our room in Grandpa's Inn
It was about 4:30 am when we got to the Partas bus terminal. We were hoping to get on the first trip to Vigan
but that bus left 30 mins earlier. We got on the next bus that was to leave at 5:30. After a little more than five hours, welcome to Vigan!
I had set up reservations in Grandpas Inn, a residential Spanish house that belonged to the Donato family and was converted to an Inn in 1979. We got an early check-in then headed straight to the in-house coffee shop, CAFE UNO to have lunch.
One of the things I went to Vigan for is to sample a local delicacy called Adobong Abuos (roe of mountain ants). It is a seasonal dish that's only available from march to june and you have to ask if it is available.
So being in the only restaurant in town that serves it, with a big smile and an excited heart, I asked the waitress if they have it and guess what? They're out! They said that the ant roe comes from Abra, a neighboring province that is known to be restless during election times. I still felt bad but I decided that I won't let this ruin my family's 1st trip together. So we had a typical Vigan (tourists) lunch of Bagnet (pork boiled then air-dried then fried then air-dried and fried again, similar to litson kawali) and Dinengdeng (a stew of local vegetables in fish paste broth). Oh, nagimasen, Apo!
And that's how to say it's delicious in the local dialect. : )
Fully recharged, I took Rekah and Ian to Calle Crisologo, the famous cobblestone street in the Mestizo district, which was just two blocks from the hotel.
This is where you'll truly understand and appreciate what UNESCO meant when it described Vigan as the "best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia... representing a unique fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning... an exceptionally intact and well-preserved example of a European trading town in Southeast Asia."
The plan was to take a calesa tour so we headed north passing Plaza Burgoz, a park dedicated to the Filipino martyr, Padre Jose Burgos who was born in this town. Across the park is the Vigan Cathedral, where Congressman Floro Crisologo was shot and killed (this was the only place where his enemies could get to him.) "Are there that many tourists today?
" That's what I thought to my self wondering where all the calesas have gone to.
Hot ride parking!
I've been searching for a calesa since we got to Calle Crisologo but apparently there are none in sight. There's even a calesa parking lot beside the Cathedral (there's a sign) and nothing's there as well. Maybe it's just lunchtime and all the kutseros have gone home to eat. So we went to Plaza Salcedo, a park dedicated to the town's founder
. Even before Spain ruled over the country, Chinese traders sailing from the South China Sea came to Isla de Vigan via the Mestizo River that surrounded the island. On board their ships were sea-faring merchants that came to trade goods from other Asian kingdoms in exchange for gold, beeswax, and other mountain products brought by the indigenous peoples from the Cordilleras region.
There were even Japanese ships that traded here. This is when Capitan Juan de Salcedo was given orders by Governor General Guido de Lavezaris to explore the coast of Los Ilocano on the shores of the river called Bigan.
So with 70-80 soldiers in command, they marched north from Manila
on May 20, 1572 and arrived in Arrived in Vigan on June 12, 1572. After the successful expedition and the exploration of the North, 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.
The Sun was high and it was HOT! Ian was getting quite irritated so we went back to the hotel to rest and to freshen up.
A horse and it's headset
It wouldn't be wise to spend a good sunny afternoon in our room so by 2 pm we went back to Crisologo to find the heritage tourism office. I figured if we're going to tour around, it would be best to have a map in hand. When we got to the place, we learned that there would be a calesa festival at 3 pm. I knew that the Viva Vigan Festival of Arts is held every 1st week of May but I didn't realize a major activity was going to be held on a Monday. Wow! So that explains where all the calesas have gone. We went back to plaza Salcedo and found calesas beautifully decorated with the local culture. Even the horses had a story to tell. There was a horse wearing pants. One had body paint. There was even a horse wearing a headset (this one I liked, I wear a headset for work). While the organizers were waiting for other participants to arrive, we had a walk behind the provincial capitol to the Burgos Museum.
I don't if it's our luck but the museum was closed. A post at the door states that operating hours are from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:00-5:00, Closed on Mondays and holidays. Beside the museum is the Provincial Jail, the birthplace of Former President Elpidio Quirino. To shed some light on that, his father, Don Mariano Quirino was the Jail warden that time (he's not the son of an inmate, this was what I thought when I first heard of it ü).
a horse and it's skirt
And the parade starts! Some 40-50 beautiful calesas take the main streets. We found a bench under a tree and watched from there. I must say I enjoyed sitting more than watching; we've been walking all afternoon. : )
When all has gone and passed, we had a tricycle take us to Baluare. (Vigan has some of the kindest tricycle drivers who won't cheat you for being a lost tourist.
) First animals to greet us were a bunch of birds perched (more like tied) on hand railings. There was a couple of white cockatoos, some parrots, a couple of horn bills and some yellow birds I can't identify. Across that is a grass field where a camel (first time I saw one) was eating corn stalks, deers were grazing with mini horses and a couple of cute mini chickens (I forgot what breed they were). You could take a mini calesa ride pulled by mini horses around the field. I felt sorry for the horses. It just fells so wrong...
Shy ka deer?
On the west side of the field is a statue of a brontosaurus and it's young. there's an uphill road that will lead to some cages. The first cage contained a couple of breeds of pheasants cohabiting with peafowls. They even have a rare white peacock. Too bad it had it's train (tail) down.
It would have been nice to see it on full spread. Right beside this cage is a huge cage with only two cotton tail rabbits. :) Walking further up would lead to the tiger's cage (though there are two more tiger cages just by the entrance). One tiger ruled this hill and it was sleeping. At the top is where they keep my favorite, the bush bucks. Smaller than a deer and native to Africa, these cute little antelopes could really send in smiles. :)
Indian Star Tortoise. Five six kayo jan...
It was hot and we were thirsty. On the way back down, we stopped by a shop by the butterfly sanctuary. I were supposed to buy ice cold drinks but the sight of a tortoise distracted us. I think it was an Indian Star Tortoise. When we turned around we saw a cute bear cat, some civets, a green iguana (yummy!) and what other visitors don't notice (or even give attention to) was a real Tasmanian Devil.
Rekah even admitted she didn't really know what they looked like. The image that pops up her mind is Taz, the loony toons charachter. This is also the first time I saw one up close. I've always wanted to go to Tasmania just to see one of these. Come to think of it, there are a lot of animals here that I just saw for the first time.
Completely forgetting our thirst, we entered the butterfly sanctuary. There were butterflies of all sorts and sizes. What really amazed me was the cocoons. They looked like Christmas lights on a stick. The exit leads to a show area where they present the different animals they have. The last show just ended when we got here and they opened the floor for photo ops. For 50 pesos, you can have your picture taken with Tom the Bengal tiger. We sat in the audience area drinking a bottle of cold water we just bought.
All this time I was thinking real hard if we should get our picture taken. We are talking about the biggest tiger in the world weighing roughly around 200 kgs. Its paws are bigger than my face. That's a huge cat! After so much thinking, we decided to have a Baluarte souvenir picture. You could see the fear out of our smiles.
empanada eating ian