Showing posts with label Vigan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vigan. Show all posts

Thursday, October 06, 2011

UNESCO: Heritage Homeowner's Preservation Manual for the World Heritage Site of Vigan, Philippines

Some months ago, Ric Favis of UNESCO Bangkok mentioned to me that the Heritage Homeowner's Preservation Manual for the World Heritage Site of Vigan, Philippines, co-published by UNESCO and the City Government of Vigan, was already available. According to Favis, "The manual is a practical guide to conserving ancestral houses and related historic buildings not only in Vigan but elsewhere in the Philippines. It provides guidelines based on traditional building techniques and modern scientific methods for maintaining and conserving historic structures."

I finally got myself a copy and it's indeed something a heritage house owner must have since it guides owners on how to conserve, maintain and even fund restoration of ancestral houses. The table of contents and information on how to get copies of the manual can be found in the UNESCO Bangkok website.

Another UNESCO Bangkok publication I got was IMPACT: The effects of tourism on culture and the environment in Asia and the Pacific: Sustainable tourism and the preservation of the world heritage site of the Ifugao Rice Terraces, Philippines. It's quite a long title. The publication gives us a picture of what tourism has done to the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras and the communities that live there. The booklet was prepared by the Save the Ifugao Rice Terraces Movement (SITMo). And the good thing is that a complete .pdf copy can be downloaded from the UNESCO Bangkok website. You can check the e-Library of UNESCO Bangkok for more downloadable resources.

Copies of the Heritage Homeowner's Preservation Manual can be ordered from Edgar de la Cruz, City Government of Vigan, Vigan City, Philippines (E-mail:; Fax: +63-77 722-8776)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ilocos Sur: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Vigan hotels and accommodation
The Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the popular tourism attractions of the Philippines. Here is a list of Vigan hotels and accommodation within the heritage district of Vigan:

Aniceto Mansion
Plaza Burgos, Mena Crisologo Street
(077) 7222383 to 84 / 7221242
Aircon rooms from Php1700 / Php12000 good for 20 / Php7000 good for 10

Cordillera Inn
29 Mena Crisologo St.
(077) 7222727 / (0927) 3135616
Aircon rooms from Php1500; Fan room Php1050

Gordion Hotel
V. delos Reyes St. cor Salcedo St.
(077) 7222526 / (02) 2461502
Aircon rooms from Php2000

Grandpa's Inn
Bonifacio St. cor. Quirino Blvd.
(077) 7222118 / 6320987
Aircon rooms from Php1680; Fan rooms from Php730; Aircon dorm rooms Php2250 good for 4 / Php3360 good for 6 / Php4480 good for 8

Hotel Salcedo de Vigan
(077) 7221200 / 7222798 / (02) 2461519
Aircon rooms from Php2600; Dorm rooms Php6000 good for 6 / Php7000 good for 10; Economy dorm Php400 per person

My Vigan Home
14 Plaridel St. cor. Bonifacio St.
(077) 7226528
Aircon rooms from Php2500
Note: By reservation only. It's a private residence with spacious rooms on the second floor

Vigan Hotel
(077) 7221906
Aircon rooms with bathroom from Php1495; Aircon rooms with shared bathroom Php695 single / Php895 double; Fan rooms Php395 single / Php495 double / Php 195 extra bed

Vigan Plaza Hotel
Plaza Burgos, Mena Crisologo Street
(077) 7228553 / 7221527 / 6320317
Aircon rooms from Php2300; Dormitory rooms Php8000 good for 7 / Php7000 good for 6

Part 1: Road trip to Pagudpud
Part 2: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan
Part 3: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience
Part 4: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part 5: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Ilocos Sur: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur (Day 3)

Tres de Mayo is a centuries-old fiesta of Vigan citizens to honor the Santo Cristo Milagroso or Apo Lakay. It is held annually every third of May. The day starts with a 6 a.m. Mass at the Simbaan a Bassit or Vigan's Cemetery Chapel.

I wasn't able to see the Mass last year. So I made sure to get up early this year to attend Mass which is celebrated by the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia on a makeshift altar built under a canopy of fruits and other produce in front of the chapel. While Mass was going on, I also visited the Santo Cristo Milagroso inside the chapel.

Since it was still too early for breakfast at the hotel, I decided to walk around Vigan while there were still no people. It's best to take shots of the architecture early in the morning when Vigan's streets are deserted.

