A few days ago, me, Tricia and her family, decided to pack up our bags and head up north to visit the province of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. Our first stop was the oft-photographed and recently acclaimed Vigan City. A Spanish city akin to Intramuros with all its colonial splendor and grandeur.
Seeing Vigan for the first time in decades, I remembered nothing at all. Not even the places where we stayed in back in the 90's or one of the places where we had our family pictures. I could not recall a single thing and maybe it was a good thing. Revisiting old places without a clear memory of it would make my experience fresh and a little bit more enlightening.
Arriving super late, I dreaded that there would be nothing left for me to see the next day. But that's where I was sadly mistaken, Vigan, much like Intramuros, is small and relatively easy to explore. The main thoroughfare and the hub of all activity is Calle Crisologo, the famous street with its bahay na bato architecture and brick road.
With little else to do but explore and enjoy the cool breeze, I strolled along the calle and soaked up its historicity. The familiar cloppity-clops of kalesas were not lost even though it was late in the evening. Tourists came in droves we all waved our cameras in the air to take pictures. For camera afficionados this is certainly the best place to get all of those perfect black and white challenge or #nofilter shots. Along the way some shops were still open, a peek here and there, indicated that they were selling the usual tourist souvenirs. With that we called it a night happy with a magical or historical aura.
At first light, Calle Crisologo is transformed from its sleepy and eerie facade from last night into a hubbub of activity. Visitors swarm its streets in packs, like soldiers storming a beach ready for the usual pickings of good bargains and great snapshots. Last night was just a glimpse of the life Crisologo takes on.
Armed with their monopods, smartphones, tablets and DSLR's, we tourists packed every corner. Every nook and cranny of this centuries old street is snapped up. And it is pretty evident why, the buildings (I don't know if it was purposely done) take on the character of an old and ancient Spanish pueblo. The walls crumbling and exposing the cement and brick underneath the colorful palettes of paint. Sunlight streaming into the houses and into the roads bringing out every detail for our cameras to take. It certainly is a photographers heaven.
Like a grand bazaar, a lot of stores competed for attention. Stores where you can buy a lot of colorful handicrafts and looms. Bags in different sizes, shapes, patterns; furniture in different sizes; and our best buy ever, a simple hand fan to keep us cool while we walked along Crisologo.
Walking along the famous calle was definitely an enriching experience. Seeing it with new eyes and a fresh perspective certainly made me appreciate its old world splendor. The beautifully preserved buildings were splendid. My only regret while in Crisologo was to sit down with a nice book and have a quick milk tea break in one of the stores there.
My name is Alfonso your nerdy history teacher, bookworm and lover of all things cultural and exciting. You can find me in a weekend market, in a bookshop, or eating in Japanese restos during the weekends.