Vigan is an island which used to be detached from the mainland by three rivers - the great Abra River, the Mestizo River and the Govantes River. It is unique among the Philippine towns because it is the country's most extensive and only surviving historic city that dates back to the 16th century Spanish colonial period.
Vigan was an important coastal trading post in the pre-colonial times. Long before the Spanish galleons, Chinese junks sailing from the South China Sea came to Isla de Bigan through the Mestizo River that surrounded the island. On board were sea-faring merchants that came to barter exotic goods in exchange for gold, beeswax and other mountain products brought down by natives from the Cordilleras. Vigan was also a vital trading post during the Spanish Colonial Period.
In 1572, Don Juan de Salcedo arrived in Vigan, established Villa Fernandina de Bigan, and made it the capital of Ylokos covering most of Northern Luzon. In 1758, the seat of Nueva Segovia was transferred from Lallo, Cagayan to Vigan by a Spanish Royal Decree elevating Vigan into a city named Ciudad Fernandina de Bigan. For more than three centuries, the city was the center of political, religious and cultural activities in the North. Vigan was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List of Sites and Monuments on December 2, 1999.
Today, Vigan is home to proud Biguenos who welcome everyone with warm smiles to the city where traditions blend with the demands of the times. Images and sounds of modernity have established their presence, however, they are unable to drown the stillness and elegance of the Past. Vigan opened itself to change but it has not sacrificed the wealth of its heritage. It is the ability of coping with the Present amidst the bounds set by centuries-old legacy that makes Vigan a living, historic city.
How to get there:
From Manila, Vigan City can be reached by air (45 minutes) with domestic flights via SEA Air leaving Manila twice a week. Other domestic flights leave Manila daily bound Laoag City in Ilocos Norte, which is an hour and a half ride by bus or arranged vehicles to Vigan.
Best time of the year to go:
Major cultural and tourism destinations:
- January to May and November to December.
Top Five Must Do's In the City:
- Vigan City Fiesta and Longganisa Festival (Jan. 19-30) - commemorating the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul (Jan. 25) and the anniversary of the Vigan's Cityhood (Jan. 22) featuring the famed Longganisa Festival;
- Viva Vigan Binatbatan Festival of the Arts (First week of May) - a week-long arts festivities in one of the biggest and most colorful attractions in the North celebrating the pride of Biguenos of their unique and historic city;
- World Heritage Cities Solidarity Week and Cultural Festival (First to second week of September) - A celebration of all UNESCO world heritage cities highlighted by significant events like Repazzo de Vigan, Historia Oral, Visita Museo ken Balbalay, Comidas de ayer, Fotografias Y Recuerdos, exhibit, Food & Trade Fair coinciding with a cultural festival featuring Ilocano forms of entertainment such as daniw, kinnantaran, dallot and other performing visual and literature competitions;
- Raniag: The Vigan Twilight Festival (First week of November) - Raniag means light, which connotes the light that Biguenos offer to the Lord in thanksgiving, the beacon that symbolizes the love for their departed kin, and the warmth of the bonding renewed in reunions held during 'Todos Los Santos'. Raniag: The Vigan Twilight Festival is a bright, joyful and colorful experience of street dancing, sky lanterns, candle floaters over the Mestizo River and other events.
- Artes ita Pascua and Vigan Torch and Lantern Parade (Every December) - This festival features various arts trainings for Biguenos to continue strengthening cultural awareness and appreciation. The Vigan torch and lantern parade is held every December where Biguenos show off their creativity and artistry in making lanterns out of indigenous and recyclable materials.
- Semana Santa and Artes ita Semana Santa (Arts on Holy Week) - The observance of Holy Week is one of Vigan's foremost attractions because of its deep religious fervor. Tourists join local devotees' religious processions of life-sized statues in carrozas.
- Experience the Bigueno cuisine. Vigan is home to good local restaurants where visitors can savor in authentic Ilocano food like bagnet, Vigan Longganisa, Sinanglao and other dishes. These restaurants are Los Majitos Street Dining, Caf3 Leona, Uno Grille & Lilong and Lilang Caf3. The Empanadaan at Plaza Burgos serves the famous Vigan empanada and other delicacies;
- Explore the museums. Vigan has six museums/memorabilia where tourists can visit: Burgos National Museum, Museo Nueva Segovia, Museo San Pablo, Pres. Elpidio Quirino Memorabilia, Crisologo Museum, and the Buridek Childrens' Museum. Visit the traditional industries of Vigan like Burnay (jar) making, Abel Handloom weaving and the terracotta red clay where one can try their skills in these centuries-old crafts;
- Travel back in time with Vigan Heritage River Cruise, a 45-minute river tour, where visitors can learn Vigan's origin, historical background and other significant information while passing thru five life-sized tableaus explaining the historical timeline of Vigan. Ride the calesa, a horse drawn carriage and travel back in time while strolling at Calle Crisologo;
- Shop for souvenirs in Calle Crisologo, the best place to shop souvenir, antiques, and furniture; and
- Learn best practices in local governance like heritage conservation, child friendly governance, environmental management, disaster preparedness and many others. Vigan City is one of the most awarded local government units in the country.
For more travel information, please contact the City Tourism & Investment Promotion Office at tel. nos: (077) 722-8776 and/or 722-8771-75. Visit website at www.vigancity.gov.ph. Email queries at firstname.lastname@example.org
*The League of Cities of the Philippines is giving you 122 Reasons Why It's More Fun in the Philippines in support to the the Department of Tourism's new campaign. LCP will feature a Philippine City and its local tourism sights and sounds for you to marvel. These snapshots, we hope, can provide enough curiosity for you to make our Philippine Cities become your prime tourist destinations.
All information reflected herein are based on the submission of our member-cities and are in no way reflective of the opinion of the League or any of its officers. Excerpts from this publication, excluding photographs, maybe reproduced without authorization on condition that the source is indicated.
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