"Awesome Ilocos Norte" Top 5 Page for this destination Province of Ilocos Norte by cyndymc

Province of Ilocos Norte Travel Guide: 715 reviews and 2,496 photos

Ilocos Norte Is Rich With Architectural Gems

My family joined a group for a Northern Exposure Tour in 2008. We returned in June 2011 because we feel we haven't had enough of this beautiful province. Having discovered new places, we plan to go back again and again.

The Province of Ilocos Norte offers a wide array of interesting tourist destinations. I was most impressed by the architectural gems like Paoay Church. It was a dream come true to be able to see the best known earthquake Baroque church in the Philippines which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I was so enamored with its history as I listened to our tour guide. The cornerstone of the church was laid by the Augustinian missionaries in 1704 while the cornerstone of the belfry was laid in 1793. The people already used it even before completion in 1894, but it was formally inaugurated on February 28,1896. It is said that large coral stones were used for the lower level of the church structure, and bricks were used for the upper levels. The walls which were made of coral blocks, tree sap, lumber and stucco-plastered bricks are 1.67 meters (more than 3 feet) thick, and are supported by 24 massive buttresses of intricate design. The church was partially destroyed twice by earthquakes in 1706 and 1927. In the restoration, permanent columns were built to support the ceiling. Today, this uniquely beautiful church still stands, wowing tourists with its majestic structure of Oriental, Gothic and Baroque influences.

The belfry stands a few meters from the church. As in other belfries of Ilocos churches, Katipuneros used the belfry as watch point in the 1896 revolution, and guerrillas of World War II also used it to check out coming enemies. My Paoay experience remains to be something I'll always cherish and pass on to others.

Unique Sight: William's Cathedral & Sinking Tower

St. William's Cathedral is another popular destination in Ilocos Norte. Historical records say it was first built in 1590 by the Augustinian friars. It is also said that the church was originally built using lime mixed with molasses for added strength, huge stones, gravel and sand and other indigenous materials. It's structure was then replaced in 1612 with an Italian Renaissance design, with its 2-story facade supported by 4 pairs of coupled columns. The image of St. William, Patron Saint of Laoag City was placed on the recessed niche at the top of the facade. The church stands in all its glory despite having suffered damages caused by a hurricane in 1640, an earthquake in 1706, and fire in 1843. Repairs were made in 1873, and it was finally restored in 1880. The Revolutionists occupied the church in 1890, as did the American forces in 1899.

What makes St. Williams Cathedral more interesting is its famous sinking Belfry. The bell tower is located 85 meters away from the church. With its massive, solid and tall structure (45 meters high), the belfry is considered the tallest in the Philippines. Our tour guide said it sinks an inch each year because of its weight and sandy foundation. I learned a new word from him: "desertification". Our guide explained that the climate is so hot in Laoag, such that the soil has suffered desertification. i.e., soil degrades and is converted to sand. Because of desertification, the tower has sank so deep that its entrance is already half-buried. Whereas before, the entrance is so high that a man riding a horse can easily go through it, now, a person has to stoop to enter. It is a wonder that despite its sinking structure, the belfry is still functional.

Once A Political Seat of Power

Since the late President Ferdinand Marcos was from Ilocos Norte, the Malacanang of the North, a miniature version of his palace in Manila was constructed for him. It is common knowledge that a manmade lake was also created behind the palace so he can indulge in his favorite sport, jetskiing. The place is not so well maintained now, but going around, you can still have an idea of its grandiose times during FM's term.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Many beautiful heritage sites!
  • Cons:Very hot climate:(
  • In a nutshell:Ilocos Norte, land of majestic sights!
  • Last visit to Province of Ilocos Norte: Jun 2011
  • Intro Updated Nov 5, 2011
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  • joiwatani's Profile Photo
    Feb 25, 2009 at 7:51 AM

    Where do you buy disposable panties? I saw them in HongKong but can't find them here!

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