After breakfast, our group visited the ancestral home of Engr. Ric Favis of UNESCO and the Syquia Mansion before proceeding to Hidden Garden Restaurant for an Ilocano lunch.

Crisologo Street is again the focal point for the afternoon activities. Vigan's Chinese roots become evident as a lion dance troupe makes its way around the various shops owned by Chinese-Filipinos. But there are no fire crackers though which always accompanies this practice. Later in the afternoon, we watched the Kalesa Parade.

During the day, notice the ramadas or makeshift canopies decorated with produce that are constructed around the city as part of Tres de Mayo. The ramadas become focal points for each neighborhood during the afternoon since traditional Filipino games are organized for kids and kids at heart under these canopies.

I walked to one of the ramadas while our group was having merienda at Abuelita's Restaurant. After the heavy snack composed of miki, bibingka and empanada. We drove back to Manila which took us about 9  hours with a dinner stop of course.

Part 1: Road trip to Pagudpud
Part 2: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan
Part 3: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience
Part 4: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part 6: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Ilocos Sur: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Historic Town of Vigan was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999. UNESCO inscribed Vigan in the World Heritage List because it "represents a unique fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning," and "is an exceptionally intact and well preserved example of a European trading town in East and South-East Asia."

The UNESCO description of Vigan reads, "Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia."

I woke up early in the morning to take photos around Vigan. If you want to take great photos of Crisologo Street, and other significant places around Vigan, without the crowds and the clutter of the souvenir shops, 6 to 8 a.m. is the best time to do that since the streets are deserted and the shops closed.

Our group was very lucky that Engr. Ricardo Favis of UNESCO was in Vigan at the time we were there. He invited us over to his house for us to understand the unique architecture of Vigan. He talked about the different parts of a typical Vigan house, their uses during the Spanish colonial times and the conservation issues and difficulties to maintain such large houses today without any clear economic benefits for the owners.

A Bangkok-based UNESCO consultant, Ric is one of the people responsible for the preservation of Vigan in the early 1990s. If not for Ric and his group, there would be no Vigan to speak of today. In fact, he was sharing to us that when they started the preservation movement in Vigan, they were branded as anti-development and criticized by the media for it. It was only after a visit by UNESCO officials visited Vigan and said that it was UNESCO World Heritage material did the locals start realizing that indeed there was potential in heritage.

Now that Vigan is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, it has received an economic boost from tourism arrivals. The challenge now to harness the economic benefits of tourism while ensuring the proper conservation of the unique Vigan architecture. In the Philippines, as tourism brings in the needed revenue, many policy makers and stakeholders are blinded and forget why people come in the first place, what the tourism product really is and sadly neglect it. I hope that will not happen in Vigan because they seem to have gotten it right.

Part 1: Road trip to Pagudpud
Part 2: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan
Part 3: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience
Part 5: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Part 6: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Ilocos Sur: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience

Have you ever wondered how it must have felt to dine during the Spanish and American colonial periods? At the Arce Mansion in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, you'll get to experience that, complete with period costumes!

As soon as you arrive, you are given welcome drinks and ushered into the costume room. They have a variety of costumes to choose from ranging from wealthy ilustrado garb to the simple indio, a gobernadorcillo, military officer, bishop or monk. They even have a Chinese costume since Vigan was known to have a lot of mestizos de sangley.

You basically come as you are and try out their costumes. Women don't have much problems with costume sizes since they can easily be adjusted. But for male costumes, unless you're on the slimmer side, it might be difficult to find pants and suits your size. So you're left with the religious attire.

That being the case, you might want to wear your own black pants so you don't have problems choosing a costume. And although slippers are fine, they don't look good on the souvenir photos (for females, the dress is long enough to cover the feet). So best to wear leather shoes for males. But if you don't mind hiding your feet behind a suitcase, slippers, sneakers and sandals will be fine.

After you change into your costumes, you will be ushered into a room for souvenir photos colonial style, complete with all the props which includes large chairs, vases on pedestals and large fans for the ladies. After that's done, it's time for dinner.

The dining room is air-conditioned so don't worry about eating in your costumes. They serve local Ilocano food. And while eating, you are serenaded with vernacular folk songs.

After dinner, you are ushered into the main living room for dessert, tea and coffee, and more photos. It got quite hot. So after the photos, those in the group started changing out of their costumes. This was definitely a fun experience! And Camp Suki does this in Taal, Batangas too!

