The Province of Ilocos Norte

Ilocos Norte is located on the northernmost edge of western Luzon. Its boundaries are formed by the Babuyan Channel on the north and its sister province, Ilocos Norte, on the south. To the west are the tribulent waters of the South China Sea, while the eastern borders are formed by part of the Cagayan Valley, Abra and the Mountain Province. A well-paved coastal highway connects the province with the rest of the country.

Ilocos Norte has a total land area of 3,400 square kilometers. It is composed of 22 municipalities with 477 barangays. The province's population was 514,000 by the census of 2000, and since 1999 its governor is Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. It was made a separate province in 1818. The province is noted for being the birthplace of former Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos, who led an authoritarian rule over the country during the later half of his incumbency. Ilocos Norte has always been Marcos territory and the family enjoy a moderate amount of popularity in the province. Even before one reaches the capital, traces of the "great Ilocano" are unmistakable.

Long before the Spanish galleons came to the Philippines, the coastal plane of Ilocos Norte was already flourishing with business carried out by the Chinese and Japanese traders. The first Spaniards to reach the region were Juan de Salcedo and his men, who were tasked to explore the coast of Luzon north of Manila in 1572. The largest concentration of people that Salcedo found was in Laoag along the Padian River, and Salcedo gained their friendship after initial skirmishes. Although the presence of the Spanish soldiers may have seemed fleeting to the Ilocanos, Salcedo's exploration marked the beginning of Spanish colonization of the region.

Agriculture is the main source of livelihood in the province, all lands for cultivation can be planted with rice, corn, garlic, onion, sugarcane, tobacco, and cotton. Ilocos Norte is also noted for its various cottage industries, among which are cloth weaving, pottery-making, blacksmithing, woodcarving and furniture making. Its ethnic population is overwhelmingly Ilocano. Unlike the rest of the region, however, the Roman Catholic Church does not predominate. The Aglipayan Church, Iglesia ni Cristo, and other Protestant groups have strong followings, as well as, animism and non-religiosity. The climate is characterized by two extremes: very dry from December to April and very wet for the rest of the year. The average temperature in Ilocos Norte is 81 deg F. May is the warmest month, with an average temperature of 83 deg F, and December is the coldest.

Laoag City

Laoag City, the capital city of Ilocos Norte, is 463 kilometers north of Manila. The municipalities of San Nicolas, Paoay, Sarrat, Vintar, and Bacarra form its boundaries. The foothills of the Cordillera Central mountain range to the east, and the South China Sea to the west are its physical boundaries. Flourishing along the bank of the Laoag River, it is the nerve center of the province and the seat of politics, business, commerce, education and religion. It became a 2nd class city in 1965. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 94,466 people in 19,751 households.

"Laoag" (Ilocano for "the place of light or clarity"), is an old, flourishing settlement known to Chinese and Japanese traders when the Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo arrived at the northern banks of Padsan River in 1572. Augustinian missionaries established the Roman Catholic Church in the area in 1580 and designated Saint William, the Hermit as its patron saint. Pedro Almazan crowned himself king of Laoag in 1661 in a bid of insurrection and protest against Spanish tax mandates. Other rebellions flared throughout colonial times, including against Spanish tobacco monopoly in 1782.

A Glimpse of Downtown Laoag City
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Laoag is an 9 to 10 hour drive from Manila depending on the traffic or how fast you are going. Provincial buses also provide transportation from Baguio City, Manila, and a number of other cities. There are air-conditioned buses that leave their Manila stations for Laoag. The buses, which leave on scheduled runs, do stopovers at designated points along the route for refreshments and other necessities. Laoag International Airport services flights to and from Taiwan and some charter flights by Philippine carriers. It is a 1 hour flight from Manila. The town experiences the prevailing monsoon climate of Northern Luzon, characterized by a dry season from November to April and a wet season from May to October, occasionally visited by powerful typhoons.

