[Vigan] ► Ancestral Houses: How Does (and Should) the Rooftop Look Like?

(The full article is posted below this discussion box.)

"The roof is part of the ancestral house package. Better see an original one before everything will vanish through time."

Every Vigan visitor will surely never leave the city without seeing the ancestral houses. Some even want to touch them and examine closely. Some sleep in ancestral homes turned into hotels and inns to experience the old time. However, only a few are aware how does, and should, the rooftop (of Vigan ancestral houses) look like.On this post, I'll show you photos of ancestral houses rooftops.

[VIGAN] rooftop of ancestral houses along Calle Crisologo

The original ancestral houses of Vigan were made by Chinese traders who settled here. The architectural influence of the Chinese is evident in the roofing of these houses.

A Chinese Influence

The early Chinese traders who settled in this world heritage city introduced terracotta-related industries like the jar-making in Pagburnayan which is a century-old industry.


[VIGAN] an example of a typical ancestral house roofing

[VIGAN] roofing made from 'baked clay'

These influences are also present in the Vigan ancestral homes. The thick walls of these houses are terracotta tiles piled together (locally called nardillo). The roofing is not excused from this ancient trend since brick tiles were also used as rooftop.

A Law for Preservation

An ordinance in Vigan provides that the original roofs and ceilings of ancestral houses should be retained. The functional and decorative features of these houses that are significant in defining the historic character of the building should be preserved too and identified.


[VIGAN] The brick roof is replaced by galvanized iron.


[VIGAN] relatively modern roof

Before the existence of an ordinance that define and regulate the renovation of ancestral houses, some houses have been restored improperly turning them to modern houses.


[VIGAN] a well-preserved roof (left) along Gen Luna Street


[VIGAN] rooftop of houses in Calle Crisologo

Thanks to the Bigueños who advocated for the preservation of Vigan's ancestral homes. There are also some who are not from Vigan but took part in the advocacy of preserving these houses. These people are heroes of Vigan. The city has been saved from the threats of modernity. Somehow, it's good to point out that although modernity has embraced the heritage city, it has not significantly changed the townscape of Vigan. The past and the present are living together making Vigan an exceptional example of a successfully preserved heritage city with community involvement.

Preservation was successful but it never became perfect. Some original roofs have been replaced by improper roofing so a guideline was passed into a law. Section 16 of Municipal Ordinance No 4 Series of 2000 provides:

1. Any of the following types of roof shall be allowed:
  • a. Pitched, hip, or gable based on historical precedent, with or without lantern-type air vents.
  • b. Flat-deck azoteas with balustrades and/or parapet walls.

2. Roof finishes shall be any of the following types:
  • a. Clay/brick roof tiles
  • b. Corrugated galvanized iron
  • c. Galvanized tile sheet
  • d. Tiled decks


[VIGAN] Soffit should look like this...


[VIGAN] ...and should be as detailed as this.

3. The eaves shall be detailed and shall, whenever applicable, conform to the following requirements for each portion enumerated herein as may be required by the design:
  • a. Fascia/edge of roof
  • b. Downspout and gutters
  • c. Under eaves/soffit treatment which shall be in wood, sheet metal or masonry
  • d. Cornice which shall be in wood or masonry
  • e. Brackets
The Roof Today

There is nothing permanent in this world, even these ancestral houses that the people of Vigan are obligated to preserve. Somehow, the only practical remedy to retain the old world in Vigan when nothing's left to preserve is to do a replica. 


[VIGAN] old and new together: solar panels on a rooftop

Many don't even know how the roof of a Vigan ancestral house look like. The roof is part of the ancestral house package. Better see an original one before everything will vanish through time.

Today, the brick roof has been replaced by modern roofing but the law made it sure that the replacement should still look like the original. With the advancement of technology, solar panels now invade the ancestral houses roofs. Truly, there is nothing permanent in this world but the people of Vigan made it sure that the heritage they love preserving will still be seen by future generations the way they see it now. In Vigan, the old world does not adjust to fit to the modern world. Instead, the modern world is adjusting to fit the old world in Vigan. /end

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comment 3 #TownFolks Commented :

Pondering Paodaolei on September 26, 2014 at 11:24 AM said...

I love articles about ancestral houses! Kudos Ed!

Edmar Guquib said...

Pondering Paodaolei | Hey Pau-Pau! Yes, I know that :)
I've seen some of your ancestral houses features. Keep it up too!

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