The Palacio de Arzobispado de Nueva Segovia was our homebase during our Vigan Medical Mission. During this trip, I had a chance to stay overnight and look around a little. I wished I had more time to really immerse myself with the place tho. But for the time I was able to spend there, the palacio will be etched in my mind for a long time.
The “palasyo” (palace), as the locals call it, is the home of the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia. As of this writing, the current archbishop of Nueva Segovia is the Most Reverend Marlo Mendoza Peralta, DD. Altho this is his official home, the palace is not his actual private quarters anymore. He stays within the vicinity tho.
The Compound of the Palasyo
The compound speaks so much of history. The stone floors of the entrance hallway leading to the Arzobispado de Nueva Segovia Museum were said to be the original flooring. The museum, accessed thru very wide and dramatic flights of stairs, is a haven for museum buffs like me. It has its share of old paintings and historical statues, mostly religious. Old liturgical vestments of past archbishops were also on display. The museum also houses ecclesiastical artifacts from other Ilocos Sur churches. We were not allowed to take pictures of the Throne Room where most of the artifacts are. It was to preserve the hues of the artifacts that may fade because of accidental flashes of cameras.
A Bit of History of the Diocese Nueva Segovia
The original Diocese of Nueva Segovia was first established in Lallo, Cagayan back in 1595. But because of the floodings, and the province stricken with malaria at that time, the bishops more often stayed in Vigan. This prompted one of the bishops to seek approval from the Vatican to transfer the diocese to Vigan. In 1758 Vatican granted the request but the name “Nueva Segovia” remained.
It wasn’t until 30 years the proclamation of a Vigan diocese that an Archbishop’s Palace was erected. This, about 7 years earlier than the construction of the St. Paul’s Cathedral just a stone’s throw away from the palasyo.
The archbishop’s palace is in front of the Plaza Salcedo. Plaza Salcedo was named after Juan de Salcedo who conquered the native settlements of Vigan. He named this village Villa Fernandina. Juan de Salcedo came to be known as the founder of the 3rd Hispanic settlement in the Philippines (Vigan, after Manila and Cebu).
Plaza Salcedo was the site where Gabriela Silang was executed in 1763. Gabriela Silang, as most of you know, is the first woman revolutionist of the Philippines. She was publicly hanged at Plaza Salcedo.
The Palacio de Arzobispado’s Role in History
The Palacio de Arzobispado de Nueva Segovia took seven years to build. At that time, it became the largest structure to be built in the city of Vigan. The laborers who were forced to worked built the structure with huge stones, high-ceilinged 2nd floor and ground floor walls that were 4-feet thick.
The architecture and fortified structure was supposed to guard the palace from attackers and forced occupations. Unfortunately, it was these same reasons that the Palasyo was always taken over by different forces throughout history. There were the Katipuneros in 1896, by General Aguinaldo in 1898, General Tinio in 1899, the Americans on 1900 and the Japanese in 1942.
Setting foot inside the second floor seems to take you back in history. It also shows you the beauty of the style of Spanish era edifices. The wide planks of hard wood floors made of narra. Those long dining tables with chairs of the same wood with ornate carvings on them. The victorian-styled valances that framed the doors would make you imagine how elegant everything must have been during those times. And the capiz windows that I am so much in love with and have dreams of having a home with those.
Behind the doors with dramatic valances is the Throne Room. A Throne Room is where the people go when they are granted an audience with the Archbishop. Nowadays, the room displays all the religious artifacts and documents, vestments, and old statues collected by the Archdiocese from their churches in Ilocos Sur.
But I would love to go back to the Palasyo. I want to have a second chance to go around the grounds and have another look at the museum. I know it will happen again soon.
For now, I hope I was able to give you an idea of what the Museum looked like. Until I visit again…
The once named “godmother of the Philippine Blogosphere”, Gigi Manaloto-Refugia, known by her pen name “Ate Sienna” has been blogging since 2002 in her old pansitan.net community where she housed famous bloggers. She now writes about being 50-something and shares her tips on fashion, makeup, skincare, travel, food and thrift-store diving.
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