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Laoag- Lightning the North

Laoag means “light” in the Ilocano dialect. It sits within Ilocos Norte, a province on the northern region of the Philippines blessed with a rich heritage and a haven of age-old churches that mirror how the Catholic religion’s predominance greatly affected the Filipino way of life.

Long before the coming of the Spaniards, Laoag and its surrounding provinces have been famous for their gold mines. Merchants from neighboring countries like Japan and China would come to trade gold with beads, ceramic and silk. The people, believed to be of Malay origin, called their locality “samtoy” or “sao mi toy,” which literally meant “our language.”

After the Spanish conquistadores settled in Manila, they moved to other locations they can conquer, in the late 1500s. Juan de Salcedo, Legazpi’s grandson, led an expedition to the north with eight armed boats and 45 men at the age of 22.

Salcedo, together with his men, first set foot in Vigan and then moved on to Laoag, Currimao and Badoc. Along the coast where the men sailde, they were amazed to see sheltered coves, or “looc,” where the locals lived. Thus, they named the region, “Ylocos” and its people, “Ylocanos”.

The Spanish conquistadors spread Christianity throughout the region. Tracts of land were utilized to build churches and bell towers in line with the Spanish mission “bajo las campanas.” These old churches of the locality are a remembrance of history and are a reflection of the rich culture that evelved from the Spanish occupation of Laoag.

Today, Laoag is a bustling city with all the creature comforts. Restaurants, fast food chains and grocery stores are located within the city. Telecommunication is not a problem for there are phone lines where one can make both local and international calls. It has an international airport so it is very accessible to all kinds of travelers.

How to Get There
There are a number of bus terminals in Manila that provide bus services to Laoag (P470.00 for air-conditioned bus). Most are located in the Manila area. Buses from Baguio going to Laoag are also available. Bus fares vary depending on the type of bus. Travel time is eight hours from Manila and four hours from Baguio. One can also fly to Laoag from various locations but it is a must to first check the flight schedules at the Laoag International Airport (077) 772-0663. There are also flights from Laoag to Basco, Batanes.

By air, Laoag is 45 minutes from. Manila, 55 minutes from Kaoshiung, 80 minutes from Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Taipei, and 2.25 hours from Shanghai.

How to Get Around

It is possible to rent vans and cars with a chaffeur through a hotel or a travel agency, P2,000 is the average price for the whole day. Bus fares vary, but there is usually a minimum fee of P50.00 per hour, per passenger of air-conditiones buses. Jeepneys ply the common routes and the average fee is P7.50 per kilometer. Tricycles are used for short distances and it is P7.50 per kilometer. Tricycles are used for short distances and it is best that you and the tricycle driver agree on the fare before embarking on the journey. The calesa is also a unique way to tour around the city, minimum charge is P5.00 for the first two kilometers.

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