We all deserved that long rest after that full day of driving from Vigan to Sagada via Besang Pass National Park. The group arrived in Vigan a little past 6pm and stayed at the elegant old-Spanish style accommodation of Hotel Salcedo de Vigan. With enough time to recharge the photo tour group starts to explore what makes Vigan so special. I’ve been to this UNESCO World Heritage City a few times already but I still like it, especially the photo opportunities it offered.
Mid-morning, we took a quick stroll around Calle Crisologo’s cobblestone street. Checked out the details on the facades, the items on the street and the passing calesas. We hired a few calesas to take us around. There was no use in haggling since all of them go by their standard rates of P150 per hour. I thought it was a bit touristy but hey, it was quite enjoyable and I liked the soft breeze and clacking sound of the horses feet as we move through the city.
Pinagburnayan was our first stop. Good thing Sir Fidel Go was there to indulge us on a demonstration and show us around his pottery factory. Mr Go was the first National Artist awarded in the Philippines, a title given once a year for distinguished artist who elevates the Philippines Crafts and culture. The group enjoyed the dramatic lighting inside the factory, the people subjects and still life beauty of the pots.
The Syquia Mansion, the largest ancestral house in Vigan was also the former house of the Philippines’ sixth President, Elpidio Quirino. Guided by the house’s caretaker Justin, the group moved within the aged yet grand walls of the house where it was filled with antique items and stories that go along with them. It was a brief respite from the heat and humidity while admiring the ex-president’s grand abode.
Old church Bantay was our final stop with the calesas. It was more than an architectural shoot with the kids there as willing subjects in front of the cameras. Terracotta walls with dramatic lights, detailed doors as backdrop to glassy eyed kids. A few minutes later we went back to the plaza and said good by to the calesas. It was a free for all afternoon for everyone to do what they want to do.
Late afternoon, we went back to Calle Crisologo where the group did some panning exercise. I must admit, I never thought of doing panning in Vigan which is really an ideal place where the calesas, the motorbikes, and the bicycles look good in motion front of the old houses of Vigan. Apart from that, I tried to capture the low light glow of the city as the light settles down for the night.
Unfortunately, that was the last evening with the group. My portion of the tour was over when we flew back to Manila the next day from Laoag. It has been a great ride with the group for the past 5 days and I never thought I would grow fond of their company. A very enthusiastic lot with great eagerness to learn to take great pictures. As for me I’ve learned a lot especially on how Karl Grobl teaches with vocal fluidity and takes advantages of certain situations as an opportunity to teach and take photos. I still consider myself as young in the industry of teaching photography and this experience inspired me to be better at it. Doing photography is one thing but teaching it is another.
I bade good bye to them as they make their way to Bohol the next day. It was great meeting these people who come from all walks of life – a gecko lover, a former broadcaster/promising travel writer photographer, a gooner and his lover, a retired teacher photographer and his videographer wife, a Nixon look-a-like adventure cyclist, the fluent Indian professor, and the enthusiastic Israeli. I hope to bump into them again someday on their travels around the world.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.