Vigan: Wild Life Encounter at Baluarte
It became a habit for TupangGala to visit Baluarte every year. This private property of Hon. Chavit Singson is a recreational park which consists of a mini zoo, a butterfly garden, a track for horse-riding, a skeet shooting range, a multi-purpose hall, and a chapel.
It is located 3 kilometers from the Vigan City plaza and only takes 5-10 minutes ride to go there, or you can hire a tricycle for 20 pesos per person. We are lucky to have a member of our flock as a resident of Barangay Tamag whose house is just a stone’s throw away from Baluarte so we can go there as easily as going to a sari-sari store.
Upon entering the parking lot, we saw a lot of souvenir shops that can be an alternative to Vigan Heritage Village’s shops. There are people selling indigenous souvenirs like bows and arrows, bamboo flutes, and the like. A chapel can also be found before entering the zoo.
Not many things are free in the Philippines, let alone an educational place to learn about animals indigenous to the Philippines as well as around the world. And some of the reasons that Baluarte is a must have in anyone’s Ilocos itinerary list is because the access to the zoo, the rides to the mini horses, the use multi-purpose hall/conference hall, feeding/touching some of the animals, taking pictures with some of the animals, and the interactive animal show known as “animal encounter” are all free of charge.
Our first stop is the fenced areas where anyone can visit and feed the monkeys, swans, flamingos, ostriches, albino and spotted deer and the one-hump camel. Kids are allowed to sit on top of the bigger animals, but if they really want to ride, they can go to the tracks where they can ride the miniature horses.
Then, we entered the butterfly garden with over hundreds if not thousands of butterflies thrived. Then you can go further up the hill to the rows of cages where you can see lions, tigers, peacocks, civet cats, iguanas, pythons and other reptiles and birds.
The best part of ‘our’ trip is when we had the opportunity to enter Chavit Singson’s mansion, with permission of course. The tall building that can be seen from afar serves as the rest house of Mr. Singson. When we reached its rooftop, a private lounge and a swimming pool with two mini slides overlooking the hills and plains below was the first to welcome us.
Then we were escorted to the tigers held separately from the rest, maybe Chavit’s favorites, which are very much friendlier than the others. We were able to touch them and they were able to touch us too! Their paws are heavy and we are lucky that their claws were trimmed. There are also several deer roaming freely at the lawn.
- From Vigan City Proper, you can ride a tricycle for only 20 pesos per head. You can also hire a calesa for around 100 pesos. If you want to have to go to other places near Baluarte such as Hidden Garden, you can have a contract with kutsero’s (coachman) out there.
- If you have a car, ride along the Quirino Boulevard directing to the town of Caoayan. There’s a marker of Baluarte after Gabriela Silang General Hospital so you definitely won’t find yourself lost.
- The zoo is open to the public from 7 AM to 6 PM every day. Better not miss the animal encounter which starts every 9 AM, 12 NN and 3 PM.