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Hotel Felicidad

“A city like no other”

427 YEARS after Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo arrived on June 23, 1572, historic Vigan became the 630th UNESCO World Heritage Site on December 2, 1999, after a tedious documentation and nomination process that started in 1986.
The Manila Times of January 31, 2000 featured the article, "A City Like No Other" by Dr. Fernando N. Zialcita, Ph.D. Chairman of Ateneo de Manila University Department of Anthropology and author of "The Philippine Ancestral Houses."

He wrote in part that "Vigan was inscribed on the basis of being one of the best preserved examples of the planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the combination of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines and from China and Europe to create a unique culture and landscape without comparison anywhere in the East and Southeast Asia."

The Law of the Indies Town Plan prototype implemented by Salcedo. In striking similarity, the aerial view of Vigan was taken by Director Kiyoshi Ono and the Tokyo Broadcasting System in September 2000 from above the President Elpidio Quirino Stadium southward to the sea and southeastward to the Cordillera Mountain. Shown at the foreground is the Divine World Collage of the SVD Fathers, ca. 1935, Palacio de Arzobispado, built by Bishop Juan Ruiz from Madrigalejo, Caceres in Spain, ca. 1783-1790, and the Colegio Business Center, ca. 1892-1898 Colegio del Rosario de Niña. At the center are the Cathedral and Belfry, ca. 1790-1800, with the Plaza Fr. Jose Burgos to the south, ca. 1574-1907 Plaza Municipal, old seminary site, and ca. 1822-1968, and Plaza Juan de Salcedo to the west (right), the Plaza Mayor of 1574-1576.

The cluster of structures southward comprises the Heritage Village with more than 300 ancestral houses and granaries with antiques shops, hotel, restaurants and other business establishments. Dr. Florangel Rosario-Braid wrote in her Manila Bulletin article of December 18, 1999 that Vigan was selected on the merit of its being an urban settlement which represents the blending of the best influences of Philippine, Chinese, Mexican and Spanish architectural town planning. It maintains the entrepreneurial tradition of reserving the ground floor for business purposes while living quarters are on the other floor'

The CASA CARIDAD of pioneer entrepreneur Jose "Bonito" Singson y Crisologo which was fully restored in 1998-1999. He named the ancestral house in loving memory of his late mother, Doña Caridad Crisologo y Singson de Singson, the First Lady of Vigan when her husband was Mayor Jose "Maestro Seling" Singson y Sebastian in 1971-1976. This earmarked Bonito's return from Manila to significantly contribute to the economic progress of his one and only hometown where he established at an old seminary site, Jollibee, Chowking and the Plaza Maestro Commercial Complex which he named in honor and loving memory of his late father. He further developed the Centro de Regalos to the North of St. Paul Cathedral with a panoramic riverside view for exotic dining. Bonito is the youngest brother of the late Gov. Evaristo "Titong" (Vigan Mayor in 1972-88), Gov. Luis "Chavit", business executive Fernando "Dodoy", PCSO Chair Honey Girl S. de Leon, Vice Gov. Jerry and Councilor Germie S. Goulart.

On the basis of the Royal Decree, King Ferdinand VI on September 7, 1758, created Ciudad Fernandina with the permanent transfer of the Diocesan See of Nueva Segovia. Vigan was restored as a city by virtue of Republic Act No. 8988 which was overwhelming ratified by Bigueños on January 22, 2001.

Bp. Juan de la Fuente y Yepes requested for the transfer and it was granted after the bishop died in 1757. His successor, Bp. Bernardo Ustariz, OP, arrived in Vigan in 1761 where he died in 1764.

The research in 1956 of Fr. Frederick Scharpf, SVD, in the Archivo General de Indies in Seville, revealed that 41-year old Bp. Miguel Garcia de San Esteban, OP, started the quest for a Palacio and Cathedral in 1768 with his Secretario de Cameray Gobierno, Fr. Juan Roeda. The Alcalde Mayor de Ilocos, Capitan Don Pedro de Iriarte, gave his full support, together with D. Juan Joseph de Iriarte from Tolosa, Vizcaya, Spain, D. Francisco Moreno from San Lucas de Marramea, Andalusia, Spain, D. Francisco Sespedes from Mexico and Cabeza D. Domingo de los Santos, who comprised the inspection team of the old church "near the river."

Signing as witnesses (testigo saccompañados y jurados) were D. Eusebio Sespedes, D. Eusebio Lasaca and D. Francisco Moreno, countersigned by D. Olimpo Gallardo and D. Baltazar Ramos de Alcantara. Another group of witnesses were D. Ascanio de la Cruz, D. Antonio Henriquez and D. Pablo del Catillo.

Alas, building the Palacio and Cathedral was not meant for them; Bp. Garcia's death in Vigan in 1779 at the age of 53 dashed his dreams and hopes. Nonetheless, he pioneered the quest for a Palacio and Cathedral.