Exploring Ilocos : Vigan Cathedral and Legion of Mary House in Ilocos

It was a tiring day we had yesterday but we still have to make the most of our last day in Ilocos! We woke up early to leave our Transient house after we had our breakfast. It was Sunday so there is no other best thing we can do but to spend our morning by attending an early mass.  We attended the mass in St Paul the Apostle Cathedral or more popularly known as the Vigan Cathedral.  We had a glimpse of it during our first day after watching the Dancing Fountain in Plaza Salcedo. (Check Vigan By Night)

Vigan Cathedral is located just in front of the Plaza Salcedo and just like any other landmarks or attractions in Vigan, the church also shares rich historical significance. The church along with the entire town of Vigan is declared as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and is recognized as one of the New Seven Wonder Cities.  Other two baroque churches in Ilocos Region that are included in UNESCO Heritage site list includes the Santa Maria Church in Ilocos Sur and the Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte (Check : Exploring Ilocos: Paoay Church).

The current church was built from 1790 to 1800 by the Augustinians. It was actually the fourth time the church was reconstructed. The first church was built in 1641 but utterly damaged by Earthquake. The third one was destroyed by fire. During the Philippine Revolution, the church was once occupied by the revolutionists  Colonel Juan Villamor in 1896 and also by the American forces under Lieutenant Colonel James Parker in 1899 (during the Philippine-American war).

The Vigan Cathedral has a very interesting facade. It features an Earthquake Baroque style but it also has Neo-Ghotic and Chinese-inspired embellishments on it (you can spot carvings of Fu Dogs or Lion Dogs by the outermost doors). The side of the church is supported by huge buttresses. Interestingly, it also features a bell tower which is located separately to the church itself. The tower and the church is separated by a small road. It features an 82ft high belltower with weather rooster on top, which symbolizes Saint Peter.
The facade features an image of Saint Paul the Apostle.
20170430_102423t The Bell tower


The interior of the church is equally stunning. It features three naves highlighting the silver paneled main altar, 2 pulpits, 12 minor altars and more. The interior is adorned with striking white and gold color scheme.
The two layered silver paneled main retablo (altar) with the image of Saint Paul on top, the image of Resurrected Christ on top of the tabernacle with Saint Peter and Saint Sebastian on both sides.
On the south transcept of the church lies a wonderfully decorated altar dedicated to the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. The altar is also adorned with the images inspired from the events of the Mysteries.

20170430_102210t Our Lady of Lourdes
The Sacred heart of Jesus
IMG_0812t The image of Apo Caridad, one of the patroness of Ilocos. We also went to Bantay Church later that day where the image of Apo Caridad is enshrined. I will write a separate entry for it!

After the mass, we all decided to pay a quick visit to Calle Crisologo as we didn’t get to embrace its beauty during our first day. It was night and the street was surprisingly crowded. Luckily, despite the scourging heat of the sun, we get the chance to witness the cobblestone streets by day. We also took the opportunity to buy pasalubong and souvenirs. But before all that, what really surprises us, legionaries, is Legion of Mary house that we unexpectedly spotted near the Cathedral.

It was never part of our itinerary and we do not really have any idea that there is a Legion of Mary house in Vigan! We grabbed the opportunity to take a quick peak and hoping that we could speak to someone from the building. Unfortunately, no one is around, we spoke to only some attendants but they allowed us to wander around and of course, some photo opportunity.

The Legion of Mary House is more of a 2 story ancestral house highlighting a huge Vexilium on its facade. Upon entering their premises, you will be welcomed by an image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The ambiance was made even more relaxing by the greens and trees around it.
(The vexilium legionis). The Legion House in Vigan is in the compound near the Archbishop Residence in Nueva Segovia St (The only remaining Archbishop’s Palace in the Philippines built during the Spanish colonization). I later learned that construction of the Legion of Mary House is built under the leadership of the late Sis. Pacita Donato, foundress of the Legion of Mary in Vigan and the Ilocos region.  Also, there’s a dorm at the back where you can rent as transient when you visit Vigan.

