VIGAN CITY: The old provincial jail building of Ilocos Sur, where the late President Elpidio Quirino was also born, was made a national museum in a ceremony coinciding with the holding the the 8th Kanna-widan Ylocos Festival from January 29 to February 13.
It appeared that the late president was born inside the structure because his father Mariano was then serving as a jail warden.
Because of the declaration, the new museum will become the repository of all historical artifacts and paintings showcasing the arts and culture of the Ilocanos.
National Museum Director Jeremy Barns along with Cory Quirino, the grand daughter of Ex-president Quirino, joined in cutting the ceremonial ribbon officially launching the museum on Sunday. Rep. Eric Singson (2nd district- Ilocos Sur), Gov. Ryan Luis Singson, Vice Gov. Deogracias Victor Savellano and Vigan City Mayor Eva Marie Medina also joined them in the event.
Barns said the museum will become the Ilocos Regional Museum Complex where all the national treasures in Northern Luzon will be preserved and displayed to remind the Ilocanos about their rich history and cultural heritage.
“The museum is the only one in Northern Luzon. We are very glad that this is placed in this well-preserved old Ciudad Fernadina, now called Vigan City, which is now one of the New Seven Wonder Cities of the world,” Barns said.
Gov. Singson said that the restoration of the old provincial jail into a national museum will become the center of the glorious past and the treasures that will remind every Ilocanos of their roots.
“I encourage tourists, teachers and visitors to add the national museum in their itinerary when touring Vigan so they can appreciate our heritage and our pride in Ilocandia,” Gov. Singson said.
For his part, Vice Gov. Savellano said that among the prominent artifacts and preserved places in the museum are the historic paintings of the “Basi Revolt” and the birthplace of the late President Quirino, located at the second floor of the building.
“All the memorabilias of ex-president Quirino are in the second floor of the museum while the paintings of the historic Basi Revolt are placed in the first floor with other antique materials and products showcasing the arts, cultures and life of the Ilocanos,” Savellano said.
“Several Ilocano artifacts, weapons, kitchen utensils, basketry, costumes, jewelry and some dioramas showing important events in the history of Ilocos Sur are also seen in the museum,” he added.
Savellano, who initiated the conversion of the provincial jail into a national museum since he was elected as governor in 2001, said Sunday the building was considered as of one oldest buildings in Vigan City.
Meanwhile, Cory Quirino thanked the National Museum, the Ilocos Sur and Vigan City officials for their all-out effort to preserve the memoirs of her grandfather.
In a marker installed by the National Historical Institute at the front wall of the museum, it stated that the building was constructed to house the municipal jail in 1657.
The building was made a provincial jail when Ilocos Sur became a province in 1818 and was repaired in 1855.
On November 16, 1890, President Elpidio Quirino was born at the second floor of the building when his father, Mariano Quirino, was the jail warden.
In 1898, the building was seized by the revolutionist under Colonel Juan Villamor but in 1899, it was taken over by American Forces, who detained in it the political leaders from the province to include Mena Crisologo, Estanislao Reyes and Enrique Quema.