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The Soldier Who Saved Vigan
Philippine Travel

It's a town where chipped balconies overlook horse drawn carriages clip-clopping along narrow cobblestone streets. A town where wooden doors huddle in the shadows of old Spanish archways. A town where time has stood still for 420 years.

No, it's not in Europe. It is Vigan, the third oldest Spanish settlement in the Philippines, and the best preserved. Established in 1574 by the conquistador Juan de Salcedo, it lies on the West Coast of Luzon about 400 kilometers north of Manila.

But our trip to Vigan was more than sightseeing. We were looking for Captain Eddie Donato, a Filipino World War II veteran. Captain Donato, I heard, had prevented the shelling and bombing of Vigan during the liberation of the Philippines.

Captain Donato used to live in Vigan. We had never met him - we didn't even know if he was alive, and if he was, whether he was still living in Vigan. The whole trip could easily be a wild goose chase. But even if we couldn't find Captain Donato, we would at least get to see Vigan. Buoyed by this logic we resolved to enjoy the trip.

At San Fernando, La Union, we boarded the air-conditioned bus.
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