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Vigan City in Ilocos, Sur is a great place to rekindle the Philippines’ Spanish heritage.  The street to the buildings depicts the general theme of the city.  You will be amazed as we had been so amazed by this City.  It is indeed a trip well spent.

During our trip to Vigan we stayed at CASA RICA HOTEL.  It is a very comfy and feels truly like home and we recommend it to you as well.

Casa Rica Hotel Vigan

How to go to Vigan City, Ilocos Sur?

  • You can ride buses from Cubao and other locations like Viron Transit or Dominion Bus Line.  We realized that Viron is the more expensive option, so you can try Dominion, they even have a VIP class.
  • If you want to tour the tourist spots in Vigan the cost is only Php600.
  • Contact Olipani Nato for Vigan City Tour.  You can call/text him at this number 09366815860 or message him on Facebook.  He also offer other tours including Pagudpod and Laoag, Ilocos Norte.

Where to go in Vigan?

Here are some places which you should go in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur:

      • Crisologo Street. This is famous for the old style Spanish houses.  Take tons of photos here and also buy souvenir items.  At night this is a busy street and you can really have the nostalgia of old Philippine-era.
      • Bantay Bell Tower.  Although this is located in the Municipality of Bantay, it is worth visiting since it offers a view of the entire City of Vigan plus it is a historical monument as well.
      • St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral.  This was built in the 1800s and it has a very large patio.  It was also the place where former Congressman Florenio Crisologo was gunned down.  Masses are held every Sunday.
      • Padre Burgos House.  Take a deeper look into the life of Padre Jose Burgos, one of the martyrs from GOMBURZA.  You will be amazed at how Spanish-style homes look.

  • Hidden Garden.  A place where plants abound and are available for sale plus their Ilocano dishes are really good.

    • Playa de Oro Beach.  A beach outlooking the controversial West Philippine Sea.  This is also famous for their large stones which looks like jackstones.

    • Museo Balay Mestizo. Another historical museum which depicts the life of Ilocanos.

  • Syquia Mansion Museum. This is the ancestral house of Dona Alicia Syquia, wife of the late former President Elpidio Quirino.  It is amazingly preserved and provides you a perspective on how the rich live during older times.

  • Crisologo Museum. It is located in the ancestral home of statesman Floro Crisologo.  Take a look into their personal memorabilla, the history of the Crisologos and other things historical in Northern Luzon.

Food to Try in Vigan

When you are in Vigan City, the best thing to try are of course Ilocano Dishes like SINANGLAO, IGADO, DINAKDAKAN, VIGAN LONGGANISA and the famous EMPANADA.  Here are some of the places we visited during our stay.

  • Panganan Ken Ihawan Toy Ciudad Vigan for affordable Ilocono dishes and cuisines.
  • Coffee Break Vigan for a taste of local coffee and some pastries.
  • Abuelitas for some Ilocano Cuisine.
  • Nanang Sion’s Vigan Empanada for good tasting Vigan Empanada.
  • BarTech for an experience of the local night life.
  • Hidden Garden for more Ilocano Cuisines like Vigan Longganisa, Bagnet, Dinengdeng, Igado, Poqui Poqui and more.
  • 1995 Studio Cafe for their own version of Vigan Empanada.

Vigan Historical Facts

Source: http://vigancity.gov.ph/city/

Vigan is an island, which used to be detached from the mainland by three rivers – the great Abra River, the Mestizo River and the Govantes River. It is unique among the Philippine towns because it is the country’s most extensive and only surviving historic city that dates back to the 16th century Spanish colonial period.

Vigan was an important coastal trading post in pre-colonial times. Long before the Spanish galleons, Chinese junks sailing from the South China Sea came to Isla de Bigan through the Mestizo River that surrounded the island. On board were sea-faring merchants that came to barter exotic goods from Asian kingdoms in exchange for gold, beeswax and other mountain products brought down by natives from the Cordilleras. Immigrants, mostly Chinese, settled in Vigan, intermarried with the natives and started the multi-cultural bloodline of the Bigueños.

In the book, The Philippine Island, Vol. III, p. 276, Blair and Robertson, two letters of Governor General Guido de Lavezares to King Philip II of Spain mentions: “It seemed best to send Captain Juan de Salcedo with 70 or 80 soldiers to people the coast of Los Ilocano on the shores of the river called Bigan.” Salcedo then sailed from Manila on May 20, 1572 and arrived in Vigan on June 12, 1572.

Thus, after the successful expedition and exploration of the North, Don Juan de Salcedo founded “Villa Fernandina de Vigan” in honor of King Philip II’s son, Prince Ferdinand who died at the tender age of four. From Vigan, Salcedo rounded the tip of Luzon and proceeded to pacify Camarines, Albay, and Catanduanes.

As a reward for his services to the King, Salcedo was awarded the old province of Ylocos which then composed of the Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union and some part of Mountain Province as his Encomienda and was accorded the title as Justicia Mayor de esta Provincia de Ylocos.

In January 1574, Salcedo returned to the capital of his Encomienda, Vigan, bringing with him some Augustian Missionaries to pioneer the evangelization of Ylocos and established a Spanish city, for the purpose of controlling the neighboring country.

Governor General Gomez Perez Darmarinas, in his Account of Encomienda dated in Manila on May 31, 1591 states: “The town of Vigan called Villa Fernandina has five or six Spanish citizens with one priest, a Justice, one Alcalde Mayor (Governor) and a Deputy. The King collects 800 tributes (equivalent to 3,200 subjects). During this period, the old Vigan was composed of 19 barrios.

