Sumrek Kayo Apo....

This blogspot features everthing about the beautiful town of Paoay, Ilocos Norte. Pictures of Paoay and Paoayenos are regularly uploaded. News articles, whether original or lifted from other publications are also posted for the benefit of everyone. Scroll down below for pictures, videos, news and links to other websites about the Philippines, Ilocos Norte and Paoay. Pictures and articles for posting are appreciated and may be sent to your blogmaster (see About Me below)

June 13, 2011


By: Fe Macalma Labagnoy
One does not need to be a prolific writer to write down the attributes of a successful, beauteous and fine lady. The words simply come in and fall into their right places in her story. Her name alone, Vienna, already evokes clear images of the beautiful city of Vienna, Austria.
Cristina Vienna Peralta, a true-blooded Paoayena, was born to Mr. & Mrs. Baltazar Peralta, Sr. (nee Generosa Llaguno, an elementary school teacher).  I have known her since our elementary days at Paoay Central Elementary School.  She was a standout, not only for her bearing, beauty and height but also for her vivacious personality: a reflection, even then, of her positive outlook in life. 
Vienna and I finished elementary together after having our own shares of wonderful childhood memories.  Just like the others, we also waded during recess in the floodwaters of Barangays Pambaran and San Juan, and got scolded by our teachers for doing so.  We had unforgettable days of fun together; we enjoyed endless after-class games of “tumbang preso” and “hide-and-seek” with our classmates: Dennis Catubay, Merly Atchazo, Patty Clemente, Hector Tabije, Roy Zambrano, Helen Tabije, Victor Gonzales, Minda Cabalteja, Judith Maculam, Hayle Labucay, Aida Academia, and Percy Correa, among others.
Vienna finished her secondary education at Ilocos Norte School for Craftsmen (INSC) and mine at Paoay North Institute (PNI). But our paths would cross every now and then during our growing up years, and every time, I couldn’t help but notice her turning into a young lady who was smarter, lovelier and  more statuesque  than before.
My friend Vienna went to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for college and earned the degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1980. Not surprising at all then when she landed a lucrative job as a nurse in Saudi Arabia a year later. She even worked with a big company, Arabian- American Oil Company (ARAMCO). 
It was in Saudi Arabia where she met her loving and good-looking husband, Tyser Abu-Dayyeh, a pharmacist by profession. Not long after, Cristina Vienna Peralta became Mrs. Cristina Vienna Peralta Abu-Dayyeh and the mother of two handsome sons and a pretty daughter.
Fate had it that the Abu-Dayyehs would settle and make their mark in the United States in 1994. Vienna worked as a nurse until 1997 after which she decided to put up her own business. Tired of working on a 12-hour shift, she started with one Care Home facility which has grown into the six Care Homes she owns and manages today in Las Vegas, Nevada. With her hands, heart and mind devoted to caring for the sick and the aged, Vienna is bound to leave an indelible mark in her chosen endeavor and profession.  
Undoubtedly, Vienna shall be known as a hardworking woman with a loving heart. The frustrations and disappointments she encounters in line with her work could not, in any way, dampen her burning desire to help others. In fact, she spends most of her time managing her Home Care business in Las Vegas, Nevada even if her family is based in San Jose, California.  Proper quality time management allows her to successfully assume three concurrent roles: a devoted wife, a responsible mother and a no-nonsense entrepreneur. 
Vienna has worked her way to the top. She is the perfect epitome of sweet success attained through hard work, perseverance, dedication, determination, diligence and intelligence...and kindness of heart. A hard feat, indeed! Yet, Cristina Vienna made it!
The struggles, nonetheless, do not end here as Vienna continues to dream big not only for her profession but also for her family. She looks forward to the time when all her children are done with their studies, and are happily and securely settled with their respective careers and families.  She is one proud mom, and rightly so. Tamer, her eldest son, has already graduated from the University of California (UC) in San Diego, but still wants to pursue his master’s degree. Her second son, Amer, is in his fourth year Premed course, and aims to be a doctor. Her daughter, Tamara, is in her senior year in high school. A long way to go!
Cristina Vienna Peralta Abu-Dayyeh... her life... is, indeed, one lovely story in progress!

September 25, 2010

April 29, 2010

Imagine A World Without Filipinos

Imagine a world without Filipinos
Abdullah Al-Maghlooth | Al-Watan,

Muhammad Al-Maghrabi became handicapped and shut down his flower and gifts shop business in Jeddah after his Filipino workers insisted on leaving and returning home. He says: “When they left, I felt as if I had lost my arms. I was so sad that I lost my appetite.”

Al-Maghrabi then flew to Manila to look for two other Filipino workers to replace the ones who had left. Previously, he had tried workers of different nationalities but they did not impress him. “There is no comparison between Filipinos and others,” he says. Whenever I see Filipinos working in the Kingdom, I wonder what our life would be without them. Saudi Arabia has the largest number of Filipino workers — 1,019,577 — outside the Philippines. In 2006 alone, the Kingdom recruited more than 223,000 workers from the Philippines and their numbers are still increasing.

Filipinos not only play an important and effective role in the Kingdom, they also perform different jobs in countries across the world, including working as sailors. They are known for their professionalism and the quality of their work.

