The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Vigan: the Philippines’ jewel of colonial architecture

Written By: herbrunbridge - May• 13•10

Colonial architecture of a shophouse in Vigan

The picturesque west Luzon town of Vigan is relatively little-known, probably because it’s so damn hard to get there. A good 8 hours north by car from Angeles City-Manila, this town of fascinating colonial homes and two-wheeled carriages was founded in 1572. It makes for a wonderful 2 day stop, and if you can plan for it, the Viva Vigan festival on the first week of May is a great time to visit, as there are a number of fascinating events held in Plaza Burgos. Included in those events is the Gay-Em Parade ladyboy contest in honor of Santa Crosan, in which dozens of grand dames and their escorts, preceded by a siren-accompanied police escort, vie for the title of Queen. 

Top 4 things to do in Vigan
1)  Mansion Syquia. This colonial home offers a spectacular collection of artifacts related to former president Elpidio Quirino. (For historical background on both Quirino and Crisologo in the following entry, read Sterling Segarve’s book The Marcos Dynasty.
2)  Crisologo Museum. This wonderful old wooden home has loads of artifacts from one of Vigan’s most prominent political families. Don’t miss the old Chevy Belair in which Crisologo was riding during an assassination attempt, and the library showcase, housing grisly photographs of the assassinated Floro Crisologo.
3)  Casa Burgos/Ayala Museum. This beautiful house is the ancestral home of the martyred Father Burgos, and also is the repository of artifacts relating to Ilocano culture.
4)  Ride in a calesa two-wheeled horse carriage. It’s not very expensive, roughly 150 pesos ($2 USD) per hour, and the drivers could use the money to keep this historical institution alive. The calesa will take you to the above venues, and also to a small pottery factory and shop where you’ll see the amazing 150 foot-long kilns

Read WoWasis’ recommendation for a great hotel and restaurant in Vigan.

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