Vigan Spanish Heritage Town

25 May
Spanish architecture, Spanish names,Spanish religion?

Spanish architecture, Spanish names,Spanish religion?

There’s only so much of Manila one can handle. The city is busy and bustling, but difficult to get around in, unless you are very patient with traffic, and if you don’t mind walking around fumes in 40° sun. So I decided to move up North where the temperatures are cooler and the nature is greener. My first stop was the UNESCO World Heritage town of Vigan, which was miraculously saved or forgotten during the 2nd world war. It meant 9 hours on a bus, but the quaint & quiet historic town was well worth it. And the 136 year old Vila in which I stayed was also full of history – ancient and modern (I stayed in the same room as Tom Cruise!!).

Vigan cobble streets

Vigan cobble streets

I thought I would never be able to handle a 9 hour ride on a bus, with seats that only inclined half (no Vietnamese sleeper bus here…), but to my surprise I managed to sleep most of the trip. So there I am, arriving at 6am, together with the sun at the bus station of Vigan. It’s a little town, so I just walk into town, waking up some hotel receptionists on my way, inquiring about rooms. Most of the hotels are located in the old Spanish heritage houses (and consequently ask too high prices).

The Cuarto del Senor - fourposter bed

The Cuarto del Senor - fourposter bed

But in the end I arrive at Vila Angela, a bit further outside the old town, but just as historical and authentic. The gate wasn’t opened yet, but that only took a ring of the bronze bell. I was escorted through the garden up to a majestic dining hall and living room, from which you could access the different rooms. The Villa was 136 years old and used to belong to the Spanish governor of Vigan.

Being watched over by J & M

Being watched over by J & M

The room they proposed to me was the ‘Cuarto del Señor’ (the room of the houselord). It was big, almost as big as my apartment in Brussels, and the four-poster bed with romantic mosquito net was the size of my bedroom. The floor was made of polished dark wood and big sliding shutters gave a view of the green treetops in the garden. The furniture and lamps looked as if they were at least as old as the house (and so did the sockets – hm). Paintings of Mary & Jesus above the door completed the picture.

Wow - lying in the same bed as Tom Cruise

Wow - lying in the same bed as Tom Cruise

And it’s in this room that Tom Cruise stayed while he was filming ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ – the picture of the owner with dearest Tom were posted on the wall as a proof of this occasion. Not sure if that would justify the raise in price, but I gladly paid (after “it’s almost low season” negotiation) the 1800 pesos (30 euro) for feeling like a 19th century nobleman (and secretly a bit like Tom, hehe).

The old Vigan Cathedral

The old Vigan Cathedral

Arriving at this ungodly hour early in the morning, also meant that I was checked in and had seen most of the rustic old town by 10am! The old town was composed of a few cobble stone streets lined with dilapidated but nice old Spanish buildings, put on the World Heritage list by UNESCO a few years ago (but lots of renovation and conservation work is still to be done). And of course no Spanish colony without churches. So there also was an old church that completed the picture.

During the heat of the day (there’s an unusual heat spell here, raising temperatures above 40 degrees) I just retired to my Cuarto del Señor in my Vila for a real Spanish siesta ;-) Or I would read my book (or watch Philippino TV) in my oaken rocking chair, or have a glass of water in the big sala living room (full of mirrors and chandeliers).

  • If one is to teach history – staying a night in this Vila is more efficient than a semester in the classroom!

4 Responses to “Vigan Spanish Heritage Town”

  1. Anu 28 May 2009 at 09:44 #

    It’s beautiful, and you have a great tan!

  2. neil 28 June 2009 at 06:51 #

    nice pictures, thanks for posting, i want to go to vigan

  3. Carl de Leon 30 July 2010 at 12:36 #

    Thanks for all the nice, wonderful and great things you’ve said about Vigan. I spent my summer vacations there when I was a kid and even worked there after graduation. My mom’s ancestral house is just by the town next to Vigan.

    Please visit again. Were you able to enter the centuries old Archbishop’s palace with eccesiastical art museum which is adjacent to the cathedral? Hope you did.


  4. Tony Geudens 31 July 2010 at 01:46 #

    Hey Patrick, Vigan was nice and relaxing indeed. But i did not go to the religious things, i’m not so much of a religious person. Greetz, T

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