I travelled Vigan and found love letters

Elpidio and Alicia: The Love Letters
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I travelled Vigan and found love letters

I’ve got an assignment to Vigan City. With no doubt, I accepted the task, since I’ve never been to Vigan or in Ilocos. But more than fulfilling an item in my bucket list, I decided to go to Vigan because I have a personal memory of the city even I’ve never seen it before.

Calle Crisologo by night
Calle Crisologo by night

I remember a conversation with someone special about our travel bucket list. We almost have the same list. We love to see Palawan, Legazpi, and Ilocos, while visiting back Iloilo. But Vigan is something special to me, because it was the place when he told me, “Let’s go there together.”

St. Paul Cathedral
St. Paul Cathedral

At last, Iess solo travel for me! Having someone to share your trips, particularly if that one is very dear to you, it makes travelling and experiences more special.

Cathedral's bell tower
Cathedral’s bell tower

But, I went to Vigan City alone.

Bantay Watchtower
Bantay Watchtower
At Hidden Garden
At Hidden Garden

My friend told me that the trip would mean a lot of things to me, including the memory of him. But at least now, it’s not only about him. And the difference matters.

Ilocos' famous Bagnet and Poqui Poqui
Ilocos’ famous Bagnet and Poqui Poqui

I went to Vigan City to attend the re-launching of the book entitled “Elpidio and Alicia: The Love Letters”. It was launched in Makati City in 2015 and was re-launched at the Syquia Mansion February this year — the first event hosted by Syquia Mansion.

A letter of President Elpidio Quirino to his wife Alicia
A letter of President Elpidio Quirino to his wife Alicia

The book contains the exchange of love letters between former President Elpidio Quirino, the country’s first Ilocano Chief Executive, and his wife Alicia, who came from the well-known and wealthy Syquia family in Ilocos.

Mr. Rene Guatlo
Mr. Rene Guatlo

Rene Guatlo, the editor of the book, said less than 40 love letters written in Spanish were recovered and translated to English.

Elipido and Alicia, The Love Letters Book
Elipido and Alicia, The Love Letters Book

The two got married in 1921 after an incident at the Syquia Mansion. According to Guatlo, Elpidio and Alicia were in a gathering at the Syquia Mansion when the lights went out. When the lights came back, Alicia was caught “in the protective arms” of Elpidio.

A wax stamp from the book
A wax stamp from the book

The exchange of love letters started in 1922, a year after their marriage, when Elpidio is pursuing his political career in Manila, while Alicia chose to stay in Vigan — a long distance relationship, indeed.

The Love Letters
The Love Letters

Elpidio’s letters to Alicia were full of desire to be with his family in Vigan, but the statesman had to fulfill his duties for the country.

Elpidio and Alicia: The Love Letters
Elpidio and Alicia: The Love Letters
A part of Elpidio’s letter to Alicia on January 5, 1924 said:
“The house is pretty much the same. The only difference is that when I walked up, it seemed I was entering a house that is not a home. First, you are not here to welcome me, and second because Tommy is not here either to welcome me with his usual military salute. I am feeling the change.”
Ms. Cory Quirino
Ms. Cory Quirino

Tomas or Tommy is the father of celebrity Cory Quirino.

Another letter of Elpidio to Alicia
Another letter of Elpidio to Alicia
“With these letters, we see not only the political life of Pidiong, but also his personal life,” said Guatlo.
“All beautiful stories start with a love story,” the former President’s granddaughter Cory Quirino noted. “The greatest force on earth is love.”
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