena Crisologo Streets, running south from Plaza Burgos towards the cemetery.

There is a helpful and friendly provincial tourist information office south west of Plaza Burgos (next to Cafe Leona) that can dispense information on Vigan and the rest of Ilocos Sur. Banks with ATMs accepting foreign credit cards are located around the recreational and shopping areas and at Quezon Avenue, as are internet cafes with access that charge P20 per hour. Some restaurants offer Wi-Fi access.

Get in

By bus or car

It's seven to ten hours' drive along the scenic Ilocos Highway from Manila to Vigan. Partas Bus Co., Dominion Bus Lines, Viron Transit, and St. Joseph/Aniceto Transit have regular trips to Vigan. Bus lines like Philippine Rabbit Bus Line, Farinas Transit, Maria de Leon, Florida, and RCJ Transit have regular trips plying the Manila-Laoag route, which passes by Vigan.

By plane

Interisland Airlines flies to Mindoro Airport, also known as Vigan Airport, the airport serving the general area of Vigan City. Alternately, you could go to Laoag's airport (1.5 hours by car), the Laoag International Airport. Philippine Airlines flies to from Laoag everyday of the week from Manila. Cebu Pacific flies daily from Manila.

Get around

A fun throwback to colonial days are the calesa horse-drawn carriages that still clip-clop through Vigan's streets. Rates for calesa rides should be the same as those for the many tricycles (P8-P10 within the city limits) that will undoubtedly by vying for your custom. But you could also hire a private calesa for around 150php per hour. Unless you're absolutely sure you have a tour guide that will give you in depth information about the sites you're visiting, A whole day calesa adventure for about 1000 (roughly 6-7 hours) would be advisable. You can take your time visiting the sites and not being rushed by a guide, as well as picking and choosing the areas you want to visit.

See

St. Paul's Metropolitan Cathedral

The Historic Town of Vigan is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Do

Buy

There are dozens of antique and souvenir shops dotted about the city, particularly on Crisologo and Plaridel Streets in the mestizo district. Although most of the antiques are only reproductions, you'll still enjoy browsing odd items, religious paraphernalia (look out for the toddler Jesus figurines) and some unique foods. You can also buy hand-rolled cigars, sold in packs of three.

You can buy native handwoven abel cloth at the Vigan Public Market, as well as delicacies like longganisa (native pork sausages) and bagnet (deep-fried crispy pork) at its Meat Section.

Eat and Drink

Popular snack stands along Plaza Burgos serve up a variety of local treats, among others, like:

Nobody should leave Vigan without tasting their empanada. It is a different concoction from the flour-based empanada that one usually knows.

Royal Bibingka is very popular at Tongson's Royal Bibingka, #8 Florentino St., Vigan City--just a street away from Plaza Burgos.

Also, one should have a try of the Vigan longganisa which is spicy unlike its Pampanga counterpart which is sweetish.

There is also a delicacy called tinubong, a sticky sweet rice cake that's sold in bamboo tubes, and you have to break the bamboo to eat the sticky sweet rice inside. They are usually sold in the Heritage Village in bundles of three to five.

Fried tasty corn (cornick) can also be bought in the various stalls. It comes plain or flavoured.

Native sugar is also made in surrounding towns and barangays of Vigan. However, they are in the form of tagapulot (molasses) and balikutsa (a very hard sugar concoction shaped into scrolls).

Also try the Basi, a local wine (native rum) made from sugarcane.

Sleep

V. delos Reyes corner Salcedo Sts. Manila Line: (02) 246-1502 Phone:(077)-722-2526 / 722-2565 Mobile Phone: 09088915612 / 0922-878-4657 Email Address: reservation@vigangordionhotel.com Website: http://www.vigangordionhotel.com Check in at 1PM Checkout at 12Noon Room Rates start at Php 2000 per night with breakfast for 2. A hotel set in and around an ancestral home. It is the only twin ancestral house with a courtyard and romantic ruins, where old touches like furnishings and memorabilia from another era perfectly complement the comfortable modern day amenities for sleeping or unwinding. Tour Packages available. Affiliated with Gordion Travel and Tours

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, October 10, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.