The trip started with a Partas bus overnight trip boarding from its Aurora Boulevard Bus terminal at 9:00 P.M. It was an 8-hour trip arriving Vigan City at 5:00 A.M. the following day and we checked in right away at Green R Hotel located along Alcantara Street of Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. This was actually my fourth time to be in Vigan City.
Whenever I visit Vigan, its Heritage Village is always the first that I would visit. This place is considered as the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia which was included on the World Heritage List commemorating its cultural significance in November 1999.
Records revealed that this village was established in the 16th century when trade and community activity started to flourish along the Mestizo River, lasting up to the 19th century. The name “Vigan” was derived from a giant taro plant “biga” that grew abundantly along the riverbanks.
Looking at these old houses, you will see that they are made of adobe, pebbles, brick and posts. But these materials were not from the Philippines since they were brought from Europe through the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade. On the other hand, the construction works of these houses were done by Chinese laborers which is evident on their architectural design that reflects a unique fusion of Spanish European and Chinese culture.
Strolling around the village, you will notice the cobble-stoned streets frequented by calesas or caruwaje carrying the mesmerized and excited tourists.
Calesa, by the way, is a ride pulled by a horse which is an alternative transport along the heritage and any part of Vigan City, During the Spanish era, calesa, is a ride used by common people while the Illustrados would normally have their prestigious “Caruwaje” A caruwaje is well-decorated also pulled by a horse normally with curtains, too.
Of course, it is really exciting to ride in a calesa. But walking through cobble-stoned streets of the village, will give one the opportunity to experience the place at its best getting all the details of the glorious past.
This village is indeed a proof that once for 333 years, our country has been colonized by the Spaniards and this is somewhat a remnant and legacy that the Spaniards left us from their glorious past in the Philippines.
Tourism industry in Vigan is so vibrant and they capitalized much on the rich historical value of the Heritage Village by housing souvenir shops and cafes. The shops sell Ilocos’ elegant and fancy ornaments which are beyond perfection in appearance.
Delicious and delectable local cuisine and delicacies and antique furniture and fixture are also being sold within the area.
Our group also tried to eat Vigan’s pride – the empanada in Irene’s Empanada just within the vicinity of the Heritage in which this empanada is emphasized to be the celebration of the Ilocos Sur cuisine.
One may also consider to visit Heritage Village in the evening to witness its truly stunning ambiance most particularly to honeymooners where they would find this place to be truly romantic.
The Vigan Heritage Village also has some modern additional buildings. But despite the modernization of these establishments, their architecture is still correlated to how the Spanish constructed the houses centuries ago. Fastfood restaurants such as McDonald’s can be seen in this place and you’ll be amazed that they are constructed just like the Spanish houses.
HOW TO GET THERE
Take a bus from Manila via Partas, Dominion, Philippine Rabbit by 9 – 10 hours to Vigan City for a distance of 404 kilometers and another 10 minutes drive from the heart of Vigan City to Baluarte. Partas Transportation Company offers the best and comfortable ride with its air-conditioned buses equipped with only three seats across and have better reclining positions. You may check this link for Partas bus operation schedule
Alternatively, through by air which is flying from Manila to Laoag International Airport for three times a week for 70 minutes either by Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines. Laoag City is 2 and a half hours or 82 kilometers away from Vigan City.