Everything in rustic Vigan is charming. But you have never been to this UNESCO World Heritage Site if you have not set foot in Calle Crisologo. It is a narrow cobblestone street that dissects through 5-6 blocks of centuries-old Spanish period homes. When you are walking on this lane, it is easy to get the feeling that you are trapped in one of your grandmother’s sepia photographs. This is just one of the many reasons why more and more people have been flocking this street.
Almost everything else is also in Calle Crisologo. There are a handful of antique and souvenir shops that ‘rob’ a willing tourist off his or her savings or whatever that’s left of it. Aside from those, there is a school, a church, a funeral house, a hotel, a major fastfood chain, a restaurant, a money transfer store and a museum on its south end. It probably lacks a hospital and a cemetery to be considered a separate city from Vigan.
I exaggerated a little bit the last sentence though. But what I didn’t get even up to this day is the presence of a bar with bouncers, blaring music and flashing neon lights. It made me wonder who travels all the way to Vigan for a Friday night party. While it is understandable to embark on commercial endeavors for the upkeep of the place, I also think that there should be regulations on the types of businesses that could be set up along this street. After all, preservation does not only mean keeping a structure from decay and natural calamities. More importantly, it also means respecting the whole identity of a place amidst the changing times.
You must visit Calle Crisologo twice – during the day and late at night. You can do your shopping for pasalubongs, bargain antique furniture in the morning. The rest of the day you could tour around the city via a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) ride. But you have to come back late at night for an unobstructed (because all the establishments have already closed shop by then) and romantic view of this quaint thoroughfare.
This was the first major stop of Project Windmills which was largely made possible due to insanely cheap promo flights from an aircraft carrier that I both love and hate. After a 1.5 hour bus ride from Laoag, merely seeing this street is already a reward by itself. That experience alone has rightfully capped Day 1 of our many adventures in the Ilocos region.