Nobody here can think of a life without Filipinos, who make up around 20 percent of the world’s seafarers. There are 1.2 million Filipino sailors. So if Filipinos decided one day to stop working or go on strike for any reason, who would transport oil, food and heavy equipment across the world? We can only imagine the disaster that would happen.

What makes Filipinos unique is their ability to speak very good English and the technical training they receive in the early stages of their education. There are several specialized training institutes in the Philippines, including those specializing in engineering and road maintenance. This training background makes them highly competent in these vital areas.

When speaking about the Philippines, we should not forget Filipino nurses. They are some 23 percent of the world’s total number of nurses. The Philippines is home to over 190 accredited nursing colleges and institutes, from which some 9,000 nurses graduate each year. Many of them work abroad in countries such as the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Singapore. Cathy Ann, a 35-year-old Filipino nurse who has been working in the Kingdom for the last five years and before that in Singapore, said she does not feel homesick abroad because “I am surrounded by my compatriots everywhere.” Ann thinks that early training allows Filipinos to excel in nursing and other vocations. She started learning this profession at the age of four as her aunt, a nurse, used to take her to hospital and ask her to watch the work. “She used to kiss me whenever I learned a new thing. At the age of 11, I could do a lot. I began doing things like measuring my grandfather’s blood pressure and giving my mother her insulin injections,” she said. This type of early education system is lacking in the Kingdom. Many of our children reach the university stage without learning anything except boredom.

The Philippines, which you can barely see on the map, is a very effective country thanks to its people. It has the ability to influence the entire world economy. We should pay respect to Filipino workers, not only by employing them but also by learning from their valuable experiences. We should learn and educate our children on how to operate and maintain ships and oil tankers, as well as planning and nursing and how to achieve perfection in our work. This is a must so that we do not become like Muhammad Al-Maghrabi who lost his interest and appetite when Filipino workers left his flower shop. We have to remember that we are very much dependent on the Filipinos around us.

We could die a slow death if they chose to leave us.

July 22, 2009

Catubay, ay Catuday gayam.

This song was popular during the late 60s. I especially like it because the title sounds like my beautiful family name. Ehem.

April 3, 2009

Sand Dunes and Puro Beach in Masintoc

Summer is here and now is a good time to head to Brgy. Masintoc.

The sand dunes are picturesque and if you climb up the hill at the edge of the sea, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the China Sea and the coastline towards Fort Ilocandia to the north and Pangil to the south. The water this time of the year is warm and calm and the sand, although gray is sugar-fine.

July 4, 2008

Paoay Church Colonial Architecture

Previously published in Philippine Real Estate Magazine, February-March 1996
Text and Photos by Roger Gaspar

Earthquake Baroque: Paoay Church in the Ilocos

The town of Paoay seem to be isolated from the rest of Ilocos Norte, so enclosed the town is surrounded by tall, old mango and acacia trees, that a newcomer would not know what to expect. Only the tip of the belltower exerting itself to the sky gives a hint of what lies beyond the fortress of trees.

At the end of the long, narrow road leading from the Manila highway to the town proper, the hundred-year-old Parish Church of Saint Augustine awaits silently, considered as one of the most striking edifices in the country with its huge buttresses flanking the sides and rear facade.

It has been a wonder how and why such huge wall reinforcement was ever fancied by the early church builders. Was it just another way of impressing the people by demonstrating the strength of the new religion--that is, Christianity--or was it just a result of the rivalry among Catholic church builders who were trying to outdo each other? The answer is more humbling and simpler.

Earthquake was, and still is, one of the most destructive natural calamities in the Philippines. This harsh reality is severely evident in the church building practices in the Ilocos. As a response to earthquakes, church builders devised means to make sure that the church held up against the fury of the earth. Wall buttressing was a promising solution because it required a simple building method and simple materials. In the case of Paoay church, however, the dreadful paranoia of church builders became the epitome of earthquake-resistant churches in the Ilocos region.

The church was started by the Augustinian Fr. Antonio Estavillo in 1694. It was completed in 1710 and rededicated in 1896, just three years before the expulsion of Spanish rule in the country. The style of the church has been dubbed “Earthquake Baroque” by Alicia Coseteng, one of the early authorities on colonial church architecture. Because the buttresses extend out considerably from the exterior walls, the entire visual experience becomes three-dimensional, unlike most of the churches in the country where the inherent beauty of the church is limited only at the facade.

The buttresses are a visual spectacle. One can easily imagine them as giant sentinels poised to protect the church from adversaries. The rhythmic flow of massive form cascading down from the pinnacles to the ground, emphasized by spiral relieves visible on each side of the buttresses, alludes to a Baroque character. Yet, the dark receding plaster and exposed coral stone wall, complete with foliage overgrowth, creates a momentary feeling of being in some exotic Javanese temple.

The materials used for the walls were a mixture of coral stone and bricks. Large coral stones were used at the lower level of the walls, while bricks, smaller and more manageable to transport, were used at the upper levels.

The mortar used for the coral stones and bricks dramatizes the desire of the builders to make sure that the church stood against natural calamities. The other ingredients added to the mortar were as exotic as the style of the church itself. Regalado Jose, in his book Simbahan, points out that leather straps were mixed with the mortar. Felipe M. de Leon, who wrote The Filipino Nation, adds that the “stucco was said to have been made by mixing sand and lime [with] sugarcane juice, which were boiled with mango leaves, leather, and rice straw for two nights.”

