March 25, 2011
Walking down a long stretch of cobbled street, admiring the rows of bahay-na-bato, listening to the clickedy-clackedy of the horses while viewing the street scene from the azotea. And then bubble thought: How is it like to live in the nineteenth century?
Thanks to Ivan Henares, I just found out the best way to level up this vacation in Vigan. I signed up for the Colonial Dinner Experience at the Arce Mansion.
After our walk and shopping and photo spree on Calle Crisologo, we proceeded to the Arce Mansion. Upon entering the house, we were welcomed with glasses of basi. Then, we were led to the changing room on the ground floor so we could choose our attire for the photo shoot. It took us quite some time for us to change into our turn-of-the-century dresses. Finally, after the fitting and having our faces made up, we were on a roll.
The small studio was just next to the costume room. Rene Sambajon who was to be our dinner host that night served as our photographer (Lito Perez was at the Villa Tortuga in Taal, Batangas for a colonial dinner experience, too.)
Once we were done with the photo shoot, we went upstairs for our dinner. And yes, we were still garbed in our Maria Clara, Damaso and Crisostomo Ibarra outfits. From the moment we entered the receiving area, we were serenaded by a couple, the guy played the guitar while the lady sang songs of yesteryears including Ilocano songs. I have to salute them because they provided us non-stop musical entertainment for three hours.
We took our places in the dining room. We started our dinner with soup. Then the rest of the dishes that we had to partake that night were served such as the bagnet, the green peppers, jamonado, fish escabeche and dinner. To quench our thirst, we had glasses of juice and water. And while we were savoring the dishes, Mr. Sambajon was giving his annotations on the lifestyle of the ilustrados in the 19th centuries. We just couldn't help ourselves from goofing around as we tried to act, speak and dine like these ilustrados. When we were done with our meal, we congratulated the cook at the mansion for the delicious dishes that she prepared.
After our dinner, we checked out the rooms in the house. And we learned that they also offer accommodation to tourists.
Then we went to the living room where we had cups of coffee sweetened by balicotia and bibingka. Mr. Sambajon regaled us with stories on history and of the furniture and bric-a-brac in the mansion which make for conversation pieces. Some of us danced while the others chatted and took photos here and there.
To cap the night, we had a group photo session. And if you're wondering how we survived the night with those heavy dresses, the whole place is airconditioned so we really didn't sweat that much.
For those who plan to vacation in Vigan, I really suggest that you sign up for the colonial dinner at Arce Mansion. It's a fun, unique and an altogether different experience that will spice up your trip. This was one of the highlights during my vacation in Ilocos and I definitely enjoyed it.
If you just want to have a photo of yourself donning these costumes circa 1890 (minus the dinner), you can do so for Php 175.00.
And by the way, almost two weeks later, I received enlarged printed copies of our photos.
Colonial Dinner at Arce Mansion
87 Quirino Blvd., Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Contact Person: Lito Perez (+63 917 8246900)/Arce Mansion (+63 77 6320549)
*Php 1,500.00/pax; minimum of four pax (inclusive of the turn-of-the-century attire, photo shoot, dinner, tour around the house and printed photos)