Arce Mansion
87 Quirino Boulevard cor. Abaya Street
Vigan, Ilocos Sur
(02) 7250819 / (0917) 8246900

Part 1: Road trip to Pagudpud
Part 2: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan
Part 4: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part 5: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Part 6: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Ilocos Norte & Ilocos Sur: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan (Day 2)

The drive from Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte to Vigan, Ilocos Sur was an interesting one too. After breakfast and checking-out from the Kapuluan Vista Resort in Mairaira Cove (Blue Lagoon), we drove down to Laoag to catch lunch at Saramsam Restaurant.

On the way, we made sure to stop at the Pasuquin Bakery to taste their really delicious soft biscocho bread. That stop is well worth it. The drive to Laoag is about 2 and a half hours and we were there just in time for lunch.

Saramsam Restaurant is also know for its Ilocano pizzas, particularly the Poque-Poque Pizza which has an eggplant and egg-based Ilocano dish for toppings. Also try out the Longaniza Pizza and their Dinardaraan (Dinuguan) Pizza. We also had local dishes that included igado, insarabsab and blanched vegetables with KBL (kamatis, bagoong and lasuna). Dessert was malunggay sherbet with kalamansi which was surprisingly good.

After Laoag, we went straight to Vigan which was another two hours away. We wanted to catch the street dance parade of the Viva Vigan! Binatbatan Festival so we made sure to leave Laoag as soon as we could reach Vigan before the parade started at 4 p.m.

As soon as we arrived, we checked-in at My Vigan Home, a by-reservations only private guest house. And we were off to Crisologo Street to enjoy the street dancing at the festival.

Part 1: Road trip to Pagudpud
Part 3: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience
Part 4: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part 5: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Part 6: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ilocano dishes from Vigan, Ilocos Sur you must try!

Ilocos can be a culinary adventure as well if you know what's there. I've already talked about the Ilocos empanada and the Ilocano fusion pizzas. But the our Ultimate Philippines tour of Ilocos last May was much more than that.

Dinner in Vigan was a feast. The group was hosted at an old house and served local Ilocano fare which included: pippian (a stew of Mexican origin), dinardaraan (or dinuguan), anakan, kalderetang kalding (or kambing), grilled Vigan longganiza, poki-poki (an eggplant dish), seaweed salad, utong and katuray salad, pancit musico (which I was told got its names because it was a snack usually served to musicians), grilled malaga, ipon (a really small fish), pinapaitan, sinanglao (beef innards soup), and inkalti (a molasses-based dessert).

Lunch the next day was at Hidden Garden, a few minutes drive from the city center. There we were served pinakbet, okoy, ensaladang rabong, Vigan empanada, bagnet, dinaldalem (a dish of pork and pork innards such as lungs, liver and heart), and dinengdeng (similar to pinakbet but more of the bagoong soup base).

Finally, merienda before going home followed the theme street food. We ate at Abuelita's Restaurant where we were served empanada (this one had cabbage), okoy, the local bibingka, patupat and miki.

Related articles
Viva Vigan! Binatbatan Festival, Tres de Mayo and more Vigan festivities
Road trip: Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ilocos Sur: Viva Vigan! Binatbatan Festival, Tres de Mayo and more Vigan festivities

Vigan, Ilocos Sur is one of the grandest showcases of Philippine architectural heritage. And we what made it extra special was that Vigan was celebrating Tres de Mayo, an annual festival of thanksgiving, plus the Viva Vigan! Binatbatan Festival of the Arts.

We made our way down to Vigan from Pagudpud. But stopped over at Saramsam Cafe in Laoag for more Ilocano pizza. We were delayed a bit because of a minor road mishap. But we arrived in Vigan just in time for the street dance parade that was making its way through this UNESCO World Heritage City.

The Viva Vigan! Binatbatan Festival of the Arts is a cultural showcase of the city that was first organized in 1993 to coincide with the Tres de Mayo festivities. The centuries-old structures along Crisologo Street were all decorated with abel iloko cloth or inabel to mark the celebrations. The binatbatan street dancing started in 2002, with dancing mimicking the traditional Ilocano way of beating the cotton pods with two bamboo sticks, the first process in making inabel. This beating was done to separate the seeds from the fluff.

Anyway, the parade went on until evening after which we proceed to an old house for dinner. I'll tell you more about dinner in another posts dedicated to the food we feasted on in Vigan.

The next day was Tres de Mayo, a centuries-old fiesta of Vigan citizens to honor the Santo Cristo Milagroso or Apo Lakay. There is actually an early morning Mass at the Simbaan a Bassit or Vigan's Cemetery Chapel to open Tres de Mayo.

