Sunday, July 27, 2008

Roaming Ilocos: Elsewhere at Vigan Heritage Village

Enough of Calle Crisologo. It is the main tourist strip yes, but elsewhere in this village are other noteworthy places that I saw.

While not anymore on cobbled streets, some houses not located on Calle Crisologo have also been preserved to maintain their olden look. And some of these houses are equally big, some even bigger than those at Mena Crisologo Street. Just the same, they look mesmerizingly attractive in their olden glory, even if obviously battered by time and the elements. Take the case of that Chinese School. You would not think that is where the children of the affluent Tsinoys go to everyday to learn their lessons, right? But it is! They just preserved the way the façade looks since those times. The school looks a bit more “era” (okay, eerie too if you want) because right across is another olden house that received a bit of sprucing with some dominantly orange color because it is now the “My Vigan House” hotel hehe. Hey, even the Syquia Museum is a block away from Calle Crisologo and its such a big and beautiful building too!.

Ah I got curious and started looking (watching) some of the kalesa drivers (and their horses) park under trees for their afternoon rest or siesta! While most drivers slept the while that they were resting, the horses just stood erect where they parked. And I wondered if that was rest enough or the kind of rest horses would want. Don’t they like to sit down or lie down too for a rest? I don’t know, am not into animals hehe. But I always see that dogs, pigs, carabaos and just about every four-legged animal I know do sit or lie on their sides to rest. But these horses, well, they just stand there still with those carts behind their backs. Looking at them, I think I am not sure if they could even bend their knees with the kalesa and their sleeping drivers still strapped to their backs.

But I had fun watching this one horse that had a uniquely different style of resting…

First I thought it was playing with that sack that is supposed to cover its eyes and the whole face. And I thought the animal was enjoying the activity like a cat would with a ball or a piece of cloth. Good another kalesa driver passed and paused as I took that video. I asked him if all horses do enjoy that playful tossing of the sack up and down. He said “yes”, though he clarified that the horse was not playing. So I asked what it was doing, “trying to free itself from the sack that hooded the whole face?” With a laugh, he educated me that the horse was eating. Awk! I asked how so. Then he explained to me that the sack contains grass or other horse food for it to eat. When the eatables are already deep down the bottom of the sack where the horse’s mouth or tongue cannot reach, they start tossing it to catch the food. Oh I see.

And I had to be in Vigan just to learn how kalesa drivers feed their horses hehe! Nice one!

Elsewhere, just in this heritage area alone, there are so many things to see, observe or experience for the visitor. That is if you’re like me who can get fascinated with as simple as CCTV cameras installed on heritage houses hehe. Here are some of those observations… heritage village as it is, there are also residents (probably informal settlers) who don’t have water in the house and opt to do their laundry or bathe their children by a faucet at the sidewalk. There are heritage houses that are dilapidating, some being aptly repaired and some left to oblivion. The Ilocos Sur Tourism Center is in the same building as Leona’s. The Department of Tourism has a separate office that is inside the nearby and beautiful Vigan Plaza Hotel. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics holds office at Calle Crisologo. The side of the cathedral that is across the bell tower stinks with a mix of human and horse pee. McDonald’s is nearer that bell tower than the cathedral is. See?! And there are more…

The plaza fronting (not side) of the cathedral is called Plaza Salcedo and it is where Gabriela Silang was publicly executed by hanging. Hmm, I did not know that! And due to the fame of Calle Crisologo, you won’t even hear or read many things about this plaza, which I found out is actually the best place to start when exploring Vigan! The lagoon in this same plaza was constructed not as a beautiful landscape art but as reservoir to provide accessible water due to the many fires occurring in the city in the 1970s! One of the sunken portions of said plaza is a scaled replication of the heritage square that is Vigan itself complete with models of those old buildings and residences. Oh, locals of Vigan are called Bigueños. Same banana with the city hall and the capitol, no visitor seem to be willing to cast at least a glance since all eyes are to Calle Crisologo!

Whoops! I realized it was already nearing sunset and I still had to get back to Laoag! Let’s go!

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