THE GREAT ILOCOS ADVENTURE PART 5: OLD WORLD MAGIC IN VIGAN

November 15, 2015





Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in Vigan?


The thought always consumes me every single time I come across a photo of the old town's cobbled streets and kalesas. What would it be like to be in a place seemingly forgotten by time? One of every nerd's dearest ambitions is to time travel. 


I guess this is as close as we can get.


Welcome to Vigan, nerds. :)


After a long day of cave-climbing, bagnet-eating, and waterfalls-chasing, we found ourselves dry in Vigan. Guess Bagyong Lando decided to cut us come slack. We were dropped off at the town square, where we had some snacks at this very, ehem, classic McDo. 

Your McDo can't get any more classic than this.


Our itinerary mentioned something about some dancing fountain. 
Okay. A fountain. That dances?


We sat waiting in the bleachers around the Vigan Dancing Fountains for a good thirty minutes, munching on cheeseburgers and shivering in the wind. Boy, was it windy. Occasionally, we would jump to the announcer's voice over the speakers informing us that the show starts at 7:30 each and every night and was the initiative of  some good old governor, thank you very much. 

The #stupidtourists was getting quite sleepy and bored when laser lights came on and the fountains lit up and the wind blew and sprayed us with the dancing fountains in full force.

I really doubt it was clean water!


I wish I could have taken a photo of our faces! We were too busy trying to escape!


The Dancing Fountains, of course, is an amazing fountain and lights show in Plaza Salcedo. And yes, my photos are fugly. Check out this guy's photos instead, it might change your mind. :)



Formerly a sleepy town square, the Plaza now attracts visitors from far and beyond to catch the show. And to get wet, I suppose. The fountains are choreographed to songs old and new---Pamulinawen and Let It Go are all part of the soundtrack--- and it's something the #stupidtourists haven't seen before. You stand there in awe, like a kid. And never in my life have I associated fountains with fireworks, but after this, it's hard not to.


Maybe I'll post a video instead. Gosh, my photos don't even come close to how amazing the show is! A testament to our moment of panic!

Okay, and now, we finally reach the highlight of the night.

The cherry on top of the very adventurous day.

Calle Crisologo, ladies and gentlemen.







As giddy as kids on their way to a theme park, we wandered around Calle Crisologo. It was a place out of a story book, out of Bayani or Hiraya Manawari, out of Noli Me Tangere. Like that moment where I saw the Spoliarium for the first time, I stood in awe at how time preserved these houses. It was like being in a dream.



The town of Vigan was founded by Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo, who was but in his twenties when he started his expedition in Luzon. Before he arrived though, the town was already a thriving place for trade with the Chinese. It is believed that one of the origins of the name Vigan is from the Chinese "bee-gan" which means "beautiful shore". Fancy, innit?

You should believe it. I got it from Wiki.  :)



Within the cobbled streets of Calle Crisologo one can find restaurants, souvenir shops and inns that cater to the hundreds of tourists that frequent the place. There are many kalesas as well, which you can ride for Php 150. 



And yes, since this is Ilocos, they have a street for Heneral Luna, too!



Vigan's original name was Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan, as an honor to the Spanish prince, Ferdinand who died at the wee age of four.


Somewhere in this street, you can also find the Syquia Mansion, the house of former President Elpidio Quirino. A lot of old Vigan families are actually of Chinese origin who took up Spanish last names.


And yes, Vigan now apparently has a SuperClub, too. Now ain't that funny. Perhaps Jose Rizal and the rest of the Ilustrados are there knocking back some brandies and chatting up mestiza girls.




What must it be like to live here? To have this side of town as your home? Does the magic fade once you stop being a tourist?

I think there's too much magic in Vigan for it to fade.


Once we've had our fill of the scene and brought souvenirs (they have woven sling bags for only Php200-400 I was crying), it was time for a proper dinner.

We headed to, uh, Biga-a, a really fancy restaurant whose name is hard to pronounce with a straight face if you are Bisaya. 

In Vigan, Biga-a means the leaves of a gabi plant, believed to be one of the sources of the town's name.

At home it sounds like the Bisaya word for, uh, horny. :P


Most of their meals are to share, and most of them use bagnet as the main meat! Check out this pot of kare-kare. 


Their food is soooo good. We needed help with some of the orders though, Ilocano food names are so different-sounding from Bisaya it's hard to match the name of the dish and the actual food you're getting.

And with that note, the stupid tourists live another day, bellies and hearts full of joy and magic and little trinkets to take home to loved ones. Vigan is one of the best  parts of this tour. Their city is so clean and orderly. History and heritage are preserved and revered the way they should be. 

And then of course, there's us:




Ilocos, you have been amazing so far. It would be hard to say goodbye.



PS:

After we got to the hotel, the power went out and the rain started to pour and the wind picked up. It seemed like Lando caught up with us.

Stay tuned for the grand finale of our Ilocos adventure! 


Love,


K x






@krishafromtheisland

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