We walked around Vigan in the morning and got to appreciate the decorations along Crisologo Street. Lunch was at Hidden Garden and just like dinner, I'll talk about it in another post.

Before proceeding back to the poblacion, we stopped by the pagburnayan or the pottery area of Vigan. We were lucky because it was Fidel Antiporda Go, named a National Folk Artist by the NCCA in 1990, who did a demonstration for us.

The burnay was actually introduced to Vigan by early Chinese traders even before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. In fact, Go still speaks fluent Hokkien. It served as an all-weather container for local products for shipment ot China and other areas. It's also used for the fermentation of fish sauce, vinegar and basi wine.

Back in the heritage district, we visited the Syquia Mansion, the home of Pres. Elpidio Quirino's wife and repository of a good number of his memorabilia. It's declared by the National Historical Institute as a Heritage House.

While our group was in the house, I walked around to check out the ramadas or makeshift canopies decorated with produce that were constructed around the city as part of Tres de Mayo. The ramadas become focal points for each neighborhood during the afternoon since traditional Filipino games are organized for kids and kids at heart under these canopies.

Vigan's Chinese roots became evident in Crisologo Street as a lion dance troupe made its way around the various shops owned by Chinese-Filipinos. But there were no fire crackers though which always accompanies this practice.

Late in the afternoon, a calesa parade made its way around the city. Each calesa was decorated with everything Vigan and is one event of the festival you should not miss. What was lacking though was a marching band. And San Miguel, being the sponsor of this parade, should have made sure there was a marching band to make the parade even more festive. Were they cutting on costs like most corporates do when they beg organizers for exposure during these festivals? Oh well!

Before we left for Manila, we made one last stopover at Abuelita's Restaurant for a taste of traditional Vigan street food. There was a santacruzan and procession later in the afternoon but we had to rush back home. That was one long drive!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Ilocos empanada! Dissecting the Batac and Vigan empanada

Ilocos empanada is one of my favorite Philippine snacks. Every time I go to Ilocos, I make sure to get my share of Ilocos empanada, especially the one in Batac, which is reputably where the best empanada is served.

The Ilocos empanada is actually of Spanish and Mexican origin. Notice how it's similar to the taco? The basic empanada has a rice flour or galapong crust with grated green papaya inside. The longaniza, egg and bean sprouts were later added. There are actually two varieties of Ilocos empanada, the one in Batac (which is the same one served in Laoag), and the empanada served in Vigan. So what are the differences?

1. On the crust, the crust of the Batac empanada is orange because of the achuete. The Vigan empanada has no coloring and is thus lighter in color.
2. The crust of the Vigan empanada is thinner and crunchier. While the crust of the Batac empanada, while crispy as well, is a bit harder the chew. While many people prefer the crunchier Vigan crust, I noticed it retains more oil.
3. The Batac empanada uses the entire egg. In Vigan, many stalls remove the egg white (this practice maybe had something to do with building churches since egg white was an important building material at that time).
4. Longaniza types are also different. The Batac empanada uses the saltier Laoag longaniza. While the Vigan empanada uses the vinegar-seasoned longaniza of Vigan.
5. Many Vigan empanadas do not have bean sprouts, just the grated green papaya.
6. The differences in vinegar also add distinctiveness to the two varieties. I noticed the Vigan vinegar is very strong with an alcohol-like fermented taste. The Laoag vinegar is really sour and usually has siling labuyo added to it when served in the stalls. I personally prefer the latter.
7. In Vigan, they still use banana leaves to fold and seal the empanada. In Batac, it's already plastic.

The Batac empanada has a lot of variations. There's the ordinary empanada (just the papaya, bean sprouts and egg), ordinary eggless (just the vegetables), special empanada (with longaniza and egg), special eggless (with longaniza but no egg), special w/o mongo (everything except bean sprouts), jumbo empanada (with hot dog), double special (double longaniza and one egg), double egg (one longaniza and two eggs), and the heaviest of them all, the double double (double the longaniza and egg). They even serve just the crust which they call pinais.

In Vigan, one variation we got to taste was the one with cabbage served at Abuelita's Restaurant. I'm looking forward to my next serving of Ilocos empanada!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ilocos Norte & Ilocos Sur: More great stopovers in Ilocos

It was time for our drive down south to Baguio City. It was a leisurely drive from Pagudpud to Laoag since there were just a few vehicles on the road.