Another unusual idiosyncrasy that seems to be typical to many Ilocano churches is the existence of a step buttress at the sides of the church, at or near half of the length of the exterior wall. There seems to be no other reason for building this other than as a means to access the roof. In the early days, this would have been necessary when fixing or patching the cogon grass roof. What throws off everyone’s speculation is that the stair-like buttresses have steps that were built too steep and too far apart for a normal person to climb. But perhaps, they were built in such manner in order to save valuable space. If the step buttress on the left of the Paoay church was built properly, it would have jutted out far beyond the boundaries of the church fence.

The facade of the church, even as it is beginning to lean towards the front, still manages to be as equally impressive as the buttresses. Viewed from the side, the giant buttresses look like huge volutes making the facade appear as a massive pediment rising from the ground. The facade is divided vertically by square pilasters that extend from the ground and all the way to the top of the pediment. The Gothic affinity of the church is suggested by the vertical movement of the pilasters and the finials that cap them at the top of the pediment. The facade is also divided horizontally by stringed cornices that extend all the way to the edges. The cornices extend to the sides of the church and wrap each buttresses around, adding attention and articulation to the massive side supports. At the apex is a niche, while the otherwise stark plaster finish is embellished with crenallations, niches, rosettes, and the Augustinian coat-of-arms.

The facade is complemented with a belltower located at its right hand side. Belltowers are a very important element in the overall composition of colonial churches, both for its function and aesthetics. For practical purposes, belltowers were used as a communication device to the townspeople. In the case of the Paoay belltower, it also played, ironically, an explicit role in the lives of the Filipinos during the war.

Climbing the belltower is almost like going back in time. Inside, the musty smell of coral stone, coupled with rotting wood scaffoldings and stairs, relives the dark days of the Katipuneros when they climbed up and down the shaft and used the belltower as a lookout during the revolt against the Spaniards.

The view from the top of the belltower is absolutely magnificent. On one side, one can roam with his or her eyes the vast span of land until it merges with the China Sea. In some sense, it is still used today as a lookout point, not by the Katipuneros, but by mischievous kids from the nearby high school who often flee from the wrath of an angry teacher.

As one enters the edifice, the church abruptly relinquishes the powerful strength of the massive buttresses that they discharge at the exterior. Inside, the church has a very solemn, almost sentimental ambiance. The interior looks bare and empty. Regalado Jose mentions in his book that the ceiling was once painted with a scene similar to that of the Sistine Chapel in Italy. Unfortunately, the original ceiling is no longer in existence today. What is left is a cavernous maze of trusswork with exposed and rusting corrugated roof sheets.

Compared to its still magnificent exterior, the Paoay church looks austere and stark inside, with but a few old images of saints and a simple wooden cross at the altar, that it is hard to imagine now how it looked like a hundred years ago. Only on Sundays does the Parish enjoy quite a number of worshippers. It is sad to think that on any other day, except for an intermittent bus loads of Taiwanese tourists, the church suffers from the lack of patronage.

It is impossible not to be compelled by the exotic quality of the church, as demonstrated by the huge and powerful buttresses. Yet, there is also a sense of humility behind such exuberant assertion, as expressed by the pensive interior. But the most enduring impression, perhaps, that any visitor takes with him as he departs from the church, are the poignant memories of a tumultuous yet glorious past of a nation, imbedded among the layers and heaps of huge stones and bricks that make a church.

Paoay Postage Stamp

This must be an old stamp. I haven't seen one actually. But I'm so proud of this church.

Adobo ken Kaldereta


Adobo and Kaldereta, oh how I miss them! Nagimas.

September 30, 2007

Proudly Paoayena

Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales
Justice of the Supreme Court

Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales started her career in law in 1968 in a Manila law firm where she was Assistant Attorney up to 1971 when her former professor, then Secretary of Justice Vicente Abad Santos, took her in as a Special Assistant at the Department of Justice.

She worked for seven years at the Justice Department as assistant
lawyer, researcher, assistant special lawyer and finally senior state counsel before she became a judge.

Three presidents recognized her public service by appointing her to the Judiciary. President Ferdinand Marcos appointed her as RTC Judge, Branch 132 in Pili, Camarines Sur. On November 4, 1986, President Corazon Aquino designated her as Pasay City RTC Judge. She was promoted Executive Judge and held that position until 1994 when President Fidel Ramos appointed her to the Court of Appeals. On the nomination of a Court of Appeals colleague and upon the unanimous endorsement of the members of the Judicial and Bar Council, she was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and was sworn to office on September 3, 2002. Until her appointment to the High Court, she headed the CA 7th Division.

Justice Carpio-Morales finished her AB (Economics, 1964) and Bachelor of Laws (1968) at the University of the Philippines. She has participated in legal conferences here and abroad and was a bar examiner in Legal Ethics in 2000.She was also conferred the Ulirang Ina Award for Law and the Judiciary by the Father’s DayMother’s Day Foundation of the Philippines,Inc.

Justice Carpio-Morales was born in Paoay, Ilocos Norte on June 19, 1941. She is married to Eugenio T. Morales, Jr. with whom she has two sons, Eugenio III and Umberto.

