Hotel Luna: A luxury heritage museum hotel in Vigan


If you think you’ve never heard of a Hotel Luna in Vigan before, it is because it officially opened just a few weeks ago. From the outside, you would mistake the newly painted old-and-simple-but-massive-structure for a villa or just another heritage hotel which is regulatory in the city that cares so much about heritage preservation.

A breath of fresh air greets you at the entrance. By Vigan standards, it feels queer in a beautiful way, I mean heritage with a twist — little modernities here and there and yet within the bounds of the city’s mantra.

Built in 1882, the property was a former residence, a gift of Ilocos Sur’s affluent Don Jose Florentino to his daughter.

Vigan CalesaVigan heritage CityFrom the roof deck, a fresh perspective of Vigan’s mansions and the St. Paul Cathedral.

Building Reflection

Hotel Luna, named after the celebrated Ilocano painter Juan Luna, is the only luxury hotel in Vigan and the only museum hotel in Northern Luzon. A marriage of both worlds, it is not just a museum of antiquities, but a gallery of contemporary art as well. Artworks by national artists and remarkable painters speak so much about the art leanings of the owners, the same family that own Rembrandt Hotel in Manila and Le Monet in Baguio. You’d find an Amorsolo, Juan Lunas, a painting by Cory Quirino and so much more. Something we were forbidden to see is a roomful of precious art pieces — very private, according to our very engaging tour guide Melvin Martinez.

Rooms are posh. Soft upholstered headboards punctuate loft suites and the deluxe, superior and standard rooms, while a four poster and a porcelain bathtub make the low-key executive suite. A paradigm shift is de riguer in the bar and the outside spaces.

The warmth of the place is inviting. I live next door so to speak, but I’d love to experience an overnight stay in Vigan and it would be my first if ever.

Hotel LunaChula Bar, Hotel LunaThe hotel manager, Robert Ferrer, at the Chula Bar. Btw, he was so accommodating.

Chula BarHotel LunaHotel LunaHotel LunaHotel LunaHotel LunaHotel LunaHotel LunaThe  eye-catching  3D historical mural was done by world-famous artist Rene Robles. Along with the country’s art gliterati, he was at the hotel’s inauguration early this month.

Hotel LunaLuna Hotel, ViganHotel LunaHotel LunaMelvinHotel LunaLuna Hotel museumLa Mandolinera by Juan LunaLa Mandolinera (The Violin Player) by Juan Luna.

*With special thanks to Mr. Robert Ferrer, Melvin Martinez and the rest of the wonderful staff.

Hotel Luna V. de los Reyes cor. Gem Luna Sts, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, Philippines 2700 Tel No.: 632 373 3333 loc 201 email:

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

Museo de Bacarra: New Ilocos Norte Heritage Museum

Museo Bacarra

Happy to be back in the blog and to share photos of the latest museum in Ilocos. To be formally launched on the 24th of October is the Museo de Bacarra, created by the Local Government Unit of Bacarra through the financial assistance of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. It is located at the St. Andrew Parish Church Compound, a stone’s throw from the Bacarra Leaning Bell Tower.

Bacarra, Vatican Town of the Philippines

It was Joy, our Bacarreño friend, who ushered Marianne, Joan and me to the museum. A wonderful discovery: “The Balikbayan Town” of Bacarra  is also heralded as The Vatican Town of the Philippines after having produced the most number of priests in the country following the introduction of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines.

Amidst all the antiquities from the past, the tour was pleasant, with soothing, happy Ilocano piano music in the background. We have to thank Vicky Bonoan and Armando Pasion, who acted as our educational tour guides. According to Armand, it took the initiators only two months to put together the entire collection.

Vintage SuitsKarison

Hahah, a karison!


We call that dulang.

SalasFilipiniana1800s Book of Baptism

Well-preserved 19th century documents.

Century-Old Bilog (Boat)

It’s a century-old bilog (boat).

Museo Bacarra

There’s Vicky Bonaoan with us — shot by  Armando Pasion.

TunnelPhoto of La Residencia (Peralta ancestral home)

La Residencia is the ancestral home of the Peraltas, used as location for the Richard  Gomez-Dawn Zulueta-starrer Hihintayin Kita sa Langit. The house is not far from the museum.

Peralta ancestral homeSt. Andrew (Bacarra) Church CompoundBacarra Leaning Bell Tower

The leaning Bacarra Bell Tower, built during the Spanish Colonization Period.


