For this disgruntled Manila ‘native’, Vigan is just a sight to behold – beautiful old houses, clean streets, majestic churches, idyllic lifestyle. So you can just imagine our excitement to explore the place as soon as we jumped off that bus. Of course we had to eat something substantial first — 10 hours without rice was taking its toll on the bf 😛 We did have a hearty meal at the hotel while the staff was fixing our room, but the food is another post for another day 😉
After a late lunch at Gordion Hotel, we went to Syquia Mansion because it was the nearest — but it was closed so we decided to head to Crisologo Museum on Liberation Blvd.
The Crisologo family is Vigan’s principal political dynasty. Floro Crisologo was a war
veteran and a longtime congressman — we should thank him for writing the law that created the Social Security System (SSS). His wife Carmeling was Vigan governor and their son Vincent (aka Bingbong) is a congressman in the first district of Quezon City (I heard Lucio Tan’s daughter Vivienne is running against him). The other children are now abroad, if I remember correctly.
Congressman Floro was shot dead on October 1970 inside Vigan Cathedral (aka St Paul Cathedral). He was falling in line for communion when a gunman rushed from behind and shot him in the head. In the pandemonium, the killer escaped and the murder — believed to be politically motivated — remains unsolved to date. Then-governor Carmeling vowed ‘no vendetta’ for her husband’s murder but the distraught Bingbong burned a village where their political opponents reside. He went to jail for that and when he was released, he became a Born-Again Christian and a pastor. He was also elected as a congressman for QC. In 1991, a movie was made about his life, starring the late Rudy Fernandez.
The Crisologo family wanted Floro’s murder to be remembered, so they converted their
ancestral home into a monument for him. The first floor contains mostly memorabilia of the late congressman: photos of him in Vietnam, uniforms, war gear, medals and plaques, photos with dignitaries, photos as a lawmaker. Aside from old furniture and books, his law office is home to grisly photos from October 18, 1970. A glass case holds the bloodied pants, shoes and sunglasses he wore that day. We didn’t take photos of these; too graphic >_<
The library is also located on the first floor. Outside the library, a couple of old calesas and a pink Chevy were parked. Carmeling was inside this Chevy when she was ambushed in 1961. She survived the shooting. There is a small stall selling souvenirs too, but the museum is not the best place to buy stuff, as it is much cheaper in Calle Crisologo.
The upper floor was more pleasant, as it was the living quarters of the family. As with all
ancestral homes, the sala is very wide, with large windows and ventanillas. The master’s bedroom (which is bigger than my flat) still has displays of Carmeling’s perfume bottles — apparently, she LOVED scents. The boys’ room has a glass case full of toys and the dressing room has closets full of many pairs of shoes (not 2000 pairs, though) and several formal dresses. I was particularly drawn to the HUGE dining room with the LOOOOONG dining table.
Opens Mondays – Sunday
9:00am – 5:00pm
Admisson: Free, but donations are much appreciated
This visit to the Crisologo Museum was a history lesson, albeit of the dirty kind. The kind that involved clan wars and political killings. I’m not saying I enjoyed it, but it gave me an insight into how the rich and the powerful lived a long time ago…and how they shaped the history and lives of the present generation.
The calesa stops next at: St Paul Cathedral. Hanggang sa muli. Paalam, mga bata! Sez Kuya Bodjie 😀