Our Jeepney For the Day
Hired this jeepney for all 12 of us for only 800 pesos (less than US $20). Visited the Bantay Belfry, Baluarte, Burgos Museum, Syquia Mansion, Calle Crisologo, etc.
Packed like sardines, we drove around Vigan, the capital of Ilocos Sur. I have earlier blogged about this when I visited in 2009 (Northern Philippines: A Spanish Heritage
), but this time around I'm visiting with my family and friends. All 12 of us!
If there is ever any holiday where "feeding times" were not observed, this is it. Like we managed 2 breakfasts, a very late lunch, too many snacks while cruising on a van, dessert before a proper meal, an early dinner, and perhaps a 2nd "light" dinner? Every meal, one of the kids would ask "Is this lunch or dinner?" So much confusion
. And tons of fun!
Bantay Belfry: We've Only Just Vigan!
First off, we hired a jeepney to take us all around Vigan. Cost us 800 pesos. Not bad. Way better than hailing 3 pedicabs or tricycles where 3 of us would have to squeeze in in the cab + 1 person riding behind the tricycle driver. Like NOT! The kids may have had some fun, but the adults suffered from muscle atrophy by the time we reach the destination. So hiring a jeepney was no brainer. Besides, how can you be wrong with 800 pesos
Too many location shooting here for movies featuring Fernando Poe Jr, the actor who once challenged Ex-Pres Gloria Arroyo in her bid for a 2nd Presidential term in 2004. Poe lost, challenged election results, had a fatal stroke.
(less than US$20) for all 12 of us? Bantay Belfry
was where we started. Just 10 minutes away from the town center. A quick visit to the nearby 16th century St. Augustine Church , then a walk towards the belfry, and a climb up the bell tower from where one gets a panoramic view of the town. The place is familiar to many of us Filipinos as it has been used lots of times in many local films starring a movie icon who once ran as President of our country. No, I'm not talking about the one who actually won, but about his best buddy who ran, lost and passed on. To this day, many believed he was a victim of election fraud, should have been declared President, may not have had that fatal stroke and could have survived to rule our land. Too many ifs, really. Who knows?
From Bantay Belfry, our hired jeepney took us to Baluarte. This is a private zoo owned by a politician who has tigers and python snakes as pets. Sure, visitors can go pet the snakes and tigers. Even have their photos taken.
Baluarte ni Chavit
Here one can pet drugged, tamed tigers. Free admission. But do you really want to see drugged tigers?
stood to snap pictures of my elves posing with the pet tiger, it occurred to me how these tigers must have been so drugged to tame them. Sad about that. It is simply un-tiger like to sit still there and wait till the camwhores are done. Then off they go to their cages. Clean and well-maintained. But so little space. They must go insane. I would, if put in that tiny cage!
The Burgos Museum
is an ancestral house of one of the 3 martyr-priests collectively known as Gomburza which stands for Fathers GOMez, BURgos and ZAmora. Memorabilia of this Ilocano martyr-priest along with archaelogical finds and other museum pieces is a good way to exhaust all that energy and frustration after a couple of hours at the petting zoo.
Donato Mansion, Now Grandpa's Inn & Cafe Uno Restaurant
From Burgos Museum, we took a break for a well-deserved lunch. This Mansion, now a famous B&B and resto, is just an easy walk from Burgos Museum and the heritage center called Calle Crisologo. Grandpa's Inn
is where we plan to stay the next time we visit Vigan. We all fell in love with the
Ancestral House of Alicia Syquia, wife of former President Elpidio Quirino, who ascended to the Presidency as the first and only widower-President. His daughter Vicky became First Lady at age 18.
place. Cozy. Quaint. Good location. Reasonably-priced. Friendly staff. Good food!
After lunch, we trooped to Syquia Mansion
where we met its caretaker. Rusty belongs to a family of caretakers. He is 5th generation and being single, he claims to be the last caretaker from the same family taking care of the Mansion. He lives here. Alone. He is not young anymore, and when he goes, we wonder who would dare take his place. It’s a beautiful house. But we all found it a little creepy. When asked, Rusty admitted to “faint” creepy stuff happening in this Mansion during his watch. Yay!
Calle Crisologo is a walk through history. Colonial architecture, cobble-stoned walkways, calesa or horse-drawn carriages, stalls selling antiques. I remember walking on this same road some years back when I visited this heritage site (Northern Philippines: A Spanish Heritage
). This time around, I didn't miss stopping by at Cafe Leona at the end of Calle Crisologo, Another ancient house now transformed into a restaurant offering Ilocano traditional and fusion food, along with other Asian and Mediterranean cuisine. The former owner by the name of......what else, Leona Florentino........ was a poetess-hero, perhaps the very first
Calle Crisologo By Day
Declared a UNESCO Heritage Site, this cobble-stoned street ("calle") smacks of our colonial heritage.
Filipino feminist, a respected literary figure in her time. Leona was also the mother of Isabelo de los Reyes, who became a senator and was the founder of the labor movement and Aglipayan Church in the Philippines. The restaurant houses the Tourism Office where one can ask for maps and travel brochures.
A bit of trivia here: Florentino may sound Spanish to us, but in those days, surnames starting with the letter "F" were given to Chinese who converted to Catholicism. Leona's ancestors were traced to a wealthy Chinese family from Laguna. The same wealthy Chinese ancestor of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Now........I wonder not where they got their literary and patriotic genes. Check out my next blog on our food trip around Ilocos.
Oh, btw, my 13 year-old granddaughter made this video using her iPod touch . Take time to view this video link . And if you feel like pleasing this teenage director wannabe, don't fail to leave ur comments. Thank you!
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