My first solo trip to the northern part of Luzon island started with me elbowing fellow passengers on board a Pasay-bound ordinary bus. I was heading for the Pasay terminal of Partas bus company since the Cubao terminal confirmed their reservations were already full. I got nervous at the idea of not being able to pursue this trip since it took several months of anticipation in finally realizing my dream.
|Ilocos Longganisa and Bagnet|
I arrived at the bus station at a little past nine in the evening coming straight from work. The bus terminal was full to the hilt but I gave a sigh of relief as I see that there was no queue at the ticketing section. It turns out that a passenger must secure a stub from the guard entrance first. Wait for your stub number to be called before you can buy your bus ticket. It wasn’t until more than two hours later that my number was called. And it wasn’t until another hour again before I was able to ride my designated bus. I think we left the terminal at almost one in the morning. Please don’t ask me since I already lost track of time.
Four hours later, the soft sun rays slowly lightened up the interior of the bus. I knew we were nearing our destination by the way the bus swayed from left to right. I began smiling seriously as I saw a glimpse of the mighty West Philippine Sea. The shore was not that dramatic, but the seascape was enough for me to stay awake even if I was still very sleepy.
|Lucy Chan’s antique shop
Another four hours and my feet finally rested on Vigan City’s. I checked in at Hennady Inn which was located right in front of Vigan Arch. It was hard to miss. Not wanting to waste precious time, I rested for about ten minutes, showered and walked towards the center of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was sweltering hot but I completely forgot about the sun as soon as I stepped on Plaza Salcedo. My heart started racing a little faster as I saw the rows of horse carriages across the old St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral. When I finally reached Calle Crisologo, I knew at that moment, I was undeniably, irrevocably in love with Vigan.
|Calle Crisologo during daytime|
My mind was in a chaos. I had a hard time doing my photography at first as my eyes wanted to stare at these old structures as long as the day will permit. I walked a bit and I saw myself wandering back in time. What attracts me the most to houses like these are its wide and enormous windows. While walking along the stretch of Crisologo St, I recalled this short poem I wrote. It perfectly fit the mood I had that day – in awe and in love.
Pag-ibig ng Nakalipas
I am an old romantic and I think I could spend days just getting lost in the streets of Vigan. I was almost tempted to don a Baro’t Saya (national dress for Filipino women). After a few selfies, I later paid a courtesy call and met the very down-to-earth Town Explorer in the person of Mr. Edmar Guquib. He caught me doing stunts as I was trying to catch in stills that magnificent old house right at the corner of Crisologo and Bonifacio streets. Old houses first before greetings!
|Cool, colorful old homes along Calle Crisologo|
Vigan’s old world charm once again fueled the love I strongly have for my country. My first hand experience of walking on its cobbled-stone streets really awakened the patriotic Filipina in me. The Philippines is a truly unique and beautiful country and I am ecstatic that this heritage site is well-preserved. It will forever be alive in my memory.
Talking with Edmar made me love Vigan more. Why? I found out through him that Vigan City was spared during WWII because of the love of a Japanese soldier for a Filipina. He did not want to ruin the life of this young lass so he ordered Vigan untouched. It was such a classic tale of old romantic love. I said to him, smiling, love does conquer all then.
Vigan was an old trading post, it is ideally nestled in between two great bodies of water. I was profoundly amazed at the enormity of these old houses compared to the ones I have been to in other towns. Words like grand, magnanimous and supreme reigned in my mind. Pardon me as I bombard this post of all the old houses I was able to capture. My heart won’t be able to take it if I miss one.
|Cafe Uno at Grandpa’s Inn|
I absolutely love Vigan since the old homes are not only confined along Crisologo St., I am super happy upon seeing rows and rows of these gems in the the adjacent streets too
Aside from the old houses, which I will never get tired of talking about, we also visited a handful of old churches and a breathtaking watch tower.
|St. Augustine Parish Church at the nearby town of Bantay|
|Bantayan Bell Tower|
Now, this is only half the story when I laid eyes on Vigan during the day. But it was definitely a different story when the moon said hello. We walked back to Calle Crisologo after having a short sunset frolick in Mindoro beach, Ed and I found ourselves enthralled once more. Tourists who come and go didn’t really bother us as we talked about anything under the moon. Dinner right on Calle Crisologo reminded me of a movie set in Italy. Music was the only absent factor that night. This would have set a more festive mood for the visitors. I was actually expecting to see men and women of the past. But of course, they are only alive in my wild imagination.
|Me and Ed on top of Bantayan Bell Tower.
Later on at Mindoro Beach, we swam with the happy kids of Vigan and watched the sunset as it unfolds
|Calle Crisologo at night|
Ed and I shared stories till midnight. Our topics covered anything from Archaeology, History, Geology, Theology, Anthropology, religious conspiracies and even introduced him to my favorite topic which is Noetic Sciences. We talked until such time we could no longer hear the hooves of the horses and the excited chatters of passersby. We bid our good nights and promised to be reunited once more the following morning to continue our exploration of this lovely city.
To Vigan, I rode in Partas Bus Transportation Co., Php 682 from Pasay Terminal
From Vigan , I rode in Viron Bus Transit, Php 522, last trip at 945 PM
Calesa Ride: Php 150
Museums: Entrance by donation
I stayed in Hennady Inn, P 800 for an air-con double room with private bath. They also offer backpacker’s space at Php 350 (fan room) but it was booked by the time I inquired. This hotel is fronting Vigan Arch – alight before your bus turns left for Vigan City town proper. It’s hard to miss this as the building’s color is blue. It is about a five to ten minute walk to Calle Crisologo, depending on your pace.