September 23, 2007

Message from Ilocos

Wow, I love this video. I think this was meant for the couple's child and relatives in Italy. The messages however could very well be meant for all who are toiling abroad, away from family. The old folks in the video also sing "Dungdunguen canto" for the folks abroad. This video says a lot in under nine minutes, a lot lot more than many of the pretentious short films I've seen. This video entitled 'Ilocos Norte Part1' is lifted from You may watch part2 from


This is a version of Pamulinawen from YouTube you can sing along with. Background video courtesy of Peakproductionz. The resort featured is my favorite 'The Hidden Treasure' Resort in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

Check out this resort, literally hidden 20 minutes north of Saud Beach. From Saud, ask the locals for the dirt road that leads to there. The drive is quite bumpy but the view is gorgeous.

See more of Peakproductionz nice Ilocano videos in their channel in YouTube.


I am posting another version in my next post. Enjoy!

Pakpakatawa (Joke of the Day)

Question: Anat kababassitan nga aso?

Answer: DOGgong

Ay apo.........


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Paoay Lake iti parbangon (at dawn)

Dinamagmo Kaniak ti Ayat

Dinamagmo kaniak no ania ti ayat
Kasano kadi nga iladawan ti ayat?
Umanay kadi ti kimmampuso nga iyuritko a tinta
a nangmantsa iti sin-aw dagiti birhen a papel?
Wenno ti maris ti dara iti tunggal maipasak
Iti umukuok a kusilap dagiti nalabusan ti managbasol a matak…

Dinamagmo kaniak no ania ti ayat
Ania kadi ti ayat?
Ayat kadi ti marikriknak no kasta a pergenka
Ket umingar ti nagbaetan dagiti luppok
Ti panaas ti pus-ong a di maipapas
Ti im-imeten a rugso toy barukong…

Dinamagmo kaniak no ania ti ayat
Ania kadi ti ayat?
Diak ammo no ania ti ayat kunak
Manipud idi linisiam toy riknak
Diakton ammo no ania ti ayat
Ta ti ammok narsaak metten ti namnamak!

Jake Favila Ilac
Signal Village, Taguig City
February 19, 2007

September 19, 2007

Guling-Guling and the Biggest Dudol Ever

Here are some pictures taken during the 2007 Guling-guling festivities Notice the new cobbled street where the parade was held (below).
Also on parade was the biggest Dudol ever made in Paoay. Everyone partook of it after the parade.

Old Kumbento

Not many people bother to explore the ruins of the old convent in Paoay. But those who do are rewarded with a picturesque site. It is often used as the site of the annual Halloween festivities. I can imagine it as a perfect location for a cafe and some souvenir stalls.

September 16, 2007

Empanada-making Video

Nalaka laeng ken nabiit ti agluto ti empanada apo. Press the PLAY button ta buyaen tayo no kasano.

August 25, 2007

Ilocos Empanada

For those non-Ilocanos interested in how empanada is made and why it is so tasty and special, the following photoset shows you how and why.

Dough is made from rice flour.

Adda pay iplog na. Ken longganiza pay.

Yummy, maramanam pay diay cholesterol na apo.

Kayat Yo Ti Miki?

Ay nagimasen apo. Espesyal daytoy ta adda pay iplog ken sitsaron na.
Yummy. This miki (Ilocano noodles) is special with egg and crispy pork skin.

Nice Shot!

Nice Shot! This picture is by Dodong Flores.

August 24, 2007

Paoay Heritage House Up for Restoration

Heritage house in Paoay up for restoration
The Ilocos Times
May 14, 2006
by Cristina Arzadon

Owners of a heritage house in Paoay town are working on the restoration of a historical landmark—a bubble-topped octagonal house built by their patriarch the late Constancio Duque in the early 1940s. Locally known as the Duque house, the American period architecture was given tribute as one of three heritage homes in Paoay along with the well-preserved twin Bahay na Bato (white houses to locals) owned by the family of Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales.

Duque, a known teacher in his time, was one of the early Ilocanos who moved to the United States in the early 1900s. “He got the idea to go to the US because all his friends have left the Philippines,” recalls Constancio’s only son Estanislao Duque, now a doctor based in Mindanao.
But unlike other Ilocanos who worked on sugarcane fields, Constancio, then a 16 year-old high school student enrolled in a Vigan seminary, flew to Chicago, Illinois to continue studies. “He went there without knowing anybody. He used a one-year stipend that he had saved from the seminary for his plane ticket and start up his schooling,” Estanislao said.

Duque finished his high school and college education there before returning to his hometown Paoay in 1939 and later built the American-inspired colonial house. “It was in Chicago where my father got the design for our house,” Duquesa Duque-Dugan, Constancio’s youngest daughter who now lives in Australia, said. “He always wanted to be different. At the time when the neighborhood houses were the typical box-type wooden structure, our father built a spherical house using but his memory of the 20 years he stayed in Chicago,” Dugan said. “I remember when we were young, we would be asked where we live and we would say, idiay nagbukel (There at the round house),” Dugan said.

The old Duque is said to have hired skilled carpenters to execute the architectural design that he had kept only in his mind. The octagon-shaped American architecture is made of wooden stone-cut façade with a bonnet of a roof. His eldest daughter Rosario Duque-Pobre who visited Chicago recently said bubble-topped houses remain a landmark there.

