Viva Vigan: A Journey Back in Time

Posted by Cat Ramos
Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Many sidewalks in Vigan are paved with these clay tiles with the word 'Vigan' on them. Charming, eh?

(I will be making a mini-series about our latest trip to Vigan. I’m working on a blogging backlog right now, but I hope this won’t end up like that Bohol trip series — I only ended up writing about ONE place! 😛 See the post HERE)

Boyfie and I love to travel and we make it a point to visit popular Philippine tourists spots during our anniversary in February. We’ve always wanted to go to Vigan, mainly because of its old world charm and we were finally able to go this year.

A little about Vigan

Vigan is located in the northern province of Ilocos Sur, facing the South China Sea. Before the Spaniards came, Vigan was already an important trading port for Chinese ships (mostly from Fujian Province). It was the Chinese that gave Vigan its name — formed by 2 Chinese characters 美 (bi – ‘beautiful’) and  岸 (gan – ‘shore’). The current pronunciation ‘Vigan’ came to be after the colonizers arrived; Spanish usually use either the [v] or [b] sound to pronounce [b] — at least I remembered that from the Instituto Cervantes 😀

During the Spanish era, Vigan was renamed to “Villa Fernandina”, in honor of Spain’s Prince Ferdinand. Eventually, it became “Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan” then to the present “Vigan”.

Vigan was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

Aside from the old heritage houses (mainly in the mestizo district), Vigan is also famous for beautiful churches, well-preserved museums, traditional crafts (like weaving and pottery), colorful fiestas and of course, the FOOD! (I’ll write about those in detail in my next posts.)

Getting there and back

Vigan is about 10 hours away from Manila by bus. Partas, Viron and Dominion travel daily to and from Vigan. You can also go by plane to Laoag, but I don’t think it’s as fun. 😉 We opted to go via Dominion on the 3am trip. We wanted the 10pm one, but my shift does not finish until 11pm. Schatz was being a bit OC so he called Dominion for the second time and asked for the next trip after 10pm. The guy who answered the phone said 330am, and we were hoping he was right, because we were only able to leave my condo at about 10 minutes before 3 >_< When we got to the terminal, we rushed to the ticket booth to find a sleeping man. 😀 He was NOT sleepy. He was ASLEEP. But he managed to (properly) sell us two one-way tickets to Vigan and say that the next bus is leaving at 330am.

After a couple of minutes, a Vigan-bound bus drove to the middle of the terminal and people started boarding so we went along with them. As soon as we sat down, the bus driver said a little prayer, closed the door and drove away — at exactly 3am. >_< Pak ticket seller. Muntik na kami dun a.

I loved that Dominion bus. It was very comfortable inside, with more leg room. The seats were bigger too. My only complaint was it was too cold inside and even if you close the aircon vents above your seat, the cold air would still come out of somewhere 😀

I like traveling at dawn because there is virtually no traffic. In 30 minutes, we were already at the Valenzuela-Bulacan boundary, and another half hour later, we were at the first stopover at Dau, Malabacat, Pampanga. I don’t know how many more places the bus stopped at, because I was sleeping until we got to La Union. At about 9am, I woke up because the bus conductor turned on the TV and loaded a DVD…of Robin Padilla and Jolina Magdangal. Ahahaha. (A quick Google search gave the answer: Tunay na Tunay. Gets Mo? Gets Ko!). In fairness, natawa ako dun sa movie! Ang galing ni Jolina kumanta ng Chinese 😛

I slept through the next Robin Padilla movie (this time with Sharon Cuneta) and woke up only when we got to the Vigan terminal. Woohoo!

Dominion Bus Line:
New York, Cubao corner EDSA, Quezon City
(02) 741-4146
Fare (to Vigan): P600, one way, airconditioned bus

Liberation Blvd, Vigan, Ilocos Sur
(77) 722-2084
Fare (to Manila): P540, one way, airconditioned bus
I think the fare is cheaper because the bus is a lot more chaka (fugly) and uncomfortable, makes A LOT of stops along the way and has no TV. I’m not going to write about the trip back to Manila — only because the trip was horrible and I hated the fact that we had to go back! 😀

I’ll leave it here; more Vigan posts coming in the next few weeks. (Will also try to update my VirtualTourist page with more concise versions of the blog posts.)It’s time to say good night, happy weekend and enjoy your Valentine’s date (keep it safe ^_~).

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