14 Sep2007


Villa Angela’s most famous celebrity guest was perhaps Tom Cruise, some 20 odd years ago, when he was acting in a movie being filmed in the vicinity. There is a photo of Mr. Cruise proudly displayed in the foyer and one wonders if he slept in the Cuarto de las Hijas, the biggest corner room in the house, or a more modest and intimate Curato de los Hijos which has a small veranda. The best way to describe Villa Angela is to say that it is a quaint old home and is wickedly good value for money. At PHP2,600, four in our party shared an enormous corner room with three four-poster beds and an ensuite bathroom. The tariff also included a breakfast of delicious longganisa and fried eggs… Not bad for about USD14 each.


With prices like that, expectations HAVE to be muted. On the bright side were the beautifully WIDE hardwood planks on the floors, capiz windows, mosquito nets, a large living area, massive dining tables and a safe place to park one’s vehicle. On the downside were missing squares of capiz in the windows, thin foam mattresses, horrific pillows, no screens, mosquitos, dim lighting, a ceiling-less bathroom that opened into the bedroom, so that your roommates could both hear and smell your business and finally, a padlock on one’s door. But again, I reiterate that for the prices charged, this seemed just fine. If you want a hotel room with more modern amenities, there are other hotels nearer the center of town. If you want to feel like you are visiting a distant relative’s old house in the province, check out Villa Angela. P.S. If you stay there several days, make friends with the cook and arrange to have him whip up some local specialties, or head to the market yourselves, buy what you fancy and have them cook it up to order…



  1. corrine says:

    Gosh, I hope the owner realizes what a gem she has! Is it that difficult or expensive to replace some missing capiz or provide comfortable mattress, pillows, mosquito net, and door lock? If I were a guest there, I would have left the address of Uratex’s outlet. Such lovely house with great character! Maybe, I would have served chocolate ah and cocido para feeling Noli Me Tangere! Sayang!

    Sep 14, 2007 | 8:54 am

  2. Mariano says:

    This is a shameless plug of my good friend Lito Perez’s B&B of sorts down the street from Villa Angela. Lito Perez made his name as a costume designer (he owns Camp Suki) but his secret passion is restoring old houses to their former glory. And he’s done just that with the Arce house which you can find along Quirino Avenue, Vigan, I. Sur. Aside from sleeping on canopied four-poster beds and waking to a house chockful with antiques, you also get the opportunity to don turn-of-the-century costumes, have your picture taken (sepia toned ones) and then dine on typically Ilocano fare while being serenaded by a G.I (that’s Genuine Ilocano for you) combacheros while still in costume IN AIRCONDITIOEND COMFORT. It’s super aliw and the food’s pretty good. The price escapes me but you can contatc him on his mobile: 0917-8246900.

    He’s also about to open his Taal branch in a couple of months’ time where he’ll be serving pagkaing Batangueno.

    Sep 14, 2007 | 10:02 am

  3. Skunkeye says:


    I’ve been enjoying your Illocos Norte entries and you have been spot-on. Granted its been seven years since I’ve visited – but you are doing an amazing job of capturing the dissipation of one of the Philippine’s most vivid heritage areas with diplomacy.
    I always did better foodwise with the street vendors in the region – some really hearty stuff…
    The antiques and “antiques” I acquired in Vigan oddly fit in seamlessly with the c. 1800 house in Baltimore I own and live in now – there used to be great shopping in Vigan.
    I hope you made it to the lighthouse and the beaches – the surf reminded me a bit of the Atlantic – specifically the Outer Banks in NC, where I spend a lot of time – here in the US! And the roads are so smooth there – a vestige of the Marcos era.
    Is there still a poor chained monkey in front of Villa Angela? Did you get to see the owner’s other ancestral home? They were more than happy to provide me with ample – actually too much information – Tom Cruise tsiss – not worth spreading here.
    By the way, are there any Baltimore MM readers out there? I know there’s a strong Filipno community here with medical community and also teachers – Ramona Diaz (of the Imelda doc, and who apprently lives here) is actually completing a documentary about an amazing group who are working in Baltimore’s challenging public schools. I’ve found a few venues to buy Filipino food staples witin Baltimore City proper – but haven’t been able to find a Filipino restaurant, although I know there have been some in the past. I’m not Pinoy but have spent pivotal growing up years in Manila and am still very much connected to friends and “family” there – anyways, just throwing the net out into the Baltimore community. MM’s posts make me very homesick!!!!
    At any rate, MM, I continue to enjoy your site immensely.
    Oh, and I’m so glad you and Gaita have connected – both of you are doing so much for Philippines cuisine!