The Landmarks & Attractions of Ilocos Norte

In March of 2006, after doing a photo coverage of the Panagbenga Festival in Baguio City, I took time out to visit the Province of Ilocos Norte. The Texicana Hotel in Laoag City served as my temporary home base for the entire duration of my brief stay. With me was my nephew Timothy Gonzalez who accompanied me around and helped me in my photographic coverage of the different sites we visited. If I remember right, this was my 5th time to visit the province although my last visit was more than two decades ago.

With a rented chauffeur-driven car, I spent a good three days visiting the different landmarks and attractions of Ilocos Norte, took a lot of digital photographs, and gathered some reference brochures, books, Ilocano musical recordings, and other publications in order to come up with this webpage. Apparently, there is so much to see and three days was just not adequate enough for me to visit all the cultural, religious, scenic, and historical sites the province has to offer. Anyway, there will always be another time to visit Ilocos Norte once again and I will surely be looking forward to it. I have, however, tried to visit as much as I could and the following are what I saw:

  • Juan Luna Shrine
  • Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel
  • Paoay Church
  • Marcos Mausoleum and Museum
  • St. William's Cathedral & Sinking Bell Tower
  • Museo Ilocos Norte
  • Bacarra Church & Bell Tower Ruins
  • Malacanang of the North
  • Salt Making in Pasuquin
  • La Virgin Milagrosa Shrine of Badoc
  • Currimao's Nipa Beach Resort
  • Sarrat's Sta. Monica Church

JUAN LUNA SHRINE

The Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, Ilocos Norte, is a reconstruction of the two-storey house in which the patriot and foremost Filipino painter was born on October 24, 1857 (The original house burned down in 1861). Luna was the son of Joaquin Luna and Laureana Vovicio. He was instrumental in placing Philippine art and culture on the world map. Luna began his formal art training at the Ateneo Municipal Escuela de Bellas Artes and Escuela Nautica in Manila. In 1877 he left for Madrid, Spain, to continue his studies at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. It was during this period that he painted "Dafne y Chloe," which won the Silver Palette Award from the Centro Artistico-Literario de Manila.

Other major awards established Luna's reputation as a master painter both in the Philippines and Europe. These included the gold medal at Madrid's National Exposition of Fine Arts in 1884 for "Spoliarium" and a special gold medal award at the Barcelona Exposition in 1888 for "La Batalla de Lepanto," a work commissioned by the Spanish Senate. Among his notable paintings were: "The Blood Compact" and "People and Kings". Juan Luna was a co-worker of Rizal, Lopez-Jaena, Del Pilar and other Filipino reformers in Europe. He was in the Diplomatic Service of the First Philippine Republic. In 1896 Juan Luna and his brother General Antonio Luna were arrested by the Spanish authorities for subversion. During his eight months in prison he painted many canvasses, among them, "Ecce Homo," a sensitive portrayal of Christ. Luna died in Hong Kong on December 7, 1899 and his remains were interred in 1953 in niche no. 73 at the Sala de Profundis in San Agustin Church, Intramuros, Manila.

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The main entrance of the Juan Luna Shrine opens into the alcove just before the family gallery. Photographs on the walls show the damaged original house and how teams of construction workers rebuilt it. In the family gallery are vintage photographs of the Luna clan, including Juan Luna's son, Andres. The museum also uses the family gallery to display household artifacts from Luna's time. Another section of the lower floor holds reproductions of Luna's two large works - "Spolarium" and "El Pacto de Sangre." There are also portraits of his wife, Paz Pardo de Tavera, and national hero Jose Rizal.

The staircase leads up to the living room, bedrooms, azotea and a mini chapel. The living room is furnished in period furniture and accessories. The master bedroom contains the four-posted bed used by Luna. Outside, facing the azotea, is the bedroom which Luna once shared with his brothers. At the grounds of the shrine is a monument of the painter.

FORT ILOCANDIA RESORT HOTEL

The resort is located in Barangay 37, Calayab, and about 9 kilometers from Laoag City. It is the only first class property of its kind in the province of Ilocos Norte. The hotel is sprawled over 77 hectares of land at the middle of sand dunes, prime forests, and two kilometers of fine sandy beach facing the South China Sea. It is situated on the northwestern tip of the island of Luzon. Laoag City and Laoag International Airport are accessible by a 10-minute ride from the hotel.

