the sunshine city

Laoag, the capital city of Ilocos Norte, lies on the northwestern coast of the Philippines, looking out over the South China Sea. It is 488 kms north of Manila.  By air, it is about an hour away; and by land, 8 to 10 hours depending on the traffic, the vehicle, and the driver.

Legend has it that these areas were so thickly forested before the arrival of Juan de Salcedo and his men that sunlight could barely penetrate through the foliage.  When the conquistadors cleared a good portion of the forest, the natives started screaming 'laoag! laoag', which means 'light.'  And so the Spaniards called the place 'Laoag.'

Whether the legend contains a grain of truth or is merely a romanticized tale is relatively unimportant.  What is important is that Laoag City is indeed a light that is shining vividly.

As the capital city of Ilocos Norte, Laoag is the province's institutional, educational, communications, commercial, financial, and trading center.  It is a commercial and trading hub not only of Ilocos Norte, but also of the adjoining provinces of Ilocos Sur, Abra, and Cagayan.

Having been founded in 1584, Laoag has a rich cultural and historical heritage.  The Museo Iloko houses artifacts and relics depicting the Ilocano way of life.  Right next to the 17th century St. William Cathedral is the Sinking Bell Tower, said to have sunk so deep that today a man has to crouch to enter it, whereas, in olden times, a man on horseback could easily ride inside.  A stone's throw from the bell tower is the Tobacco Monopoly, a monument to the abolition of the Spanish government's monopoly on tobacco. The Laoag City Hall, an old Spanish structure made of bricks, mortar, and lime, proudly stands guard at the entrance to the city.


Yearly festivals celebrating Ilocano arts, dances, cuisine, and other aspects of its culture are held every February. These include the Pamulinawen Street Pageantry, the Dulang Food Festival and the Calesa Festival.


Complementing these cultural and historical attractions are the La Paz Sand Dunes, which are declared as geological monuments.  This shifting body of sand offers a fine vista of South China Sea.

la paz sand dunes
fort ilocandia resort and casino
sinking belfry
gilbert bridge at dusk
city hall at night
a calesa






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