Vigan on a Calesa
I’ve reiterated before that we only have a short half-day stay in Vigan City in Ilocos Sur. Bitin! But I’ve enjoyed it a lot…that I’m craving for coming back at Vigan in the near future. The laidback and charming heritage city in fairness can be toured within half-a-day, just like what we did last year…with several stops, appreciating Vigan’s nostalgic beauty. Tok-tok-tok-tok, the stomping of horses surrounds the city, somehow giving an ambiance of going back through time…Vigan in a calesa tour.
Plaza Salcedo & Plaza Burgos: Starting Lap
We’ve started the day at Plaza Salcedo, the largest plaza in town. (See related article of Plaza Salcedo) I’ve appreciated the beauty of the heart of Vigan’s power and urbanity. Plaza Salcedo has a wide plaza with a lagoon. Surrounding it is: the provincial capitol, the city hall, and the cathedral, Plaza Maestro shopping arcade and One Mart. Like every Philippine town, the plaza is the most important place during the Spanish colonial era.
On the other hand, Plaza Burgos is located on the southern side of the Cathedral and north of the Vigan Heritage Village of Calle Crisologo. It’s smaller yet it’s a venue for socio-civic activities. It is also here were you can find tourist calesas or horse-drawn carriages. And guess what, the cucheros or calesa-drivers are honest (and I like it!). No hidden fees, they’ll say the price of half-a-day tour around downtown Vigan straightforward. And guess what, its only P250 for the 2 hour trip (8am to 10am)! Incredibly cheaper than their Manila counterparts! And they’re friendly too. Nasingpet ti cucheros!
Along the way to Burnayan
Vigan is like just any other Philippine city beyond its heritage charm. I really love the laidback atmosphere as we passed by the Capitolio and through Padre Burgos’s old house. In fairness for Vigan, despite the encroachment of modernity, calesas are still part of the public mode of transportation although they cater more to tourist nowadays. Bigueños on the other hand use tricycles or walking. The streets are narrow, a sign of being an old city planned during the time of the Spanish colonial era.
The burnayan or pottery place is a one stop shop for pottery and any souvenirs from Vigan. It is located at the corner of Liberation Boulevard and Gomez Street.
Burnay – Ilocano for pot(s). Vigan’s own pot and clay jars…big clay jars I mean. Creating one takes time and skill…with earth forged with water and hardened by fire. It is a distinct mark of the Bigueos.
Quite a unique name though. This boulevard runs through east to west. It is one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares. It connects the commercial district at Quezon Avenue, the city’s public market, the old cemetery, Vigan Heritage village in Calle Crisologo and the residential areas. A number of bus stations such as Domimion, Partas and Farias pass by this street. This boulevard is usually packed with tricycles, cars and calesas. This is the only area in Vigan where you could experience that traffic congestion that only big cities offer.
One landmark in this boulevard though is the old cemetery of Vigan locally called as Bassit Cemetery and the capilla/camposanto. The old graveyard site, along with its baroque chapel, still functions as one of Bigueos’ resting place. The camposanto is whitewashed and the graveyard is still surrounded by its Spanish colonial stone fences. It’s giving a taste of what Philippines were a century ago.
Vigan City Public Market / Tiendahan
Locally called “Tiendahan,” this is Vigan’s central public market. This is where you can virtually buy almost any delicacy that Ilocanos can offer. We bought our bagnet here (dried pork deep fried) as well as the sukang Iloko (Ilocano rice vinegar).
We’re on our way to Calle Crisologo. But before that street, we passed by another Crisologo place in Vigan…which is just along Liberation Boulevard. The ancestral house of the powerful Crisologo clan was turned into a museum. The house, home of solon Floro Crisologo, features the family’s photos, memorabilia and the display on his assassination in 1970s by unknown gunmen. Floro was one of those who worked towards enacting the Tobacco Law (Ilocos’s famed cash crop is tobacco) and the establishment of SSS or Social Security System in the Philippines.
After that brief visit in one of the houses of Vigan’s prominent families, we’re on our way to Calle Crisologo…the climax of the calesa trip at Vigan.
And…it’s just only past ten in the morning! I just love the crisp Ilokano weather!
Wen Manong! Speaketh and ye shall receiveth bargaineth!
Looking for bargain in Ilocos? I know Ilocano is one of the most difficult languages that I have to learn (despite that my lineage is also of Ilocano blood…mom’s Ilocana) but just only say these words and your wallet’s wounds shall be healed:
Buy – Gumatang.
How much is it? – Mano daytoy?
Can you lower the price? Mabalin nga ilaklakam basit ti presyo na manang/manong/adding? (manong, manang or adding refers to the person).
Cheap – Nalaka.
Expensive – Nagngina met.
Thanks – Agyamanak; Thank you very much – agyamanak unay.
I hope these words can bring you bargain souvenirs.
More photos here of Museo Crisologo Inside:
And through the streets of Vigan:
And the Calesa Route that we took a year ago:
View Vigan Calesa Route in a larger map