Ilocos Sur

If Ilocos Norte is rich in beautiful and natural attractions, Ilocos Sur, on the other hand, is very rich in culture, heritage and history. One can let herself lost in this place, discovering the past and comparing it to the future. It's the best place to experience an old Spanish-era.  There are many writers and statesmen throughout the history of the country who came from this province too. The Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo founded Ilocos Sur. He named Vigan City, Villa Fernandina (City of Ferdinand) in honor of Prince Ferdinand, firstborn son of Prince Philip of Spain. It was later on called "Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan (Ferdinand's City of Vigan). The locals called it Bigan, which later on became Vigan.

Vigan City, its capital is a UNESCO's World Heritage Site with few Hispanic towns still intact and preserved. This most visited tourist attraction in the province is considered the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. It is currently one of the finalists in the New 7 Wonder Cities of the World. During the Spanish-era, the British appointed governor, Diego Silang, ruled Ilocos Sur. He conspired with the British forces to overthrow the Spanish rule in the north. He led a revolt from Spanish taxation and abuses and his belief in self-government. He was killed by one of his friends, Miguel Vicos. His wife, Gabriela Silang, continued his fight. She was captured and executed by hanging in Vigan Plaza, along with her troops.

The historical Battle of Tirad Pass happened in this province also. The battle commanded by the national hero Gregorio del Pilar in order for Emilio Aguinaldo's escape. All of his 60 men were killed during the battle and it's believed that he's the one to be killed.  Cornered and outnumbered by the American soldiers, these men keep fighting until their last breath.

Ilocos Region is blessed with people who can lead.  Both province have their natives as the Philippine President.  Elpidio Quirino, the sixth President of the Philippines was born in Vigan. Jose Apolonio Burgos, mostly known as Padre Burgos was also a native of Vigan City. He's a priest accused by the Spanish of mutiny and was executed in Manila along with two other clergymen, Jacinto Zamora and Mariano Gomes. They are popularly known as the "Gomburza".
Ilocos Sur can be considered as the Tobacco capital of the Philippines.  Passing along the mountains and fields, you'll see the growing tobacco plants. The province, specifically Candon City, celebrates the Tobacco Festival as thanksgiving to the abundant harvest of tobacco. 

I would love to return here one of these days and visit the other tourist spots.

Vigan Church (St. Paul's Cathedral)

Also known as Metropolitan Cathedral is a must visit when you go to Vigan City. It was considered a major religious landmark not only in Northern Luzon but the county as well.

The original church was constructed in 1574. The church as it stands now was completed in 1800. This is truly one of the oldest churches in the country, although it looks new.

The first and original chapel was made of wood and thatch was built with the command of the Spanish founder of Vigan, Juan de Salcedo. The facade of the church does not look impressive compare to the other old churches in the province and the country.  However, it said that the interior of the church is something to be admired.

I only saw this church when we had our Kalesa tour ride and took a couple of pictures.  It's not included in the tour so you can just visit later on when you have extra time.  I will definitely visit this church when I go back to Ilocos Sur.

Syquia Mansion

Our next stop during the Calesa tour is the Syquia Building. An old house of the former Philippine President Elpidio Quirino, now converted into a museum.  This two-story house is actually owned by the wife of President Quirino, Dona Alicia Syquia (Sy-Kia).
Painting of the former first wife
The in-house tour guide said, Dona Alicia is a pure Chinese, but since President Quirino is a very talented man and well known during his time, her family accepted him, even though he's not Chinese.
Painting of the former President Elpidio Quirino
Old wagon displayed at the entrance of the museum
This mansion houses all the memorabilia of the family. The first thing you'll see when you enter at the ground floor is the old wagon owned by the late President. A larger than life painting of him is also displayed.
Old vase at the corner of the stairs
To get to the second floor, you'll have to climb the old wooden stairs. It reminds me of our old house with those beautiful Spanish designs. At the corner from stairs is the old vase, probably one of the gifts to the former President.

A huge living room will greet you at the second floor. At the center is the table with a gold vase on top. This vase is a gift to the former President by the Emperor of China. The seal at the bottom of the vase is the proof of that.
Gift from the Emperor of China to the former President
China's authentication seal
Replica of the Spolarium display at the grand living room
At the living room, you'll also find the replica of the famous painting of Spoliarium painted by Juan Luna and his assistant. The original painting is displayed at the ground floor of the National Museum of the Philippines.
As you tour around the house, you'll find more paintings of the family members'. One of them is Cory Quirino's, one of his grandchildren and a well-known public figure.
Old bed of one of the daughters
Antique wooden chest box
The dining room is located at the back of the house, overlooking the street of Vigan. It's really a nice house and I would love to experience living there. Although it's a bit scary since it's an old house.
Dining room
A bell used to call the housemaid
The caretaker/tour guide is very knowledgeable and knows everything about the house. He'll even show you the peeping holes on the floor & walls that were used to view the visitors first before allowing them to enter the grand living room.
Here is where I finally understand the term "alipin sa gigilid". As explained by the caretaker, when I asked about a passageway beside the grand living room, he said that it's for the helpers of the house.
Hallway for housemaids
They are not allowed to pass through the house and must use that specifically. Visiting this will really teach you about history. A visit to this mansion is free, but a donation may be given to the caretaker.
Tiled kitchen
cooking range
Going to the mansion, if not riding a kalesa is easy. You may walk through the Calle Crisologo towards Gordion Inn or the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.  It's an old mansion painted in blue and cream located at the corner of Quirino Boulevard.

Visiting the mansion is very educational and fun.

Bantay Tower

The old historic belfry of the church, known as the Bantay (To Guard) Tower, served as a watchtower for pirates back in the Spanish era. It's the first thing you'll see from the entrance of the Bantay Church, a perfect spot to watch for an attack.

Bantay Church (Saint Augustine Parish Church)

Travel Date:April 4-8, 2012
Bantay Church, also known as St. Augustine Parish Church, is one of the popular tourist attractions in the province of Ilocos Sur. A visit in Vigan is not complete without seeing this church. Don't confuse this church to Paoay Church, though, since they have the same official name.

Crisologo Museum

Travel Date:April 4-8, 2012
Not far from Syquia Mansions stands the Crisologo Museum, a museum built in memory of the former Ilocos Sur Congressman Floro S. Crisologo, who died a tragic death. The museum contains most of his and his family's memorabilia


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