The Ilocos Norte and Ilocos region is located at the Northwestern end of Luzon and is home to around 500,000 people.
Ilocanos occupy a narrow and relatively barren coastal strip of land that is squeezed in between the rugged Cordillera mountain range to the east and the South China Sea to the west. Iloco Norte became a separate province in 1818.
The province and Ilocos region has a long history of trade between Chinese and Japanese well before the Spanish arrived in 1572.
The Augustinian missionaries introduced Christianity to the region and the legacy is many historic and well preserved churches from the 16th century.
The Spanish encountered a society made of many individual community groups all being independently governed. Laoag was for the period a very large place with over 6,000 people, making it the largest in the Philippines. The main town at this time was around Ermita Hill on the northern bank of the Padsan River.
The missionaries resettled the Ilocos region community and established modern Laoag City using the Greco-Roman grid pattern for laying out streets that were arranged around a central quadrangle with a plaza, church, convent, tower and other important government buildings.
The poblacion houses were built so as to be within hearing distance of the church bells and then each poblacion as divided into barrios each having its own patron saint.
In 1901, the Ilocos region came under American colonial rule and in 1942 the Japanese Imperial forces entered Laoag City and in 1945, the U.S. and the Allied Philippine Commonwealth forces along with assistance from Ilocano guerrilla units that were lead by Gov. Roque Ablan Sr. battled the Japanese troops.
This made Laoag and the Ilocos Norte region unique in that they were only local government units who did not surrender to the Japanese Imperial Forces. This fierce determination and resilience continues today.
Ilocos Norte and the Ilocos region has a strong claim to having one of the most richest and diverse cultural heritages of all the Philippine provinces. The political and social unrest that occurred in the Spanish colonial era along with the harsh conditions of the local environment which is both sandy and rocky has given rise to a unique Ilocano character. This local adversity developed the Ilocano traits of industrious and tenacious people, renowned for their strong spirit and thrifty and frugal habits.
In the Ilocos region they speak a local dialect called Ilokano which is also known as Ilocano, Iluko, Iloco, Iloko, Ylocano and Yloco is this is the third most-spoken language in the Philippines. Click on the link of common Ilocano words and phrases to try. Dont worry most speak tagalog and many also speak good English.
Ilocano culture is well recognized and artisans still maintain and practice their skills. Tourists and visitors have a unique opportunity to both observe and by authentic works from the many Ilocano craftsmen and women.
Last year nearly 100,000 tourists came to Ilocos Region and Ilocos Norte and that puts it into the top ten Philippine tourist destinations. So the best thing is that its still not too touristy, not many great places can say that. Only 8,000 foreign tourists came last year as the recession took its toll, however we look forward to seeing you soon. This is what people come for and what are some great features and that is without the rugged beauty of the landscape, waterfalls, pristine beaches and the rustic heritage sites.
The principal products of the Ilocos Region that can be bought include basket weaving in Pinili and Badoc; bricks in Paoay; wild mushrooms in Pinili; clay pottery, metal works and furniture in San Nicolas; rattan in Adams, Marcos, Nueva Era and Pagudpud; tin smithing in Badoc and cloth and blanket weaving in Laoag, Paoay and Sarrat.
Around two thirds of the province are used for agriculture which is the principal livelihood. Ilocos Norte is very proud of its gastronomic and agricultural produce that includes Garlic and Onions in Bacarra, Badoc, Bangui, Burgos and Paoay; Sukang Iloko ; Tobacco in Badoc, Batac, Dingras, Marcos and Paoay; Salt in Pasuquin and Gamet (seaweed) in Burgos, Currimao; Tomato PasteSarrat; Paoay, Vintar; Mung Beans (monggo) Batac; Rice in most areas, we have three fields ourselves, and there is also cotton, corn, sugarcane and dried fish.
Of course gastronomy doesn’t stop there and the delicious Ilocano delicacies include bagnet (chicharon), biscocho (crackers), corniks (corn kernels), empanada (filled pastry), linga (sesame seed), longganiza (sausage) and tupig (sticky rice).
Ilocos Norte is probably now Asia’s leading eco friendly place and may have one of the lowest carbon footprints as the various renewable energy projects take off. The new coconut biodiesel project near Pagudpud is now getting started; the Bangui wind farms (the largest wind farm project in Asia with a 40 turbine 80 MW capacity under way) and mini hydroelectric scheme near Pagudpud.
There are 22 towns that make up the province of Ilocos Norte:
Adams, Bacarra, Badoc, Bangui, Banna, Batac, Burgos, Carasi, Currimao, Dingras, Dumalneg, Marcos, Nueva Era, Pagudpud, Paoay, Pasuquin, Piddig, Pinili, San NicolasSarrat, Solsona and Vintar
Most people love markets, so much local produce and materials and it represents the best opportunity to meet and interact with local people. Every one of these Ilocos Region markets will welcome you, whether you are a foreigner or balikbayan or from another province or a local.