The Grandeur That Was Ilocos: Family weekend escapade Day 1

This is our much-awaited Ilocos trip! We had the opportunity to plan this escapade in celebration of my eldest son’s 14th Birthday.
Ilocos Province is home to the most awesome and breathtaking destinations in the Philippines. I was in complete awe seeing the old Philippine culture preserved in this land. I felt a bit nostalgic though seeing old houses, vintage carriages and old churches imagining how simple life before this generation has been.
After a seven hour drive, and with the help of  the ever dependable WAZE, we finally arrived in Vigan at 5:30 AM. We headed out to get some early morning grub 🙂  We had breakfast at Cafe Uno, just a few steps away from Calle Crisologo it is situated beside Grandpa’s Inn.
After our hearty breakfast, we began our northern adventure….first stop, the famous street in the Vigan Heritage Village – Calle Crisologo!
We took the chance to explore the stretch on a lovely sunrise, since this place gets too crowded in the afternoon, we  surveyed the empty street and took some photos.
Breaking dawn at Calle Crisologo.

For those who want to know something about the person the street is named after, Mena Pecson Crisologo is among the most-respected sons of the Ilocos region. He wrote Mining wenno Ayat ti Kararwa, which many compare to Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere; an Ilocano translation of Don Quixote entitled Don Calixtofaro de la Kota Caballero de la Luna; and a zarzuela entitled Codigo Municipal.(

Next stop, BALUARTE, another Vigan tourists attraction with a mini zoo privately owned by Gov. Chavit Singson. It is just 10 minutes away from Vigan proper. This place is free of charge so everyone can enjoy a close encounter with the animals.  They even have a museum–mostly animal preserves hunted by the governor..(poor animals) gigantic dinosaur displays to boot.


Off to our next spot, The Bantay Belfry.
The historical Bantay Belfry served as a watchtower of defense built in 1591. It is located in the district of Bantay, Vigan.  A 10-minute drive from Baluarte.  You can climb up to its towering heights and enjoy the panoramic view of  the entire Vigan.


Bantay Bell Tower

Off to our next destination, Vigan Cathedral or St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is located in the central Vigan plaza across Plaza Salcedo.


Vigan Cathedral. It is considered a major religious landmark not only of northern Luzon but the country as well. Visitors must include a visit to the cathedral when in Vigan as it has been a center of Roman Catholic devotion for centuries. The church as it stands now was completed in 1800. The original structure was built in 1574 upon the command of the Spanish founder of Vigan, Juan de Salcedo. It was a mere chapel then, made of wood and thatch. In 1641, the chapel was replaced by a church. (

At the back of the church is Plaza Burgos. This is where we decided to ride a calesa and have a tour of the city for just P150 per hour. You’ll have a glimpse of the spanish era as you pass along the streets of Vigan. Old houses are magnificently preserved.

Kalesa tour @ Php 150/ hour

The horse-drawn carriages or Kalesa, is a good means of transportation when you want to explore the city. You can choose your own destinations or you can let the “kutcheros” lead the tour. As for us, we opted for the kuchero tour :-). First we went to Pagburnayan Pottery. This is a well-sought spot by tourists because of its iconic, only-in-vigan clay pots.  The owner can even teach you how to make clay pots.

Pagburnayan Pottery.  Photo courtesy of


Next, we he headed to the Crisologo Museum. The Crisologo mansion is open to public.  No specific entrance fee, just a donation in  any amount.

The museum is managed by the Crisologo family and is well-maintained. This is evident in the polished floors of the second floor as well as the well-kept details of the various rooms. One may enter the master’s bedroom and view private possessions and clothing as if one just intruded into an everyday scene and a member of the family might catch you looking at any time. It is interesting to know that before he was killed, the congressman was in the process of having a bill approved to abolish the death penalty because he believed that death was not the solution to stopping crime. (
Old car of the Crisologo Family

We headed to Padre Burgos museum, the ancestral house of Father Jose Burgos, one of the distinguished priest in GOMBURZA. It is one of the notable historic structures of Vigan but it was closed for renovation when we went:-(….Our kuchero led us to Syquia Mansion instead. It is the mansion of the late President Elpidio Quirino.  The mansion has a huge replica of Juan Luna’s Spoliarium. It also has many secret doors.  My husband even asked the caretaker if the famous “golden arinola” is hidden in the mansion 🙂 No entrance fee just a donation in any amount.


After the tour, we headed to Cafe Leona. It is located right at the heart of Vigan.  It is famous for its must try Ilocano delicacies like empanada, bagnet, pinakbet etc.

Cafe Leona. (Photo from

Our tummies are filled and we are all tired especially my husband who drove all the way from Laguna to our morning tour in Vigan.  So we checken-in at My Vigan Home.

My Vigan Home

We slept the whole afternoon! After we have freshen up, we walked our way to Calle Crisologo again to explore the place and look for good finds for pasalubongs.

Busy street of Calle Crisologo

Then we went to Plaza Burgos and kids played at the playground.


We had our early dinner then find a good spot at Plaza Salcedo to witness the dancing lights show.

plaza salcedo

The spectacular light show is a must-see attraction especially if you have kids.  The exhuberant lights complement the grandeur of Vigan Cathedral in the background.  After the show, we went back to the hotel and rest.

The light show is free! Below is the schedule:
Weekdays: 7:30 PM (30 minutes)
Weekends: 7:30 PM and 8:30 PM (30 minutes each)




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