Today I woke up and spent a good portion of the morning updating the website. In the afternoon, I finally left the hotel room and walked back to Calle Crisologo (it’s so close and easily the best part of Vigan, so I can’t help but walk down the cobblestone street once, twice, or even thrice each day). I then crossed the river and walked down some streets, heading east, through several barangays (the smallest administrative division in the Philippines), which were mostly made up of rural residences and farmland. I met some kids on the bridge across the river and besides greeting a foreigner like myself with the usual “Hi” and “Hello”, two of them “high-fived” me. Along my walk in to eastern Vigan, there were some poorly built and maintained homes one would expect to see, but there were also some fine homes that caught me by surprise – one would expect to see them in suburban districts in the West; perhaps all the well-to-do entrepreneurs in Vigan live out here, away from the hustle and bustle of central Vigan. As I started to walk back in to town, a man came up and starting conversing with me, I think his intention was just to be friendly and practice his English; he invited me to walk back here tomorrow and visit his home; I tried to explain I was planning to go to the beach and swim tomorrow, but I don’t think he really understood.
Eventually, I made it back to the central part of town and then headed north in to Bantay, the neighboring town – actually, directly on the other side of the river to the north. The river under the bridge was dried up and I had read later that where Vigan is located used to be an island, but that is no longer the case due to the silting of the Mestizo River. I walked over to the St. Augustine Parish Church (also known as Bantay Church), which was not far from the river. The church was established in 1590, but like most historic structures that were caught in the middle of the Pacific campaign during World War Two, it did not make it through the war intact; although it was reconstructed in 1950. The current structure is actually integrated in with the historic ruins and half destroyed brick walls can be found to the left and right of the church. One site has been converted in to an outdoor chapel, appropriately named “Chapel by the Ruins”. Inside the church I met a nice elderly lady who showed ne around the various sites inside and outside of the church, such as a figure of Our Lady of Charity which stands behind the main altar; worshipers walk up and clasp the figure’s hand and silently pray for blessings (I did this as well, but just recited one “Hail Mary”). She also showed me the “Chapel of Souls”, a small crypt, as well as the “Chapel by the Ruins” and the “Garden of Saints” (a small collection of Saintly figures) outdoors. I then thanked her and headed to the belfry near the church.
The belfry is known as the “Bantay Tower” and served as a watchtower for pirates during the Spanish colonial period (this tower gave the town its name, Bantay, which means “to guard”). I climbed up the brick steps of the tower and gazed at the nearby hills, cemetery, homes, and the church. At the top of the tower were several bells as well, though I’m not sure if they are used anymore. I then walked back down the steps and walked around the church some more before walking back to Vigan.
Once back in the center of Vigan, I ate at another home-grown chain restaurant called “Greenwich Pizza & Pasta” where I had a Hawaiian pizza and a Buko Pandan shake with “black pearls” (i.e. tapioca balls – just like they have in Taiwan). After that fulfilling meal, I went back to the hotel to rest for a while. While in my room I heard another late evening shower quickly pass through, on schedule, just like the previous two nights. I then went outside to wander around some more before heading back to the hotel room where I found a channel that broadcasts cock fights. I watched several rounds of the roosters pecking at and crippling each other with their talons, ruffling each others’ feathers. Each fight did not last long and one cock usually dominated the other with well placed jabs.
When it was nearly midnight and the streets were all but deserted, I grabbed my tripod, camera, and North Star filter. I went to Calle Crisologo and took a number of pictures of the old street with my north star filter and without. After doing a pretty decent job of covering the whole street with my camera, I went to St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral and the adjacent Plaza Burgos to take some more pictures. After spending about fifty minutes out in the night, I grabbed a couple of San Miguel lime-flavored beers after a job . . . done. I then went back to the hotel and succumbed to slumber.