In 1645-1660, Vigan was already divided into 21 Cavezas de Barangay as mentioned in the “Libro de Casamiento”, the oldest records of the parish house of Vigan found in its Archives. Separated from the naturales, the Chinese have their own place of settlement called pariancillo, “Los Sangleyes del parian” and the Spaniards were residents in a villa called “Los Españoles de la Villa”.

How Vigan got its name is told from an anecdote carried by the tongue of generations, which tells of a Spaniard walking along the banks of the Mestizo River. There, he met a native of the place and stopped to inquire: “Como se Ilama usted de esta lugar?”

Not understanding a word of Spanish, the native scratched his head and upon seeing that the Spaniard was pointing to a plant, exclaimed in Ilocano: “Bigaa Apo”. Bigaa being Alcasia Macroniza, a giant Taro plant belonging to the Gabi family which used to thrive at the bank of the Mestizo River. From the name of the plant – Bigaa, whence Vigan derived its name.

For more photos and details of our Vigan City, Ilocos Sur trip please check the following:

Itineraries

Arrival

Time : 5:30 am

June 22, 2019 (Saturday)

We arrive at Vigan early in the morning via Cubao on a Viron Transit bus. COST: Php700

Early Exploration of City

Time : 6:00 am

Walking in Vigan

Despite many tricycles asking us to do a tour we refused because we want to see the city while walking. We traverse the city devoid of people because it is early morning

Breakfast

Time : 7:30 am

Panganan Ken Ihawan Toy Ciudad Vigan

We were hungry so we ride a tricycle and ask him to take us to a good Ilocano cuisine restaurant. This place was really good and affordable. COST: Php150

Hotel Accommodation

Time : 8:30 am

Casa Rica Hotel

After eating, we decided to confirm our accommodation at Casa Rica Hotel. COST: Php3,400 for 2 days with breakfast.

Rest and More Food

Time : 9:30 am

Coffee Break Vigan

Since we cannot have an early check-in, we decided to explore the city again and rest. We tried local coffee and cafe and went to COFFEE BREAK VIGAN. COST: Php500

Museum

Time : 10:30 am

Crisologo Museum

After resting and eating, we then start our tour of the city and our first stop is CRISOLOGO MUSEUM. It is a very educational museum though it was hot inside the museum. COST: Php10

Museum

Time : 11:00 am

Padre Burgos House

We then walk around the city and decided to visit Padre Burgos House. This is a National Museum and you can see some old furniture and gadgets here.

Museum

Time : 11:30 am

Elpidio Quirino Museum

Right beside Padre Burgos house is the ELPIDIO QUIRINO MUSEUM. It was a former jail but this museum is a 3-in-1 museum. Check out the story of former President Elpidio Quirino, the Basi Trade and an Art Gallery.

Lunch

Time : 12:30 pm

Abuelita's

We decided to have lunch and try more Ilocano Cuisine. ABUELITA's seems to be a good place though there is lack of food choice here. COST: Php200

Exploring the Streets of Vigan

Time : 4:30 pm

Crisologo St.

We head back to explore more of the city and walk around the famous CRISOLOGO ST.

Local Delicacy - Empanada

Time : 5:30 pm

Nanang Sion's Vigan Empanada

Vigan will not be complete without an Empanada so we tried NANANG SION's VIGAN EMPANADA. COST: Php250

Night Life in Vigan

Time : 6:30 pm

BarTech

It was now time for some bonding and drinking. We decided to try BARTECH along Crisologo St. since they have a live band performing and it was good. COST: Php600

Done for the Day

Time : 9:30 pm

Casa Rica Hotel

We are done for the day and went back to the hotel to rest and sleep.

Vigan City Tour - June 23, 2019 (Sunday)

Time : 9:30 am

Bantayan Bell Tower

We decided to do a City Tour on Tricycle and went to BANTAYAN BELL TOWER. It has a good view of the city. COST FOR TOUR: Php600

Vigan City Tour

Time : 10:00 am

RG Jar Factory

Our next stop is RJ JAR FACTORY and we explore pottery and even try it out. COST (Donation): Php20

Vigan City Tour

Time : 11:00 am

Baluarte Safari and Mini Zoo

We went to see the famous BALUARTE SAFARI AND MINI ZOO owned by Chavit Singson. COST (for Shuttle): Php50

Vigan City Tour

Time : 12:00 pm

Lunch: Hidden Garden

We were hungry so we decided to have lunch at HIDDEN GARDEN. COST: Php500

Vigan City Tour

Time : 1:30 pm

Playo De Oro Beach

We want to see the West Philippine Sea and the beach of Vigan City and the best way to do that is by going to Brgy. Mindoro for PLAYO DE ORO BEACH.

Siesta

Time : 2:30 pm

Casa Rica Hotel

Time to rest :)

Dinner

Time : 6:30 pm

1995 Studio Cafe Vigan

We woke up late due to exhaustion so we went out to eat dinner at 1995 STUDIO CAFE. We also bought some Rice Cakes and local coffee. It was raining at that time so we were not able to do much. COST: Php500

Day 2 Ends

Time : 8:30 pm

Casa Rica Hotel

Sleeping and rest time since it was raining hard outside

Day 3 - June 24, 2019 (Monday)

Time : 9:00 am

Calesa Ride

We decided to take another tour of Vigan via Calesa. COST: Php150 (up to 4 persons)

Museum

Time : 10:00 am

Syquia Mansion Museum

We went to the SYQUIA MANSION MUSEUM and explore the huge house of one of the famous citizens of Vigan. COST: Php50

Lunch

Time : 11:00 am

Turo-turo sa Vigan

We decided to try food at the carinderia near the church. Tried Sinanglao and Dinakdakan. COST: Php150

DEPARTURE

Time : 12:00 pm

Dominion Bus Line

It's goodbye Vigan. We decided to take Dominion Bus instead of Viron because it's cheaper. COST: PHP580

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