The Duque siblings had kept all their father’s memorabilia in their house, which had become a museum of antique pieces from the old piano to a phonograph and other wooden furnishings.
Lining the walls of the Duque house are early family photos including a sketch of the heritage house that was done by Duque’s granddaughter Marissa. The family plans to replicate the sketch to small keepsakes which could be given as souvenirs to tourists on a heritage tour in Paoay.

Dugan said restoring the house was a promise she made to her father before he died.
“I wanted to bring back my father to Chicago while he was on a visit in Australia. But he never had that chance because he was in a hurry to go back to the Philippines. I have since promised to restore the house as my way of making up for him,” she said.

Mindful of the attention that their house had courted, the Duque siblings have started planning its rehabilitation keeping in mind the need to preserve the original structure. Termites have destroyed some sections of the house while wooden planks either need replacement or reinforcement Except for some sections of the facade, the original structure including its wooden floors has not been disturbed. But because Paoay has always been a catch basin of floodwaters, the Duque house had been submerged in thick mud as indicated by its original stone fences peeping out from the ground. Several flights of its stone staircase leading to the front door also presumably sank because only a section of the pillars on each side of the stairs were sticking out. Traces of hardened mud from recent floods occupy the basement, which Dugan said makes a magnet for termites.

The family had already commissioned a restoration architect to do the works on their house.
Since talks about the restoration spread, Dugan said she had already seven architects showing up in their house with their restoration designs. She had narrowed down her list to two because she did not like the designs that others presented.“I could barely recognize our house,” Dugan said playfully as she showed to two design proposals, which transformed the house into a Spanish-colonial villa capped with tiled roofing.

Dugan clarified reports that the National Historical Institute had offered to help in the restoration of the heritage house. “Nobody has come forward to help in the restoration. There has been no offer, which we don’t really mind,” she said. Dugan added: “And in case there will be an offer in the future, we would like to see the guidelines first. We don’t want to lose control of our house where we will be reduced to mere administrators.”

She clarified, however, that their house is always open to people who share their passion in taking pride of their ancestral home. At one point, Marcos daughter, Irene Marcos-Araneta surprised the household members when she invited herself at the top of the staircase and asked politely if she could have a look of the house.

“We have always opened our house to everyone who cares to take a look. We don’t mind the attention. Anytime of the day, we see people outside the house either taking shots or filming the structure. We share the pride to others who would want to make a connection and a sense of ownership to this house that our father built,” Dugan said adding that the family will keep the house and the lot where it sits probably until kingdom comes.

Duque House

The Duque House in Paoay is famous for its one of a kind, octagonal shape. It is still used as residence by the Duque family.

This picture by Constantine Agustin was lifted from his website,

August 13, 2007

A short history of the Paoay church

St. Augustine Church, or more popularly called Paoay Church, in Ilocos Norte is one of the the oldest churches in the Philippines and is among the major attractions of Ilocos Norte.

Built of coral blocks and stucco-plastered bricks, the architecture is a unique combination of Gothic, Baroque and Oriental. Construction of the church was started in 1704 and completed in 1894. A few meters away is the coralstone belltower which served as observation post of the “Katipuneros” during the Philippine Revolution, Paoay Church is included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Paoay Lake

PAOAY LAKE NATIONAL PARK The landlocked lake located 3 kilometers away from the sea in Suba, Paoay has an area of 470 hectares. Declared as a National Park under Republic Act 5631 on June 21, 1969, its environs has been turned into a sports complex including a world-class golf course. Shown in picture above is the Malacanang of the North which overlooks the lake.

Malacanang of the North

MALACAÑANG OF THE NORTH, also known as Malacanang ti Amianan. Built as the official residence of then President Marcos in Ilocos Norte, on a promontory overlooking the legendary Paoay Lake, this imposing structure is now a museum. A minimal entrance fee is collected.

Inside Malacanang of the North is a very nice big painting of the Paoay Church.

A Brief History of Paoay

A Brief History of Paoay

Paoay’s former name was Bombay. Its site was originally located in the village of Callaguip - along the coastal shores of the South China Sea - now a barrio of Paoay, which is about two kilometers west of the present town proper.
Historians say: “From the date of early settlement to 1701, little could be said about the activities of the early settlers of Paoay except that much had been done in the clearing of the forests nearby. They converted the forests into rice and sugar lands through the slash-and-burn method called ‘kaingin.’ The early settlers were of a peace-loving tribe, but their major problem was the frequent furious incursions of Sea Rovers and Moro pirates called Tirong who looted indiscriminately their agricultural produce and other valuables. To protect themselves from further incursions, the folks moved towards the nearby inland where the present town proper is now located. In the farther western inland, there were also settlers who formed the neighboring town of Batac. Sensing that the Bombay people had suffered too much from the Moro raids, the people of Batac offered the people of Bombay to live with them. But the brave and maverick folks rejected the offer and instead they uttered "Maka-paoay kami" – an Ilocano dialect jargon meaning they could live independently. The settlers from Batac were offended and it was from this incident that the name of the town came to arrive as PAOAY.”

