PROVINCE OF ILOCOS NORTE, Historical Data - Philippine Historical Data PROVINCE OF ILOCOS NORTE, Historical Data - Philippine Historical Data


Province of Ilocos Norte

About these Historical Data

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Bureau of Public Schools



At the time of the arrival of the Spaniards, there was already a region in Ilocos, which included the greater part of northwestern Luzon. The centers of population seemed to have been Laoag and Vigan.

The Spaniards created this region into the Province of Ilocos, with Vigan as its capital, but by a royal decree of 1818, the northern part was separated and erected into a province called Ilocos Norte. To the new province were assigned the following: Bagui, Nagpartian, Pasuquin, Bacarra, Vinta, Sarrat, Piddig, Dingras, Laoag, San Nicolas, Batac, Paoay, and Badec. At the time Ilocos Norte was made a separate province, the towns abovementioned had a population of 135,748.

It is believed that even before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Chinese and Japanese traders were already familiar with the coastal towns of Ilocos. Spanish exploration of Ilocos began as early as 1572, when Juan de Salcedo made his famous trips. He visited what is now Ilocos Norte, occupying Laoag, which even then seemed to have been the chief center of population of that region. He explored the mouth of the Laoag River and had several encounters with the hostile natives. He also sent a punitive expedition to a town called Bacal, probably the present town of Batac.

This history of Ilocos Norte from the beginning of the Spanish rule to the first decades of the nineteenth century records many important revolts, which may be classified as those that were caused by the "tributes" and forced labor and those that were caused by the mononpolies.

The first important revolt caused by the injustices arising out of this collection of tributes by the encomenderos occurred in Dingras in 1589. The next, arising out of the

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same causes took place in 1660. This uprising was led by a Don Pedro Almasan of San Nicolas, who influenced by the actions of Andres Malong of Pangasinan, proclaimed himself king and his daughter and son-in-law as heirs apparent.

Two revolts of consequence were caused by the monopolies. In 1788, an uprising occurred in Laoag caused by a general discontent over the tobacco monopoly, when, it is said, about 1,000 persons rose up in arms. In 1807, another revolt resulted from the injustices of the wine monopoly. The leaders of this uprising were one Ambaristo and Pedro Mateo. The centers of the movement were Sarrat, Laoag, Batac, and Paoay.

The nineteenth century records no important revolts in this history of Ilocos Norte. On the other hand, the economic progress of the province during this period was well-marked. As a result of the operation of the Real Compania de Filipinas, the textile industry was developed on a large scale. The manufacture of indigo was also encouraged in Ilocos Norte as well as in other Ilocos provinces.

Like many other provinces, Ilocos Norte espoused the cause of the Revolution. Gregorio Aglipay of Batac, the head of the Philippine Independent Church, was among the first to join the ranks of the Revolutionists. The revolutionary army under the command of General Manuel Tinio occupied Ilocos Norte as well as other provinces in the name of the Revolutionary Government. Civil government was established in Ilocos Norte on September 1, 1901.


The province occupies the whole of the coastal plain in the northwestern corner of Luzon. The Cordillera del Norte, which separates from Abra and Cagayan, extends along the eastern border to the China Sea in the north. Along this range, the highest peaks are Simminublan Burnay, Sicapco, Licud Dinawanang, and Quilang.

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The coastline is so regular that, although there are several ports such as Gabut, Laoag, Bangui, Diriqui, and Currimao, the last named is the only one which offers any protection from the north winds.

The climate is humid but generally favorable except during the rainy season from May to September, when the hurricanes which form in the Pacific sweep across this region to the China Sea. The hottest months are from April to July. The land opens towards the north and west, the people suffer from the effects of the change of the direction of the monsoons.

The land, especially towards the west, is level, sandy along the shore and stony along the rivers. Much soil is washed down from the mountains, and as most of the plains are clayey, it is, therefore, adapted to the growth of rice. There are no swamp lands. A few lakes are to be found, among which the Nagpartian and the Dacquel a Danum (Paoay Lake) are the largest. The latters has a depth of about 10 meters and is located only about 3 kilometers from the sea. A canal from this lake to the seashore would permit vessels to penetrate inland and would assuredly develop the region commercially.

The mountains are covered with fine timber trees, and resin, honey, and wax are found on their slopes. Between the Cordillera and the coastal plain are low hills which make fine grazing lands. Cattle-raising, however, has declined as an important occupation of the people, although it is being revived because of the increasing prices of carabaos and cattle in the neighboring provinces.

A few grottos or caves are found near the mountains of the interior. There are a number of stone quarries. Limestone is found on Mount Calvario, San Nicolas, and in Burgos. The beach supplies a great number of coral for road building. East of Cape Bojeador are manganese and asbestos deposits which are being exploited.

Farming is the most important occupation and rice is the principal product. Corn, beans, peas, tobacco and cotton are planted after the rice harvest season. Sugarcane is widely

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produced, but most of the juice is made into an alcoholic beverage called "basi." The amount of fertile and well-drained land is somewhat limited so that the land holdings are small. Fishing is carried on extensively, both in the sea and fresh water.

Commerce in foodstuffs is not great, as the people produce almost everything they need on their small farms, but rice, peas, and beans are exported to Ilocos Sur and Cagayan and tobacco and maguey to Manila. The weaving [of] textiles is the principal industry among women throughout the province. Paoay specializes in the weaving of towels and figured blankets, Datac in cloth for wearing apparel and plain blankets, and San Nicolas in silk handerchiefs. Along the coast, salt is produced from the sea water by heating. Mat-making and the pottery industry are also well-developed.

Laoag, which means "clear" in the dialect of the people, is the name of the capital and the center of commerce. It is situated on the banks of the Laoag River, and through it passes the first class road which connects all of the coastal towns from San Fernando, La Union, to Pangasinan.

The people residing along the coast and in the planes are Ilocanos. Up in the mountains are [a] few Tinguianes, Igorots, and Apayaos who venture to come down only to trade their wax, rattan, and honey with the Christians. The Ilocanos are noted for their industry. Not having sufficient land for their activities in Ilocos Norte, they emigrate in large numbers to other provinces, even as far as Mindanao.

Nueva Era
San Nicolas
Carasi Dumalneg


Transcribed from:
History and Cultural Life of the Province of Ilocos Norte, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections. The pagination in this transcription is as they appear in the original document.
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