There are a lot of reasons to go to Ilocos, which evidently, are also the reasons why one would like to stay. This province is the home to Paoay Church with Baroque architecture, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse that overlooks the South China Sea, the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation which offers a panoramic view of smooth, ivory limestones, the Paoay Sand Dunes where you can ride a 4×4 across the sand dunes (and momentarily live in an ala Fast and The Furious world), the Bangui Windmills that are photogenically arranged in a straight line, and, of course, Calle Crisologo and its surrounding rustic houses and different shops.
Besides these tourist attractions, Ilocos is also famous for all of its flavorful food. You can find pinakbet, a medley of vegetables with anchovy sauce; poqui-poqui, a meatless Ilocano recipe; dinakdakan, a dish made with grilled pork parts that are covered in a tangy and creamy sauce; and igado, a tangy and savory dish made with pork tenderloin and pig innards. Whether you’re visiting Ilocos Sur or Ilocos Norte, it’s impossible to leave this province with an empty stomach.
During your last day at Ilocos, do not bid farewell without buying pasalubong for friends and family. We have a few pasalubong suggestionsyou should get while you’re in the province:
Did you know that Ilocanos call their bagnet chicharon? This sinfully delicious ulam (or pulutan) achieves its addicting juiciness and crispiness from boiling and deep-frying pork belly. This Ilocos specialty is so popular that you can also buy bagnet along roads when you’re on your way back home.
2 Vigan Longganisa
Breakfasts in Vigan are always a treat because Vigan longganisa is always offered–and it becomes more appetizing and irresistible when it’s served with egg and rice. These native sausages are made with ground pork and a lot of garlic, but what sets Vigan longganisa apart from other native sausages is that it incorporates the local Sukang Iloko to complete the longganisa filling.
3 Vigan Empanada
One of the delicacies that sell like hot pancakes in Vigan is their Vigan empanadas! These bright orange empanadas are usually filled with grated green papaya, toge (mung bean sprouts), thinly-sliced carrots, whole egg, and skinless Vigan longganisa. We know these empanadas aren’t exactly travel-friendly, as it will lose its crunchy empanada crust, but these are just too delicious to not bring home. Just make sure to heat them up and eat them the same day you arrive!
4 Sukang Iloko
Vigan’s bagnet, empanada, and longganisa are all best paired with Vigan’s Sukang Iloko as it adds acidity to the oiliness of these delicacies. In Ilocano tradition, the juice of the sugarcane is left to be fermented in jars. The fermented sugarcane will eventually turn into basi (wine), and then the basi will turn into vinegar or the Sukang Iloko.
Chichacorn, which is a word combination of chicharon and corn, is one of the more popular snacks you can get from Ilocos. What makes chichacorn unique is that it is made of white (not yellow!) corn kernels that are popped. Just like with popcorn, the chichacorn are also sold in different flavors, like garlic, chili, cheese, and adobo.
6 Marsha’s Delicacies’ Bibingka
A wildcard when it comes to Ilocos pasalubong is bibingka. You can find raved-about bibingka in Marsha’s Delicacies, in Bantay, Ilocos Sur. Marsha’s Delicacies’ famous Royal Bibingka is soft and slightly chewy–with a tikoy-like feel to it. What makes the Royal Bibingka “royal” is the addition of tasty grated cheese on top.
For more information, follow Marsha’s Delicacies on Facebook.
One of the prominent ingredients used in Ilocano cuisine is garlic, like their native longganisa. Since Vigan longganisa uses a lot of garlic which gives it its distinct taste, it only makes sense that garlic grows in abundance in Ilocos. You can find braids of garlic being sold in markets and even along the highway.