Vigan: Wonder City

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Thursday, July 24, 2014

THERE is now a campaign for all Filipinos. Vote for Vigan to be one of the new seven wonder cities. If you have not voted yet, please vote now. Voting is explained on TV.

Two years ago, Mayor Eva Marie S. Medina was in Silay City bringing a bigger group (city and barangay officials, businessmen) as part of her linkage building in Negros Occidental. Silay and Vigan have similarities . . . old houses, food, cultural heritage, passion for the art and ecotourism.

Mayor Medina and Silay City Mayor Montelibano have even proposed a sisterhood program. Mayor Oti was given the opportunity to visit Vigan as part of the activity of the League of Cities of the Philippines. He convinced our tourism staff that Vigan is a “must-see.” That could be the reason why we did not hesitate to accept the invitation sent to us by Vigan’s lady mayor.


Here we come Vigan! Mayor Oti granted some of the staff members of Tourism, Community Affairs and Cultural Division to officially have a linkage-building with Vigan. Our visit will be on July 25. We will have a courtesy call with Mayor Medina and we will view a film on Vigan City State of Local Governance. City tour follows with Tourism Officer Edgar de la Cruz.

Syquia Mansion is the ancestral house of Doña Alicia Syquia, the wife of the late President Elpidio Quirino. The mansion is regarded as the first Malacañang of the North and it houses the memorabilia of the late president.

Before lunch, we will visit the Vigan Convention Center. This was designed along the Neo-Vigan Bahay na Bato concept. The center was built for conventions, conferences, seminars, exhibits, special events and gatherings. It is adorned by two chandeliers made of Capiz shells (Kulintipay) and Abel Iloko.

We will find there a pair of mural paintings of Vigan’s history, of the performing arts; and a Bas Relief, the Letras Y Feguras depicting tourism and trade in Vigan. It is an educational and cultural showcase of the unique heritage of historic Vigan, the capital of Ilocos Sur.

We will surely enjoy lunch. We do not know yet the menu ahead of us.

Since then, I know that “lutong-Ilokano” is best. The late President Ferdinand Marcos during his time would always brag, “If you tasted the food of the Ilocanos, you are already near heaven.” Whatever that means, there could be something in the eating. That’s what we want to discover.

My personal hunt for lunch is to look for “basi.” I want to take it home. “Basi” is a potent drink. The Ilocanos prize the pale red brew as a restorative, a reliever of bodies tired from the day’s work, and it’s also an enlivener of conversations. This could have fired Diego Silang while courting his girlfriend Gabriela.

As a storyteller, I want to know what’s behind “basi.” The sentiment of the “basi” manufacturers fermented in 1807 when the Spanish government imposed a wine monopoly. That started the “Basi Revolt” and the rebellion was painted in the series of the 14 tableaux by Esteban Villamena in the native style of the period. We will see this on display at Vigan Museum.

After lunch, we will take a look at the Conversion of St. Paul Cathedral. This is also known as the Vigan Cathedral. (If you have seen Fernando Poe pictures, this church is always featured. FPJ loves old churches.) This was built by the Augustinians in 1790-1800 in a distinctive “Earthquake Baroque” architecture. It symbolizes Vigan as the center of ecclesiastical influence in the north as the seat of the ancient Diocese of Nueva Segovia.

We have all the reasons in the world to vote for Vigan as one of the New Seven Wonder Cities. Vigan City, just like Silay, is trying to restore its past while investing on the future. Both cities are rich in history. History is what men repeat. It is in repeating that they know the difference. Historians write about the difference.

To be continued.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 24, 2014.


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