Vigan City to celebrate cityhood founded on Spanish Royal Decree of 1757

St Paul Cathedral, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

January 22 is non-working holiday

VIGAN CITY – Dios ti agngina! Hurrah for another year to celebrate the cityhood of Vigan as a component city, ushering the unity of residents welcoming visitors on Jan. 22 declared as non-working holiday through Republic Act No 9411 signed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Mar. 24, 2007.

RA 9411, “An Act Declaring January 22 of Each Year a Special Nonworking Holiday in the City of Vigan, Ilocos Sur to Commemorate its Anniversary as a City” was passed by the House of Representatives on Nov. 14, 2005, with Jose de Venecia, Jr. as the Speaker of the House; and by the Senate on Jan. 22, 2007, with Manny Villar as the Senate President.

Walking through the cobbled streets in Vigan history, Republic Act No. 8988, “An Act Validating and Recognizing the Creation of the City of Vigan by the Royal Decree of Sep. 7, 1757 Issued by Fernando VI, King of Spain,” was signed by then President Joseph Estrada on Dec. 27, 2000.

A certified true copy of the Royal Decree issued by King Fernando VI can be found in the treasured archives of the city government. This decree states also that as long as the cathedral stands, and the seat of the diocese is in Vigan, it will remain a city.

“This explains why the picture of the Conversion of Saint Paul Cathedral is part of the city seal, and the symbol of the city during the elimination period for the New 7 Wonders Cities of the World,” said City Mayor Juan Carlo S. Medina.

Documents from “Instituto de Historia Programa de Modernization del Archivo Nacional de Filipinas” justified the category of Vigan as a city. They show Vigan with its own carcel, casa de gobierno, mercado publico, Provincial High Court, and one of the four Public Works District in the Island of Luzon. And more importantly, it has an Audencia Territorial, indicating that it was a city.

Medina points to RA 8988 that revalidated and recognized the conversion of the Municipality of Vigan in Ilocos Sur into a city, called “Ciudad Fernandina” by virtue of the Royal Decree of Sep. 7, 1757 issued by King Fernando VI.

As Medina invites visitors to the city during the Vigan City Fiesta and Longanisa Festival 2019 on Jan. 16-27, he wants residents to go back to where the city came from.

He hopes that commemorating the anniversary of Vigan as a city may help the youth know more about RA 8988 that provides that the Municipality of Vigan be called the component City of Vigan and shall comprise the present territory of the Municipality bounded by the Municipality of Santa Catalina on the northeast, by the Banaoang River of the Municipality of Santa on the southeast, by the Municipality of Caoayan in the south, by the South China Sea on the southwest, and the Govantes River near Santa Catalina on the northwest.

“The city youth must be brought back regularly to its history,” Medina added, “when Sangguniang Bayan Member Benjo Verzosa authored Municipal Resolution No 28, series of 1998, requesting Atty. Salacnib Baterina, representative of the first district of Ilocos Sur, to file a bill in Congress to convert the municipality into a city. This was approved on Dec. 14, 1998 by Municipal Mayor Eva Marie S. Medina.”

Recalling the following part of Vigan’s history, he hopes that the young leaders in the city may include activities that reflect it.

On Feb. 13, 1999, House Bill 7122, “An Act Converting the Municipality of Vigan into a Component City of the Province of Ilocos Sur to be known as the City of Vigan” by the sponsors, Baterina and Mar Roxas, then House Majority Floor Leader.

How “Villa Fernandina de Bigan” becomes “Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan”

In 1755 when Don Juan dela Fuente de Yepes became Bishop of Nueva Segovia, he requested the King of Spain and the Pope for the transfer of the Diocese from Lallo, Cagayan to Vigan due to the deteriorating condition of Lallo.

The transfer was approved during the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XIV during the reign of Fernando VI, King of Spain by virtue of the Royal Decree of Sep. 7, 1758. This Royal Decree elevated the status of Vigan to Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan in honor of King Fernando VI.

After a plebiscite to know the opinion of the residents whether they approve of its cityhood, Vigan became the first component city in Ilocos Sur in 2001.

Vigan City Mayor Juan Carlo S. Medina has always expressed his gratitude for the transformation of the city into what it is now. “This is from the efforts of the residents, government and private groups not only in the city, but also in the province, the country and other countries that continue to pursue the preservation of the culture, traditions, ancestral houses and historical structures of the city.” In all the events that the city conducts through the months of every year, Medina has always acknowledged the help of all the sectors of the community. “Because of all of you, we are one of the New 7 Wonders Cities of the World, aside from being the only World Heritage City in the Philippines listed by UNESCO. And today we can feel how the popularity of our city increased our revenue.” (Imelda Castro-Rivero/PIA Ilocos Sur)