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Tropical Experience Travel Services - Tours of the Philippines
Vigan and Laoag
Vigan is the capital of the Ilocos Sur province, they say that this town has not changed since the 16th century. Vigan is the only town in the Philippines that has numerous preserved historic sites with more than 180 edifices have been catalogued, and so Vigan has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. According to UNESCO, Vigan is “a unique fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning”, as well as “an exceptionally intact and well-preserved example of an European trading town in East and South East Asia”.
Under the Spanish friars in the 16th century, Vigan was a “piece of Spain in the Orient”, and it has hardly changed from then because it has been blessed to be spared from the disaster of the World War that the rest of the country suffered from. To this day, Vigan’s culture and townscape is unique anywhere in East and South East Asia. Riding the kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) or walking by foot on the cobbled streets, you will see a number of houses were actually preserved and made into museums with furnishings of a typical Vigan ancestral house. Some Cathedral museums are also on site which are committed to conservation through a distinct faith-culture approach. Yet another UNESCO World Heritage site is also in this province, the Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion church located on top of a hill, and all the 82 steps you have to climb to get to this historic site is all worth it.
Vigan is also the place where you can get yurself authentic antique pieces at great bargains. However, they do also have good quality modern reproductions, hand loom woven cotton textiles, bamboo crafts, Vigan clay jars, and food stuff like the famous empanada (stuffed pastry) found in many side street food stalls and bakeries.
Laoag, on the other hand, is the “Sparkling Gem” of the north as it is a bustling city with modern private and government offices, educational institutions, entertainments and shopping centers, yet it still has its old world charm, with a lot of ancient religious sites and historic landmarks. One of which is the picturesque Paoay Church which was built during the hispanic times, also is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Laoag’s old world charm also consists of the local gastronomic delights like the flavorful longganisa (finger-sized home-cooked style sausages) dipped in sukang iloco (sugarcane vinegar), the bagnet (deep-fried pork belly), the locally made alcohol drink basi (sugar cane brewed in clay jars), or the pinakbet (a mix of vegetables cooked with shrimp paste or fish sauce). All these you can find in downtown restaurants, or, for a touch of local color you may get these treats in food stalls in the City Market of side street canteens.
The excellent road network of Laoag serves as your gateway to many other exciting destinations like its popular beaches where you can bask under theblue skies and gelaming sun by the powdery white sands lapped by sun-kissed torquoise waters, or experience the andrenalin of sandboarding in the sand dunes, or just marvel on the views all throughout its jagged coastlines.