Vigan, Ilocos Sur
About 400 kilometers from Manila is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vigan, the capital city of Ilocos Sur. The name Vigan was derived from "Biga", a giant taro plant that grows abundantly along the banks of the Mestizo River. Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia with a unique European atmosphere. Several museums exist for the many national heroes that were born here.
The Old Vigan Colonial Houses were built mostly by rich Chinese traders. These great big houses are made of thick brick walls and plastering with red clay. Tile roofs are made to survive earthquakes.
St. Paul’s Cathedral, built in 1790-1800 by the Augustinians, is an impressive Baroque cathedral that has most of its interior walls well preserved. The 12 altars and 3 naives only enhance the church’s beauty and grandeur. The bell tower is octagonal and is located 10 meters south of the cathedral. It is a place not to be missed when visiting Vigan.
The Palacio de Arzobispado, built in 1783, it is the official residence of the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia. Included in the palace is the Museo Nueva Segovia with a collection of paintings, manuscripts and religious articles accumulated through the centuries.
The Burgos National Museum is the ancestral house of Padre Jose Burgos. Most interesting are the paintings of Esteban Villanueva depicting the 1807 Basi Revolt. The dioramas of local historical events are also worth a visit.
A good time to visit Vigan is during the town fiesta. Celebrated for one whole week -concluding on January 25- it commemorates the conversion of the apostle, St. Paul. The fiesta is marked by street parades, beauty contests and variety shows in the town plaza.