Vigan Pottery: A Craft Passed Through Generations

Vigan is home to a lot of wondrous places and activities. One of which is pottery making, specifically the local burnay. This sought-after activity in the north draws both local and foreign tourists.

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Disclaimer: The content of this article is based on personal experience as well as references to the date of publication. Changes may occur on contact details, transportation, fees, etc. With this, please do comment at the end of the article any updates as well as corrections on the content, anything amiss, or any information that you think is crucial to the readers. Thank you!


Location

Address: Pagburnayan, Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Map:

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Business Hours

Usually 8:00AM to 5:00PM

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Vigan Pottery Through Ages

Vigan is home to a lot of wondrous places and activities. One of which is pottery making, specifically the local burnay. This sought-after activity in the north draws both local and foreign tourists.

Established in the 1920s, pottery making business in Vigan City has been passed from generation to generation (1). Its history actually dates back even before the Spanish occupation when Chinese immigrants that the place has a good source of pottery materials.

Of the pottery products, the most popular and widely used by the locals is the burnay. Majority of local orders were from Manila and Bulacan while Great Britain and Belgium topped foreign trades (2). During those days, the use of these earthen wares are bit different of its mainly decorative purposes today.

Accordingly, burnays were used for tea, containers of table condiments, as well as for storing bagoong (fermented fish) (2). I can remember it in our home when I was a child as container of drinking water. Mind you, it maintains the cold temperature of the water even during the sweltering dry season (summer). My father also used to ferment tapoy (fermented rice wine) in one of the medium-sized burnays.

Where and what is the best time to go? I wouldn’t comment on that. The best course of action is to ask a couple of locals or tricycle drivers. They are amazing in giving you tips too. Better yet, hire one tricycle, give your objective of the day and he will give you the best itinerary.

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How to Get There

By land. Take any bus heading to Vigan City or Laoag City.

  • Manila buses bound to Vigan City are Partas, Dominion Bus, Aniceto Bus, Viron Transit, Florida Bus Line, Fariñas Trans, Maria De Leon Bus Lines, RCJ Bus Lines and F. Franco Transit. Anywhere from Vigan City, hail a tricycle or kalesa [two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage] and tell the driver to drop you at the pottery house of your choice.
  • From Baguio City, you can take a Partas bus near SM City Baguio or the ordinary mini-buses in Bayanihan. Anywhere from Vigan City, hail a tricycle or kalesa [two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage] and tell the driver to drop you at the pottery house of your choice.
  • GMW Liner and Florida Liner have buses plying a vice versa Abra and Tuguegarao with a stop in Vigan City route. Anywhere from Vigan City, hail a tricycle or kalesa [two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage] and tell the driver to drop you at your choice of pottery house

By air. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines flies from Manila to Laoag International Airport. Take any bus bound to Vigan City. Anywhere from Vigan City, hail a tricycle or kalesa [two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage] and tell the driver to drop you at the pottery house of your choice.

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Helpful Local Phrases
  • Good morning: Naimbag a bigat; Good afternoon: Naimbag a malem; Good day: Naimbag nga aldaw; Good evening: Naimbag a rabii
  • How are you?: Kumusta
  • Thank you: Agyamanak
  • What is your name?: Ania ti nagan mo?
  • I don’t understand: Diak maawatan
  • How do I get to…?: Kasantnu ak a makapan sadiay…?
  • One: maysa, two: duwa, three: tallo, four: uppat, five: lima, six: ennem, seven: pito, eight: walo, nine: siyam, ten: sangapulo
  • How much is this?: Sagmamano daytoy?
  • Help!: Arayat!
  • Sorry: Pakawanennak

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Other Notable Nearby Places

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References

(1) Philippine Primer. 29 January 2019. VIGAN TRAVEL: Ruby Jar Factory, Vigan’s 90 Year Old Craft of Earthen Jars. [online] Travel. Available at: <https://primer.com.ph/travel/2019/01/29/vigan-travel-ruby-jar-factory-vigans-90-year-old-craft-of-earthen-jars/&gt; [Accessed 21 March 2020].

(2) Vigan.ph. 2020. Burnay Jars – Burnay Pottery In Vigan | Vigan.Ph. [online] Available at: <https://www.vigan.ph/arts-and-crafts/burnay-jars-burnay-pottery.html&gt; [Accessed 21 March 2020].

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