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Oct 5, 2013

A Kalesa Ride to the Past of Vigan



Kalesa in Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Vigan is never Vigan without a kalesa ride. A “kalesa” is a horse-drawn carriage and is an old mode of transportation. Kalesas are mixed with the present transport modes as tricycles and jeepneys. While it is not the main mode of moving from one place to another, the government of Vigan has preserved this type for tourists who want to experience a plain ride to the past of the city.


The Vigan-Laoag-Pagudpud Ilocos Triple Combo One-Day Panalo Trip!

Old structure, old window.
This is just the beginning of the most haggard one-day Ilocos trip ever (who the, has thought of this trip anyway?!) Riding a kalesa was like a time machine—once you seat on it, get ready for a travel where you not only move from place to place, but also from time to another time. In my first or second visit in Vigan, I never got to experience its kalesas. I thought it was just a bandwagon activity in the city for tourists, or it’s just hype. Why will you ride a kalesa when you can walk around the city? Wouldn’t it be more fun if you will just walk around? I thought these two experiences were the same. But then when I tried both, they were not.

Vigan was not actually “Vigan” before. It was called “Villa Fernandina” or then was renamed to “Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan”. It was so-called in honor of the son of King Philip II, who was then Prince Ferdinand. So it was a Spanish town after all. To make the story shorter, the city was listed by UNESCO as the best preserved example of Spanish colonial towns in Asia in 2007. It’s a must visit because of its uniqueness. The architecture of the city was actually a combination of Spanish, Chinese and Filipino influences.
 
Ilocos Sur Capitol


Vigan
For P150, you will get an hour of tour to the different tourist spots in Vigan. It also goes all the way to Bantay Church for its popular bell tower (remember the movie “A Moment of Love” with Iza?). We negotiated with the kalesa owner and after a while we started our “journey to the past”.

The kalesas are parked adjacent to the Vigan Cathedral, so after you get to visit the cathedral, you can look for kalesas beside it. Fixed rate is P150 so if they say P200, insist for P150. Hindi naman tumataas ang gasolina ng kabayo, hehe. So there, the capacity by the way of a kalesa is two, but you can add another friend, kung payat lahat. The journey starts well with Plaza Salcedo and we went to Bantay Church. From Vigan Cathedral to Bantay Church means you will get to see the city of Vigan,  the Capitol of Ilocos Sur and all those “old school” structures. Feels awesome by the way because well, it was my first time.

Vigan is a beautiful city other than it’s on the heritage list of UNESCO. I hope the people of Vigan preserve it the way it is now, or even improve it. I find the center isle of the road plain, maybe they can add more architectural value on it or whatsoever. By the way, the way to Bantay Church from the city center is not a human walking distance—a horse walking distance maybe? 
 
Old building in Vigan

Kalesa ride to the past


The most awesome of the most awesome parts of the kalesa ride was actually when we get to enter Calle Crisologo. It was like we dived into a time machine and voila! We were at the Spanish era already. For the meantime, I will have to see again Bantay Church for my next post.

The Vigan-Laoag-Pagudpud Ilocos Triple Combo One-Day Panalo Trip! Travel Series:

Part 4: A Kalesa Ride to the Past of Vigan

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