“The first inhabitants might have come from Bombay, India because the early name of the town was Bombay and settlers in the early days usually named the land settlement they found after the name of their country and place of origin. When the settlers from Bombay arrived, they found the Indonesians already making headways in clearing the forests. Later, the more civilized Malays came and they drove the Indonesians away. Some were captured and held slaves to help improve the land settlement. Those who opted to live with the Malays stayed. The two races turned blended that it is now hard to trace the single origin of the early settlers.”

“The last two settlers established their permanent homes at the present site of the town proper because the location was best suited for their personal convenience and protection from the marauders. Hence, the site was accessible to the barrios where they cleared for farming, namely: Burit, Monte, Paratong, Tamurong, Tigui, Madamcao, Baramban, Lang -Ayan, Lioes, Tarangutong, Lubbot, Currimao, Gaang, Pias, Maglaoi, Anggapang, Comcomloong, Dalayab, Puritac, Cubol, Burayoc, Nagtriguan, Ullaleng, Buangga, Cabaruan, Tugay, Maburiac, Liliputen, and Sacritan. Most of these barrios are now adjudicated to the towns of Pinili, Currimao, and Batac which became municipalities in 1920 and 1921, respectively.”

To cite the characteristics and traits of its people, Paoayenos (called the people of Paoay) are by nature industrious, thrifty, intrepid, daring, individualistic, peace-loving, adventurous, hospitable, and religious people.”

A Brief History of Ilocos Norte

Brief History of Ilocos Norte Philippines

Long before the coming of the Spaniards, there already existed an extensive region (consisting of the present provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra and La Union) renowned for its gold mines. Merchants from Japan and China would often visit the area to trade gold with beads, ceramics and silk. The inhabitants of the region believed to be of Malay origin, called their place "samtoy", from "sao mi toy, which literally meant "our language".
In 1571, when the Spanish conquistadors had Manila more or less under their control, they began looking for new sites to conquer. Legaspi's grandson, Juan de Salcedo, volunteered to lead one of these expeditions. Together with 8 armed boats and 45 men, the 22 year old voyager headed north.

On June 13, 1572, Salcedo and his men landed in Vigan and then proceeded towards Laoag, Currimao and Badoc. As they sailed along the coast, they were surprised to see numerous sheltered coves ("looc") where the locals lived in harmony. As a result, they named the region "Ylocos" and its people "Ylocanos".

As the Christianization of the region grew, so did the landscape of the area. Vast tracks of land were utilized for churches and bell towers in line with the Spanish mission of "bajo las campanas". In the town plaza, it was not uncommon to see garrisons under the church bells. The colonization process was slowly being carried out.

Ilocos Norte was created by virtue of the Spanish Royal Decree on Februray 2, 1818. At that time, the province occupied the coastal plain bordering the China Sea and guarded by the Cordilleras in the northwestern corner of Luzon.

Ilocos Norte is a province of the Philippines located in the Ilocos Region in Luzon. Its capital is Laoag City and is located at the northwest corner of Luzon island, bordering Cagayan and Apayao to the east, and Abra and Ilocos Sur to the south. Ilocos Norte faces the South China Sea to the west and the Luzon Strait to the north.

Ilocos Norte is noted for being the birthplace of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, who led an authoritarian rule over the country during the latter half of his incumbency. The Marcoses enjoy a modicum of popularity in the province. Ilocos Norte is also known as a northern tourist destination, being the location of Fort Ilocandia, an upper class beach resort famous among expatriates, and Pagudpud.


– mardi gras in Ilocandia!
Manila Bulletin, 3/11/07
Guling–Guling, a little known tradition in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, heralds the Lenten Season just like the mardi gras of Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans.

According to lore, it was the Spanish friars that introduced the Guling–Guling in the 16th century, which they celebrated on the eve of Ash Wednesday. The festivity marked the last day when the townsfolk could make merry before the start of the somber Lenten season.

Guling–Guling comes from the Ilocano word meaning "to mark, to smear, or to make a sign." In the olden days, the chieftain or mayor would mark a person’s forehead with the sign of the cross using wet white rice flour. The color white (in contrast to grey ash) signified that the person marked with "guling" was cleansed of his sins.

The Guling–Guling is basically a street dance as the townsfolk, dressed in their best native attire, went out to the streets to dance. The women would wear the abel kimona and pandiling accessorized with flowers or with the family jewels. The men wore the camisa de chino and abel trousers.

The revellers would first have their foreheads marked with a "guling" by the mayor as a sign of good luck. The ritual was made festive with snacks of "binugbug, a native delicacy made of rice flour and sugar cane cooked in the "anawang," a crude oven made from dried sugarcane pulp.
The binugbug is washed down with gulps of the potent Ilocano spirits "basi" made from sugarcane extract and samak, a plant common in the Ilocos region. The brew would be fermented in "burnays", the famous Ilocano earthen jars to which was added samak leaves, bark and fruit.

Along the route of the parade, food hawkers would entice spectators with Ilocano snacks like the famous crispy "impanada", made of rice flour dough and stuffed with beansprouts, meat morsels and egg and dipped in vinegar with shalots (lasona) and spices … patopat (or impaltao), a suman made of sticky rice and boiled in molasses for two hours! … ditto, tupig, a hard pastilllas called linga, carioca rice flour balls or tinudok dipped in syrup, atbp. The American fastfoods just don’t stand a chance with snackers in Ilocandia.

