American Period, World War II and After
After the signing of the Treaty of Paris in December 1898, transferring the fate of the Philippine islands from Spanish colonial masters to American ones, the North became the site of many of the battles against the Americans fought by the Filipino resistance movement who in the beginning thought that the Americans were there to help them in the Philippine fight for independence. Having this atmosphere all over the regions where the Filipinos fought so hard for liberation, it’s interesting to note that when the Americans arrived in Vigan in November of 1899 the Biguenos were actually quite welcoming of the American troops. The speculation is that the people of Vigan were not too happy with the conduct of the Filipino soldiers led by Brg. Gen. Manuel Tinio who subdued the Spanish forces but later had to flee when the Americans came.
Like the rest of the country, Vigan continued on through America’s period of “benevolent assimilation” after the revolutionaries surrendered in 1901 and until World War II reached its shores when the Japanese occupied the country in 1942. When the Japanese forces began their retreat in 1945, they tried to inflict as much destruction on the towns they had occupied. However, Vigan was spared from burning by the Japanese and the American liberation forces’ bombings which leveled the cities of Baguio, Cebu and Manila, making Manila WWII’s second most destroyed city next to Warsaw.
In 1948, then President Manuel Roxas suffered a heart attack while delivering a speech in Clark Field, Pampanga. The first president of the Republic of the Philippines after its independence from the Americans died, leaving then Vice President Elpidio Quirino as the next president. Vigan is proud of the fact that the sixth president of the country is a Bigueno, and shares as much knowledge about their city’s beloved son such as his being born in the structure that houses Vigan’s provincial jail. This interesting information about his birth is due to the fact that his father served as Vigan’s prison warden at that time.
Vigan became a hotspot of political feuding in the seventies. It was the time of political warlords with private armies. The whole nation’s attention was held in 1970 by the violent death of Congresman Floro Crisologo, patriarch of the powerful political family of the Crisologos. The site of his untimely death is the St. Paul Cathedral where he was attending mass. Upon the ashes of his death, a new political family rose into power, that of the Singsons. The brothers Luis and Evaristo became Ilocos Sur’s governor and Vigan’s mayor, respectively.