August 6, 2015

Seven heritage places in the Philippines worth visiting

Vigan Ilocos Sur - Calle Crisologo
It's more fun in the Philippines! Explore the diverse culture of the Philippines as lists some of the most popular heritage towns and cities in the country.

If you attended a Filipino school as a kid, chances are you know that whenever August rolled around, it was time to polish your skills in declamation, singing, or slogan making in celebration of the Buwan ng Wika . As a nationalistic event, it aims to celebrate the Filipino language while also embracing our linguistic diversity.

This month is also an apt time to visit some of the country’s towns and cities that helped shape our history and heritage. You can make a holiday out of your visit to any of these sites, as many of them are located in distant provinces, although some of them are close enough to Metro Manila for a day tour.

Kawit Cavite - Aguinaldo Shrine by Antonio V. Oquias


Province: Cavite
Spoken languages: Tagalog, Chavacano

Considered as Cavite’s oldest municipality, Kawit was founded in 1587 for the Spanish Crown and referred to by the Spaniards as “Cavite El Viejo.” Its most famous spot is the Aguinaldo Shrine, the ancestral home of General Emilio Aguinaldo and the site where the Philippine independence from Spanish rule was declared. It is also home to St. Mary Magdalene Church, one of the oldest churches in the Philippines; as well as the Battle of Binakayan Monument, which commemorates a struggle between Spanish and Filipino soldiers in 1896.


Province: Bulacan
Spoken languages: Tagalog, Kapampangan

Malolos is recognized as the Premiere Heritage City of Bulacan for its ancestral houses, Spanish colonial churches and chapels, and historical landmarks. The Barasoain Church, for one, is the site of the First Philippine Congress in 1898. Also worth visiting is the neoclassic Bautista-Uytangcoy Mansion, known as home of Aguinaldo’s interior secretary Don Antonio Bautista, but is more recognizable as the site where Jose Rizal and Marcelo H. Del Pilar spoke with the 21 women of Malolos in 1892.


Province: Laguna
Spoken language: Tagalog

Pila, specifically the Pila Historic Town Center, was declared a National Historical Landmark for being an early pre-Hispanic center of culture and trade, owing to the discovery of clay potteries during excavations in Pinagbayanan in 1967. Some of the Spanish- and American-era architecture found in the locale are the 19th-century Baroque church Diocesan Shrine, and the Parish Church of San Antonio de Padua, founded in 1578 and regarded as the country’s first Antonine parish.


Province: Batangas
Spoken languages: Tagalog, Spanish

Most famous for its namesake lake and for balisong (fan knife) and barong (local garb) making, Taal has been labeled a National Historical Landmark because of its well-restored ancestral houses. One such property is the Agoncillo-Mariño House, considered a national shrine by the National Historical Institute where the national flag was first made by Marcela Mariño de Agoncillo. Other historical landmarks include the Old Taal Church ruins, where the original Church of St. Martin de Tours was built in 1575; and Escuela Pia, built in 1885 and considered the central school during the American regime.


Province: Ilocos Sur
Spoken languages: Ilocano, Pangasinan, Tagalog

A UNESCO World Heritage Site and recently named as one of the New7Wonders Cities, Vigan is one of the few Hispanic towns in the country where visitors can appreciate intact buildings that display a fusion of Filipino, Oriental, and European aesthetic. Its most famous attraction is Calle Crisologo, a cobblestone street flanked by Spanish-era homes and traversed by horse-drawn carriages or calesas. Other points of interest include the earthquake Baroque-style Vigan Cathedral, the history of which can be traced back to 1574; and the Archbishop’s Residence, which was built in the 16th century.

Silay Negros Occidental - Balay Negrense


Province: Negros Occidental
Spoken languages: Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Tagalog

Silay is often referred to as the Paris of Negros and considered by the Department of Tourism as Western Visayas’ seat of arts, culture, and ecotourism. The city is known for its artists and numerous cultural shows, but its most prized attractions are its well-preserved heritage houses, which were built during the heyday of the Philippine sugar industry. Some of the more famous homes are Balay Negrense, a late-19th-century home that has been transformed into a museum; and Hofileña Ancestral House, which was constructed in 1934 by Manuel Severino Hofileña and continues to be occupied by one of his heirs.


Province: Zamboanga Del Norte
Spoken languages: Cebuano, Subanen, Zamboangueño, Chavacano, Tagalog

Known as the “Shrine City in the Philippines,” Dapitan’s popularity lies in its historical significance as the place of exile of Rizal. In fact, its most famous sites are ones related to Rizal, such as Liwasan ng Dapitan, which the national hero helped designed; Punto del Desembarco de Rizal, where he disembarked from the steamer “Cebu” in 1565; and Rizal Park and Shrine, where he lived from 1893 to 1896.

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