The Province of Ilocos Sur

Ilocos Sur is a province of the Philippines located in the Ilocos Region in Luzon. The province is bounded on the north by Ilocos Norte and Abra, on the south by La Union; on the east by Benquet and Mountain Province and on the west by the China Sea. It has a total land area of 2,579.6 square km. The province of Ilocos Sur is politically subdivided into 34 municipalities and 761 barangays. The history of Ilocos Sur from the beginning of Spanish rule to the first decade of the 19th century was characterized by revolts in protest against tributes and forced labor, as well as monopolies of some industries.

The economy of Ilocos Sur is based on agriculture, producing a wide variety of vegetables, animals, and fish. Principal products are rice, corn, tobacco, garlic, sugarcane and cassava. They are expanding into a variety of food-processing industries, and also practice a number of crafts and cottage industries: blanketweaving, basketry, shellcraft, broommaking, pottery-making, wine and vinegar making, jewelry making, wood and stone craft, among others jars and antiques can also be bought in Vigan. Transportation services have been modernized, and tourism is now established.

Ilocano is the common dialect of the people. English and Pilipino are widely spoken and still remain as basic tools of instruction in schools. The province experiences two pronounced seasons - dry from November to April and wet from May to October. Mean temperature for the lowlands is greater than 7C compared to the highlands. Coolest temperature occurs during December to February.

The City of Vigan

Vigan City is the capital city of Ilocos Sur and the seat of the provincial government. The city is located on the western coast of the large island of Luzon and is facing the South China Sea and is 408 kilometers northwest of Manila. The name Vigan came from the Ilocano word "kabiga-an" pertaining to the plant "biga" which is a tuberous plant that once grew along the banks of its rivers.

It was once a thriving center for trade and commerce among the people of Ilocandia and the Cordilleras. Vigan is situated at the delta of the Abra River going to the South China Sea. This position at the mouth of the river connected to the China Sea has made trade feasible and convenient with other islands and with China. Vigan was where Juan de Salcedo established the Spanish government of Ilocos and was made the seat of the Bishopric of Nueva Segovia in 1778. It became the center of Spanish rule and influence and the preaching of Catholicism and pacification movements in the Ilocos Region.

Vigan is a World Heritage Site in that it is the most intact example of a Spanish colonial town in Asia, and is well-known for its cobblestone streets and a unique architecture that fuses Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning. Vigan, earlier known as "Ciudad Fernandina" from 1758 to late 19th century, is the oldest surviving Spanish colonial city in the country. Vigan brings images of antiquated houses, cobbled narrow streets of the old Mestizo District, popularly known in the olden days as Kasanglayan (Chinese Quarters). People describe Vigan as a place where "time stood still". Yet, despite all the romantic images this place provokes, much is still to be learned about Vigan.

A Glimpse of Downtown Vigan City
[ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]




Local and foreign visitors describe Vigan as a "place like no other" due to the uniqueness of its historic townscape. The architectural monuments of its mercantile heyday still stand, and a number of museums preserve the area's cultural heritage. It has auspiciously escaped the bombs of World War II unlike its sister cities, Manila and Cebu. The people of the province are very thankful that it has survived the wrath and destruction of the Second World war.

According to the 2000 census, Vigan has a population of 45,143 people in 9,193 households. Elpidio Quirino, the 6th president of the Philippines, was born in this city. Today, Vigan was recently included in the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List in December 1999 and converted into a component city last January 21, 2001. In partnership with the government of Spain, the Vigan Master Plan is in the process for the revitalization of the historic Vigan.

The Landmarks & Attractions of Vigan

Right after my visit to Ilocos Norte in March of 2006, I proceeded to the nearby province of Ilocos Sur. This time, for the two nights and three days I spent in Vigan City, the El Juliana Hotel at Liberation Boulevard served as my temporary home base. There are a number of hotels in the city that are adequate enough for visitors but I liked best the Vigan Plaza Hotel which is close to Plaza Burgos that I discovered only during my last day in Vigan. Had I known about this hotel earlier, I should have stayed there, considering that it is located within the center of town and has close proximity to what I wanted to see in Vigan. The hotel offers better facilities and anemities and best of all they have their own restaurant and where a free breakfast is also provided to the hotel guests.

Most of the landmarks and attractions within the province of Ilocos Sur are located within the City of Vigan and my stay in the city proved to be very advantageous since I didn't find a need to travel far as I did when I was in Ilocos Norte. There are no taxi cabs in Vigan, however, riding a calesa or a tricyle is quite convenient and very inexpensive aside from being the suitable modes of transportation within the city. During my brief stay I was able to visit the following landmarks and attractions and these are all portrayed in this webpage:

  • Archbishop Palace & Museum
  • St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Burgos Museum
  • Bantay Church and Bell Tower
  • Pagburnayan (Jar Making Factory)
  • Crisologo Museum
  • Heritage Village (Mestizo District)
  • Baluarte Mini Zoo
  • Plaza Salcedo
  • Plaza Burgos
  • Leona Florentino House
  • Mindoro Beach & Playa de Oro Resort
  • Vigan Tourist Park at Mira Hills
  • The Fish Hunters of Vigan

  • ARCHBISHOP PALACE & MUSEUM

    [ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]




    ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL

    [ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]




    BURGOS MUSEUM

    [ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]




    BANTAY CHURCH AND BELL TOWER

    [ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]


    PAGBURNAYAN (JAR MAKING FACTORY)

    [ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]




    CRISOLOGO MUSEUM

    [ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]






    HERITAGE VILLAGE (MESTIZO DISTRICT)

    [ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]





    BALUARTE MINI ZOO

    [ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]


    PLAZA SALCEDO

    [ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]


    PLAZA BURGOS

    [ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]




    LEONA FLORENTINO HOUSE & STATUE

    [ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]


    MINDORO BEACH & PLAYA DE ORO RESORT

    [ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]


    VIGAN TOURIST PARK AT MIRA HILLS

    [ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]






    THE FISH HUNTERS OF VIGAN

    [ Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format ]





    junylaputt@yahoo.com