The Love that Saved a Town in Vigan. Philippines
Vigan which is located in the north of the island of Luzon in the Philippines began its history as a colonial port under Spanish rule in 1574. Originally a trading post for commerce with China, 80% of Vigan's population is of mixed Chinese and Filipino origin.
The Abra River produced gold and glistened in gold, hence the name meaning "beautiful bank". Crisologo Street, the main street running along the centre of town only allows horse carts to pass. 30 or so historic buildings line the kilometre-long pavement they are built in stone in a Spanish style. The upper part is built with wood. What you see here is the influence of Chinese architecture.
A family came to live here in 1943. It was the family of a general from the Japanese Imperial Army which occupied the town during World War II. The General and his family took up residence in a typical Vigan-style home. The General's wife was in fact a Filipino. Sliding doors were fitted into the living room, the general's favourite. But the screens were made of thinly polished Capiz shells rather than Japanese Washi paper. The war began to turn into a nightmare for the Japanese in 1945. American troops advanced throughout the Philippines. The Japanese army usually burned down towns as they retreated. No one doubted that Vigan would meet the same fate too. Before retreating, the general decided to leave his wife and daughters in the care of the priest of this church. In doing so the General and the priest exchanged promises: "I will never set the beautiful town of Vigan alight but, in exchange, please take care of my family". The General is said to have died in battle. His family survived the war protected by the town. Vigan was the only 16th century colonial town in the Philippines to survive.
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