The Best of Ilocos Sur, Philippines
We got very excited as we approached Vigan, the capital city of Ilocos Sur. I looked forward to enjoying what I have only seen in pictures before.
Vigan did not disappoint me. The city transported me to the past with its lighted old mansions and horse-drawn carriages ferreting passengers through its streets. It was like an ancient city in my imagination.
We went to our hotel and did not bother to unpack as we didn’t want to miss the action outside. Off we went walking through the streets awed.
Vigan maintained its old-world look. One can easily imagine beautiful ladies waving at the veranda or having a paseo in their highly fashionable clothes, maybe made of silk brought by China traders.
We followed the crowd until we reached the plaza, where there was a scheduled light show.
People already filled the grandstands, many of them Filipinos living abroad and visiting families there.
Excitement filled the air until, finally, the show started. It was awe-inspiring as the lighted fountains dance, the enthralled danced with music as well.
After the show, we looked around for a place to eat. Many restaurants have tables set up in front of the mansions, and from here, you can enjoy a Cerveza, local beer, as you watch people promenade.
We ended up buying some of the local delicacies. I mostly wanted to try the bibingka, a local rice cake. Filled with so much excitement, we can’t bring ourselves to a restaurant to eat. So, we went to the hotel to enjoy a pause from this hustle.
Our hotel, designed tastefully, has its walls display prominent artists of the country, but it has a dedicated museum in the hotel. We, of course, spent time at this museum the next day. It was time well spent.
We thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast the next day as this place has its unique offerings of food, so we tried all the authentic dishes offered.
After breakfast, we drove through the city to get an idea of a Philippine city during the Spanish times. Then, we visited the museums in the mansions of some of the city’s most prominent residents.
We visited the Syquia mansion, which typifies an old upper-class mansion during the Spanish times. One of the ladies of this mansion married the second president of the Philippines, Elpidio Quirino.
From the Azotea (terrace) one can see the South China Sea. It is not hard to imagine the Chinese junks coming with all its goods, some of which have survived in these mansions.
The other museum is that of a prominent political dynasty, the Crisologos, who ruled this area for many years. As children, we often read news of corruption and murders involving the family, so this visit was quite intriguing.
After this intense stint in history, we visited the Hidden Garden, which housed many unique flowers and plants. Also, the bonsai collection is quite impressive. They also make natural products like tea from these plants and flowers.
From here, we visited the workshop of the National Folk Artist for Pottery, Fidel Go. He was seated at his workshop, intent on shaping the famous Burnay jar. It is so inspiring to watch this simple man at work. In this workshop, you can also try to make pottery.
After days of history, time to have some beach time. We headed for Pagudpud, which I will describe in the next series. Read Part I of this trip is in this link:
Copyright 2020: aesta1