Miss Universe and Vigan
A travel journal that will give you a pleasant view of people, places, food, culture, history and events from a refreshing perspective
THE travel montage to Bonuan Blue Beach, the third of a supposed series had to wait as this writer together with travel buddy Boj Lopez and Manila Bulletin lensman Jojo Riñoza travelled to the north to catch a glimpse of the Miss Universe candidates and also revisited Vigan, one of the “New 7 Wonders Cities.”
Arriving one day before the Miss Universe ancillary events in Vigan was a good idea. We were able to watch the parade of “living Sto. Ninos” (children dressed up as the child Jesus) of each barangay of Vigan City and go around the city. After checking in our luggage, our culinary adventure began with the help of Jude, our tricycle driver slash tour guide. As a rule of thumb in my travels, I always “eat local” and search for those little known yet worthy gastronomic haunts. Aside from the iconic Bagnet, I was able to try the Okilas ken Dinardaraan which is Chicharon dipped in Dinuguan at the RCC Food Stall at Calle Liberation corner Calle E. Reyes.
Like typical tourists, we roamed around Vigan’s major attraction: Calle Crisologo, the cobblestone street with heritage Spanish houses filled with pasalubong shops and restaurants. Everywhere you turn is a perfect “selfie” spot. Since liquor was banned during our stay, I had Café Leona’s Chocolate de Vigan to cap the night.
The next day was so exciting not just because of the chance to see the Miss Universe candidates but because of breakfast. The best breakfast in Vigan aside from the Vigan longganisa, is sinanglao (beef broth with beef innards similar to pinapaitan but more sour and less bitter). Locals attest that the best sinanglao is served at the stalls near the Vigan Post Office.
That day, security was tight and the whole heritage village was closed to traffic. The empanada stalls of Plaza Burgos were also closed. Luckily, the empanada stores near the heritage village like CJ’s and Irene’s were open.
Later in the morning, the Miss Universe candidates arrived and had a press conference at former governor Chavit Singson’s gold mansion; the Torre del Baluarte. They also petted the animals at the Baluarte Zoo. At night, the 20 Miss Universe candidates sashayed from Calle Crisologo to Plaza Burgos for the Philippine cultural terno fashion show with their Abel Iloko gowns culminated by a fireworks display that lasted for several minutes.
Before the fashion show, I was able to squeeze in a visit atop the Bantay Belfry/ Watchtower. If you watched FPJ’s movie Ang Panday, it was near the tower where Tata Temyong found his black book after an earthquake. Beside it, is the Apo Caridad Shrine (Shrine of Our Lady of Charity) or St. Augustine Parish Church. Built in 1590, it is one of the oldest churches in Ilocos Sur.
Having stayed for only two days, I missed the nightly dancing fountain show at Plaza Salcedo, a visit to the Paburnayan (where Vigan jars or burnay are made), activities like damili or red clay molding, abel weaving and more culinary adventures. I’ll definitely go back so expect another travelogue about Vigan. Like a pun on the popular song by the Carpenters, I can say: “We’ve only just Vigan.”