Today, choreographers would be hired to coach the dance groups (barangays) to do the Pandanggo Paoayeña, the ariquenquen, curatsa, amorosa and La Jota Paoayeña with intricate steps and hand movements (kumintang).

This year, the board of judges was led by Paoay Mayor Bobby Clemente and Michael M. Keon, the son of the sister (Elizabeth Keon) of the late "Apo" Ferdie Marcos and chairman of the Tourism Development Council of Ilocos Norte. Among the judges also were Associate Justice Ccnchita Carpio Morales with her sister Marilou C. Claudio, Marie Respicio Gonzalez of the DoT Laoag office, et al.

The dancers, mostly led by lolas who have been dancing in the guling-guling since girlhood, executed their dances in varying formations on the cobbled street in front of the historic Paoay church.

Highlight of the parade was a giant "dodol," a grayish ube rice cake, five meters in diameter on a giant bilao carried on an open truck. The dudol reportedly took one sack of rice, 60 coconuts and the juice of 500 stalks of sugarcane to make.

Having tasted and relished varying cuisines across the world and all over the Philippines, we were delighted to take lessons in Ilocano dishes on this trip. Our first stop was at La Preciosa, a restaurant in Laoag started in the ‘50s by Preciosa Ablan Ventura Palma. Our host was Michael Keon who had invited our media group to Ilocos Norte to witness the Guling Guling.

We feasted on pinakbet, the old Ilocano favorite, which literally means to "wrinkle" the vegetables by overcooking it… poki poki, an eggplant omelet mixed with tomatoes, bagnet which is a tasty version of lechon kawali, dinengdeng or inabrao which means "to boil".

Other Ilocano dishes are sinanlao which we can only describe as a watered down batchoy… higado which is similar to but less spicy than bopis, popotlo, a seaweed salad (resembling green worms) found only in the region, and the exotic adobo of frogs legs.

The Ilocanos eat a lot of fresh fish and seafoods harvested from the waters of the South China sea surrounding the region and indeed, it was the Ilocanos that actually invented bagoong although Pangasinan is better known for producing it today.

Prior to the Guling–Guling we had lunch at La Herencia, newly opened across the Paoay church, and run by Samuel Blas who also owns a pensione called "Balay da Blas" in Laoag City. Here we sampled the crispy dinuguan which is a dry dinuguan mixed with bagnet, salads of bulaklak ng katuday, kamote tops, sigarilyas, kabatiti or patola, the tiny amalaya called parya, totong (tiny stringbeans), atbp.

As soon as we arrived in the Laoag airport on a Cebu Pacific flight, we took a detour to Bangui to see the windmills of the Northwind Power Development Corp. like giant electric fans powered by winds from the sea. The wind farm produces 25 megawatts or enough to supply 40 percent of the electricity needs of Ilocos Norte. Because the windmills harness wind, they do not produce greenhouse gases. Hopefully, this method of renewable energy will be replicated all over the Philippines.

On our way back to Laoag, we dropped by Pasuquin, famous for its saltmakers and also for biscocho (crispy bread) although only one family makes it, the Salmons of Pasuquin. Here we met Mang Phil Alvarez originally of Sariaya, Quezon, whose wife brought him to Pasuquin.
It always is wonderful to return to the Ilocos. My parents, the late Assemblyman Benito T. Soliven and Pelagia (nee Villaflor) Soliven hail from Sto. Domingo and Vigan in Ilocos Sur. Land travelers always pass by a monument to my dad in Sto. Domingo.

Now also, in my adopted probinsiya, Ilocos Norte, we have discovered Sitio Remedios, a heritage village created by my dear friend Dr. Joven Cuanang, medical director of St. Luke’s Medical Center, in Currimao, a couple of towns away from the boundary of Ilocos Sur. Let me tell you about it next time!

August 12, 2007

Herencia Cafe of Paoay

March 4, 2007

Herencia Café: An “Edible Landmark in Ilocos Norte”
courtesy of VIEW FROM THE BELLTOWER by Stephen T. Barreiro

Ilocos Norte is famed for the beauty and magnificence of our architectural landmarks such as the world renowned Paoay Church and the Burgos lighthouse, which have also become virtually synonymous and symbolic of their towns.

Our culinary traditions have likewise begun to attract the attention of the tourist and consumer public as well; Batac for its empanada and Pasuquin for Biscocho.

Arising in the picturesque town of Paoay is a new center for culinary tradition, the Herencia Cafe. Literally meaning “heritage,” Herencia is a restaurant which has remained faithful to classical Ilocano cuisine as in their authentic and delicious servings of pinakbet and bagnet. Also on the menu are various entrees from classical Spanish, Italian, and Indian cuisine like the Beef Salpicado, Chicken Lemon Grass and their exellent pasta collection. The Arabbiata, which is spaghetti with stewed tomatoes, herbs and olive oil is comparable as the one I have tried at Italiannis and Cibo but at a fraction of the price (only P85 per serving). For a sample of “fusion’ cuisine, try the Mango chicken with cheese curry sauce, a basic Indian dish modified with the use of Italian cheese.

Shown above are some of the antique furnishings of the cafe

Indeed, Herencia Café has also been at the forefront of the latest advances in culinary development promoting what co-owner Sammy Blas has referred to as “fusion cuisine.”

