1. Offer a simple prayer at the Miraculous Our Lady of Charity St. Augustine Shrine
The history of St. Augustine Parish and Our Lady of Charity can be found engraved at the entrance to the church. This is written as below:
St. Augustine Parish Church of Bantay, one of the oldest churches of Ilocos Sur was built in 1590 with Fr. Montoya Osa, as the Parish Priest. It was named after St. Augustine, the patron saint by the Augustinian Friars. The church was damaged during World War II, but was reconstructed in 1950. The restored façade is of neo-gothic design, mixed with pseudo-romanesque elements. The site of the church has the scene of fighting during the uprising led by Diego Silang in 1763. According to our ancestors, the image of Our Lady of Charity was found by some fisherman, placed in a wooden box floating on Bantaoay River. People from other towns and provinces came to take the image but could not be moved and only people from Bantay were able to carry the miraculous image. “Our Lady of Charity” was the name given to the image due to the many miracles interceding her numerous devotees. St. Augustine Parish Church became a Shrine of Our Lady of Charity on January 12, 1956 when the miraculous image of Our Lady was crowned as the patroness of Ilocandia by the most Reverend Msgr. Vagnozzi, the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines.
2. Climb the Bantay Belfry
The Bantay Belfry of the Bell Tower is located at the municipality of Bantay in Ilocos Sur. Actually, the town got its name from Bantay Belfry. Bantay is an Ilocano word which means to guard. The belfry stands proudly on the hilltop and it was said to be the townsfolk’s watchtower against possible invading enemies. The tower is also popularly known due to the “Ang Panday” series where some of the scenes were taken here. Climbing up the stairs all the way to where the huge ancient bells are, one would get a breathtaking panoramic view of the town as well as the neighboring province of Abra.
3. Animal Encounter at Baluarte
Baluarte is a 10 minute drive from the city and owned by Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson. It is a massive acres of land where his multi-level rest house sits on a hilltop. It also features a mini zoo which houses his private collections of animals in different species like the Phyton, Iguanas, Cheloneans, Tigers, Ponies, Ostrich, Parrots, and others. Another attraction is the beautiful butterfly garden where one can enjoy observing the many kinds of butterflies in different vibrant colours. There is also an educational animal encounter show in which visitors would surely love. And the most wonderful thing is that entrance to this place is absolutely for FREE. There are only certain activities where you have to pay a small amount like riding on a pony, and an up-close photo encounters with the tiger, parrots and with the largest reptile (snake).
4. Visit to the Old Ilocos Sur Provincial Jail
The building was built in 1657 as the Municipal Jail then turned to Provincial Jail in 1818 when Ilocos Sur became a province. In 1898, it was seized by the Revolutionist headed by Juan Villamor and in 1899, this has been taken over by the American forces and political leaders were detained here. In 1890, the 6th President of the Philippines, Pres. Elpidio Quirino was born on this building and his father at that time was a warden. At present, this building serves as a museum and is open to the public.
5. Visit to Manong Fidel’s Jar-Making Factory (Pagburnayan)
Mr. Fidel Antiporda Go or commonly known as Manong Fidel was recognized in 1990 by the National Commission for Culture and Arts as a National Folk Artist for he has significantly contributed on the preservation of the cultural heritage in Vigan through his skills and creativity in the jar making traditional crafts. Burnay is an Ilocano term for jars, which serves as traditional containers for water, vinegar, basi (wine) and other liquids.
6. Lunch at Vigan’s Public Market
When in Vigan, you have to do what the locals do. And that is to eat at the turo-turo or the Vigan’s Public Market. There’s nothing to worry as they serve clean, economical, and delicious native foods. Dinengdeng (mixed vegetables) are best served here.
7. Relaxing at the Hidden Garden of Vigan
8. Stroll Along the Calle Crisologo or the Heritage Street
This would bring you back the ancient Spanish era. Centuries-old houses can still be found here and even if they build new ones, notice that they pattern it on the Spanish ancestral houses. Souvenir shops and restaurants are open along side of the streets and some bars and night clubs during the late hour.
9. Enjoying the Calesa ride
Calesa is considered as one of the mode of transportation in Vigan especially for tourists who would want to experience a more traditional way of discovering the city. We were actually able to visit all these important places in just a couple of hours through the Calesa ride.
10. Fine Dining at Leona Cafe
Leona Cafe or Leona Florentino House is one of the most frequented restaurants by tourist for an authentic Vigan delicacy experience. We had our dinner here and I can say that they serve the best chicken sisig in town. We also tried the sinigang na tilapia and bagnet (Ilocos popular deep-fried pork). Aside from Filipino dishes, they also serve international dishes such as Italian foods. Leona’s statue can be found at a small park, opposite the restaurant. This was to commemorate her significant literary contribution to be the country’s first Filipina poet to achieve international recognition.
11. A Walk to Plaza Burgos all the way to Plaza Salcedo
Plaza Burgos is a landmark in Vigan as a tribute to Padre Jose P. Burgos, one of the 3 Filipino Priests (GomBurZa -Gomez, Burgos and Zamora) executed during the Spanish colonization on charges of being among those behind the Cavite mutiny.
Plaza Salcedo is also a historical landmark of the City. Gabriela Silang was executed here through public hanging in 1763. You will also find here monument of Dr. Jose Riza (National Hero) and a dancing fountain at night to entertain the visitors as well as the locals. Unluckily, the fountain was not operational when we went there.
12. Visit educational museums such as Father Burgos Museum and Crisologo Museum
Father Burgos Museum houses memorabilia of Father Burgos, it also has unique antique collections such as Esteban Pichay’s pantings depicting the Basi Revolt in 1807. Crisologo Museum on the other hand showcases the late Congressman Floro Crisologo’s memorabilia. These are a must-see educational museum, however, we’re not lucky enough to visit as these were closed by the time we went there.
13. Stay at Casa Rica Hotel
Looking for a place to stay while in Vigan? I do recommend Casa Rica Hotel. This hotel is affordable, clean, and is conveniently located to the main tourist attractions in Vigan. Staffs are friendly and very much service-oriented.
and before I end this, let me share you a photo of a souvenir shirt we bought at the Calle Crisologo.