Calle Crisologo, the most photographed street in Vigan, provides just about everything a tourist could want: a gorgeous backdrop for photos and shopping. There are the cobblestoned streets, the kalesa, the old houses in varying states of either preservation or disrepair and the lines of inns, restaurants and souvenir shops. Of course, we could go on and on about how the place provides a visual history of the Spanish colonial period and how the city was declared a UNESCO heritage site but let’s face it, a lot of us are really just interested in taking pictures and buying pasalubong.
So this is what I got in the few minutes of walking around Calle Crisologo: several photos, four packs of chicacorn and a bottle of basi. I was not transported two centuries back into old Vigan, as a lot of travel writers claimed. It’s kind of hard to do that when you’re jostling for space on the sidewalk in the rain and trying not to photobomb other people’s pictorials. And I’m pretty sure Island Souvenirs didn’t have a store yet in the 19th century.
I’m not trying to diss the experience of exploring the old streets of Vigan. Given more time, I’d love to walk around at a much slower pace and really take in the sights. But it’s kind of silly to expect a profound appreciation of history and culture just by taking pictures of old houses and spending a few minutes in a curio shop (although a kalesa ride just might do the trick).