It was like stepping back in time.
The sound of the horses’ hooves on the cobblestoned pavements, the vintage windows reflecting light from the setting sun, and the sound of locals chitchatting in their local dialect makes you feel like the town of Vigan in Ilocos Sur remained in a time capsule even though the rest of the world has already moved on.
“Vigan is so special, UNESCO deemed it a World Heritage Site and noted, “Vigan is an exceptionally intact and well-preserved example of a European trading town in East and Southeast Asia. The architecture is truly reflective of its roots in both materials and design, in its fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning.”
Vigan is one of the few Hispanic towns left in the Philippines and its famous landmark is Calle Crislogo.
Stepping into Calle Crisologo is like entering the 16th century Spanish colonial period in the Philippines.
You can explore Calle Crisologo (and the nearby landmarks) either by foot or by kalesa, a horse-drawn carriage.
Walk the stretch of Calle Crisologo and you’ll end up with a shopping basket filled with local trinkets, fine fabric, local ingredients, and Vigan’s famous snacks.
At night, Calle Crisologo transforms. The plaza slowly fills up with people having their fill of Ilocos dishes partnered with bottles of beer.
But the best time to take a really good photo of Calle Crisologo is during the break of dawn when the absence of the crowd gives it eerie feel.
Vigan’s burnay factory
A journey to Vigan wouldn’t be complete without a trip to its famous pottery nook or the burnay factory.
“Vigan is known for burnay, a traditional jar. Crafted from locally sourced clay, burnays were originally used to ferment basi (sugarcane wine) and bagoong, although today they are mostly used for decoration.”
You can watch local potters create their masterpiece. Or, if you want to get the whole experience, you can try your hand at pottery and the local potter will be more than willing to teach you how to mold the clay.
St. Augustine Parish Church
Set against the blue sky and highlighted by the setting sun, the St. Augustine Church becomes an even more beautiful piece of cultural structure during the magic hour.
Even the interiors of the church gives a warm glow as slivers of light from the afternoon sun seep through.
Like the St. Augustin Parish Church, Bantay Belfry is best visited during sunset when the sun’s last rays cast a golden glow on both the tower and the town.
You cannot, absolutely cannot, go to the Ilocos Region and not try their famous empanada (a Spanish version of a turnover).
There are actually restaurants in Manila that serve Ilocos empanada but, of course, nothing beats the freshly-cooked original straight from the place where it originated from.
Written by: Korina R. Iledan