Venturing Into Vigan (OfficiallyPhilippines.com)

(This is an except from my article “Venturing Into Vigan,” which was published in OfficiallyPhilippines.com last September 23, 2010)

With 7,107 islands, a typical traveler in the Philippines would have a lot of destinations to choose from. Having lived in Metro Manila my whole life, I decided to travel to places that I haven’t visited around the country. My destination: The northern part of the island of Luzon, specifically, Vigan.

Vigan is famous for its Spanish-style houses that date back to the actual time when Spain colonized the Philippines centuries ago. The place is also popular for its local-style sausages that Filipinos call longganisa. The Vigan-style longganisa is known all over the country for its savory garlic taste that is unique to that region. It is best paired with sukang Iloko, the local vinegar that is produced only in the Ilocos area.

How to get to Vigan

I traveled to Vigan recently and saw with my own eyes this so-called old town, which has become a popular tourist destination for both local and foreign travelers. From Metro Manila, I flew to Laoag where you can find the nearest airport to Vigan.

Vigan is such a charming, small town that one could visit in a day. The interesting spots are close to each other so it’s easy to hop from one place to another. I would say that a day trip would suffice. If ever, you’ll be coming from Laoag, just allot a total of six hours for the trip back and forth. It’s best to leave Laoag early in the morning, say, around 6:00 am so you’ll have plenty of time for sightseeing in Vigan. There are no direct flights to Vigan, so it would only be possible to reach it by land—either via bus or through your own transport. The fastest way is to fly to Laoag and then take a bus from there. Driving to Vigan would probably take you half a day to get there. But seeing this picturesque place in person is definitely well worth the trip.

I decided to take the faster route and flew to Laoag. From there Vigan is just a two-and-a-half-hour bus ride away, although it could’ve been shorter if the bus hadn’t stopped to load and unload passengers in every town. But I guess I got what I paid for—a mere Php100 (USD 2) for the long trip. It was just an ordinary bus, by the way; so don’t expect comfortable seats and air conditioning. Although, you can also opt to ride an air-conditioned bus, but I didn’t because I have to wait in line for a long time for it. The buses fill up kind of fast so it’s not necessary to purchase a bus ticket ahead of time. You can do so right there and then, as there are regular buses on standby.

Of Cathedrals and Museums

After more than two hours of enduring the semi-uncomfortable trip, I got down the Capitol stop, where the main attraction is. From that stop, you’ll be able to walk over to the Burgos Museum, which gives tribute to a local priest named Jose Burgos who was instrumental during the revolt against the Spaniards. There you’ll see interesting relics during this popular priest’s time—four-wheel carriage, an actual coffin of the indigenous people, a weaving machine, and a printing press, among others. You’ll also find out a lot of interesting trivia about Ilocos. I suggest you drop by this place to learn more about the history and culture of the region. After all, you’ll only be shelling out Php10 (USD 0.20) per person. Not a bad price to pay for a glimpse of the past.

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