Calle Crisologo Vigan City and the The love story that saved a town.

As you’ve noticed, I am staggering my post by place; pardon me for doing so.There are a lot of wonderful stories and memories I got from travelling that I can’t forgive myself of not sharing them specially that I am aware that soon these stories might be forgotten or fade in time. Standing alone in one of the corner of a UNESCO World Heritage Sites is more than enough, but I can’t settle on that. I need to take photos, I need to hear stories, and of course I need to share or rather keep and write those I have captured and heard. Today I am posting about one of the most romantic place in the Philippines, - Vigan City’s Calle Crisologo and the Heritage Village.

The historic City of Vigan is always hailed to be the most preserved Spanish Colonial town having Calle Crisologo as its most famous site. Calle Crisologo is a half kilometer street of old Spanish structures – mostly are houses of prominent Filipino-Chinese traders. The main mode of transportation in Calle Crisologo are tricycles and carriage (a tourist choice). Around the street corner are found some café, pension houses, restaurants, souvenir and antique stores. Walking along by day and shopping made me felt genuinely somewhere in the Hispanic heydays.
The night view is stunning and indeed the intricate craftsmanship of old times is preserved and is still perfectly embedded in each corner of the street. Most of the buildings still serves its long time purpose of housing while others where converted into a Museum like Syquia Mansion. It always comes to my thought how this place survived the war while places around were all crushed and smashed into pieces. Have you ever wondered why?
True or not I still love the story and it arrives to me like it was a real fairytale. Now here is the summary of the tale told by one the tour guide inside Syquia Mansion.

The love story that saved a town in WWII.

“Before world war II, Japanese reaches the Philippines and some settled in Vigan. One of them is Japanese General Maj. Sakae Narioka who fell in love with a local woman named Belen Castillo. The Japanese General won the heart of Belen and they got married and had a child named Emiko Narioka. Couple of years then after signing the treaty of Paris which transfers the fate of the Philippines from Spanish to Americans the battle set in the Northern Part of the Philippines.

While the battle is fast approaching north and further, the Japanese General had sensed news that the Americans are soon to arrive in Vigan. To spare his wife and child, he commanded the Japanese settlers and soldiers to depart going to north. He left his wife and son in one of the church in Vigan under the care of a Dominican priest. All signs of Japanese inhabitant were burnt in Vigan right after the General and his troops left the place. American flags were hung on each and every window of the houses signing the Americans that this place has fully turned to their side. By this, Vigan was spared from bombing.

American troops kept going north and soon attacked Laoag City. Nothing was told about what happen to the brave general (now an image of loving father and husband) and his troops who they believe headed to Laoag too.

The ambiance is romantic and the story as well, could there be any place sweeter than this? Anyhow, I only told the story based on how I remembered it. If you have a better version or if you happen to take down notes of some details, please let me know. I would love to hear those =).


  1. I envy you! Lakwatchera talaga! ;) The photos are lovely! Kailangan mapuntahan ko na this year yan. I was supposed to go there, pero the plan did not push through. Hopefully this year talaga!

    First time to learn about the lovestory that you shared. Interesting and heartwarming story.

    And again, the place is so beautiful!!!

  2. Nothing to envy girl :-) malapit lang yan. Know u can be there with a little push ;-) i also don't have any idea bout the story until we are curious to ask. So love it <3

  3. Hi!

    I stumbled upon your blog by accident, and it's a very wonderful travel blog! I wish I could have the time to travel as widely as you, or let alone create and maintain a blog! :-)

    I'm from the city of Vigan, although I'm based here in Manila already. I go home there monthly, although. And yes, the Heritage City can speak for herself, I need not praise her virtues here anymore. :-)

    I'm not sure, but the guide you mentioned probably got his story jumbled or something as to the time setting. (I find it weird, Treaty of Paris [1898] to World War II [1945] agad! Hehehe!) He must have confused his sources, I think.

    From what I know of the story, it took place at the start of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, circa early 1940s. A young Japanese general met a beautiful Bigueña and both took a liking to each other. (At least the guide did his homework here, because he knew the actual names of the characters hehehe.) I'm not sure if they wed, but they certainly did have a lovechild. Towards the end of the the war in the Pacific (1945 or so), the tide soon turned in favor of the Americans. Manila, Cebu, Zamboanga, and the other cities soon fell to the Allied forces. Victory came at a price although. These colonial cities were badly damaged. Their old colonial structures were destroyed and were beyond repair. (Think of Intramuros: the San Agustin Church was the only remaining colonial-era structure left standing within Intramuros after the Allied forces regained Manila.)

    Vigan was spared from destruction, however. When news that the Allied forces were approaching Vigan, the Japanese general thought of his lover and their child. Not wanting harm to befall them, he gave orders to the Japanese army to gather all gunpowder and munitions stored in various locations throughout the city. These were then burned at the plaza (the present Plaza Burgos, I think). Before leaving Vigan for Laoag, he then ordered his men to remove all traces of Japanese occupation in Vigan, and instructed the townfolk to unfurl American flags in conspicuous places in the city.

    This is (so the say) the reason why Vigan did not suffer the same fate as Manila, Cebu and the other colonial cities. Because the stored ammunition and gunpowder were burned prior to the arrival of the Allied forces, there was no more threat from any conflagration that could have damaged the colonial structures, had the Allied forces decided to drop bombs or set fire to the city. There was no need to do so however, since the Japanese have already left Vigan, with American and white flags fluttering everywhere.

    Nothing is known about what eventually happened to the Japanese general, or to his lover and child. It is decidedly romantic, but whatever real substance it has, the story sure fits the romantic mood one gets while promenading or riding a calesa along the historic streets of Vigan.

    Make sure to visit Vigan again. I myself am always amazed at the changes that take place in Vigan in my absence. Sometimes, it seems I am not a Bigueño anymore, but just an ordinary traveler. The last time I went home (last month), the musical fountain was just unveiled at the Plaza Salcedo. It's like the dancing fountain at Rizal Park or the one at Manila Ocean Park was transported to Vigan. It's bigger than the one in Luneta. A sight to behold, it's the talk of the town right now.

    Juan Pablo Gamboa
    phignudi at yahoo dot com

    1. Wow! what can I say but thank you :) thanks for the catch - I was so carried away to have missed the gap of years. I appreciate that you took time to have the story published in this page which will surely be a good reference to some other readers who are equally interested as me. You just patched everything so well and lovely - I surely bet you'll have a very nice blog if you do have one. I really wish I could visit back Vigan since we missed some spots when we were there and I guess the fountain you are referring is not yet set that time.

      Again, Juan, I can't thank you enough. Not only that you've provided such realism and clarity to the story but you also make me feel so flattered. I'd always love to have such reader who have interest in my stories and mundanes.

    2. Hi!

      Thanks for approving my comment, and hey, no problem. I really wanted to share what I know of the story, and your blog provided just the perfect venue. :-)

      The musical fountain can be found at the Plaza Salcedo, where you have the obelisk. That's the plaza between the cathedral and the provincial capitol.
      Here is one videoclip link from Youtube I was able to find:

      Again, nice blog! Keep on traveling ang documenting your travels! :-)

      Juan Pablo Gamboa
      phignudi at yahoo dot com

    3. Saw the fountain, malaki nga talaga. :) I assume that was the construction going on when we passed by Plaza Salcedo. Vigan is so busy beautifying that time in preparation for the holy week - they even close 2 museums to do their own improvement too. Hope I could go back soon. thanks for inspiring me btw ;)


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