Northern Philippines: A Spanish Heritage

Philippines' flag
Asia » Philippines » Illocos Region
October 17th 2008
Published: February 17th 2009
Edit Blog Post

Manong's Lazy DayManong's Lazy DayManong's Lazy Day

"Manong" means older brother.......
An hour or so away by plane, all of 8 to 9 hours travel by road. Take your pick.

We chose to fly, then rent a car from our base which is Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Resort. The hotel is a good base for many day trips to various parts of the Ilocos Region. Top of the list is a visit to Vigan, the only surviving colonial town in the country. Declared a UNESCO Heritage Site, it is a must see for all visitors who want to catch a glimpse of how it was in the 18th and early 19th century. Time stood still in this part of Northern Philippines. It helped too that Vigan , unlike Cebu and Manila, was spared of the bombing last World War II. Do not forget that Manila is the second most bombed city during that war. By God's mercy, Vigan survived and preserved its antiquated houses, cobbled pathways, even the calesas or horse-drawn carts. The township with all its narrow streets speak of an architecture which blends Spanish, Asian and Mexican influences. At the time, it was called Ciudad Fernandina before it became Vigan which comes from the word "kabiga-an"where a tuberous

Vestiges of the Spanish Colonization of the Philippines
plant called "biga" abounds. Then famous as a commercial and trading post, it attracted Chinese junks sailing from the South China Sea. Some of these Chinese seafarers married natives and settled in Vigan. This was long before King Philip II of Spain sent Captain Juan de Salcedo who then "founded" the town in 1572 and called it Ciudad Fernandina in honor of the King's son Ferdinand who died at an early age. Since then, Augustinian missionaries visited Vigan and the rest of Ilocos Region and initiated the evangelization of the area. Many churches and monuments still stand today , spared from the bombings of World War II.

Paoay Church, a very Spanish Legacy

Back in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, we spent the next day visiting Paoay Church, another UNESCO Heritage Site. I have not seen a church compound anywhere in the Philippines as grand as this one. Paoay Church stands proud. It is by no means as grand as the churches you'd find in Europe, but the colonial heritage and the Spanish legacy give it its well-deserved grandeur. Built of bricks and coral blocks, the architecture combines Gothic, Baroque and Oriental. Built over a period of nearly 200 years, the church belltower is a fitting reminder of the Christianization of the Philippines as well as its role in the Philippine Revolution when it was used as an observation post by the local rebels called Katipuneros. Another church , the St. William's Church, was built by the Augustinian frailes or priests in 1612 in the Italian Renaissance design. Right next to it is a sunken belltower leaning slightly to the North. This is our local though much scaled-down version of the Pisa tower. A 3rd church we visited was Sta. Monica Church , a century old church of neo-classical and baroque architecture.

Ferdinand Marcos Hails from Ilocos

Of more recent history is the fact that ex-President and strongman Ferdinand Marcos hails from Batac, not too far from Laoag. The ancestral house of the Marcoses is now the Marcos Museum and Mausoleoum where the late President's body lies like a wax statue. During his 20 year reign, Marcos built a Malacanang of the North (Malacanang in Manila is the official residence of the President, much like the White House in Washington DC). The mansion is an expression of opulence and overlooks the lovely Paoay Lake. Now a museum, visitors can tour the mansion for a minimal fee.

These days, the Ilocos Region is still considered Marcos land despite the fact that the dictator has passed on many years ago. His only son, Ferdinand Junior, Bongbong to most, is the current congressman representing the Ilocos Region. Bongbong earlier served as governor of the province, during which time the Bangui Windmills were established. This wind farm lies nearly next to Pagudpudand now has 15 wind turbines. It has since attracted many visitors to the area just to view the 70 meters tall wind turbines. And not too far from here is the Cape Bojeador , a lighthouse built in 1892 north of Laoag City. It is the highest, and I think the oldest, lighthouse in the country.

Many Ilocanos to this day idolize the late President Marcos. Without dwelling on politics, I will venture to suggest that the more prominent and admirable Ilocanos should be Juan Luna , Diego Silang and his equally brave widow, Gabriela. All three are martyrs and heroes of the land. They have done far more for our country than any other Ilocano. That said, let me invite everyone to visit our land!

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


17th February 2009

Mexican's Managed the Philippines
Well. The Philippines contrary to general thinking, tends to not use Spanish in it's linguistic rapport. Why? This might help with that question. MEXICO managed the Philippines for SPAIN. They were brutal, unyielding managers that the Philippine people resented with a passion. There is no love lost for the Spanish Rule by Proxy and the Philippines being a great people simply bury this past. LOVE THE PHILIPPINES. Few places better.
17th February 2009

Rich history
Keep it coming, I truly enjoy your blogs and pictures. Please keep on sharing. It's especially nice to read about the history of the Philippines. Have fun and travel safely!
21st February 2009

Ahh..your home country!
This was great. I really enjoyed reading and seeing the sights of your native land. Isn't it amazing what we all have right in our back yards and although most of us overlook what's in front of our faces, you took the time to explore and research and photograph beautifully some of the sights of your country. Thanks for sharing this insight into the land of the Philippines! I see your postings are generating a lot of comments so keep up the good work and take care of yourself. Look forward to your next journey....Jeff
2nd March 2009

Envious me
Awesome pics and blog. BTW, I'm Filipino but honestly I haven't been to the Ilocos region so I envy you for getting the chance to travel there. I also heard the Batanes Islands up north also has awesome views. Have you been there too?
11th April 2009

your blog is helpful and the pictures are beautiful..but i wish u included the expenses in your blog, e.g. how much for the car rental; cost of your meals; the restaurants u dined in, etc..
11th April 2009

a few tips.........
Flight and hotel bookings are sometimes available at promo rates, like as low as P2,000 round trip from Manila to Laoag and back. Hotel as cheap as P2,500, good for 2 pax. Car rental at P2,500 for entire day, which I suggest if you want to cover a lot of places. As for eating out, it is never expensive in this part of town. You can get a decent meal for P250 , about US$ 5. Hope these help.
1st September 2010

When i went in vigan fo our educational tour hindi ko akalaing may lugar pa palang ganun d2 sa PINAS,malinis,maayos,maliwnag ang kapaligiran so thats why I LOVE VIGAN
1st September 2010
Bantay Belfry, Ilocos Sur

Iwant to go back coz i love the place,,.
17th February 2011
Paoay Lake

the lake is breath taking its really beautyful how i wish i can come and see it in person....
19th March 2011

sobrang ganda talaga.
20th April 2011
Marcos' Ancestral House in Batac

i want to see some photos of my loving pres marcos
I miss pres marcos photos

Tot: 0.106s; Tpl: 0.013s; cc: 10; qc: 41; dbt: 0.058s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.2mb