Vigan

Vigan-street

Vigan is the World Heritage Site and city in the Philippines where time has stood still as it brings you back to the Spanish era with its every exquisite architecture. History and culture lay beneath each of those brick cream and gray walls that have been carefully preserved and maintained. It has been the living proof of Spanish colonialism which has withstood World War II and climatic occurrences since 16th century. It was home for chivalrous heroes of the Philippine history. Diego and his wife Gabriela Silang were probably the most notable among them. In 1763 they attacked and seized the city, daclaring it the free city of the North. Diego was betrayed and his wife who took over the rebellion captured by the Spanish and hanged. 

Facing the South China Sea, Vigan was an island which was formerly separated from the mainland. Three rivers surround the island: the Abra River, the Govantes River, and the Mestizo River. It is named after the giant Taro trees called “Bigaa” which are common along the riverbanks of the Mestizo River. The Spanish conquistador Juan De Salcedo was the one who give the city his name.

The fifth class city does not only boast its sturdy historical edifices and houses but also its amusing feasts and celebrations, one-of-a-kind arts and crafts, exotic delicacies, and remarkable attractions. It is home to the Philippine's best-tasting longganisa, bagnet, and empanada that will surely leave you wanting for more.

Highlights

One of the most visited festivals is the Raniag, The Vigan Twilight Festival, a five-day feast celebrated during the last three days of October and lasts until the first two days of November. Also one of Vigan's forerunning attractions in which tourists can also join is their celebration of Semana Santa or Holy Week. Here, the Biguenos express their religious fervor and devotion with their parade of life-size statues in carroza. The colorful and delicious Longganisa Festival celebrated every third week of January is also a feast to catch. During this festival, they commemorate both the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and their city-hood anniversary. Their celebration of the World Heritage Cities Solidarity Day is also a must-catch. It is celebrated simultaneously with the Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion every 8th of September. Various historical events are the highlights of this celebration as they join the rest of the world which are also considered World Heritage Sites.

Something to also look forward to in the little city is its preserved arts and crafts. Their traditional way of weaving called the Abel weaving, involves the creative hands of Biguenos who sustain this surviving traditional craft in Vigan. A wooden handloom acts as a sewing machine to create artistic Abel cloths that can be seen along Calle Crisologo and the city's public markets. The fabrics are made of sagut or cotton yarn making the cloths lovely to hold. The burnay is also a must-see handicraft in Vigan. It is an earthenware jar well-measured and crafted by Bigueno potters using a potter's wheel. The anay or fine sand is used as the raw material that will be molded in a huge brick-and-clay ground making it more durable than ordinary terra cotta. Another indigenous form of terra cotta is the damili, which can be seen in seven barangays around the Vigan hills surrounded by Bantog clay, the raw material the damili potters use.

Best Time To Visit

Vigan is open all year-round for those who simply want to unwind and find a sense of tranquility in their vacation. It is best to drop a visit during summer or dry season, which is May to October, to avoid the hassles that the rains can bring. Since it faces the South China Sea and is in the northern of the Philippines, typhoons are usually routed towards Ilocos Sur.

Internet and Communication

Since Vigan is already urbanized, Internet and cellphone connection is very accessible here. There are computer shops and loading stations located in the main district and even in souvenir stores. Communication is not a problem around the city as the signal works good here. Best advice would be to bring your own prepaid cards so you do not have to rush to the nearest stores whenever you run out of load. Before leaving for Vigan, check with your service provider if your network functions pretty well in Vigan areas. The mountainous areas may not cater the signal you need during travel.

Money

When you come to Vigan, there's no need to bring a lot of cash. A pocket money of Php 3,000 to Php 5,000 is enough to keep you going around Vigan for three days and two nights, inclusive of a budget accommodation, land transportation, meals, entrance fees for some attractions, and souvenirs. ATM's connected to Cirrus or Plus are located on Quezon Avenue, however, there is a surcharge for bank guests.