At noon on Maundy Thursday, we left Baguio for Vigan in Ilocos Sur. I took photos along the way of whatever looked interesting which weren’t many. Mostly, tobacco and corn fields. Probably the most notable were the eagle statue before exiting La Union and the wide expanse of the West Philippine Sea all the way from Agoo in La Union to the first few towns of Ilocos Sur.
We reached Vigan at around 4.00 p.m., checked in at a tourist inn then drove to the center of the city, the famed Calle Crisologo with its sett stone pavement and the ever buzzing Plaza Burgos where street food is sold day and night.
Vigan is an old city. Not ancient the way Athens is. But even before the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century, Vigan was already a busy coastal trading port where migrants from Southern China had settled. Story has it that its name was derived from the Chinese term bee gan or “beautiful shore”.
To this day, colonial houses still exist and many have been converted into commercial establishments.
Calle Crisologo was teeming with tourists. The restaurants, al fresco or otherwise, were all full. We tried to find somewhere to eat, found a small restaurant (Tummy something, can’t remember the exact name), managed to get a table and had dinner.
After that, it was mostly about taking in the scene, immersing ourselves in the cadence of Vigan City, marveling at the restored houses that were built over a hundred years ago amid the sound of horses’ hooves as they hit the sett pavement. And, of course, going around Plaza Burgos to see what street food was sold.
You feel Vigan’s age when walking on the pavement. You pause and wonder what stories hide in each piece of brick and mortar. You wonder what horrors and happiness the houses have witnessed.
And, if you’re prone to fantasy and superstition, you wonder too if some essence of the former inhabitants of those houses have somehow remained. Eerie and romantic at the same time.