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Vigan celebrates its election as New Wonder City

/ 05:43 AM May 10, 2015
WORLD WONDER The heritage city of Vigan in Ilocos Sur province, known for its Spanish-era mansions and cobblestone streets, braces for more tourists after its inclusion in the New7Wonders Cities of the world. RICHARD BALONGLONG/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

WORLD WONDER The heritage city of Vigan in Ilocos Sur province, known for its Spanish-era mansions and cobblestone streets, braces for more tourists after its inclusion in the New7Wonders Cities of the world. RICHARD BALONGLONG/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

VIGAN CITY, Philippines—It is possible for a small city like Vigan to achieve its dream, Swiss filmmaker Bernard Weberon said Thursday when Vigan was officially installed as one of the world’s new seven wonder cities.

Weber, president of the New Seven Wonder Cities, handed a bronze plaque to Vigan Mayor Eva Grace Singson-Medina, signifying the heritage city’s election as one of the world’s wonder cities, alongside Havana in Cuba, Beirut in Lebanon, La Paz in Bolivia, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Doha in Qatar and Durban in South Africa. Some 3,000 Vigan residents spilled into Plaza Salcedo to watch the conferment in front of the St. Paul Cathedral.

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The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra serenaded the crowd with Ilocano songs and tunes from the “The Sound of Music.”

Students from six Vigan schools performed the hour-long “Vigan: A History through Dance,” which described the Malay, Chinese, Spanish, American and Japanese influences that shaped the city. The Vigan Heritage Choir sang its new “Wonder Hymn” composed by Ato Santiago.

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Weber said the Philippines was the only country to have three “wonders.”

The Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan had earlier made it to the Seven Natural Wonders list.

Weber also acknowledged the Ifugao Rice Terraces as an original wonder. More than 1,200 cities from 200 countries were included in the initial balloting for the New Seven Wonder Cities. Voting was done online or via digital applications on tablets and smartphones.

Weber credited the Filipinos’ “fantastic motivation and stimulation to vote” for propelling Vigan into the prestigious list.

On Thursday, the new Vigan Conservation Complex was opened at Barangay San Julian Sur here. The complex has four buildings which house three museums, a repository and a conservation school.

Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Singson described Vigan as a living cultural sanctuary and said it was an example of a community that focused its skills on cultural and environmental preservation.

The Save Vigan Ancestral Homes Association, led by the late Marjo Villanueva-Gasser, and the Heritage Conservation Society pitched the initial lobby efforts to preserve Vigan and its old houses in the 1990s.

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