We would have stopped by Bacarra to check out their church, a national cultural treasure, which is known for its gargantuan bell tower. But since we had a long list of churches to visit today, and since I been there already, we decided to skip it and head straight to San Nicolas, just a few kilometers from Laoag.

But before that, we stopped over at the Museo Ilocos Norte so that Jiajin could take a look. At the same time, I needed to take a photo of it for the 2008 HCS Calendar which will feature examples of adaptive reuse. The museum, housed in what was formerly the Tabacalera Building, won the Gawad Alab ng Haraya for Outstanding Cultural Conservation Program (Adaptive Reuse) in 2002.

The San Nicolas town proper has a good collection of colonial buildings including the church and convento, municipal hall and elementary school. We stopped by the church to check it out. Our next stop was Batac to check out the Marcos Mausoleum again. This time it was open and we were able to view the body of President Ferdinand Marcos preserved with wax.

In Batac, we also passed by the General Artemio Ricarte Shrine as well as the Gregorio Aglipay Shrine. The town is very lucky since it got a lot of attention when Marcos was president. So there are several monuments, parks and shrines around town. These open spaces are in the town center and provide breathing spaces for Batac residents. Of course, we ate again at the empanadahan. This time i had a "double double" which is a double serving of egg and longganiza inside the empanada.

Another town I had always wanted to check out was Badoc since the reconstructed house of Juan Luna, another national shrine, could be found there. They also have this quaint church, the San Juan Bautista Church, which houses the image La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc. So we stopped over for a few minutes to check them out.

Next on our list was the town of Sinait which is home to a darkened image of the crucified Christ or Cristo del Perdon that has a sizeable following. I was happy to see that the interior of the church was very much intact. Is it something about the priests in the Ilocos Region (Pangasinan not included) since they seem to understand the historical fabric and cultural value of the churches under their stewardship. I hope it stays that way.

From Sinait, passed by Cabugao, then went straight to San Vicente, another town beside Vigan. Just like San Nicolas, it had a nice collection of heritage buildings in the town center. The church still has its original fence. While the school and municipio are of Spanish colonial vintage. The municipio even has a coat of arms embossed on its facade.

Another impressive (but abandoned) structure is the Asilo de San Vicente. An edifice which was once uses as the vacation home of the governor, it became the home of the Community of St. Paul of Chartes Sisters of Asilo de San Vicente when it was turned-over to the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. Being a home for old women and orphans as well, it house a school as well which the sisters managed until 1946, the year they left San Vicente. It was managed by lay administrators until it closed in 2001.

We made a brief stopover in Vigan to buy woven blankets at the city market. But before that, we made a quick drive along Quirino Boulevard to check out the old houses such as the Quema House and Syquia Mansion.

Another stop was the Church of Sta. Maria de la Asuncion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But we didn't go down anymore since we were a bit tired and I wanted to rush to one last church in that of Luna, La Union, which is a national cultural treasure. I had wanted to check out the one in Bangar since from photos of the interior, I could say that it's one worth stopping over too. But since it was getting dark, we rushed to Luna.

I was a bit disappointed when I entered the Santa Catalina de Alexandria Church in Luna since although the interior was intact, I noticed the santos were quite new for it to be considered a national cultural treasure. In fact, Bangar has ceiling murals which would make it a better choice. But I would later find out from Archt. Richard Bautista of the NCCA that two ivory santos were stolen from the altar which may explain why the santos are new (they must have kept the old ones). At the same time, the built environment it was located in was another factor with a well-preserved colonial town center around it. But sadly, as Richard puts it, the local government "Agoo-fied" (if you notice Agoo, La Union is full of all these fake colonial buildings, while they renovated the facades of their old buildings such as the basilica with this horrible unpainted cement finish) the place.

Anyway, we took Naguilan Road up to Baguio City. It was my first time to use this route and sadly, it was to dark to see the scenery. There are five roads that lead to Baguio namely Kennon Road, Marcos Highway, Naguilan Road, Halsema Highway and a road which connects Baguio to Nueva Vizcaya via Ambuklao Dam, one which I have yet to use. I think we arrived in Baguio at about 8 p.m. and went straight to Villa Cordillera where we had booked our stay.

For dinner, we met up with Doc Ryan at the 50's Diner which I really enjoyed since it was value for money as well. Imagine a plate of chicken, spaghetti and garlic bread, a slice of pizza, french fries and pork chop all for PHP100. I don't think Shakey's bunch-of-lunch can beat that!
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