Archive for vigan

in good hands

Posted in artifacts, culture, history, lifestyle, locales, people, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2009 by mijodo

man toiling at burnay factory

It has been said, time and time again, that probably among all Filipinos, the Ilocanos could be the most hardworking people. Pretty much, the environment and the climate, may have pushed the folks from Ilocos region to work harder and toil longer.  The soaring heat during summers makes cultivation and farming more arduous. Searing photos have been taken of cracking soil, as water resource gets depleted and becomes more precious.

Since production delivery becomes scant,  Ilocanos have learned to stretch whatever stock and possessions they have until the next crop yield. In due time, Ilocanos earned the monicker of being the “most frugal Filipinos.”  Apparently, they somehow have been proud of such description as it captures their resilience and the know-how in handling their finances.

As Ilocanos try to come up with greater agricultural production efficiency through the centuries despite the conditions, they have also gone to other homebased entrepreneurial activities, which have been esteemed and marvelled for several centuries as well.  Such traditional crafts have also made use of the great handskills of the people from the north. Ladies have gone to abel-weaving while the men have gone to burnay-pottery.

Abel weaving is a centuries old craft that produces abel- iloco or inabel, using wooden loom equipment. The cotton threads, used in abel weaving, during the old times were usually dyed before the weaving which should produce interesting folkloric color combinations that only the Ilocanos could produce.  It is said that abel weaving started out in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, but there has been production coming from parts of Ilocos Norte as well.  As the weaves are thick and coarse, the cloth is usually utilized as rags, blankets and other home products. However somehow today, designers have treated the same inabel material for high fashion.

Introduced by Chinesed merchants, burnay is an earthenware produced in different sections of Ilocos region, but is said to be popularly made in Ilocos Sur. Burnay has been used as a vessel to store grains and rice, and to ferment kitchen needs such as bagoong, wine or vinegar. Burnay-makers would use special clay such that water would not seep out from the jars, and maintain cool temperature. Such vats are sturdy enough because of the way they have been baked. Consequently, jars, done centuries back, are much sought after by antique collectors.

It is a testament to the Ilocanos that such old traditional backyard activities have survived until now. They have honed these specific handskills through history, just like any other Ilocano way of life activities – with effort, adept, and passion.

bless the beasts and their patron

Posted in artifacts, events, health, locales, nature, people, travel with tags , , , , , , on July 10, 2009 by mijodo


mini horses grazing at the grass

A fifteen-month old Asian Tiger named Kiara by her loneself leisurely prances back and forth in the almost three hundred square foot cage in the midday heat. She occasionally  breaks from the walking motion and gives a yawn, signifying satisfaction of the hearty lunch of beef and chicken she just had.

Then a man gingerly approached the side section of the cage and gets the tiger’s attention. “Kiara,” he  hollers as he puts out his arm inside the enclosure, ordering the tiger to come near him. Without hesitation, the tiger slowly treads toward the man, and allows the person to pat her head. “This is Kiara,” he introduces. Next the tiger just sits the steel bar partition as if wanting more affection from the man who is just too happy to give her even more.

– “Tale of the Tiger Tamer,” Success Unlimited Magazine, 2002

It has been a long time since that encounter where I had witnessed and had written for the defunct magazine, Success Unlimited. And just recently, I have come to see again the love and devotion of Ex-Governor Chavit Singson with his menagarie of animals in his home province of Ilocos Sur, particularly in his mini-zoo in Baluarte, just 10 minute tricyle drive away from Vigan.

Somehow, unlike the sorry state of animal affairs in Manila Zoo, the tigers and his other collection of beasts and birds are heftier, more alive and alert. Perhaps, it can be said that these creatures are better taken care of, and healthier. In fact some of these animals have been tagged to electronically track their whereabouts. Thus it would be easier for veterinarians and staff  to give the proper nutrition and sustenance to each animal. 

The white deer, the camels, the cute miniature horses graze on the grass and herbage that grow on a significant portion of land, without the confining steel bars that are familiar in zoos. Thus there can be some fine interaction between such benign animals and the people who are just too eager to oblige some petting on such beings.

Visitors should enjoy the carriage ride, propelled by the mini-horses imported from Australia, around the circular track. Children would have a grand time watching scheduled mini-shows of tigers, lions, and talking parrots and parakeets. And, somehow people will get amazed by those dinosaur statues in a section of the zoo. It can be reminiscent of the scenes from the movie series, Jurassic Park. Best of all, everyone can enjoy such simple joys for free.

The animals of Baluarte, including Kiara, should give thanks to their patron, Chavit Singson, for making their existence happy. Visitors should thank Chavit Singson for making them happy too, particularly that admission is free. On the other hand, Chavit Singson should thank his collection and the people for making him happy as well – as all animals and visitors are truly happy and have appreciated his herculean effort for his project – Baluarte.