Friday, May 23, 2014

Vigan Heritage City, Philippines

I first fell in love with Vigan when my Philippines travel blogger Edgar and Gael told me about this place, an UNESCO site they say, not knowing I am an avid UNESCO hunter. I locked the name down in my cute little memory labelled 'The Philippines' with sub-label 'Must Visit Places'. And yes, last week.... I set foot at this magnificent historical city. Bucket list : checked!

During the planning stage of my maiden trip to the Philippines, I reminded them that Vigan must be part of the 'must visit places'. I am good to skip everything and everywhere except Vigan, and oh yah! I want to ride the horse-drawn carriage or known as kalesa while we were there. Another weird habit I have when traveling in foreign land, I will insist to ride on all transportation mode. Yeah, I am crazy like that *smile*.

One of the best gift from Vigan was that our kalesa ride was arranged by Metro Vigan Inn which is located in Bantay, a small town slightly outside the Vigan city. The best part was that the 3 hours kalesa ride starts from the hotel it self, which means I get to view Vigan and its outskirt on kalesa and not just the famous old street. Can't believe my luck. Thank you Metro Vigan Inn!

If you want to do this (which I highly encourage you to!), the cost is PHP150 or RM11 per hour. Ours was for 3 hours covering a few places, you can also discuss with them the area you wishes to cover or even the number of hours. Bottom line, a must do when in Vigan!

Being a Spanish colony for more than 300 years, it comes as no surprise that most of our trips will be covering Spanish influenced churches. This Saint Augustine Parish Church or commonly known by the locals as Bantay Church is a famous Roman Catholic church inspired by pseudo-Romanesque design while adapting to Spanish and local feel. It is made famous by the strong standing bell tower built in 1590 (located a far distance from the church), what amazes me is that you can climb till the top as the main structure is still firmly planted showing no sign of erosion. The pride of Bantay I would say.

The bell towers gives you a clear view of Bantay and environ.

Despite being scared of heights, I still want to have an inside view of the bell tower (10 person per time) with my new #AdidasNeo shirt and of course with the rest of the gang. Despite the shirt being long sleeve, there is a sheer or thin material on the shoulder that makes the shirt airy and comfortable which is very suitable for those who want to avoid the UV rays yet prefers an airy shirt.

I think I need a classier sandal though.

This was not my ride but all girls dreamt of riding a white carriage right, no? Princess much *smile*.

Finally we entered Vigan City on our beautiful kalesa, the trip from Bantay Church to Vigan takes approximately 15mins or so. I have to admit, I like the feel of riding on a kalesa entering a historic UNESCO town. Very princessy.

Burgos National Museum or Padre Burgos House was our first stop inside Vigan Heritage City. What fascinate me here was the wooden coffins and burial chair of Iloco-Kankanay-Itneg culture, aside from musical instruments weaponry; weaving implements etc.

This is the coffin of Bago tribe which at a glance I thought was rather small, but I later found out that when a rich or powerful member dies, the tendons of arm and legs are cut. The body is bound in a burial chair with cloth and head fastened with a string of beads. The body will slowly be mummified from a smokey fire before him. The corpse later is placed in a sitting position inside a spruced coffin which will be put inside a cave.

This man is not a prop. Thank you.

How a local house looks like those days, a dedicated area will be fanned by pulling and releasing a rope that attached to the panel-cloth.

Carriage porch is located inside the home.

 Vigan Heritage City UNESCO signage.

We also visited the place where they showcase the art of making burnay; an earthen jars just like our labu sayong, this dated as far back to pre-colonial times when China immigrants came and settled in the Philippines. Its earlier days, it is use for tea drinking, salt container, or container to hold water, local wine (basi) and bagoong (fermented fish) etc. The locals believe that local wine (basi) and bagoong (fermented fish) taste much better when stored inside burnays versus inside a modern container.

Fidel Antiporda Go is the descendant of the first Chinese potter who came to Vigan and established Ruby Pottery. His effort in preserving the art of making burnays has awarded him with the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan (National Folk Artist Award) of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts in 1990.

Our last stop is at Vigan Hidden Garden before heading to the famous street. I kept wondering on what to expect, later I found out it's a garden cum restaurant, a very relaxing embience. You can come here and coincide with lunch or tea time, take a stroll before enjoying your sumptuous meal.

This is what I gather from the website as there wasn't much info on it.

"Six years ago, Francis Flores, the owner of Hidden Garden of Vigan suffered from three heart attacks. Half of his body was paralyzed. He then realized to change his life. So he decided to start a garden and became a landscape architect. It was a garden therapy for him until it became a business. Now he is planning to place a health spa to help other people as well."

After a peaceful stroll at the garden, stop for break and have their halo-halo; Philippines version of Malaysia ABC :)

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