Sunday, July 27, 2008

Roaming Ilocos: Calle Crisologo, Vigan

Alright… I was full, had some bit of a siesta watching ‘longaniza distribution’ at CafĂ© Leona’s and ready to roam again! The famed Calle Crisologo was first on my mind of course, but where I was sitting was itself already part of the heritage village! So, who is Leona by the way? Well, don’t start looking for her to ask about her menu hehe. The restaurant’s name is not because she is owner and or chef. She died a little over a dozen years even BEFORE Rizal was shot at Bagumbayan! Yes, she was Leona Florentino, a poet and playwright of distinction in her time. The restaurant was named in her honor. It does not say in the historical marker but I take it that she lived in this house.

Oh, on the same building (its too big for me to call just a house, another person is immortalized via another historical marker. He is Isabelo Delos Reyes, “tagapagtatag ng kilusang paggawa sa Piliinas”. I am not so sure but I think that means he was the founder of organized labor in the country. Unionism to many of us. He was also founder of the Philippine Independent Church (I think this later became the Aglipayan Church). Hmm, mighty immense dude eh! But why is the historical marker also on the same building where Leona Florentino’s is? I guess they were related since his full name is Isabelo F. Delos Reyes. The “F” probably means “Florentino”. So I’m guessing, he was son of Leona. And again, this probably was their ancestral abode.

Imagine, I only went to lunch and already learned a good deal of history! I was in the heritage village after all. Okay, I went for a walk. First to Calle Crisologo. Not that I have not been there yet. This was probably my 4th time. But the only time I had my own camera, even if just a point-and-shoot. So, still “feeling tourist”, to the famous street I went. And click-click-click I did but have got nothing much to tell that you do not already know. Too many things about this ‘preserved’ heritage neighborhood have already been posted on the web. I just took pictures of those houses that were either still grand or with real old-world charm. Yep, those are some of them displayed in this paragraph.

I realized there is one good way to delight in the ‘antique atmosphere’ of the street. And that is to sit still and watch whatever it is you see. OMG this place looks really antique especially with the afternoon sun. You get to imagine how it was, how they were during the Spanish colonial period in this country. The row of houses look surreal, as if you were just watching an epic movie. But you’re in it! The only street noise, if we may call it that, comes from the hypnotic click-clack click-clack of horses’ feet passing by and the occasional ringing of their bells. It adds to the mesmerizing air of antiquity. But that’s about it. its not as if you see the residents walking around clad in era costumes.

About the horse-drawn carriages called Kalesa… those are the only modes of transport allowed to pass by the length of Calle Crisologo. Appealing! Well, all motorized vehicles do get to step on the cobbled street but only at the corners because they are at least allowed on the streets that intersect with it. Thus, the nostalgic walk, if you really want to relish it. Ah, these old stone houses are for real. Meaning they are habited by real modern-day people with real modern-day things to do just like us. It’s just that there are no cars or motorbikes in their front yards. There are shops, souvenir shops, many of them. So you can buy shirts, trinkets, cloth, jars, wooden ornamentals, even pirated DVDs! There are hotels, a school and there is even a bank with ATM and just about every other establishment. Their common denominator, all houses (the facades at least) have to maintain their old-world charm. INCLUDING the police precinct and a funeral home!

Btw, there are other wheeled things aside from the kalesa. Ows?! Didn’t I just say ’not allowed’? Don’t panic, they’re not transport modes but food carts or rolling stores also selling their wares. And I liked the ice cream and I don’t like calling it “dirty ice cream” as many folks in this country do. I think the more proper term would be “street ice cream”. And then there was “tinubong”! At first I thought the woman and child were selling souvenirs, so I asked how those cut bamboo poles were used or displayed. With a giggle the girl said “don’t display, eat”! With more questions, I learned that it is a rice delicacy similar to suman but uses ground sticky rice with sugar, coconut milk, and other ingredients, sometimes mixed with coconut strips, margarine, cheese, peanuts or raisins depending on the maker. Hmm, I learned many things else about this tinubong but I wont tell you here. You’ll have to go find it yourself and ask the manang tindera!

Hah, I liked my Calle Crisologo roam this time. Lets go elsewhere in this heritage village for my next story, k?


  1. Vigan at night is really interesting especially their great tasting Empanada.

  2. ^^^Agree! Esp if the empanada stuffing is the equally great tasting Vigan longganisa! Yumm!