Old houses reconnect the present from the past.  We make our own history, what has been is transmitted from one generation to another.  Though not all lives are documented, each of us has a story to tell.

Vigan City is a huge diorama of Philippine history.  Aligned residential houses and even commercial establishments is a museum in itself.  But there are prominent personalities from the history of the Filipino people whose lives give interest to all.  And their respective homes will give us an overview of how they lived. 

The scorching sun decided not to participate in our tour.  Drizzles were our companion as we hopped from one mansion to another.  But the raindrops never dampened the wandering souls of this group of scribblers, photographers and story writers.

facade of the Syquia Mansion


“Picture-taking is not allowed.”  Oh no! I said to myself without everyone hearing my reaction in exaggeration of the situation.  We are here to document and write stories.  That was the order of the old man wearing a stern look.  He is the caretaker and tour guide for this visit.

And so we complied.  The caretaker further added that picture-taking will be done after the tour. I sighed and declared “the rule is reasonable”.

can you see where the peeping hole is?
The secret doors of the mansion and the centuries-back CCTV installation were revealed as we had the mandatory tour.  Back in the earlier times, the peeping hole in the master’s bedroom was used to view visitors in the reception area of the second floor before they are allowed to enter the grand living room. Quite innovate I must say and that was the predecessor of the CCTV as we are all familiar with in this day and age.

the dining area
The Syquia Mansion is the ancestral house of the late President Quirino’s wife, Dona Alicia Quirino.  But the same has been used as a venue as well for presidential functions during his administration.  The elegant furnishings will give us a peek on the historical political gatherings and that the antiques displayed are not only from the Philippines but from various countries all over, mostly European and China, as the former first lady has Chinese lineage.

presenting reproduction of Juan Luna's Spolarium

the main living room

the portrait
Huge oil portraits of the family, with three identified as being done by the national artist Fernando Amorsolo, greets every visitor at the grand sala.  A replica of Juan Luna’s Spolarium is also displayed at the reception area of the second floor.  A grand welcome it was.

The mansion gives us a peek of how the wealthy families back then lived.  It surely has a lot of secret doors.  Since the descendants still come to visit the mansion from time to time, there are modern facilities attached to the mansion as well.

After the informative tour from the caretaker full of enthusiasm, the photo sessions then commenced.


“Vigan derived its name from the lush “Bigaa” plant”.  The welcome remark of Crisologo Mansion posted on the door written on a white cartolina says so. Though informative, it appears off tangent.

Crisologo Mansion is the ancestral house of the late Floro Crisologo, patriarch of a political clan in Vigan and a former Congressman. Floro Crisologo was shot in the head by an unidentified gunman at the St. Paul’s Cathedral.  The murder remains unsolved until this day.  It is from that unfortunate event that the family decided to open their house to the public and convert the same into a museum.

The ground floor of the mansion exhibits the bloodied clothing and shoes worn by the late congressman during that tragic incident.  It also serves as the library and study room of the family, with book collections on display.  As I saw the typewriter and Legal Digests on one corner, the world became familiar and I begin to remember my life as a law student.  The room was filled with relative silence and it was a feeling like no one was allowed to laugh or talk in high volume, to the very least.

Then, a different atmosphere enveloped us, as we moved to the second floor.  Arranged like a museum, the prized possessions of the family are on display with name tags attached and that the private rooms are likewise open for public viewing.

wooden refrigerator and the beers centuries-old

the master's bedroom


en route to Arce Mansion
We rode the kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) as part of our tour to another Mansion - The Arce Mansion. Is this related to the ice cream and dairy products brand?  No, the caretaker answered me with a smile.  The mansion is owned by the family of Dr. Alejandro Arce.

The typical Spanish colonial house opens its grand living room to the public for pictorial purposes.  It transforms itself into a photo studio and that costumes are provided by the caretakers as well.  Wanting to be a trader, priest, soldier, a wealthy or poor Filipino during the olden times?  This is your chance.  After all, you can no longer wear these clothes at Metro Manila on a day to day setting.

The colonial setting is what Arce Mansion offers to its guests.


In a modern setting of a mansion, who would not know Mr. Chavit Singson’s fortress.  The well-loved son of Vigan has opened his private property to the public in the form of a landscaped garden and a mini-zoo.

We were welcomed by Mr. Chavit Singson himself, as we had our lunch at the Baluarte.  Governor Ryan Singson was likewise present on our second visit.  Their hospitality was beyond compare and commendable.

members of the media with former Governor Chavit Singson

Governor Ryan Singson
The vast hectare of land is a destination in itself.  There are animals freely roaming around which makes the mini-zoo extraordinary and more interactive with its visitors.

If only the weather cooperated, then we could have a scenic panoramic view of the West Philippine Sea, the Abra River and the mountains that surround the multi-storey house of the former Governor. 

at the rooftop garden of former Gov. Chavit Singson's mansion
It was indeed a privilege to have set foot on the former governor’s house whose architectural landscape, building design and interiors are world-class and elegant.  I am truly grateful for the opportunity.


Our gracious host for this tour, business tycoon, Jose “Bonito” Singson, Jr., has likewise opened their ancestral house to us.  The colonial heritage house of the Singsons has been our home as well during our stay in Vigan.  Named after her mother, Caridad Crisologo-Singson, the architectural landscape and design of the restored home is faithful to its original architectural layout.

our host, Mr. Bonito Singson giving orientation
Casa Caridad is a museum in itself.  We were so fortunate to have seen interesting finds and the prized possessions of the family, the antique wares and clippings of Philippine history well-kept and maintained.  The residential house remains private nevertheless.

An Academy Award winning film which stars Tom Cruise was filmed on this residential house as well.  Go figure the movie.

cinematographic bedroom
With this, Casa Caridad is a testament that even private individuals in the City of Vigan is in one in keeping the glorious past of the town and the phrase ‘going back in time’ is indeed immortalized.
the rain has stopped and the bright moon appeared 

Pinoy Travel Bloggers at Casa Caridad


Vigan City, Philippines is one of the finalists for the New7WondersCities of the World. Show your support and be part of the Philippine history by casting your votes through:

Text VIGAN10 and send to 29290777 for 10 votes 

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