The Fort Ilocandia Resort complex is composed of 5 buildings all inspired by Spanish colonial architecture and finished in coal red bricks. It has guest rooms with private balconies offering a panoramic view of the sea. These rooms have features and qualities of Ilocano century-old living quarters and constructed to accentuate the antiquity of a colonial house.

The main building houses the lobby, a number of restaurants, shopping arcade, casino, discotheque, and a glass-topped atrium where you can relax as you sip your favorite drinks, tea or coffee. For those who love Asian cuisines, Lucky House and Golden Pavilion are the best places to dine. It offers the finest Cantonese dishes and one can find delicious dishes from Korea, Japan and Taiwan. At the Sunset Bar which is located at the beachside you can have a drink and after which you can dine in a Spanish Restaurant, or CoCo Lobster where you can enjoy authentic Filipino cuisine. After your dinner, you can visit the Casino Filipino at the second floor. It is open 24 hours a day with multi-lingual attendants. The gaming area includes more VIP game rooms to satisfy your appetite for thrill. At the Passion Night Club and Karaoke glamorous shows are held every night. There are VIP rooms where guests can show their singing prowess or none of it, and have a fun and relaxing time.

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Hotel facilities of Fort Ilocandia include an Olympic-sized swimming pool, seven function rooms, video arcade, tennis court, badminton court, gym and sauna, driving range, golf course, paintball, beach volleyball, jet ski, sea donut, wind glides, sailing boat, bodyboard and pool toys. The guests may also indulge in various recreational activities such as wind sailing, archery, shooting, horseback riding, wind gliding/wind surfing, canoeing, open sea fishing, snorkel diving, scuba diving, and rafting, among others. The resort also has a world-class 18-hole golf course with international standards and a perfect design to challenge one's playing skills. The golf course, with numerous trees built along Lake Paoay was designed by PGA champion, Gary Player for the late President Marcos. It measures 6,518 yards from the blue tee with a par of 72. Added hazards are the century-old fruit bearing trees and man-made ponds and lake.

The hotel's red brick facade and roofs beautifully contrast with white round windows. Clearly, it's inspired by the architecture of the colonial Spanish or Spanish Moroccan style. There is an impressive and immense fountain and well-maintained gardens and flowering plants-lined walkways. The rooms that spread out in four other two-storey buildings include 233 standard rooms; 25 deluxe rooms; eight junior suites; and two presidential suites. All of them have aircon units, cable tv, telephones, and a bathroom with hot water. Fort Ilocandia Resort is without doubt one of the most interesting places in northern Luzon and is perfect for pleasure seekers because of its distinctive and naturalistic appeal.

PAOAY CHURCH

The Paoay Church was built of coral blocks and stucco-plastered bricks. Its architecture is a unique combination of Baroque and Oriental. The materials used for the walls were a mixture of coral stone and bricks. Large coral stones were used at the lower level of the walls, while bricks, smaller and more manageable to transport, were used at the upper levels. The mortar used for the coral stones and bricks points out the desire of the builders to make sure that the church stood against natural calamities. The stucco was said to have been made by mixing sand and lime with sugarcane juice, which were boiled with mango leaves, leather, and rice straw. The church is considered as one of the most striking edifices in the country with its huge buttresses flanking the sides and rear facade.

Viewed from the side, the giant buttresses look like huge volutes making the facade appear as a massive pediment rising from the ground. The facade is divided vertically by square pilasters that extend from the ground and all the way to the top of the pediment. The facade is also divided horizontally by cornices that extend all the way to the edges. The cornices extend to the sides of the church and wrap each buttresses around, adding attention and articulation to the massive side supports.

The facade is complemented with a bell tower located at its right hand side. Bell towers are a very important element in the overall composition of colonial churches, both for its function and aesthetics. For practical purposes, belltowers were used as a communication device to the townspeople. In the case of the Paoay bell tower, it also played, ironically, an explicit role in the lives of the Filipinos during the war. It has been said that the bell tower was used as an observation post by Katipuneros during the Philippine Revolution and by guerilleros during the Japanese occupation.

