Ilocos Norte: What your eyes see will feed your soul!

Note: This is the second installment of three parts of my trip to the North of the Philippines. Thanks to one of my closest friends, Peewee Ligot, who brought me there. Check out Part I: Ilocos Sur here and Part III: Ilocano Food here.

Tip: I am promoting an in-depth, immersive traveling, so take time to learn the history of the places you’re visiting (especially this summer). That way, you’ll return more enriched with not just Instagram-worthy photos.

Part II: Ilocos Norte

Ilocos Norte has a charm of its own. It has natural wonders, a colorful history and most of all, the warmth of its people. You could travel back in time at the Paoay and the Bacarra Churches, and marvel at the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. You can be awed by the Kapurpurawan Rock Formations, the Burgos Wind Farm and the Paoay sand dunes.

It was raining when Peewee and I went to these places. Nevertheless the scenery was still amazing.

Check them all out here.

  1. Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte



a. The Paoay Church or the Church of St. Augustine

Constructed in 1710, its huge buttresses on the sides and the back of the church distinguishes this church from others. The church was declared a National Cultural Treasure in 1973 (Philippines), and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 (Baroque Churches of the Philippines).


Originally called, “Bombay,” because the earliest inhabitants were believed to have come from India, the history of the town of Paoay can be traced to its earliest record in 1593. By 1686, the town became an independent parish run by the Augustinians. Fr. Antonio Estavillo began the building of the present church in 1694, and completed it in 1710.


The Paoay buttresses give the church its uniqueness. These huge 24-step buttresses are at the sides and back of the church. They protect the church from being destroyed by earthquakes, like those from the years, 1865 and 1885. The step buttresses also provide an easy access to the roof.


b. The Paoay Sand Dunes


I could have enjoyed an ATV ride, but it was drizzling, so we just took photos.

  1. The Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos.


This is the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Norte, the tallest lighthouse in the Philippines; the second is the Bolinao Lighthouse in Bolinao, Pangasinan.


Also known as the Burgos Lighthouse, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse was established during the Spanish colonial period. It was the Spanish government’s plan to illuminate the Philippine archipelago. It was first lighted on 30 March 1892 and had been continuing its service to international ships entering the Philippine Archipelago.


Peewee took this photo from the courtyard with the elegant T-shaped stairs that led to the pavilion.


The stairs from the pavilion to the lighthouse tower. When we were there, the tower was closed. I wanted to go to the lantern room and see the service room, the optic section and the dome that comprised the top level of the tower. It could have been fascinating. Perhaps, next time!


The view of Cape Bojeador from the main pavilion was awesome! Do you agree with me?


Peewee took this panoramic view of Cape Bojeador and the West Philippine Sea.


The main pavilion also acted as a museum. It had display rooms where you could learn more about the history of the lighthouse. Hello from the veranda!

This is Peewee enjoying the view from the lighthouse!

Ilocos Food



  1. Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Burgos Wind Farm, and Gagamtan Cliff in Burgos, Ilocos Norte.


a. Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Brgy. Saoit.



It was raining when Peewee and I were here. But the rain had a certain charm – both visually and palpably.



b. The Burgos Wind Farm




c. The rocky Gagamtan Cliff



The town of Burgos was first known as Nagparitan, the early inhabitants were called Mumburi and known as a wild and fierce people who prevented the Christianized natives from settling in the vicinity.

When the Spaniards came to the area, the people staged a revolt, captured the priest and mutilated his body. Because of this incident, the Spaniards change the name of Nagparitan (to prohibit), to Nagpartian (the place of slaughter).


By virtue of a legislative act on February 28, 1914, Nagpartian was renamed Burgos in honor of one of the three martyred priest, Fr. Jose Burgos, who was born in the Ilocos.


  1. Laoag City

Laoag City is the capital of Ilocos Norte. It traces its history long before the coming of the Spaniards. Prior to the “discovery” of the Northern part of the Philippines by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi’s grandson, Juan de Salcedo, the region was teeming with business. During that time, the inhabitants had contacts with many merchants from China and Japan who would trade ceramics, gold beads and silk. The gold came from La Union. The inhabitants of Malay-descent called the place, “samtoy” from “sao mi itoy” or “this is our language.”

When Juan de Salcedo made the northern trip in June 1572, he discovered that the coasts of the Ilocos had “loocs” or coves. The inhabitants lived along these “loocs” on which the region “Ylocos” was named after. The people were thus called, “Ylocanos.”

On 2 February 1818, a Spanish decree separated the Ilocos Region into two. Laoag was then the most populated municipality. In 1965, a plebiscite made Laoag a city and remained Ilocos Norte’s center.

a. Padsan River or Laoag River


In the pre-colonial period, the Spaniards noticed that the natives built their houses close to the banks of the Padsan River. It was their source of food and drinking water.

b. The Bell tower




  1. Currimao, Ilocos Norte


  1. Bacarra Church, Ilocos Norte



a. Bacarra Church, 1593



Constructed by the Spanish Augustinian Friars and inaugurated in 1782, the Parish of St. Andrew the Apostle was destroyed by a 7.8 earthquake on 17 August 1983. This church was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines.


The Augustinians founded the town of Bacarra on September 18, 1590. Bacarra was established as a mission center for the Apayaos. The church and the adjoining convent were constructed in 1593 on the site where an Igorot named, Bacsalandoc, first settled on the town. The town became a visita of Laoag in 1603, and an independent parish in 1614.


b. The Bacarra Bell Tower, 1828



The centuries-old belfry is also famous for its domeless and leaning bell tower. The locals call this, “Torre ti Bacarra.” The structure is three stories and made of coral bricks. Earthquakes from 1931 – 1971 caused the dome to start leaning. The entire dome was toppled by a 7.8 earthquake on 17 August 1983.

c. The Bacarra church museum or Museo de Bacarra


The museum is housed in the former church convent, which dates back to the Spanish colonial era. A mysterious underground staircase leading to three tunnels was uncovered by the back of the old convent. It is believed to be connected to the Bacarra river, the church tower, and the altar.


There. 😀 Check out our food trip in the next article: Part III: Ilocano Food. Or, if you haven’t visited Part I: Ilocos Sur just click that link! 😀

Thanks for reading!

Published by Jboy Gonzales SJ

TV/Digital host: Kape't Pandasal. Vlog: YT On the Line. Environment, Youth Formation. Music. Leadership. Always dancing to a different drum.

5 thoughts on “Ilocos Norte: What your eyes see will feed your soul!

    1. Thanks Arlene! Appreciate it.

      I took these photos almost a year ago (June 2016), but I was not in the mood to blog because of my “waiting” status: I was waiting for my next assignment (which turned out to be Davao where I am now). The transition and the transfer further postponed writing (even updating my posts).

      Now that I am settled in Davao, I have updated this blog, changed its look, and started writing again. Hope to have more in the coming months.

      Do take care Arlene! Prayers for you!

      JBoy SJ


      1. Hello po Fr. Jboy. so you are in Ateneo de Davao pala. Kumusta naman po diyan? I am glad to know you have adjusted with life there. Ingat din po kayo. God’s blessings always.

        Liked by 1 person

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