After seeing Vigan's beauty at night and eating the really yummy and authentic empanada and going on a rainy tour of the Ilocos Norte, it was time for another tour. But this time we bade farewell to cramped tricycle interiors to make way for a classier way to go - the CALESA!
Calesas are horse-drawn carriages, and used to be the mode of transportation during the Spanish era. Today, the calesas are still used in Vigan to either tour people or as a regular public transport for the residents.
Kuya Richard, our tour guide/calesa driver for the day, has been doing this for 12 years now. He was just so game in answering my touristy questions about his work, his horse, and the calesa drivers' association (there are about 100 of them in Vigan).
Our first stop was the Crisologo Museum. Even before the Singsons came into power in Ilocos Sur, the Crisologos ruled the province. Even though they don't have a stronghold on Ilocos Sur, the family is still a household name in politics.
The museum is actually the family's ancestral home. It's an old bahay na bato (house made of stone), but the floorings and the walls are all made of wood, giving it a cozy, cool feel.
In the first floor of the house, we saw a caruaje (Kuya Richard said was used by Cesar Montano in his Jose Rizal film) and Floro Crisologo's (the patriarch and former Congressman of Ilocos Sur) old car.
We also saw the work desk of Floro Crisologo's wife, Carmeling. She was the first woman governor of the province.
Up on the second floor of the house is an entire room dedicated to Floro Crisologo. He was killed in 1970 while hearing mass at the Vigan Cathedral. In this room, they have on display the pants and shoes Floro wore the day he was killed.
The third floor is the main floor, where the huge sala (living room) is. The sala has HUGE windows that offer a nice view of the street, antique furniture, polished wooden floorboards, and different family portraits.
While looking around, we noticed that 2 of Floro's daughters were Scholasticans. Had to show this to Kim, go St. Scho!! :))
We also saw the husband and wife's room, which had a beautiful 4-poster bed, an old rotary phone, and the dresser of Carmeling with her wide collection of perfumes.
The room right beside the master's bedroom is Carmeling's walk-in closet. I swear she's like Imelda Marcos with her extensive collection of shoes and baro't sayas (a traditional Filipino dress). This is every FASHIONISTAS dream!!
The other room belonged to Bingbong Crisologo, now Quezon City's Congressman. Looking through his pictures, I realized I knew one of his sons. Edrick Crisologo happened to be a classmate of mine in DLSU, I just never really made the connection. But hey, it's fun to discover things about people later on.
We also saw the old-school kitchen with a WOODEN REFRIGERATOR. It looked weird and so much like everything came from the stone age.
Then there's the huge dining area, a place I assumed saw a lot of political meetings and discussions.
We left the Crisologo museum and hopped on board our calesa and let Kuya Richard and Michelle take us to the next museum. I'm not a fan of museums, but seeing these old houses and their wealth, you just can't help but get absorbed and fascinated with the things that they have.
A couple of lefts and rights, we got to the Sy Quia-Quirino mansion, also now a museum. But frankly speaking, this house is more well-maintained that the Crisologo's. We were welcomed by Rusty Sebastian-Ponce, a 5th generation Quirino, and the only one living in the mansion.
We went up to the 2nd floor, and saw the beautiful and spacious ante-sala. They had a replica of the Spoliarium (Juan Luna's famous painting, a mirror with an 18-karat gold border, a beautiful grandfather's clock (being a fan of watches and timepieces, I really wanted to take it home with me), and a vase that came from the Emperor of China during the Ming Dynasty.
This would be the main sala with those dainty furniture and huge windows that make the room glow.
This is the dining room. Those "drapes" actually have 2 purposes - to ward off flies and to fan the people dining.
Looking out into the window of the dining room, you see the courtyard which Rusty says is the coolest part of the mansion.
The family is also deeply religious. They have their own chapel in the middle of the house which housed antique statues of saints. I fell in love with the crucifix! I used to be open to the public, but some tourist who wanted a keepsake stole the head of one the statues. So now the chapel can only be viewed from the outside.
As we toured the house, I completely forgot that Cory Quirino, fitness and beauty expert, is related to Pres. Elpidio Quirino. She was my former editor-in-chief when I was still in the publishing world, and it was just so nice to see her roots. Mabuhay ang mga Ilocana! :))
Downstairs, Rusty asked us to pose in front of the caruaje and the portrait of the former president Elpidio Quirino.
Just a reminder for the tourists who plan on going to these museums, please donate. Your donations are used to help in the up-keep of the houses. In the Sy Quia-Quirino mansion, donations are at P20 per person. In the Crisologo house, any amount will do.
They have priceless stuff in those house so maintaining them is real job! And it's one of the best ways to understand the culture of Ilocos Sur.
For part 4 of our Ilocos tour: Chavit Singson's Baluarte! :)