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The Paoay Church was started by the Augustinian Fr. Antonio Estavillo. Cornerstone laying for the church was made in 1704, its convent in 1707, and the bell tower in 1793. It was completed in 1710 and nauguration ceremonies were held on February 28, 1896, just three years before the expulsion of Spanish rule in the country. The style of the church has been dubbed an “Earthquake Baroque.” The church started to be used before its completion and kept in repair by the people under the joint auspices of the Church and the town officials of Paoay. The church was badly damaged by earthquake in 1927 and lated included in the UNESCO'S World Heritage List.

Compared to its still magnificent exterior, the Paoay Church looks austere and stark inside, with but a few old images of saints and a simple wooden cross at the altar, that it is hard to imagine now how it looked like a hundred years ago. Only on Sundays does the Parish enjoy quite a number of worshippers. It is sad to note that on any other day, except for an intermittent bus loads of Taiwanese tourists, the church suffers from the lack of patronage.

MARCOS MAUSOLEUM & MUSEUM

The Marcos Museum and Mausoleum in Batac, Ilocos Norte showcases memorabilia of the late Philippines President Ferdinand E. Marcos and a large stately and gloomy tomb housing his embalmed remains which are contained in a vacuum-sealed glass coffin. Within the property of the Marcos family is a cluster of three houses and the hallowed grounds of the mausoleum. The Museum is the first structure seen from the main street and is the one which follows the lines of a colonial wood-and-brick house, with solid ground floor walls and an upper storey of wood decorated with floral motifs. The Mausoleum is a cube of adobe blocks and is stepped towards the top of the structure. The dark interior is divided into an entry foyer in which are exhibited old English standards and a bust of the former president.

Two decades after Marcos was chased from power, he still draws the faithful and the curious from this farming town. Displayed in an adobe mausoleum, his lavishly waxed corpse lies in a family tribute, bedecked in military medals and surrounded by faux flowers while Gregorian chants echo softly. Scores of school children visit nearly everyday, filing past souvenir peddlers for a look of the deposed dictator whom residents of Ilocos Norte province fondly call "Apo," or the Old man.

Ferdinand Edralín Marcos (September 11, 1917 – September 28, 1989) was the tenth president of the Philippines, serving from 1965 to 1986. In 1972, he instituted an authoritarian regime that allowed him to stay in power until lifting it in 1981. He was elected the same year to another full term which was marred by personal health issues, political mismanagement and human rights violations by the military. In 1986, he was re-elected for the fourth time in a disputed snap election. As a result, that same year he was removed from office peacefully by the "People Power" EDSA Revolution. He has the distinction of being the last Senate President to be elected to the presidency and being the first president to be elected to two consecutive full terms.

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Ferdinand Marcos was born in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte to Don Mariano Marcos, a lawyer who was an assemblyman for Ilocos Norte, and Doña Josefa Quetulio Edralín, a teacher. He was the second of four children. His siblings were Pacífico, Elizabeth and Fortuna. He was of mixed Filipino (Ilocano), Chinese, and Japanese ancestry. He started his primary education in Sarrat Central School. He was transferred to Shamrock Elementary School (Laoag), and finally to the Ermita Elementary School (Manila) when his father was elected as an Assemblyman in the Philippine Congress. He completed his primary education in 1929.

He served as 3rd lieutenant in the Philippine Constabulary Reserve in 1937. The same year, when he was still a law student at the University of the Philippines, Marcos was indicted for the assassination of Assemblyman Julio Nalundasan, one of his father's political rivals. Marcos was convicted in November 1939. He was offered a pardon by President Manuel Quezon, but he turned it down and voluntarily returned to the Laoag Provincial Jail where he spent time preparing his defense. On appeal, he argued his case before the Philippine Supreme Court and was acquitted the following year by then-Associate Justice Jose P. Laurel. In the University of the Philippines, Marcos was a member of the Upsilon Sigma Phi. After graduating with cum laude honors in 1939, he became the topnotcher of the Philippine bar examinations the same year.

ST. WILLIAM'S CATHEDRAL & SINKING BELL TOWER

A chapel of wood and thatch was originally built on the same site when the Augustinian Friars founded the parish in 1580. Later in 1612, foundation for the replacement of the church was laid by the friars and construction of the cathedral with Italian Renaissance design began. The church was damaged by fire in 1843 and repaired through the efforts of the Obras Publicas under the supervision of Engr. Antonio de la Camara and Fray Santiago Muniz from 1873 to 1880.

The reconstructed church has a unique two-storey facade held by four pairs of coupled columns and was called the St. William's Cathedral. The deeply recessed niche shows the image of Saint San Guillermo. It is the one of the biggest cathedrals in the country and became the seat of the Diocese of Laoag. In 1898 it was occupied by Revolutionarists and also by the American forces in 1899. The cathedral was the site of the Diocesan Congress in 1932 and 1949.

Located 85 meters away is its bell tower which has sunk to the grounds and leans slightly. The 45 meter high bell tower is one of the tallest edifice built in the province. When the tower was newly erected a person on horseback can pass through its door freely. Today, a person of average height could hardly pass without stooping.

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MUSEO ILOCOS NORTE

Located in the downtown area of Laoag City and just close to the provincial capitol and about a block away from the town plaza is the Museo Ilocos Norte. One of the best ways to get to know Ilocano culture is by visiting the museum. The museum is housed in the restored historic Tabacalera warehouse, which was a factory of sorts for tabacco back in the Spanish Era. The museum was primarily designed to bring a sense of pride to the citizens of the province. It showcases the varied ethnicity and multi-faceted cultural heritage of the Ilocano people. It is one of the few attractions in Laoag City which is most visited by school children, visitors, and tourists.

The museum is nicknamed, "Gameng," from the Iloco word meaning treasure. It symbolizes the wealth of Ilocos Norte. There is an assortment of items displayed on both floors of the two-storey building. Before you exit out of the museum, you will find a small giftshop which sells an assortment of native products and handicraft of Ilocos Norte, and a few books and other publications written about the province. There is a minimal fee charged to view the contents of Museo Ilocos Norte. The museum is opened during office hours in the morning and afternoon of the work week, however, it is closed at noon time which allows it's staff time for their lunch break. The symbol of the museum, a many-rayed sun, was taken from one of the finials at the back of the 19th century church in San Nicolas.

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BACARRA CHURCH & BELL TOWER RUINS

The Bacarra Church together with its bell tower were constructed by the Spanish Augustinian Friars in 1593 and subsequently inaugurated in 1782. It was destroyed by the intensity 7.8 earthquake on August 1983 and reconstructed and once again inaugurated in August 1984. The image of the patron saint, San Andres, stands in front of his x-shaped cross in the central niche.

The Bacarra Bell Tower is located at the right side of the Roman Catholic Church. It was built in 1830’s and made up of coral blocks and stocco with an original height of fifty (50) meters and a three (3) storey with a wall of five (5) meters thickness. The earthquake wrecked it in 1931, which had caused the top most portions to tilt a little sideward on the right. The bell tower with its unusual elongated cupola, was built during the term of Fray Pedro Berger (1828-1848). It was made to stand a good distance from the church to reduce damage to the later in case the tower buckled during a tremor. Chunks of brick debris, hurtled down during earlier earthquakes practically at the foot of the church.

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The bell tower, which is now in its advanced stage of dilapidation due to the effect of strong earthquakes, serves not only as a tourist attraction but also as a historical landmark of the painfull sacrifices of the ancestors of the Bacarenos who rendered forced labor under the Spanish conquerors.

MALACANANG OF THE NORTH

This imposing two-storey structure was built as the official residence of the President Marcos in Ilocos Norte. It overlooks the legendary Paoay Lake and was designed to resemble a 19th Century "bahay na bato." It is complete with bedrooms, dining area, kitchen, an office, a spacious ballroom on the second floor, and even had an olympic size swimming pool. During the term of Fidel Ramos, he has also used this former official residence in Ilocos Norte and so did President Gloria M. Arroyo whenever she travels to the north.

The main and official residence of the president of the Philippines is actually the Malacanang Palace. It is located along the north bank of the Pasig River in Manila. The name "Malacanang" comes from a Tagalog phrase "May lakan diyan," which means there is a nobleman there. This palace was once the home of a wealthy Spanish merchant before it hosted the nation's chief executive.

When Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became the president, she opened the Malacanang of the South in August 19, 2004. It is a refurbished old building of the Bureau of Customs in Cebu City and was established to bring the national government closer to the people in the Visayas and Mindanao. In Tacloban City, Leyte, former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos had her "Sto. Nino Shrine" which also doubled as the Malacanang of the South.

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Malacanang Palace of the North has since been converted into a museum and it is open to visitors. It is sad to note that the structure has not been well maintained and is now badly dilapidated. Even the swimming pool beside it is no longer used and appears to have been converted into a small fish pond. There is a mininal fee collected for those who want to see the place.

SALT MAKING IN PASUQUIN

Along the highway a few kilometers north of the town of Pasuquin, there are roadside stalls selling bags of what is arguably the finest salt in the Philippines. It is a common sight to see people riding in provincial buses that often stop at these stalls to purchase salt. Sold by the kilo and contained in plastic bags, the salt is cooked in large vats in huts which are usually found behind the stalls.

Pipes stretched from the beach to the huts carry salt water to the cooking vats. Although the initial cost of setting up and laying the pipes and then pumping salt water to the huts involves a significant amount of capital for these entrepreneurs, the convenience of having a steady supply of salt water becomes an added advantage. This process of salt making is quite different from the way salt is produced in the town of Paranaque (south of Metro Manila) where a thin layer of sea water is poured over salt beds and left to dry by exposure to the sun. However, the quality and fineness of the salt crystals made by this process does not come to par with the salt made in Pasuquin.

The salt makers of Pasuquin have improved their product by adding a minute amount of iodine to plain salt to help reduce the chance of iodine deficiency, which can lead to thyroid gland problems such as goiter. The conventional way of adding iodine to plain salt is done by using either potassium iodide or potassium iodate.

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The salt makers of Pasuquin save on fuel by burning bags of sawdust during the cooking process. The sawdust, which are usually waste products in lumber yards, are now sold in sacks at minimal prices to those involved in salt making. In this cottage industry entire families are engaged in salt making, carrying on the traditional livelihood of previous generations. The Mendoza family of Pasuquin whose salt making operation I had a chance to witness is just one of the many families engaged in this cottage industry. To augment their income from selling salt, they also sell Iloko vinegar and other crops such as garlic and onions.

LA VIRGIN MILAGROSA SHRINE OF BADOC

Estimated to be 400 years old, the revered image of La Virgen Milagros de Badoc is enshrined and venerated in the more than 200 year old imposing brick-and-stone baroque Catholic Church of the Parish of Saint John the Baptist in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. Inside the church one will find the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus wrapped in her arms.

Countless miracles have been ascribed to the beloved image of La Virgin Milagrosa de Badoc which have kindled and heightened the veneration and devotion of the people from the Ilocos region for which the image was really meant. Realizing the intense and widespread devotion, the Diocese of Laoag proclaimed the wooden image of La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc as the Patrones of Ilocos Norte on May 2, 1980. This church in Badoc was the pilgrimate site for the Great Jubilee Year 2000.

Badoc is the southernmost town of the province of Ilocos Norte and lies 40 kilometers south of Laoag City. Being the gateway to the province from the south, it serves as the show window of historic Ilocos Norte. The establishment of the town as a parish in 1714 was also the approximate start of the construction of the Spanish built Catholic church, known as the Saint John the Baptist Church. It is said that the place of the Isneg settlement, wherein the first Spanish missionary team also established camp, was the seat of the Christianization of the town. It was also in the place where the church was established and where the first mass was said by Padre de Alvarado, an Augustinian priest who was the spiritual adviser of the expedition led by the youthful Spanish conquistador, Juan de Salcedo. The first mass, which was celebrated on June 24, 1572, or more than two centuries before the construction of the Catholic church, was said in thanks-giving for the peace treaty between Salcedo and the native leaders and was also dedicated to those who were slain in battle. It coincided with the feast day of Saint John the Baptist, who was made Badoc's patron saint.

