Before the Wider Role of Volunteers training ended, each of the participants were given several VSO- and Philippine-related stuff. One of which, is a Philippine map packaged as a tourist information brochure. The first page of that brochure showcased the famed cobbled-stone path of Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
I even heard one of my co-volunteers-to-be exclaim that Vigan, as portrayed in the photograph, seemed like such a beautiful place. True enough, Vigan really did look amazing in that picture. It presented an old world charm that no matter how similar, still looked different from Intramuros’ streets and Iloilo’s old houses. There’s just something about Vigan, especially Calle Crisologo, that commands people’s attention and captivates hearts. I know so because I too, despite thinking that it may be an overrated form of admiration, felt transported back in time as I walked through the cobbled-stone street.
I’ve been to Vigan twice, both thanks to field work and the side trips that come with. Actually, our field work in the Ilocos Region is usually only until Sudipen, La Union, the border town before Tagudin, Ilocos Sur. In fact, we never even cross the bridge to Ilocos Sur, despite the fact that Villa d’ el-Lita, the hotel/resort we usually stay in is literally on the border.
Anyway, the first time I had a chance to visit Vigan was in July 14, 2010. It was a week-long field work for me beginning from travel and farmers’ meeting (July 12/13) and, since there are certain activities outside the Project area that may have a bearing on our project i.e. IA meeting/election/ratification of AOI, CBL and Policies in Banaoang (14) and review and planning workshop for the region in San Fernando, La Union (15-16), I was tasked to stay while my boss headed back to Manila on the 13th.
Anyway again, Banaoang is located a good, 20-30 minutes from Vigan. We stayed at the Project compound, free of charge of course. Since it was already late to go out when we arrived, we planned to go to Vigan town after the next day’s official business is over. So, the next day, at about 4:30pm, I found myself stepping into this oh-so-popular town and yes, I was feeling nostalgic.
Being a period film lover that I am, I can’t help but feel like I’m in a set of a movie from the 1900s (except of course the obvious fact that people are dressed differently). Especially upon making my way down the street and just looking at the dilapidated walls of the houses/shops. I was never a fan of history, and geography for that matter, but I’ve always appreciated the architecture, fashion, and manner of speaking of people who lived in that time.
Suffice to say, despite the obvious differences and the number of shops along Calle Crisologo, one still could not help but get that “old feel”. Maybe especially if you would really imagine how people went about their lives in that time. And, as I was only focused on Calle Crisologo (for both visits since I only did this as side trip), you’d probably get more of that feeling when you really devote a day to go around. Especially if you’d so the traditional way. KALESA!
I believe it’s a must do. Unfortunately, I didn’t ride in one. (I actually got reminded of how much we take these opportunities for granted when one co-volunteer, in our recent Binondo food trip, insisted on riding a Kalesa but settled, and still was happy, on just getting her photo taken while inside the carriage). What I was able to do though, is sit on one of the carriage-like seats/benches along Calle Crisologo.
And mind you, I did it not once but TWICE! hehehe
Pictures were taken under different circumstances though. Like broad daylight versus night shot. Not to mention that I’m wearing different clothes anyway (sandals are same though. Admit it, you compared with the other one. hahaha). Btw, did you notice the date imprint and those colorful (well, not so in this shot) star-shaped lanterns? Yes, it being December at the time of my second visit, Calle Crisologo was lit by the “yellow lamps” and parol (lantern). What strcuk me on this visit is that on the other street, as in next one, there’s this house filled with parol and Christmas decor, in its fully-lit glory.
Actually, between the two visits, I liked this one better. I’m not sure why but I’d say it’s probably because of the lights. I’m a real sucker for night photography, though I am yet a million miles away from its mastery. I don’t know. Perhaps, the dim, yellow lights seemed more dramatic, and gave Calle Crisologo a more mysterious appeal to me. Like, so many things can happen in this night. As in movies, a rendezvous by one of the benches at the dead of the night, just to say your final goodbye to a poet/novelist lover, as you are being married off to the son of a wealthy merchant or even someone with the tiniest drop of royal blood.
Call me whatever but yes, walking through Calle Crisologo made my sometimes-quite-imaginative mind think of those movies. And all the love and tragedy that comes with. Anyway, I am straying far from this street right now and on to the grand house at Derbyshire. Perhaps I should end this post already, and I wish to do so by recommending you to, at least once, visit Vigan and walk through Calle Crisologo.
Just, try to let your mind go on an imaginative journey. Maybe you’d also see what I was trying to picture out. Feel the road beneath your feet. Sit on a horse-drawn-cariage-like bench. Heck, sit on the sidewalk if you wish. Or actually, even just get your souvenir shot taken. Be it standing, sitting, planking or levitating.
The point is, go to Vigan and feel the nostalgia yourself. It’s definitely something you must do at least once in your life, I believe especially so if you are a Pinoy traveler. Heed my advice, please?! Happy wandering!