About Ilocos Norte Province, Philippines

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Ilocos Norte Province
is a province of the Philippines located in the Ilocos Region in Luzon. Its capital is Laoag City and is located at the northwest corner of Luzon Island, bordering Cagayan and Apayao to the east, and Abra and Ilocos Sur to the south. Ilocos Norte faces the South China Sea to the west and the Luzon Strait to the north.

Ilocos Norte is noted for being the birthplace of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, who led an authoritarian rule over the country during the latter half of his incumbency. The Marcoses enjoy a modicum of popularity in the province. Ilocos Norte is also known as a northern tourist destination, being the location of Fort Ilocandia, an upper class hotel and beach resort famous among expatriates, and Pagudpud.

BRIEF PROFILE
Capital: Laoag City
Land Area: 3,504.3 km²
Population: 547,284 (2007)
Languages Ilocano, Tagalog, English

History

Long before the coming of the Spaniards, there already existed an extensive region (consisting of the present provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra and La Union) renowned for its gold mines. Merchants from Japan and China would often visit the area to trade gold with beads, ceramics and silk. The inhabitants of the region, believed to be of Malay origin, called their place "samtoy", from "sao mi toy", which literally meant "our language here".

In 1591, when the Spanish conquistadors had Manila more or less under their control, they began looking for new sites to conquer. Legaspi's grandson, Juan De Salcedo, volunteered to lead one of these expeditions. Together with 8 armed boats and 45 men, the 22 year old voyager headed north. On June 13, 1592, Salcedo and his men landed in Vigan and then proceeded towards Laoag, Currimao and Badoc. As they sailed along the coast, they were surprised to see numerous sheltered coves ("looc") where the locals lived in harmony. As a result, they named the region "Ylocos" and its people "Ylocanos".

As the Christianization of the region grew, so did the landscape of the area. Vast tracks of land were utilized for churches and bell towers in line with the Spanish mission of "bajo las campanas". In the town plaza, it was not uncommon to see garrisons under the church bells. The colonization process was slowly being carried out.

The Spanish colonization of the region, however, was never completely successful. Owing to the abusive practices of many Augustinian friars, a number of Ilocanos revolted against their colonizers. Noteworthy of these were the Dingras uprising (1589) and Pedro Almasan revolt (San Nicolas, 1660). In 1762, Diego Silang led a series of battles aimed at freeing the Ilocanos from the Spanish yoke. When he died from an assassin's bullet, his widow Gabriela continued the cause. Unfortunately, she too was captured and hanged. In 1807, the sugar cane ("basi") brewers of Piddig rose up in arms to protest the government's monopoly of the wine industry. In 1898, the church excommunicated Gregorio Aglipay for refusing to cut off ties with the revolutionary forces of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. Unperturbed, he established the "Iglesia Filipina Independiente". Aglipay’s movement and the nationalist sentiment it espoused helped restore the self-respect of many Filipinos.

In an effort to gain more political control and because of the increasing population of the region, a Royal Decree was signed on February 2, 1818 splitting Ilocos into two provinces: Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. Soon thereafter, the provinces of La Union and Abra likewise became independent.

People and Culture

In the 330-page The Ilocos Heritage (the 27th book written by Visitacion de la Torre), the Ilocano legacy and the life of the Ilocano are described as - "the browbeaten, industrious, cheerful, simple soul who has shown a remarkable strain of bravery and a bit of wanderlust." The Ilocano history reveals his struggles and victories in battles for colonial independence from Spain and America, to Philippine leadership. The new Ilocano searched for greener pastures towards new lands local and foreign - Palawan, Mindanao, Hawaii, the United States and Greece. The Ilocano material culture and spirituality can be seen in the past - images of Spanish santo (saints), antique but intricate wooden furniture and quality local fiber. The native Ilocano is a weaver, wood carver and pottery expert. The Ilocano cuisine ranges from the exotic "abu-os" (ant eggs) to vegetable broth "dinengdeng," and "pinakbet" the sticky "tinubong" to the "poqui-poqui" (eggplant salad). Ilocandia is filled with colonial churches, the legacy of Spanish Catholicism.

Religion

Although majority of the People in the Philippines are adherents to the Roman Catholic but its not the majority religion in the province. The Aglipayan Church, founded by Batac native Gregorio Aglipay has a strong following in the province.

Ilocos Norte is home to several famous Roman Catholic churches:

  • Paoay Church (St. Augustine Church) - named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
  • St. William's Cathedral in Laoag - famous for its Sinking Bell Tower
  • St. Monica Parish Church in Sarrat - documented to be the biggest church in the Ilocos Region.
  • Bacarra Church - destroyed during an intensity VII (on the Rossi-Forel scale) earthquake on August 17, 1983, reconstructed and re-inaugurated in 1984.
Ilocos Norte is the home of the Aglipay Shrine (Aglipayan Church) where the church first supreme leader was buried.

Economy

The province specializes in the following products and industries:

  • Agriculture - rice, corn, garlic, legumes, root crops, tobacco, and other fruits and vegetables
  • Fishery - tilapia and assorted fishes
  • Livestock - swine and cattle
  • Cottage industries - loom weaving, furniture, ceramics, iron works
  • Manufacturing and food processing - salt, empanada, bagoong, patis, basi (native Ilocano wine), vinegar, longganisa, chicharon, bagnet, chichacorn (cornick), jewelry, garments, cereal processing, packaging, mechanized processing equipment
  • Wind Power Ilocos Norte's position on the northwest corner of Luzon makes it ideal for wind power generation. There is currently a 25 Megawatt wind farm in Ilocos Norte, and several more wind energy projects are being planned
  • Tourism
  • Pottery
Tourism

The province offers a number of popular destinations for tourists, locals and foreigners alike. Because of its proximity to the South China Sea, tourist arrivals peak during the summer seasons, the beach resorts topping the most visited list.

  • Fort Ilocandia Beach Resort and Hotel
              The sandy beach spans 2 kilometers. It also offers the only 5-star hotel in northern Philippines sprawling over 77 hectares of land. It is located in Laoag City and is a 10-minutes drive from the Laoag International Airport.

  • Laoag Sinking Bell Tower
              Over the years the 45m high bell tower has shelved few meters downward. This is evident by the tower's entrance that at present day a man of ordinary height must bent over to get inside.

  • Bangui Wind Farm
  • Saud Beach Resort
  • Sta. Monica Church Complex
  • Paoay Church
             This baroque architecture church is inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage List.

  • Juan Luna Museum
  • Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
  • Marcos Museum
  • Gov. Roque Ablan Sr. Shrine
  • Paoay lake

Map of Ilocos Norte Province
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