Vigan, the capital of Ilocos Sur, is my father's birthplace, and the hometown of my paternal ancestors. The last time I had been to Vigan was when I was three, and the only things I remember about the trip are waking up in the car (after sleeping for several hours) and stopping at a little store for ice cream.
But Vigan remained mystical and beautiful in my mind's eye, all the years I was growing up. I often saw photographs of the carefully preserved Crisologo Street, the most well-preserved Spanish-era colonial area in all of the Philippines (and a UNESCO heritage site because of that), but in my imagination those photographs came to life, and I imagined my fellow-Ilocanos, dark-skinned and tough, like myself and my paternal relatives, trudging the cobble stones of a town caught in a bygone century, where the modernity of the 20th and 21st century had been barred from entering. Someday, I told myself, I was going to visit Vigan again.
A telephone call from an uncle made me deliver on that promise. I had to go to Vigan to attend to some family matters. At first I was reluctant, because the trip demanded that I take a leave from work during one of the busiest parts of the year. But then ... I figured, it's an excuse to make the 8-hour trip to Vigan. Vigan was beckoning to me. It was time for this granddaughter of Vigan to return to her roots.