Excerpt from “Spanish Highs” by Ces Rodriguez for SEAIR InFlight December – January 2010
“The beautiful old ‘ilustrado’ houses of UNESCO World Heritage town Vigan offer a stunning insight into life in the Philippines under colonial rule. Ces Rodriguez takes a trip back in time.”
“There are some 200 homes identified as heritage structures in Vigan. A few of them have not just retained their bahay na bato (old brick houses) exteriors, but the grandeur of its interiors as well. Among the most impressive are the Syquia and Quema Mansions…”
“Perez has opened Arce Mansion as a hotel for tourists who want to experience the grandeur of living in the 1890s, while sleeping in the 21st century comfort of rooms fitted with airconditioners and cable TV. The ground floor of the mansion has been converted into a modern dorm for budget travelers, with rows of charmingly mismatched beds (including simple curtained four-posters) and Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy prints on the walls. A door leads to a room bursting with historic costumes, which, for the price of the stay, you can use to play dress up and have your photo taken on the premises…”
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“Baluarte. An 80-hectare property of gradually sloping grounds that has a zoo, except that the animals are made more at home by making their dwellings as close as possible to their natural habitat. Attractions include Petting Zoo wherein guests can interact and feed certain animals, mini horse rides, and close interactions with 8-10 exotic animals, a show offered four times a week. Taking photos is allowed. Admission is free.
“Mindoro Beach. Located a few kilometers west of Vigan, this beach opens out to the South China Sea. Part of a rural fishing community, the beach here is pretty basically because it’s unspoilt. The water’s clean with friendly waves, and the sand is light grey, not fine, and with occasional pebbles, but is clean and inviting. Go on a weekday when the beach is at its most serene. Day huts are available with minimal fee.”
“The empanadahan stalls at the edge of the town plaza serve the famous Vigan meat pies or empanada. At P30 a pop, you get an outsize pie with a filling of Vigan’s equally famous spicy longganisa (sausage), shredded green papaya and a raw egg yolk sealed into a rice-flour dough that’s deep-fried. For added zest, drizzle cane vinegar on it.”
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