Where to Stay in Vigan: The Heritage House of Villa Angela

It was still dark when we arrived at the front gates of Villa Angela where fortunately, the caretaker was waiting for us already. She opened the gates and let us enter a long driveway flanked by a spacious garden leading to a staircase going to the upper level of the house. Stepping on creaking wooden floors we were ushered inside our room furnished with two double beds and a lone single bed. Exhausted from our long bus trip, we dozed off in no time. At that moment, we were still unaware of the rustic charm of Villa Angela, whose historic walls we just walked by under the mask of darkness.

Villa Angela

I woke up just before 7 AM and instantly heard the sounds of the tricycles and early morning chatters from passersby; locals going to the market and tourists about to stroll the cobblestone steps of Calle Crisologo. One by one, as we stepped out of our room we were made aware of our surrounding by the seeping early sunlight and were instantly impressed by the charming character of Villa Angela.

Tom cruise stayed here in the Philippines

I first noticed the framed old photographs standing on decades-old tables and the family portraits hanging on the walls. The faces on the pictures appears staring back at me in a semi spooky manner (that's just me with old photographs). I looked around and saw turn of the 19th century clocks, candle stands, a wooden piano piece and timeworn cabinets storing impressive collection of china wares and other kitchen fixtures. 

The history of this ancestral house creates for an interesting family tree and a tidbit of Hollywood trivia as well - as actors Tom Cruise and Willem Dafoe stayed here during the shooting of the Oliver Stone film "Born in the 4th of July" sometime during the late 1980's. 

According to its historical marker, Villa Angela was built in 1873 "by the spouses Don Agapito Florendo Bonifacio who was Gobernadorcillo of Vigan LA Ciudad Fernandina in 1959, and Doña Maria Villanueva" and was later "bequeathed to their eldest daughter Señorita Joaquina Florendo Y Villanueva who in time bequeathed it to her niece Doña Angela Villanueva Y Florendo, to whose memory this house is lovingly dedicated."

While planning our Vigan trip I already had in mind the kind of place where we would stay — an architecturally gifted home radiating with a charmingly rustic appeal and peppered with hints of mystery. Something most folks would label as 'haunted house'. This paranoia we usually associate with old houses are not at all accurate. Admittedly, I never dared going out of our room in the middle of the night to get some drinking water in the kitchen. Although, the caretakers assured us of not experiencing anything of the paranormal kind during their 20 years of staying here. 

Other guests though have shared some out of the ordinary occurrences inside the house which I think is just normal for an old house like Villa Angela with a colorful storied past. Most probably, the previous owners are just making sure the house is still in good hands and is being occupied by non-rowdy visitors.  

Marky Ramone Go with Monnette Santillan

A few steps from the heritage street of Calle Crisologo, where the muffled steps of horse drawn carriages immediately takes you back to a century ago, being billeted at Villa Angela completes the role playing of time travel. If only, I could dress up as Don Ramone while Monnete and her sisters wore something out of the 1800's fashion scene and portray the Señoritas of 1890's, then the experience will be complete.

Marky Ramone Go with Monnette Santillan

Our stay at Villa Angela was a brief one, but something I plan to experience on a longer duration next time with the same company and additional friends in tow, as the rooms are big enough to accommodate 4-5 guests each. This ancestral place certainly brought back childhood memories of going home to my lola's (grandmother's) house in the province where me and my other cousins, would play a game of hide and seek behind old furniture. Villa Angela gives you that exact vibe - a nostalgic trip back to a provincial life you thought was long gone already.