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Simbaan a Bassit at Vigan City

When one mentions Vigan Church, people immediately associate the term with the squat St. Paul Cathedral sitting near the town plaza. But the city has another beautiful church on its ground, albeit a smaller one. Located at the edge of an old cemetery, Vigan’s Simbaan a Bassit sits proudly with its beautiful facade amidst the chaos of electric wires and silent tombstones.

The Interiors of Simbaan a Bassit at Vigan City

It’s name, Simbaan a Bassit, is an Ilocano term which literally translates to Small Church. And the church is indeed petite. It can maybe seat only a hundred; it is more of a capilla or a chapel, really.

I have witnessed it being used for burial rites before, but I’ve also seen it used for regular Sunday masses.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Vigan’s Hidden Garden

Every single time someone in the group asks where we would go next, J would go, To Vigan’s Hidden Garden! I don’t know what’s with him and gardens, but on our last day in the city, we finally relented and went to see the place. Honestly, I’m really not that keen on revisiting it since I really didn’t find it that interesting the first two times I went. But okay, since we have nowhere else to go, to the Hidden Garden it is.

Vigan’s Hidden Garden

Vigan’s so called Hidden Garden is not really hidden at all. Well, it is way out from the city center, and one needs to either ride a tricycle or hire a calesa to access it, so I guess it is partly hidden in a way.

The sprawling garden started out as a personal venture for retired engineer, Francis Flores. As it blossomed, guests started to pour in. Eventually, he opened the place to the public in 1991 and it became one of the usual stops with the calesa tours in Vigan City.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Arce Mansion in Vigan City

On our next stop, you get to dress as a colonial-era Bigueño. Our guide from Hotel Felicidad told us as our van sped through the rain-slicked streets of Vigan City. You want to be a smashing doña? A well-respected ilustrado perhaps? A fat prayle? A simple indio? Vigan’s Arce Mansion has every costume to fit the bill.

Arce Mansion in Vigan City

This was the first time I heard of Arce Mansion and its gimmick of letting visitors play-act as Noli Me Tangere-esque characters. It’s like cosplay, only there are no Naruto characters to pick from. This is probably the best place to take a selfie when in Vigan City.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Monday, September 15, 2014

Molding a Clay at Pagburnayan in Vigan City

Getting down and dirty is part of visiting Vigan City. But get your minds off the gutter; I’m talking about getting literally dirty, like molding a clay, spinning it and creating something beautiful. Well, maybe not that last part, it takes a very skilled hand to achieve that.

We were at Vigan’s Pagburnayan, the iconic pottery place in the city. Besides Calle Crisologo, this place probably clocks in as the most photographed Instagramed spot in the city.

Burnay Jars at Pagburnayan in Vigan City

Its name, Pagburnayan, comes from the root word burnay. It refers to the hand-crafted earthenware pots made from Vigan. The clays used to make these jars are dug from the western barangays of the city.

I once asked a cuchero who was touring me around where they would get more of these, if supplies ran out. Impossible, he says, they’ve been sourcing their materials from that area since Chinese immigrants came to Vigan City and established the craft.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tres Patrimonio, a Vigan Zarzuela

What’s Zarzuela? Someone asked from our table. We were at Casa Caridad, having our usual breakfast fare of Vigan longanisa with some really good corned beef. Everyone was gushing over Tres Patrimonio, the play we saw the night before at the Vigan Culture and Trade Center.
Tres Patrimonio, a Vigan Zarzuela

To be honest, I was a little apprehensive in entering the theater to watch the zarzuela; unsure if I would really enjoy it. I took a last look outside and gazed at the sky, it was throwing off hints of a really beautiful sunset and my mind was playing with the idea of splitting and shooting Calle Crisologo instead.

But alas, I really didn’t have a choice. To the theater it was then.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vigan Longanisa Meal

I remember exactly what I ate during my third visit to Vigan City. With a few exceptions of having some bagnet and empanada, the thing that’s usually on my plate is a bunch of Vigan longanisa. Breakfast, lunch, dinner; I don’t really care for Vigan’s other culinary delights, I wanted my garlic longanisa with my fried rice.

Uncooked Vigan Longanisa

This last visit to Vigan City, not only did I have my fill of their local sausage but I was also given an insider’s glimpse as to how they’re made. While I’m not really keen on seeing the gutty truth on how my favorite longanisa is manufactured, I went ahead with the group knowing we’d have a free taste later. Lol.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Crisologo Museum in Vigan City

For a nineties kid, the Crisologo family name still rings a bell to me. The thing that actually pops into my mind is not related to Vigan City at all, but of actor Rudy Fernandez being gunned down in front of a church somewhere as he plays Bingbong Crisologo, a former Ilocano congressman turned charismatic preacher.

It was only a decade later that I realized that the said church is actually the Vigan Cathedral and the museum I’m stepping into now, his actual home.

The Crisologo Museum in Vigan City

Welcome to the Crisologo Museum, an ancestral house owned by the clan which Vigan’s famous Calle Crisologo is named after. Err, actually, there was no guide to welcome our group. That might be easily explained though, since there was no entrance fee to be paid when we arrived.

After being greeted at the door, we were left to our own devices inside the cavernous ground floor of the ancestral house where Bingbong probably once played as a kid.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jackstones in Mindoro Beach at Vigan City

Jackstones! I yelled as we started walking on the edge of Playa de Oro Resort, the only one of its kind that caters to Vigan’s Mindoro Beach. I was referring to the massive concrete wave stoppers that are scattered near the beach. I knew immediately that this was where I would plant my tripod once the sun lowers down to the horizon.

Playa de Oro Resort in Mindoro Beach at Vigan CityThe second thing I noticed as we went past the jackstones and walked further north was the sand. It was black. Not black because it’s dirty, nor brownish black like the sands are in some parts of the Philippines.

It was simply black.

Jet black.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Monday, September 8, 2014