Pinakbet PizzaHerencia has taken the quintessential Ilokano dish pinakbet to a new level of culinary excellence by creating the pinakbet pizza. By combining traditional Italian pizza with local ingredients used for pinakbet, Herencia has created a unique delicacy which has begun to attract national attention.

According to Herencia co-owner Sammy Blas, the idea of using pinakbet as a topping for pizza intrigued him; for example anchovies which have been used in pizza making for ages were replaced by the similar yet uniquely native ingredient bagoong, then add okra, eggplant, and longganiza meat as toppings over mozzarella cheese, all placed on a classic hand tossed pizza crust. Voila! A dish which is both an aesthetic as well as a gastronomical pleasure.

And what better place to savor the pinakbet pizza and the art of fine dining than at the Herencia Café. The Café boasts of elegance with an Old World feel. Decorations of Florentine glass, antique wood and wrought iron furniture, vigan tiles, and a superb view of the famed Paoay Church combine to create the perfect mood. I was distinctly reminded of Café Intramuros without the hustle and bustle of the city. Indeed a visit to Herencia Café is a glimpse on our genteel past; and a taste of the famed pinakbet pizza, a glimpse into the future of Ilokano cuisine.

As the famed Paoay Church has put Paoay on the World Heritage list, the Herencia Café may also bring Paoay to the world’s culinary map as well. An “edible landmark” indeed.

Visit Herencia Café at McArthur Street, Bgy. 14, Sangladan, Paoay (in front of Paoay Church). For inquiries you may call tel. 077- 614 -0214.

Ilocos Times News Update

August 5, 2007


Keon asks SP to declare IN under state of calamity
DA Sec Yap visits Ilocos Norte

Ilocos Norte Gov. Michael Keon has recommended the declaration of the province under a state of calamity due to the lingering effect of the dry spell. Keon sought the declaration so that the provincial government could fully use its resources in mitigating the impact of the dry spell in the agriculture sector. Keon’s declaration coincided with Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap’s visit on August 2 to Ilocos Norte to personally see the extent of damage caused by the drought from the ground. Yap said Ilocos Norte is one of the worst hit provinces in Northern Luzon along with Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan compared to Central Luzon.

“We will immediately release the funds (for Ilocos Norte) as soon as we have determined the extent of damage that needs support,” he said after the briefing that the provincial agriculture office prepared. Yap asked Keon to prepare the provincial government’s counterpart fund to mitigate the effects of drought like focusing on the planting of more high-value crops and vegetables. He said he would provide cloud-seeding operations in farmlands where irrigation is needed most. “We may have to realign the funds for farm-to-market roads and channel them to the irrigation sector because that’s where funds are needed most,” he said. Yap promised Keon that he will augment the province’s P30 million budget devoted to the provincial agriculture so that they could identify alternative crops that are drought-resistant. Yap also met with members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan committee on agriculture led by Chairman Mariano “Nonong” Marcos, and members of the League of Municipal Mayors, led by Joseph de Lara of Solsona, to assess the extent of the impact the drought has had on agriculture. Yap called for a cooperative effort to mitigate the effects of the drought: calling on local officials, mayors and the provincial government to provide water pumps while promising that the government will assist in providing fuel for the operation of those pumps as well as initiate cloud seeding operations over the province. Part of the assistance from the Department would include the provision of seeds for alternative non-water intensive crops to affected farmers. As a pro-active measure, the governor has certified as urgent, the passage of the bill declaring the Province of Ilocos Norte under a state of calamity due to the prolonged dry spell. This is so that the province may avail of the calamity fund to immediately address the issue. For his part Sec. Yap made a commitment to assist the province in the effort.

The effect of the drought is reflected in the Aug 1 PAO report which states that of the total acreage devoted to rice planting, only 50.22 % has been planted as compared to an estimated 80% in normal years.

Norma Lagmay, provincial agriculturist, reported that the province’s sufficiency level in rice, corn, onion and garlic would drop significantly due to prolonged drought. Before the dry spell hit, Ilocos Norte has been enjoying high sufficiency level in the following crops: rice (280%), corn (1,642%), garlic (2,734%) and onion (11,036%). Lagmay said the province’s irrigation systems would need more than P318 million in rehabilitation funds so that the facilities could reach their highest level of efficiency. She added most dams in the province are performing below their normal efficiency after being damaged by successive typhoons since 2006.

Stephen T. Barreiro and Cristina Arzadon

August 11, 2007

More Paoay Church Pics

I am posting some of my favorite pictures of Paoay Church. The first one I like very much for its unusual angle.

Most pictures of the church I've seen are in landscape mode but this one is in portrait. Friends who've seen this pic say it reminds them of some European churches. This one I took using my Sony Ericsson phone.

This next picture has an ethereal quality to it. It was taken one summer afternoon just before sunset. I've always told friends to visit the church at this time when the setting sun is flattering both to the church and to human skin. The church seems to glow and float, as if the sky opened to light it up.
Here's another nice one. The flowering plants reverently lifts up the church.

This picture of one side of the church shows graceful lines

This time a beautiful shot from the back. The greens sprouting from the walls really add beauty to the church. Sadly, they reportedly are slowly weakening the foundation, hence, the plants are regularly pulled out from the walls.

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