Geography and Topography of Vigan
Vigan can be found 120 23’ 15’’ east longitude and 17 34’ 30’’ north latitude. It is in the northern part of Luzon, one of the Philippines’ main islands. It serves as the capital of Ilocos Sur and has been a major political and trading center since before the Spanish colonizers arrived in the Philippines. Its favorable geographical features and location continues to make it a very accessible center. It is only 408 kilometers away from Manila, 80 kilometers away from Laoag and 139 kilometers away from La Union’s San Fernando.
Its 2, 511 hectares of land consists mostly of plains with gentle hills. Its boundaries on the north, east, south and west are the municipalities of Bantay, Santa, Caoayan and Sta. Catalina, respectively. The China Sea is on its southwest portion. Majority of its land, 60 percent of it, is used for agriculture. Around 32 percent is made up of residential area, nearly three percent are for commercial and industrial use, and around one percent is for institutional purposes. There are also forest reserves and fishponds included in Vigan’s land area.
Vigan is made up of 39 barangays. Thirty of them are classified as rural, bu they occupy only 23.66 hectares. The remaining nine are classified as poblacion barangays and are together 144.75 hectares big.
The barangays of Pagburnayan, Paoa and Tamag are on the rolling plains area. On the other hand, found on the hilly parts are portions of Barangay Tamag and the barangays of Bulala and Salindeg. Its most dominant hill feature is the Vigan Gap Hill in the eastern part, just 10 kilometers away from the city. Vigan used to be separated from the rest of the Ilocos Sur mainland by the rivers of Abra, Mestizo and Govantes, making it an island during that time. The Govantes River cuts the current Vigan plain from North to South.
The large Abra and Mestizo rivers, together with the rivers of Bantay, Bantaoay, Nauman and Sto. Tomas serve as part of a network that drain the Vigan plains. These rivers are not only important in safekeeping the city from floods, they served as important transport ways for trade-related activities from the 1400s to the 1800s, that helped make Vigan a thriving center. The most vital of these rivers is said to be the Mestizo River which was used by the small vessels to transport goods and people.
There is a faulting trend in the Vigan plain that ends in Sta. Catalina.