Harry the friendly tiger
A new attraction around the Vigan area in Ilocos Sur is Chavit Singson’s Baluarte. If Ilocos Norte is Marcos territory, Vigan is where the Singson’s rule. The Baluarte is a 20 hectare land with a mini zoo, shooting range, and a chapel. It is also known as Chavit’s Fortress. Access to the mini zoo, where Singson’s numerous pet tigers and other animals are found are free for the public, as he considers this as a gift to the people.
Even if the place is still being developed, the place does look good. Harry, the friendly tiger is found at the entrance. Unfortunately, the handler isn’t around because I’d really want to touch that tiger. Seems like a giant stuff toy. I must warn though that if you are going to bring children, watch them closely as the cages for the wild tigers aren’t safe. The cages are too accessible and a child can easily slip their hands as the bars are too wide apart.
Ruffa, the lonely orangutan
There’s also Ruffa a lone Orangutan nearby Harry. She’s quite gloomy at that time as we found out later that her companion orangutan just died.
The Butterfly Garden
A butterfly macro shot
There’s also the butterfly garden there. A walking tour inside would be worth a while. See how they breed and grow their butterflies from cocoons.
A free palomino ride
Also enjoyable for the kids and kids at heart is the free palomino ride where it will take you to a large field where ostriches are free to roam around. Although it’s free, it would be courteous to give a tip to the driver.
A towering Ostrich
There are still more animals and sights to see at the Baluarte, and I bet once the place has finished in development it would draw more crowds as a recreational activity from visiting Vigan. We asked our caretaker-slash-guide on how much is it to maintain the place, he said it takes around a million pesos a day to maintain the place. Wow! Singson indeed has a lot of money to spare.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.