Before the Spanish colonial rule, the old
Bigan had been long traded with the "Sanglay" Chinese traders for
it's nice port. Ships from Macau and India also traded in Ilocos.
Vigan is known for its Spanish-style brick houses and religious Mecca in
North Luzon. The town was founded by Juan Salcedo, grandson
of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi who founded the city of Manila. Conquistador
Salcedo went to the Ilocos and established a military settlement in Vigan
on June 13, 1572, which two years later, he named Villa Fernandina.
When Salcedo set up VillaFernandina
near the old settlement of Vigan, he erected a small wooden chapel along
the Mestizo river and later the Villa joined Vigan and grew fast as an
economic, ecclesiastical and political center. An old map (1753) indicates that Vigan
itself is an island and had an important strategic military value at that time. Later established into a
poblacion and into Ciudad Fernandina in honor of Prince Ferdinand, first born son of King
Philip II of Spain. It's the third city built by Spaniard colonizers in
the 18th century after Cebu and Manila. Juan Salcedo, the conquistador,
died in 1576 while inspecting a gold mine at the foothills of encomienda.
Our national heroes like Diego and Gabriela
Silang, Padre Jose
Burgos, poetess Leona Florentino, labor leader Isabelo de los Reyes
are the "sons and daughters" of Vigan. It became the center of Silang's
in 1762 during the British occupation of Manila. It was also Philippines'political
hot bed after World
War II under Philippine president Elpidio
Quirino's regime. Vigan then ruled by an abusive and corrupt
political dynasty for decades. We witnessed the abuse of power
and greed on those years. The freedom of the press was under attack.
I think no journalists or radio commentators dared to expose the ruling
clan's repression, massive graft and corruption and terrorism. Even
the influential Roman
Catholic Church practically collaborated with the ruling class.
The bloody feud between political clans began with the struggle to control
the tobacco trade. Many innocent civilians were displaced and caught
in a crossfire between warring clans. The cycle of patronage, opportunism
and fraud is a way of life then. Several years after the People
Power Revolution in 1986 a new breed of administrators who are reformists and dedicated public servants in handling Vigan's local
affairs. We hope to see a better quality
of life in the next century.