If you are nearing the end of your Vigan, Ilocos Sur Tour, you are probably thinking now of what items to bring home to your family and friends and, of course, for yourself to keep as souvenir and remind you of that memorable trip. Read on to find out what Vigan City has to offer when it comes to shopping in this article by Anna Zofia Leal, our contributor from the Heritage City of Luzon.
There are two main markets or places to shop in Vigan City—the two-storey Vigan City Public Market, also called the Gov. Evaristo Titong Singson Commercial Center, and the one at Calle Crisologo, or more popularly known as the Heritage Village. While both markets offer souvenirs to tourists, there are products that are unique to and more plentiful in one market. For example, food products such as muscovado (organic sugar from sugar cane), Ilocos garlic, and sukang Iloco are more abundant and of better quality if bought at the Vigan Public market.
Vigan Public Market
Vigan Public Market (Photo from Vigan City Facebook Page)
Vigan Public Market is located on Alcantara Street in Vigan City. You can easily find it as it occupies the whole middle block. Landmarks around it include Puregold and Jollibee.
The best time to visit the Vigan Public Market is in the early morning. Before you begin your shopping, you can have your breakfast at the second floor where local delicacies are served.
Vigan longganisa (Photo by Writer)
The second level of the building is where you can dine. Aside from the usual pancit, spaghetti, or palabok, local offerings such as the bibingka, empanadita, and sinanglao (beef meat and innards cooked in broth) abound there.
Empanadita, one of the famous delicacies in Vigan (Photo courtesy of Writer)
Opposite to the dining area are the meat and fish sections. In the meat section you will find the famous Vigan Longganisa and Vigan Bagnet. Unlike in other provinces, longganisa in Vigan is sold by the dozen, and not weighed.
In the fish section, you can find some local seaweeds like the Pokpoklo (finger algae) and Ar-arusip (seaweed), which is best eaten raw with some sliced tomatoes and onions. Most of the time, you’ll also find yellowfin tuna and squid in this section.
Other great finds still on the second level are the freshly-made miki noodles and dried fish at the south side of the market, where some Baguio vegetables can also be bought fresh. Cabbages and cauliflowers can be bought cheap because they are some of the main produce of the nearby municipality of Sta. Catalina.
Muscovado, Ilocos garlic, and other local produce can easily be found in the middle section of the market.
After scouting the whole second floor for local produce, head on to the ground floor where you can find local handicrafts to take home as souvenirs.
Abel-Iloco or the Inabel, the local handwoven textile of the Ilocos region, is sold by the roll and per yard in stores along the middle aisle.
Photo by Writer
Blankets, table runners, hand towels, and placemats coming from Ilocos Norte and La Union are great selections; however, they are mostly sold by bulk. You can buy bags, the local kulambo (mosquito net), as well as banig (handwoven mat).
Souvenirs and local handicrafts at the Vigan Pubilc Market are much cheaper than in Calle Crisologo, but most items are sold by bulk and not by piece.
Calle Crisologo is located near Plaza Burgos and Vigan Plaza Hotel. The place is best visited around 6:00 PM onwards, when the lights are lit. It offers the more souvenir-type products like key chains, t-shirts, and other printed materials with the word “Vigan.”
Rowilda’s and Cristy’s stores offer handwoven Inabel or Abel-Iloco products. End-products such as blankets, wall decorations, hand towels, and placemats can be bought there. Other stores in the Heritage Village also sell chicacorn, Vigan longganisa and bagnet. Angelyn’s store offers them at almost the same price as in the public market, which is a good deal for tourists who opt not to go elsewhere to shop for souvenirs.
Of course, the Heritage Village is full of antiques ranging from furniture, books, vinyl records, and other collectibles. Wooden furniture, mostly still resembling antiques, line the whole street.
Most of the days in the afternoon, newly caught fish and other produce are directly sold by farmers and fishermen at the east and west side entrances of the market. Seasonal fish such as the Ipon (small fish only found in Ilocos Sur) is also sold here.
If you are going to the market early in the morning, try the sinanglao sold at the west side of the market, close to the Lyric Cinema. This sinanglaoan only opens early in the morning and is a favorite among the locals for their breakfast.
Stores along Calle Crisologo usually open around 8:00 AM and close at 8:00 PM. Stalls at the public market open at around 5:00 AM and close at around 5:00 PM. Both markets do not have entrance fees.