Vigan’s charm goes beyond Calle Crisologo.
Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, a city that’s been preserved in time. It has the street plan of traditional Hispanic checkerboard style. Its main alley, Calle Crisilogo, has structures that are built of brick and wood, with a steeply pitched roof reminiscent of traditional Chinese architecture. Vigan is an exceptionally intact and well-preserved example of a European trading town in East and South-East Asia. With all these characteristics, Vigan’s declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
But the city’s charm goes beyond Calle Crisologo.
Vigan’s whimsical arts
The city’s impressive architecture matches its people. Local artists thrive in keeping the city vibrant thru Viva Vigan Binatbatan Festival of the Arts.
”Binatbatan” is the process of beating cotton pods to remove the seeds for Abel weaving. Which locals interpreted into an occupational dance with the use of two sticks called ”batbat”. Binabatan street dance is one of the main attractions during the week-long celebrations.
The festival also showcases local art of mosaicking seeds called ”boklan”. Carabao painting, Kalesa parade, spoken poetry, Abel decors, and fashion show. Plus a fun shoot, capturing the Vigan experience.
As per Vigan historian, Damaso King, the original Feast of the Natives began on May 3, 1883. When an epidemic disease killed 934 residents in a month in 1882. The ‘naturales’ and ‘mestizos’ asked Dr. Evaristo Abaya, then the parish priest, to request for the visit to Vigan of the Santo Cristo Milagroso of Sinait town. The people then ushered a novena. And on the ninth day, the contagion stopped. Since then, the naturales of Vigan chose the third day of May as thanksgiving day for Santo Cristo whom they call ‘Apo Lakay’, which is also the feast day of the Holy Cross and the Santo Cristo of Sinait town.
In 1993, residents staying in Metro Manila formed a group called KaiVigan. When they reunite in their hometown of Vigan to celebrate Tres de Mayo for two to three days. The longer they stay, the longer they promote Vigan as an interesting tourist place. According to Antonio Florentino, a descendant of Leona Florentino, the first poetess of the country, when he was still the secretary to the mayor in the early years of the festival.
And in 1995, then Mayor, Eva S. Medina, continued the group’s campaign to promote Vigan and so Viva Vigan Festival of the Arts was born.
Binatbatan was introduced in 2002 to be part of the festival to commemorate the Abel Iloco hand-loom weaving industry.
Viva Vigan Binatbatan Festival of the Arts is celebrated yearly from the last week of April to the first week of May.