Ilocos Norte: At Home in the North

Abet Lagula’s repeat visits to his hometown have yielded a great many images of life up north.

Familiar with the province's varied offerings, this native Ilocano shares the sights and sounds (and tastes!) of Ilocos Norte.

There is no place in the Philippines where I am more at ease than Ilocos Norte. Being an Ilocano myself, born to Ilocano parents but raised in Manila, Ilocos Norte is like my second home. I've been here almost a dozen times, and each visit has provided me with a different experience.

This province virtually has it all: panoramic views, beautiful beaches, century-old Baroque churches, and rich cultural traditions. With all that it has to offer, it is no surprise if travelers feel the need to visit it again and again. Everything you could ask for, from adventure to relaxation, can be found in Ilocos Norte.

Ilocos Norte is located on the northwest tip of Luzon. Its capital city is Laoag, which can be reached from Manila by road in 12 hours, or just an hour-long trip by plane. It is also the birthplace of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, who led the country for more than two decades.

The Ilocos Region is appealing to tourists despite the long travel time as most of its points of interest are easily accessible from the main road and can be visited in a day or two.

Ilocos Norte is also one gastronomic feast. When in the province, don't forget to try samplers of their dishes: from pinakbet and dinengdeng, to bagnet and empanada. Once you've had a taste of Ilocano culture, you will certainly come back for more. I've been there, done it, but will still keep on going. A repeat visit to Ilocos Norte never becomes tiring.