The Baluarte or fortress is a must-see attraction for first time visitors, and even for those who have visited Vigan before. The reasons for its being on the list of places to visit are two. First is that it has a mini zoo with animals from other countries and others endemic to the Philippines. It is a private collection and is therefore continuously being improved. The second reason is that it is owned by Mr. Chavit Singson, a well-loved son of Vigan and well-known to most Filipinos and foreigners who follow the Philippine political scene.
The resort complex lies in hectares of land that stretches from the rolling plain towards the hills, where
the former governor’s multi-storey house sits with a grand view of Vigan and the South China Sea.
Within its private area is a landscaped garden complete with its own nature pools. However, the area open to the public has plenty more engaging attractions that visitors can busy themselves with aside from the mini zoo. There is a butterfly farm, a track for horse riding and a skeet shooting range.
Visitors can start with visiting the rows of cages where they can see lions, Bengal tigers, peacocks, civet cats, iguanas, pythons and other reptiles and birds. In this part of the Baluarte, people will also be able to see the Philippine cloud rat, a nocturnal animal endemic to the Philippine Cordillera region. This very large rodent is an herbivore and hunted by large birds and local people.
From the caged animals, visitors can move on to the fenced areas where they can visit and feed the monkeys, swans, flamingos, ostriches, albino and spotted deer and the one-hump camel. Children are allowed to sit on top of the bigger animals, but if they really want to ride, they can go to the tracks where they can ride the miniature horses.
For a closer encounter with the animals, visitors may choose to visit and feed the parrots and hornbills
that are placed in a more open area where visitors can openly approach them with bananas and seeds. There are also scheduled show and tell times when audiences are introduced to the animals.
An added attraction is the butterfly garden where one can observe thousands of butterflies, some endemic to the Philippines, or have a more serene interaction with an animal species.
Visitors from all parts of the Philippines and other countries flock to Baluarte everyday, for these well-cared for animal attractions, and for a chance to meet with the owner of this magnificent property. Governor Singson does not only generously share his private collection of animals with everyone; he also gives in to requests of tourists for pictures to be taken with him.