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More Fun in Vigan

Posted Jan 24 2013 10:56pm
Vigan by day; Vigan by night.

I just arrived from Vigan City, Ilocos Sur for a health promotion workshop on Tobacco Control which our office, the Department of Health - National Center for Health Promotion, has organized. A total of 69 participants from all of the 17 regional health offices of the country and some tobacco control groups attended. Yes, we dared to do a tobacco control workshop in a tobacco-growing region of the Philippines. As the saying goes, “There is always the first time,” and the participants say, “We’ve only just ‘Vigan’ (a pun for ‘begun’).” Everything turned our quite well and Mayor Eva Marie Singson-Medina has been very accommodating and even offered us a half-day city tour. 

Vigan is an 8 - 10-hour drive from Manila, but what they offer in terms of history, heritage, scenery and insight into the Filipino character and culture is well worth the effort. The Spanish colonizers say the Ilocos’ potential as a gateway to the Philippines’ northern neighbors like China and Japan, and built up Vigan as a royal city. 
Today’s reminders of that exalted past remain. The city’s Mestizo District is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage site for its neighborhood of 150 well-preserved Castillian stone houses, many of which now house inns, souvenir shops and a museum. Ancient churches also dot the landscape. And for all the patina of modernity that has crept into Vigan, the city remains committed to its traditional ways, with native crafts like pottery and weaving enjoying ample support from the government. 
It has been fun to come back and see again the place of my roots. My mother was born in San Vicente, Ilocos Sur – a municipality very near Vigan.
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