Come to think of it, I don’t even know the full name of Baluarte. *Googles it* Oh, okay. Apparently it’s Baluarte Vigan – The Fortress of Vigan. According to its official website:
“The Baluarte or fortress is a must-see attraction for first time visitors, and even for those who have visited Vigan before. The reasons for its being on the list of places to visit are two. First is that it has a mini zoo with animals from other countries and others endemic to the Philippines. It is a private collection and is therefore continuously being improved. The second reason is that it is owned by Mr. Chavit Singson, a well-loved son of Vigan and well-known to most Filipinos and foreigners who follow the Philippine political scene.”
I agree with the first reason and refuse to comment on the second. (I’m scared even as I type this; I feel like my head will just suddenly “accidentally” get shot.)
Anyway, by the time we arrived at Baluarte, it was already pretty hot. Still, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to go around the mini zoo, ride the mini calesa, visit the butterfly garden, and have our picture taken with a real tiger. Actually, among the six of us, only Mark, Joan and I had our picture taken with the tiger because Jesrell, Noreen and Cecille were much wiser and adult-like than us when it comes to decision-making concerning wild animals.
We paid Php30 each for the entrance fee and another Php30 each for the calesa ride (if I remember it correctly). The mini calesa ride lasted about 10 minutes and we actually felt sorry for the little ponies who had to be whipped and commandeered around for the sake of tourism. How ironic, considering we clearly patronized said tourism tactic.
We had to split up in pairs for the calesa ride because the pony can only take on too much weight. Mark and Cecille, Joan and Noreen, and me and Jesrell. It was fun and I wouldn’t mind doing it again if it weren’t for the mini guilt that we were partaking in the exploitation of the ponies. #Arte?
We explored around the area for a while and we found this cool spot filled with giant replicas of dinosaurs. Short descriptions on the dinosaur species were even in place. Even under the intense heat of the sun, we still managed to take photos. It was fun imitating the creatures of long ago.
So who posed better?
After bonding with the dinosaurs, we went to the butterfly garden, but sadly I don’t have any photos. The butterflies were beautiful and there was a cute moment when a butterfly landed on top of Noreen’s hand.
Mark kept bugging the group to have our photo taken with the tiger and initially, nobody wanted to give in. Finally, Joan and I said yes and here are the unofficial photos taken by our trusty friends. The official photo (in which the tiger seemed to be yawning with his mouth wide open) they printed for us was of low quality but at least we got these photos below. Hehe.
Baluarte also has a mini pasalubong center and in there Cecille was able to buy a shirt for herself and I got Daddy’s request: a cap. While we were there, we got separated from Mark, Jesrell and Noreen who went further and saw the museum. We wanted to also check it out but it was too hot to walk and they said we didn’t really miss much. So we headed back and sought the comfort of our bus’ air conditioner, without, of course, forgetting to thank the place for the wonderful memories.