Things you Should Know before visiting the Vigan Cathedral
►Vigan Cathedral is located in front of Salcedo Plaza
►The Vigan Cathedral along with other places in Vigan is included in UNESCO World Heritage Sites
►It is Canonically known as Metropolitan Cathedral of the Conversion of Saint Paul The Apostle
►The current church was established from 1790 to 1800
►Important: You should be aware of their Mass Schedules. The early mass is usually in Ilocano. On Sundays: 4:30 to 10 Am masses are in Ilokano. 10:30am and 6:30 am masses are the only English masses on Sundays in Vigan Cathedral and the rest are in Ilokano.
►Just few walks away from the Cathedral, you’ll find some of the best Empanadahan too

How to get to Vigan
►There are many bus lines from Manila that caters daily trips to Laoag which passes by Vigan. The trips usually made through North Luzon Expressway and Manila North Road passing through the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan and La Union

►Since we are a huge group, we realized that it is more practical for us to get a transient house in Vigan. We stayed in Carlainton Transient House which offers a very spacious set of rooms (good enough to accommodate us all). They have an Honest Store here which is really a new experience for me. Anyway, there’s an overwhelming amount of lodges, transient houses and hotels in Vigan. If you are looking for a luxurious hotel experience, you might consider hotels like Ciudad Fernandina (Check Details Here) or the Hotel Salcedo De Vigan (Check Here). For Solo Backpackers or Couples who are in budget, you can try Balai Mestizo which is just one kilometer away from Calle Crisologo. Check the list of affordable Ilocos Sur Hotels here! (I personally prefer TravelBook Ph because of their “Pay At Hotel” service which doesn’t require any credit cards when booking).

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10 thoughts on “Exploring Ilocos : Vigan Cathedral and Legion of Mary House in Ilocos

  • December 4, 2017 at 7:33 pm

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  • December 6, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Hi, Milton.

    So, while reading the article, I cannot help but have a higher appreciation of what we have here. We were once a colony of Spain for three centuries. On the whole, colonization is not something that is acceptable in any time and era, but look at the legacy left by the Spaniards. In almost all provinces of the country, there are centuries-old churches. Of course, among the most fascinating ones are right there in Vigan.

    Mercifully, it became a World Heritage Site. Otherwise, Vigan today would be completely different.

    One thing that irks me with the church though is seeing the tarps hanging outdoor. Photo bomb!

  • December 6, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Some churches have the best sculptures! This one specially looks like its full of them and you got some great photos of them. I’ll be honest I have never even heard of Earthquake Baroque style of architecture.I’ll have to go look it up!

  • December 7, 2017 at 12:06 am

    I always love Churches built during the Spanish era. I find them a real beauty and something too sturdy. I also enjoy the stories behind the construction, making me be proud of how Filipinos can be real creative and dedicated in building the structure. Anyway, going back to Vigan Cathedral, it is quite different from the other churches as the tower and the church are separated by a small road. Quite interesting. The facade would have been more beautiful sans the tarpaulin.

  • December 7, 2017 at 2:06 am

    The first things that I noticed about this church is how European it looks like, from the outside. The separate bell tower made me think of Malta, and one of the churches I have seen there. The facade made me think of Spain (and South America). The interior makes me think of Vietam (how odd is that?). And all the statues inside make me think of Italy. It is truly a piece of art!

  • December 7, 2017 at 10:08 am

    I think, Vigan Cathedral is overshadowed by Paoay Church at some point. Though, based on your photos, Vigan Cathedral has a different charm from Paoay church. I haven’t really explored Ilocos that much and hope to visit all of these when I get a chance. I really want to see these beautiful Unesco heritage churches with my own eyes.

  • December 7, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    I had been to Vigan Cathedral, and it’s really beautiful! I wish we were able to stop by the Legion of Mary House. Vigan has a lot of preserved remnants of the Spanish influence so going to its churches is a really must do when you are there. I wish we can go for another visit!

  • December 7, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Grand churches! Good they are under UNESCO WHS, makes them well looked after.
    Excellent pics of interiors. I hope to visit some day. Thanks for the info on the stays around the church.

  • December 7, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    Well, another majestic and scenic place to visit! I’m so happy that it’s within our dear beloved country. Churches, in a way, showcase the talent of the architects and also be a part of history. When we went here around a decade ago, I feel that we did not pass and drop by these so, I am enticed once more to embark on a historical trip to Vigan!

  • December 8, 2017 at 6:52 am

    When we had an Instameet before, we doscovered Pampanga’s churches. Before, I really don’t appreciate church architecture that much but the Instameet changed my view. Seeing Legion of Mary makes me want to visit Vigan not because of empanada but for the church itself. It was such a pretty sight to see.


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