Day 1B - Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Vigan Travel Blog

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The Cobblestoned street of Crisologo

UNESCO has best described the city as - "Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia."

Upon reaching Vigan, we hailed a tricycle (Philippine version of tuktuk) to bring us to Villa Angela Heritage House. We were not really expecting that we would be staying in a very old house (more that a century old), which is for me more of a museum than a house. One really feels like the lady or the lord of the manor there, sitting, eating and sleeping at furniture that you normally aren't allowed to touch in a museum like in Casa Manila.

Calesa in front of Grandpa's Inn
I really recommend this house - not everyday do I sleep in a century old bed with canopy. I slept like a gobernadorcillo that night - indeed, a night to remember.

Eventhough I am already happy to stay in our "house", we have to do what a tourist has to do - which is to sightsee, feel the sounds and sights of the place but hey, we had to have our late real breakfast cum lunch first. We asked the forever graceful caretaker of Villa Angela where to have a good lunch. He advised 2 places - Bar Uno in Grandpa's Inn or in Cafe Leonilla. We decided to have our lunch in Bar Uno, it is 5 blocks away from our house, we had to take tricycle to go there. The place is a cozy, unassuming and a very pretty cafe. We have our first taste of Ilocos' fine food - we started with their famous bagnet - a crispy fried dried pork, pinakbet - assorted veggies cooked in bagoong (fish paste),  poquipoqui - roasted aubergine with vinegar and some spices, and lastly, a exotic dish made up of eggs of huge ants.
The famous bagnet. So sinful.
The name of the dish is too exotic that I found it to difficult for a small brain to take note of. I downed this foods with a good avocado shake. FYI, avocado in the Philippines is not used for cooking as vegetable, we normally mixed it with condensed milked and it serves as sweet dessert or shake. :) 

After the brunch , we hopped on to a kalesa, a horse-driven carriage - just like the old times. We first asked our driver to bring us to Bantay Belfry, but we want to past through Calle Crisologo first - we just want the feel of passing through a century old street on right fashion, that is on kalesa. We arrived in Belfry after 15 minutes callesa ride, this bell tower was made famous by  one famous local actor (Fernando Poe Jr) by shooting his most famous legacy (Panday) here on this bell tower.

The Bantay Belfry.
It is one of the reasons to see this bell tower, well, atleast for a local like me. The church next to the bell tower (San Agustin Chuch) looked very new but this church has been there for centuries, they have renovated the facade of the church to make it look younger.

After the bell tower visit, we went to the place where they make Vigan jars. These jars are called Burnay.  The burnay is an earthenware jar crafted by a potter’s hands with the aid of a potter’s wheel. It uses fine sand (anay) as a tempering material and fired at a high temperature in a huge brick-and-clay ground kiln that makes it is harder and more durable than other terra cotta. The local bagoong (fish sauce), sugarcane vinegar and basi wine would not taste as good if not fermented in stoneware burnay jars.

Burnay or Ilocos Jar
There are a lot of touts on this area, but it was interesting how the jars were made. The place was too hot that we decided to leave after spending so little time there. Since we lack some sleep, we decided to return to our house. Anyway, the inang araw (sun) was at her peak. We have few bottles of sprite and beer in the garden before we retreated back to our room.

At 5:00 PM, the three of us left to expore Calle Crisologo on foot this time. This street is a half-kilometer stretch of cobblestoned street lined with fine examples of 18th century Filipino-Spanish architecture with a bit of Chinese influence. Many of these houses have now been turned into museum shops, cafe, or tourist inns. Stepping into Calle Crisologo is like being transported into the 16th century Philippines.

Interior of Villa Angela
Imagine the noise of the horse’s hooves as it traverses the cobblestone streets.

After staying in Calle Crisologo, we decided to go to Plaza Burgos and St. William Church. I was not really excited to see the church and the plaza, I was more craving to try the famous Vigan Empanada, sold next to the plaza and the church. Vigan empanada is made from a freshly-rolled dough of rice-flour and egg whites. It’s filled in with a mixture of cabbage, carrots, green papaya, monggo sprouts and tomatoes. The dough with filling is then deep-fried in a large pan until the dough turns into a crispy shell. The Vigan empanada has a variation: special empanada. Special empanada has a slightly bigger crust, is filled with all the ingredients of regular empanada, but has additional Vigan longganisa (local sausage) bits and an egg yolk.

St Paul's Cathedral (Vigan Cathedral)
I had two servings of this special empanada! Have I told you that a heavy rain poured while we were eating this under some makeshift tents? Oblivious to the rain, despite everyone was trying to secure  individual's dry space, I was happily munching my empanada... I waited for years for this moment. Nothing, not even as heavy rain would stop me from enjoying this. :)

After the emplanada and the heavy rain, we decided to go back to our house enroute of Calle Crisologo and to buy some Vigan bibingka. Theirs is not so sweet - just how I want my bibingka  (rice cake with melted cheese on top) to be. It was still drizzling that time, we decided to just stay inside our room - to freshen up and rest for awhile.

At around 9:00 PM, we decided to go back to the town for our dinner.

Calle Crisologo At Night
It was Isabetlog's bday, and this dinner was on her. Automatically, we ordered for another order of Bagnet. Then instead of Pinakbet, we tried another vegetable dish - dinengdeng. All in all, our dinner in Cafe Leona was good but honestly it would have been better if we returned to Bar Uno, where choices for local dishes were plenty, better ambiance and so much cheaper.

After the dinner, we went back to our house. We passed through the cobblestoned street again. It looked different at night - I think there's a pinch of romantic feel here at night, especially that it just rained.

We reached our place and tuck ourselves to sleep -  I slept like a lord of the manor that night.

wanderlust_rxist0324 says:
nice write up sir!
Posted on: Oct 06, 2012
ryomhi says:
may i know what is your estimated budget for 3 days trip in vigan,,thanks..
Posted on: Mar 21, 2010
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The Cobblestoned street of Crisolo…
The Cobblestoned street of Crisol…
Calesa in front of Grandpas Inn
Calesa in front of Grandpa's Inn
The famous bagnet. So sinful.
The famous bagnet. So sinful.
The Bantay Belfry.
The Bantay Belfry.
Burnay or Ilocos Jar
Burnay or Ilocos Jar
Interior of Villa Angela
Interior of Villa Angela
St Pauls Cathedral (Vigan Cathedr…
St Paul's Cathedral (Vigan Cathed…
Calle Crisologo At Night
Calle Crisologo At Night
The room where Tom Cruise stayed w…
The room where Tom Cruise stayed …
Pakbet
Pakbet
San Agustin Church of Bantay
San Agustin Church of Bantay
The old and the new faces of Banta…
The old and the new faces of Bant…
The vandalized bell of bantay belf…
The vandalized bell of bantay bel…
I travelled back to 1572
"I travelled back to 1572"
Calesa In front of Villa Angela
Calesa In front of Villa Angela
Plaza Burgos
Plaza Burgos
TBs ready to sleep
TBs ready to sleep
Don Apo and his breakfast table
Don Apo and his breakfast table
Vigan
photo by: yelrish