It took overnight to get the message through and by that time, American bombers were already airborne for the planned carpet-bombing of Vigan to flush out the Japanese whom they thought had dugged-in to defend their desperate position.
Over the southern horizon, a squadron of P-38’s, the dreaded twin-bodied American bombers were already executing a dry-run (to identify the targets) over Vigan when they received an urgent message over their radio: “Abort bombing mission! Urgent and repeat, abort bombing mission – Japanese have already left Vigan!” Thus, Vigan was twice saved from destruction suffered by her sister cities, Cebu and Manila, in a matter of 24 hours.
Returning to their base in Lingayen, Pangasinan, the American lead pilot spotted a column of soldiers in Bantay marching towards the Banaoang river. Through his radio, he queried whether the column spotted were friendly forces but was advised that it was Japanese.
Thus, the bombs intended for Vigan were dropped in Bantay town proper up to the Banaoang river.
A Japanese officer’s love for a Filipina saved a town. Quite a romantic story. But there is another theory as to how Vigan survived which goes a little deeper because it involves the spirituality.
In the last days of the Japanese occupation, the bishop decided to expose the Blessed Sacrament in the cathedral on a 24 hour basis.
The people responded by constantly keeping vigil in the church. It is thought and felt that this devotion was somehow instrumental in keeping the town from the destruction suffered in many parts of the Philippines including Manila.
Perhaps, it was the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Santo Cristo or “Apo Lakay” that had protected the historic town.
Stories told by old time Vigan residents have indicated, time and again, that the town’s life revolved around one church and its calendar of religious events.
Whatever the reason, Vigan, with its historic and cultural landmarks, stands today as the most extensively surviving town dating from the 18th century Spanish colonial era.
For being the best example of a European colonial trading town in the East, Vigan is now inscribed in the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List of Sites and Monuments and a source of identity and pride for all Filipinos and a treasure for all mankind.
Vigan was convered into a city on January 22, 2001 through a plebiscite wherein Bigueños overwhelmingly affirmed the Congressional Act validating and recognizing the Royal Decree issued by King Fernando VI of Spain in 1757 elevating the status of Vigan to that of a city named Ciudad Fernandina.
The one who designed the UNESCO World Heritage Marker is Jerome Florentino, a senior student in Architecture who was tutored by his mentor – Archt. Reymundo I. Florentino.