    Sep 14, 2007 | 10:06 am

  4. Maria Clara says:

    The bedroom and living room furniture, wide plank woodflooring, the wooden capiz windows and interior wall woodworks remind me of our house. Our house was made mainly of wood and adobe. Tom Cruise rose to stardom 20 years ago. His movie that made him big was Top Gun which came out in 1986. I assume he does not have the egoistic highly demanding Hollywood attitude then when he stayed at Villa Angela. That’s the way to have a real taste of the local foods through household staff.

    Sep 14, 2007 | 10:46 am

  5. Mila says:

    Staying in Villa Angela was like living in a museum. We walked with our backpacks down Crisologo and came in through the back entrance, which made us second think our reservations there in June. Luckily we liked the look of the second floor and explored the front yard (no chained monkey this last summer skunkeye. I think I’d have moved elsewhere if I had seen a poor monkey tied to some stake). The las hijas room is nicer looking but I enjoyed the patio access of los hijos; we had a summer rainstorm the night we stayed there. I saw on their reservation schedule that they are undergoing a renovation this year (maybe they’ll fix the lumpy mattresses and pillows).

    Sep 14, 2007 | 10:49 am

  6. Skunkeye says:

    Vila Angela is indeed amazing – I only wish more historic houses in the Philippines were preserved that way. I never spent the night there but did have an amazing lunch – and really enjoyed touring the house(s) – and the hosts were wonderful. I do maintain that heritage tourism is a strong draw for visitors – both at home and from abroad – and, well, Carlos’ Walk this Way covers all that…like the beaches and coral reefs and indigenous culture, etc., the region’s unique colonial history and archicture is an endangered natural resource and treasure in the Philippines.
    Closer to Manila, Taal city has many of the same charms – but you can’t been Illocano food!
    I actually enjoyed the monkey out front – a macaque actually – because I lived in Malaysia when they ran free and had several as companions (not chained though!).
    Vigan is one of my favourite places in the Philippines.

    Sep 14, 2007 | 11:25 am

  7. wil-b cariaga says:

    as a kid and until my high school years Villa Angela was my hang out place, Our house is just beside it, so the cooks there and caretakers personally know me, i go there when i’m bored just wandering around the house, playing around the yard, or playing the piano when it was still in tune. . . and as neighbors i had the chance to go there and watch shootings of local movies. . . i miss the place :)

    Sep 14, 2007 | 11:36 am

  8. Blaise says:

    Actually, I scheduled a three-day-two-nights stay in Villa Angela, supposedly last summer but didn’t push through (my friend backed out, tsk tsk), I was so charmed when I saw its picture on their website at http://www.villagella.com..

    Hopefully, one of these days I’d get to travel in Vigan and stay in Villa Angela..

    Sep 14, 2007 | 11:51 am

  9. Blaise says:

    ooops.. typo, it’s http://www.villangela.com


    Sep 14, 2007 | 11:52 am

  10. andie says:

    We chanced upon Villa Angela by accident. We were coming from Pagudpud and we were too tired to continue the long drive to Manila in one go. We decided to spend the night in Vigan since Vigan had so much to offer and we only had a quick stop on our way to Pagudpud. When we reached Vigan, I borrowed a local directory and called hotels to check for availability, instead of going around at our very tired state. Who would’ve thought that a quick call would lead us to such a charming place! Although I have to admit, seeing the old house when we checked in at around 8pm did send some shivers, the beauty of the well-maintained house and very warm staff dispelled any fear in me. (for scaredy cats like me, there were no ghosts!)