We had a brief stopover at Ella’s for Ilocos empanadas before heading back home to Laoag. Empanadas are sort of Ilocos’ banner food product.

Ella's Crispy Empanada, BacarraEmpanada makerEmpanada PreparationBacarra EmpanadaIlocos EmpanadasPhotographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2012

Museo Ilocos Norte: Pride of ancestry is a priceless legacy

Yesterday, I brought 7-year old Alexa to a museum for the first time. We actually went to the Museo Ilocos Norte five days ago, but, unfortunately, it was closed until the 25th. She reminded me of our date. She looked thrilled as I took exterior shots of the building. I, too, was excited to let her have a cultural learning experience in a different setting. On our way, I gave her bits and pieces of what to expect.

An inquiring mind

At first, the little girl was reluctant to get in by herself. She started loosening up as we were halfway down the left section of the first floor. She read the captions intently, and asked me questions in between viewing the various collections.

We have brought Alexa to trekking and other outdoor adventures since she was four or five, in the hope to make her appreciate her rich natural heritage. She recognized several familiar things she saw in far-flung localities.

The library next door was closed, and she looked fairly frustrated. At the end of the tour, I asked her if she had fun, and she gave an affirmative answer.

A stroll down memory lane

The old Tabacalera Museum has gone a long way from creepy to comfortable and updated.  The efforts that were put into its overhaul is commendable. Certainly, the Museo Ilocos Norte of today represents the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the people of Ilocos Norte.

The whole experience was a reminder of who I am.

Katukkong ken malabi (hat made of squash, or tabungao, and receptacle)

Alat ken sugod (fishing basket and comb used for the special purpose of catching lisa, or lice)

Traditional clothing of the Ilocanos

Indigenous cultural artifacts from the highlands of the eastern and southern parts of the province

An Isneg house

Ulnas ken karison (sled and wagon, designed to be drawn by carabaos)

A typical market scene of the olden days: Tagilako idiay tiendaan (an assortment of goods and fresh local produce sold at the market)

A calesa, or carriage, for personal use

Calesa as a means of public transportation

Dap-ayan, a place to unwind, or a meeting venue for community officials. Today, they are called Multi-Purpose Centers; many of them are pretty modern.

Antique musical instruments

The teatro of the museo. Behind the curtains is a monitor for a 15-minute video (for small groups) showing the musical traditions of the province.

A replica of a pugon (for tobacco curing) made from bamboo slats, mud, dried leaves and carabao dung. Natural and recycled materials 🙂

An ancestral house

The Museo Sarusar Shop is a curio shop. Travel guide books and  popular food products, like cornik and basi, are also available

Finely crafted curio items and more

A showcase of abel Iloco

Gameng houses a library. It is a learning center for the traditions of Ilocos Norte. Museo Ilocos Norte is managed by Gameng Foundation, Inc., with support from the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte and friends of the museum

Dedication of the Museo Ilocos Norte

Erected in 1878 and known as the Tabacalera Building, this edifice was originally designed as the Administrative Center of the Tobacco Monopoly in Ilocos Norte during the reign of Spain over the Philippine Islands.

In early 1999, the Provincial Government launched a major rehabilitation and restoration program for the building to reactivate and operationalize anew the provincial museum which, prior to a temporary lull, was housed in this building in the early ’70s.

The Museo Ilocos Norte, as this building is aptly called, now serves a noble purpose – a repository of GAMENG, the vast cultural heritage of the people of Ilocos Norte. It is our hope that this will inspire all Ilocanos to appreciate our ancestry and rich legacy, so that together we will grow in awareness and take pride of our culture.
Here, therefore, stands the Museo Ilocos Norte, and may it remain for another thousand years or more as our generation’s modest contribution to the future generations. May this building serve as a tribute and reminder of our collective efforts in ensuring that our people shall continue to live in peace, dignity and democracy.

Also, let this structure be a reminder of my humble, yet far-reaching vision to transform every Ilocano into a vibrant, enterprising and worthy citizen of the new millennium.

Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
Governor of Ilocos Norte
12 November 1999
Museo Ilocos Norte Gen. Luna St, Laoag, Ilocos Norte Tel. No. (077)7704587
Museum Hours: Monday to Saturday 9:00am – 5:00pm Sunday 10:00am – 5:00pm
Photos by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED