Simbahan a Bassit Cemetery (Vigan City, Ilocos Sur)

From Plaza Saalcedo, I next drove to the Simbahan a Bassit (meaning “small church”) Cemetery, which contains the graves of the town’s eminent families.  It has a cemetery chapel, one of the interesting religious heritage structures in the country.  Located within a camposanto, very few of these remain in the country today and many are in a sad state of deterioration.   This well-preserved chapel, done in the Neo-Classical style, has a facade supported by rectangular columns and adorned with a pair of Baroque-style volutes and some floral details.

Simbahan a Bassit Chapel

Started in 1610, it was probably the first church built with permanent materials in the Ilocos. Blessed on November 9, 1852, it it also has an espadaña (a wall with holes in which bells are hung), the only one of its kind in the entire Ilocos region.  Its floors, made mostly of granite slabs, were mostly used as ballast by Chinese trading junks left behind on the return trip to China.  The chapel houses a statue of the Crucified Christ behind the main altar.  Almost as old as the church itself, the image is reverently called Apo Lakay (Ilocano for “old man”) and is renowned for its miracle cures.

Simbahan a Bassit Cemetery: Quezon Ave., Liberation Blvd., Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.

Arzobispado (Vigan City, Ilocos Sur)

From Bantay, I returned to Vigan and dropped by the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul and its adjacent Arzobispado, the official residence of the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia.  The latter, the only surviving 18th century archbishop’s residence in the country, was built from 1783 to 1790.  In 1898, it served as the headquarters of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and, in 1899, as headquarters for American forces under Col. James Parker.  

The Arzobispado

The Arzobispado features sliding capiz windows and cut out decorations with floral motifs. The Museo San Pablo, beside the Arzobispado, showcases ecclesiastical artifacts, antique portraits of bishops, a throne room, archdiocesan archives and other religious paraphernalia gathered from various colonial churches all over the province.  

Museo San Pablo: Open Fridays-Wednesdays.  Admission is PhP5 for students and PhP10 for non-students.  Pre-arranged tours are allowed.



Our First Visit to Vigan City (Ilocos Sur)

I, together with my wife Grace and my kids Jandy and Cheska plus my brother Frank, sister Tellie and their families were planning to go on vacation at Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte.  However, we didn’t go all the way there, opting also to stay overnight at Vigan City.  We left Manila by 2 AM, April 3, the week prior to Holy Week (to avoid the traffic). By land, it is no easy feat getting to Vigan City and we made the 437-km. long haul drive in about 10 hrs., including breakfast and nature calls, with me and Grace taking turns driving.  The kids were mostly asleep the whole time.   Our arrival at the beautiful Quirino (Banaoang) Bridge heralded our entry into Bantay and Vigan City.

Quirino Bridge

Upon our arrival at Vigan City, we parked our Toyota Revo somewhere near the narrow Mena Crisologo St. as cars are now allowed along this street to protect the cobble stones and preserve the ambiance of the place.  This street, located south of Vigan Cathedral, was the Chinese mestizo quarter, popularly known, in the olden days, as Kasanglayan.  We checked in at Cordillera Inn, one of many ancestral homes in the city turned into cozy hotels and pension houses. Our group occupied 3 (out of 23) airconditioned family rooms with private bath and cable TV (PhP1,500).

Check out “Hotel and Inn Review: Cordillera Inn

Cordillera Inn

After settling in at Cordillera Inn, we all left to join the others for a late lunch at nearby Cafe Leona, walking along the length of cobblestoned Mena Crisologo Street to get there, passing some of the country’s best remaining colonial architecture.

Check out “Restaurant Review: Cafe Leona

Leona Florentino House

Café Leona, as well as the Provincial Tourism Center and the Vigan Heritage Commission, are housed at the Leona Florentino House.  Built in 1797, it is the former home to one of the country’s first woman playwrights and poets to gain international recognition.  One of her 5 children, Isabelo de los Reyes, would later become a writer like her as well as a champion of the Philippine labor movement and a senator.

Cordillera Inn: 29 Mena Crisologo cor. Gen. Luna Sts., Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. Tel: (077) 722-2526. Fax: (077) 722-2739 & 722-2727.  Mobile number: (0927) 313-5616.
Cafe Leona: Mena Crisologo St., Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. Tel: (077) 722-2212.  Fax: (077) 722-3089. Mobile number: (0920) 906-8144.  E-mail: