Tabako ni Ilocano

Ilocos Tobacco

Ilocos’s history is filled with tobacco smoke. For one century, Ilocano farmers planted only tobacco.

Post-Tobacco Monopoly, a big part of the growth of the region comes from tobacco. It has sent many children to school. It has built better roads. We have to admit it as a fact that tobacco growing is part of the Ilocano cultural heritage.

Ilocos TobaccoIlocos TobaccoPugon ti TabakoThe pugon.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

Sadiay Dayo ti Batac

The Kawar Master

The cultural aspect of a place one visits is as fascinating as the sights and food. I really don’t get it when the pa-sosyals look for what else but puro kasosyalan. In my eyes, nothing compares to the rawness of the countryside. I get mesmerized by unadulterated local scenes, I enjoy hobnobbing with ordinary folks, I like digging deep into that carinderia type of food as well, I need to fill my memory bank with vivid representations of the real world.

The Dayo ti Batac, where farmers meet to trade and barter their cows and carabaos, was able to satiate my craving for the neoteric, though it’s been there every Sunday morning for so long now. I got to photograph  the master kawar-maker (in photo above). I asked if there’s a special name for the chain or cow accessory and he answered, “It’s plain kawar.” “Not adorno?” I asked back. He smiled.


Dayo is the Ilocano word for visit.

Dayo Cattle TradingCattle RunnerCattle for SaleNuangKauarWelcome to DayoPara-lutoDinardaraanImpasar

The local imapasar made with carabeef and papaitan by Luzminda’s is the specialty at the dayo eatery. I got to like it when we went to their main carinderia in Sinait last month. Impasar is also called sinanglao or paksiw depending on where you eat it.

I was actually hanging out with the FoodPrints production staff and host Chef Sandy Daza, and the dayo is one of the features of the Ilocos Norte episodes. Better check it out on the Lifestyle Network this Sept 7, 8:30 PM, if food adventure is your thing. They looove food and they’re fun to be with!

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2013

Pamulinawen Festival 2012 Calesa Parade

The calesa is on spotlight in a smashing parade along the main streets of the heart of Laoag City. Horses were groomed to look like kings and queens.

Elegant Tailoring’s Pegasus-inspired calesa stole the show with its glitzy all-silver trimmings complete with a fascinator.

A sensational display that attracts spectators from all walks of life, the calesa parade is a yearly thing to look forward to in Sunshine City, Laoag.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2012

Inabel, Heart and Soul of an Ilocana Weaver

Handed down from generation to generation, the art of inabel weaving is a golden thread entwined in the Ilocano culture. Manually woven through a wooden loom, an abel fabric is made up of pure creativity, imagination, positivity, respect, discipline and keenness.

The Ilocanas of the olden times were taught this textile craft which once bolstered the economy of the Ilocos region during the colonial times, when abel products were largely exported to foreign lands. Spanish galleons sailed the seas with pieces of inabel sailcloth. The abel is certainly a representation of the elegant past of Ilocos.

The various abel weave designs are inspired by natural elements. It maybe land formation patterns, the colors of flowers and vegetation, the ripples of a calm blue ocean, or the sky on a bright night.

There is always an untold story behind each and every piece of inabel, but clearly, the very essence of inabel is the beautiful qualities of an Ilocana.

(I dedicate this post to Manang Cion, the one person who gifted me with all the love while taking care of me since birth up to the time I had my own family. It was she who let me appreciate the joys of simple living. On her days off, she brought me along to Suba, her hometown, to experience bamboo rafting by the Paoay Lake, “sarguelas” and “lomboy” picking around the Nagbacalan forests, native jewelry making with “bugbugayong” and “bitbittaog”, and “karison” rides from Suba to Currimao. Two days from now, I’ll be turning a year older, and I will miss her predictable present, inabel specially customized by the weavers of Nagbacalan, Paoay.)


Location: Aleli Joy’s Inabel/ Masintoc Sand Dunes, Paoay/Laoag Central School

Aleli Joy’s Inabel Barangay Nagbacalan, Paoay, Ilocos Norte, Philippines 639176086478

Photos by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Museo Ilocos Norte: Pride of ancestry is a priceless legacy

Yesterday, I brought 7-year old Alexa to a museum for the first time. We actually went to the Museo Ilocos Norte five days ago, but, unfortunately, it was closed until the 25th. She reminded me of our date. She looked thrilled as I took exterior shots of the building. I, too, was excited to let her have a cultural learning experience in a different setting. On our way, I gave her bits and pieces of what to expect.

An inquiring mind

At first, the little girl was reluctant to get in by herself. She started loosening up as we were halfway down the left section of the first floor. She read the captions intently, and asked me questions in between viewing the various collections.

We have brought Alexa to trekking and other outdoor adventures since she was four or five, in the hope to make her appreciate her rich natural heritage. She recognized several familiar things she saw in far-flung localities.

The library next door was closed, and she looked fairly frustrated. At the end of the tour, I asked her if she had fun, and she gave an affirmative answer.

A stroll down memory lane

The old Tabacalera Museum has gone a long way from creepy to comfortable and updated.  The efforts that were put into its overhaul is commendable. Certainly, the Museo Ilocos Norte of today represents the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the people of Ilocos Norte.

The whole experience was a reminder of who I am.

Katukkong ken malabi (hat made of squash, or tabungao, and receptacle)

Alat ken sugod (fishing basket and comb used for the special purpose of catching lisa, or lice)

Traditional clothing of the Ilocanos

Indigenous cultural artifacts from the highlands of the eastern and southern parts of the province

An Isneg house

Ulnas ken karison (sled and wagon, designed to be drawn by carabaos)

A typical market scene of the olden days: Tagilako idiay tiendaan (an assortment of goods and fresh local produce sold at the market)

A calesa, or carriage, for personal use

Calesa as a means of public transportation

Dap-ayan, a place to unwind, or a meeting venue for community officials. Today, they are called Multi-Purpose Centers; many of them are pretty modern.

Antique musical instruments

The teatro of the museo. Behind the curtains is a monitor for a 15-minute video (for small groups) showing the musical traditions of the province.

A replica of a pugon (for tobacco curing) made from bamboo slats, mud, dried leaves and carabao dung. Natural and recycled materials :)

An ancestral house

The Museo Sarusar Shop is a curio shop. Travel guide books and  popular food products, like cornik and basi, are also available

Finely crafted curio items and more

A showcase of abel Iloco

Gameng houses a library. It is a learning center for the traditions of Ilocos Norte. Museo Ilocos Norte is managed by Gameng Foundation, Inc., with support from the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte and friends of the museum

Dedication of the Museo Ilocos Norte

Erected in 1878 and known as the Tabacalera Building, this edifice was originally designed as the Administrative Center of the Tobacco Monopoly in Ilocos Norte during the reign of Spain over the Philippine Islands.

In early 1999, the Provincial Government launched a major rehabilitation and restoration program for the building to reactivate and operationalize anew the provincial museum which, prior to a temporary lull, was housed in this building in the early ’70s.

The Museo Ilocos Norte, as this building is aptly called, now serves a noble purpose – a repository of GAMENG, the vast cultural heritage of the people of Ilocos Norte. It is our hope that this will inspire all Ilocanos to appreciate our ancestry and rich legacy, so that together we will grow in awareness and take pride of our culture.
Here, therefore, stands the Museo Ilocos Norte, and may it remain for another thousand years or more as our generation’s modest contribution to the future generations. May this building serve as a tribute and reminder of our collective efforts in ensuring that our people shall continue to live in peace, dignity and democracy.

Also, let this structure be a reminder of my humble, yet far-reaching vision to transform every Ilocano into a vibrant, enterprising and worthy citizen of the new millennium.

Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
Governor of Ilocos Norte
12 November 1999
Museo Ilocos Norte Gen. Luna St, Laoag, Ilocos Norte Tel. No. (077)7704587
Museum Hours: Monday to Saturday 9:00am – 5:00pm Sunday 10:00am – 5:00pm
Photos by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED