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Laoag City: Happy People, Sinking Tower and The Marcos

Living in Laoag is cheap and crime rate is low.

The old Sinking Bell Tower is slowly buried itself into the ground

LAOAG CITY, PHILIPPINES: Laoag City, the jewel of Ilocos Norte, deserves to be on everyone’s travel bucket list in the Philippines. You will find majestic sand dunes along the coastline, awe-inspiring natural rock formations, and centuries-old stone churches. But don´t try to enter the old sinking tower in the middle of Laoag City.

The word Laoag means “light” in the local native language, earning the town its titles of being the “The Sunshine City” and “City of Lights” in the country. The city also enjoys a tropical savanna climate with mostly sunny days and warm temperatures all year round.

What to do in Laoag City

Let me bring up three things for a visit to Laoag. Visiting the Laoag Church, and take a closer look at the Sinking Bell Tower, that leans due to sandy soil. Then off to La Paz Sand Dunes for outdoor activities. I also suggest a visit to explore the city´s rich cultural heritage and Museo Ilocos Norte and Marcos Museum provide insights, history, and traditions of the Ilocano People.

After 333 years of Spanish rule, the cultural and religious traditions of Spain are still practiced in the region and many other parts of the Philippines today.

Imedla Marcoos from her highdays as world celebrity
Imedla Marcoos from her highdays as world celebrity

Shoes and Bra

Marcos Museum and Mausoleum gives insights into the lifer and legacy of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.
Now his son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr. serve as 19th president of the Philippines. His resident is in Laoag where his mother Emelda still is around. Imelda was the first lady from 1965 to 1986, and the world knows her for collecting jewelry, furs, and shoes.

Marcos all over

At the moment there are Marcos all over.  One as Guvenor, one as member of Parlimanet, senator Aimee Marcos, his son Sandro is in the congress, and another Marcos is mayor of Laoag.

The infamous life of Imelda Marcos includes her bulletproof Bra, 3,000 pairs of shoes, and portrayed in a Broadway musical. Imelda now 95 got several nicknames such as Steel Butterfly and was undeniably a fascinating figure in modern political circles. Imelda is living in Laoag.

The Sinking Bell Tower

Italy has leaning Tower of Pisa, Philippines has it´s famous tower in Laoag.
Laoag is a blend of Spanish colonial architecture and traditional Filipino buildings. One of the city’s highlights is the St. William’s Cathedral, also known as the Laoag Church, which dates back to the 16th century and features a distinct earthquake-baroque design.

The Sinking Bell Tower of Laoag.
The Sinking Bell Tower of Laoag.

The Sinking Bell Tower, another iconic landmark, leans due to sandy foundations, adding to its charm. Despite earthquake The Tower continues to stand the test of time as a national treasure since it was built by the Augustinians in 1612. It is believed that the tower is sinking at a rate of an inch every year, or 2,5 centimeters. Its heavy and massive structure is causing to slowly bury itself into the ground.

"Steps and a bell on top, nothing more" Jessie has been into the tower.
“Steps and a bell on top, nothing more” Jessie has been into the tower.

La Paz Sand Dunes

Laoag City offers an exciting adventure through its sand dunes, particularly in the nearby town of Paoay. The huge La Paz Sand Dunes is a popular destination for sandboarding, dune buggies, and off-roading adventures, providing thrilling experiences against the backdrop of towering golden dunes. Feel the thrill of gliding down the dunes on a sandboard or in dune-buggies an adrenaline-pumping experience. The stunning view of sand meeting the sea makes it a must-visit for nature lovers.

Sanddunes at seaside of Laoag
Sanddunes at seaside of Laoag

Visit the sanddunes with cars is popular activity
Visit the sanddunes with cars is popular activity

Local food

Food enthusiasts visiting Laoag City can savor an array of authentic Ilocano dishes. Bagnet (crispy pork belly), empanada (deep-fried pastry with meat and vegetable fillings), and pinakbet (mixed vegetable stew) are some must-try local delicacies. A visit to the city’s bustling public markets will provide an opportunity to sample these and other delectable Ilocano treats.

Tasty local street food is quite cheap.
Tasty local street food is quite cheap.

Specialties to taste

Longganisa Sausages – A Vigan Food Speciality
Batac Empanadas – Orange Empanadas
Bagnet – Deep Fried Crispy Pork Cracklings.
Pinakbet – Popular Mixed Vegetable Ilocos Food.
Okoy – Vigan Food “Shrimp Fritters“

People of Laoag

Laoag boasts of a charming blend of small-town culture and a dynamic, modern lifestyle. I can write up and down about churches and sand dunes, but the people of Laoag is the attraction. Ilocanos are hard-working and has a personality of respect and humility in everyday dealings. Like all Filipinos, the specialty in Laoag is warm hospitality always with a smile!

Horses are still in use for transport in the city
Horses are still in use for transport in the city

Happy Birthday!

When Delia returned to Laoag from Hawaii to celebrate her 70th birthday, she invited more than 200 guests. Served all kind of food, entertainment, and even exclusive gifts was given away in a raffle. Among guests was a bishop and priests from local churches.

Delia party shows exactly the charm of The Filipino people, they are renowned for hospitality and welcoming attitude.

Filipinos are well-known for their hospitality and welcoming attitude. As visitors we are often greeted with open arms and genuine smiles. This sense of community and the spirit of “Bayanihan,” which is the Filipino tradition of helping one another.

Delia came all the way from Hawaii and gave a party in Laoag.
Delia came all the way from Hawaii and gave a party in Laoag.

The Happy People

Filipinos are characterized by their warm hospitality, love for celebration, strong family values, and resilient work ethic. These factors contribute to their overall happiness, contentment, and positive outlook on life, making them an inspiration to many around the world. Celebrations like Deliah´s birthday party happens every week in The Philippines, because they are the happiest people of the World.

Smiling Stella at the tourist office in Laoag.
Smiling Stella at the tourist office in Laoag.

Where is Laoag?

Laoag is the capital city of Ilocos Norte, north of The Philippines.
Population: 121,000.

Weather Laoag? Peak time is December to April, the driest months in the region. The cooler months of November-February are great time to visit. Wet season from July to October with some typhoons and heavy rain.
What to do in Laoag? Visit museums, Santa Monica Parish Church and Saint William´s Cathedral. Shoot selfie at The Sinking Bell Tower. Visit La Paz Sand Dunes. Short ride to beaches.
How to get to Laoag? Daily flights from Manila to Laoag International Airport. A cheaper option is to travel from Manila by bus passing through scenic landscapes.
Getting around: Tricycles, jeepneys, taxi and minivan. Jeepneys have a fixed route, while tricycles can take you to inner streets and destination points.

Around the world in another stadium. Gudmund Lindbaek at Marcos stadium in Laoag
Around the world in another stadium. Gudmund Lindbaek at Marcos stadium in Laoag.

Where to stay in Laoag

In general, staying at hotels in Laoag are cheap, or you get what you pay. If you are into shopping, try to book hotel near Robinson Mall.
Distance from Manila to Laoag: About 550 km by the road.

Where to eat in Laoag: La Preciosa is my favorite for Pizza with unique toppings. Bagnet Sinigang is a must-try. For after-meal drinks try a cocktail at District One Bar, Uncle´s Cocktail Lounge, and Cockhouse Bar.
In general, here are not a tipping culture, but service crew will appreciate tips in any amount. Living in Laoag is cheap and crime rate is low.

EL NIDO PALAWAN – GLORY AT EDGE OF THE WORLD

 

 

Gudmund Lindbaek
Gudmund Lindbaek
Journalist founded King Goya online travel magazine. Meeting people for engaging stories. I´m off to uncover the best strategies for long life living. This is part of my venture “Around the World in 80 Lanes” – about travel, run sprint, staying fit! I just want a tiny slice of adventures to feel alive, and then excited to return home.

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