    The next morning, when I woke up in Cuarto de las Hijas, I almost thought that I was transported back in time. The house was simply that beautiful. We adored the place and I would recommend it to anybody who plans to go to Vigan.

    Sep 14, 2007 | 2:26 pm

  11. caryn says:

    hahaha! this was a fun post!

    The ‘Tom Cruise’ suite was occupied when we went there last, so we checked out the dorm rooms below. I agree completely about the poorly-lit rooms. The 2nd level areas were light and airy, but the ones downstairs were musty. and i do remember the ceiling-less bathroom … Two of our companions could not take the idea and we checked into the Vigan Plaza instead.

    But i do applaud the idea of turning a heritage house into an inn. This is a constructive use of built cultural property. I just wish they’d spend more on upkeep and invest in conveniences.

    Sep 14, 2007 | 2:52 pm

  12. JE says:

    Just wanted to pipe in that I was also able to stay here a year or two ago, as part of the tail-end of our trip to Pagudpud and Ilocos. The place was great, and I do agree that it is a good value for money. The place was just a few blocks away from Crisologo, and I think we stayed there while a fiesta was ongoing, so there was a lot of stuff to do while in Vigan.

    The house itself was in great condition, with only the requisite modern quirk (a TV in the living room). The breakfast was decent, and the people there also helped us get to the bus terminal for our departure, as well as help us get some good bagnet.

    I seriously wouldn’t mind going back there at some point. It’s good that write-ups like these exist, so that we can push for more local travel. Good on you, sir.

    Sep 14, 2007 | 2:58 pm

  13. corrine says:

    Mariano, that is a great idea of Lito Perez. Hope to see his Taal B & B soon. Students should have a field trip to this type of places.

    Sep 14, 2007 | 6:48 pm

  14. MasPinaSarap says:

    Skunkeye: Try Oxon Hill for restaurants, bakeries, and groceries; all Filipino. It is not too far from the Baltimore area.

    Sep 17, 2007 | 3:34 am

  15. Emerita Manansala says:

    In a book entitled “100 resorts in the Philippines,” by Dominique Grele and Lily Yousry-Jouve, Villa Angela was described as “a charming, beautiful old house still filled with traces of the past, as it was not subjected to major renovations.” The reason some capiz squares on the windows were left unrepaired is for effect, just as some plasters on the walls were left broken to reveal the Vigan tiles. The thin foam mattresses are just right for sulihiya beds (these traditional classic furniture actually do not need mattresses to preserve their air-cooled and well-ventilated quality and the mosquito nets are part of the ambience, not necessary since all the rooms are completely air-conditioned). All the bathrooms are now completely renovated (separate showers from the toilets) and completely encased with glass to the ceiling, with exhaust fans. The monkey was already returned to its owner long time ago. I suggest you re-visit Vigan and stay at Villa Angela, and capture the essence of a rapidly vanishing lifestyle.

    Jan 5, 2009 | 12:25 pm

  16. Davjd A.G. Johnson, Jr. says:

    I just returned from a trip to the Philippines and without a doubt Vigan was the highlight of my sojourn. Villa Angela is not for those devoid of appreciating a more leisurely period of existence. One must bring something to this extraordinary cultural and historical interlude. The silent voices of people satisfyingly engage the visitor in tune with things past.

    Villa Angela’s charm lay less in the Tom Cruise stay but conversations over a substantial breakfast with the eager couteous staff who were more than pleased to engage truly interested guests.

    I was happy to gaze out of the capiz windows and hear the wind whistling against them during the dramatic rainy season.

    Every inch of Villa Angela speaks boldy to guests whose infectious curiosity allows a dance with life that has disappeared. By all means drink fully from the well of a bygone era.

    You won’t be disappointed but enlightened without measure.

    David A. G. Johnson, Jr.

    Aug 17, 2009 | 11:15 am


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