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Folks recounted that the huge and imposing house of worship, made of bricks and stones and roofed with Spanish-style corrugated clay tiles, was constructed under the Spanish forced labor decree. It was also said that not a single drop of water was used in the whole construction process. The concreting materials were made purely of sugarcane juice, which the natives contributed under the "family quota system." Now, the church, already weather-beaten but unweakened by time and age is the sanctuary and shrine of La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc, because it was found in the year 1620 by Badoc and Sinait fishermen along the shore of Lugo village. The image, encased in a wooden box, together with a life-sized picture of Santo Cristo Milagroso, the statue of angels and one violin, were given to the Sinait fishermen as their share from the mysterious discovery, Since, then, the Sinait Catholic church has become the shrine of the Santo Cristo Milagroso.

CURRIMAO'S NIPA BEACH RESORT

The Municipality of Currimao is located in the southwestern portion of the province of Ilocos Norte along the vast shorelines of the China Sea. It is bounded in the North by the town of Paoay, on the east by Batac, on the south by Pinili and Badoc, and on the west by China Sea. It is approximately 465 kilometers northwest of Manila and about 27 kilometers from Laoag City.

Currimao, small as it may seen, is blessed with several tourist attractions. These include the Gaang Beach Cove with its wide expanse of unpolluted beaches and tranquil waters which is a by-word of picnickers and beach lovers. It boasts also of beach resorts such as D'Coral Beach Resort and Hotel, the Old Fisherman's Beach Resort which cater to foreign as well as local tourists, and the D & D Girls Scout Beach Camp, the center of provincial and regional Girls Scouts camping and outdoor activities. The Pangil Beach Resort is where government agency outings and meetings are frequently held.

Currimao's latest tourist attraction is the Taiwanese-run Nipa Beach Resort in Barangay Salugan which caters mostly to Chinese and local tourists. A number of cottages have been constructed within the resort to accommodate its guests. It has its own restaurant, swimming pool, a well-designed and beautifully landscaped compound, and access to a nearby white sand beach. The sixteen photographs shown below were all taken at the Nipa Beach Resort.

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SARRAT'S STA. MONICA CHURCH

In the town of Sarrat is a beautiful red brick church of Baroque and Neo-Classical style called the Sta. Monica Church. Irene Marcos, the daughter of former Philippine President Marcos, was married to Gregorio Araneta in a fairytale-like wedding in the church complete with red carpet stretching for kilometers. In the Philippines, it was termed the "wedding of the century." However, a little more than two months later, on Aug. 17, an earthquake of Intensity 7.6 ravaged Ilocos Norte and destroyed the altar and belfry of Sta. Monica.

The church is located some 7 kilometers to the east of Laoag City proper. It is an all-brick church with buttressed walls and a 3-level brick bridge and staircase connects the church to the convent making it one of the unique features of this church. The Sta. Monica Church, convent and bell tower began construction in 1669 and were completed in 1679. Rebuilt after a fire in 1817, the complex was again damaged by fire in 1882 but was rebuilt and finished in June 1896. The church features a 137-meter nave that is the longest in the country, according to the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Encyclopedia of Philippine Art. It follows a simple rectangular plan and another outstanding feature of the church is its unique system of roof trusses.

Like the bell tower, the convent stands apart from the church. Separate towers and rectories are characteristic of the province, a measure to minimize damage during earthquakes. At the ground level of the convent are housed memorabilia, books and photographs connected with the history of the parish. The ruins of Sta. Monica Church in Sarrat include a torture room where two huge brick-encrusted pillars dominate. Melvin dela Cuesta, a Filipino historian, said these pillars were used during the Spanish regime to hang Filipinos accused of treason and other high crimes.

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