One of my grand dreams is to tour the whole continent of Europe and witness for myself the glamour of its historical architectures and immerse myself in their postcard-worthy landscapes.
At the moment, the closest that I can get to being in Europe while in the Philippines is to visit one of the places I have always been fascinated with – Vigan in Ilocos Sur. Little did I know that I will be discovering more in this trip. Not only about Vigan but Loaog as well.
I was very interested in taking a glimpse of the Ilocos history and the best place to be is the Museo Ilocos Norte.
From Isabel Suites, I took a trike to Museo Ilocos Norte. I paid the driver P10.00. Entrance fee to the museum is P20.00. Because I came in too early and the other tourists were not around yet, I pretty much did the tour on my own.
Inside the museum, the roof is bare and the trusses are easily seen. On both sides of the brick-floored corridors are artefact and objet d’art tools of any kind, utensils, weapons and everyday work and home equipment of old Ilocos, properly labelled.
What I enjoyed the most was going through the replica of the typical mestizo house during the Spanish era. The two-floor replica is complete with furniture and equipment, fully functional for the visitors to enjoy. I was pleasantly surprised that most displays can actually be used by the guests for a full experience.
So I laid myself to rest on the bed, carefully browsed the pages of the ancient books on display on the table shelf and tried to fetch water from the well. It reminded me so much of our ancestral home in Murcia, Negros Occidental which by now is not only in ruins but also gone. The old house was replaced by a modern structure.
Here’s a transcript from the flyer I received exiting the museum:
Erected in 1878 and known as the Tabacalera Building, this edifice was originally designed as the Administrative Center of the Tobacco Monopoly in Ilocos Norte during the reign of Spain over the Philippine Islands.
In early 1999, the Provincial Government launched a major rehabilitation and restoration program for the building to reactivate and operationalize anew the provincial museum which, prior to a temporary lull, was housed in this building in the early ’70s.
The Museo Ilocos Norte, as this building is aptly called, now serves a noble purpose – a repository of GAMENG, the vast cultural heritage of the people of Ilocos Norte. It is our hope that this will inspire all Ilocanos to appreciate our ancestry and rich legacy, so that together we will grow in awareness and take pride of our culture. Here, therefore, stands the Museo Ilocos Norte, and may it remain for another thousand years or more as our generation’s modest contribution to the future generations.
May this building serve as a tribute and reminder of our collective efforts in ensuring that our people shall continue to live in peace, dignity and democracy. Also, let this structure be a reminder of my humble, yet far-reaching vision to transform every Ilocano into a vibrant, enterprising and worthy citizen of the new millennium. (Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., Governor of Ilocos Norte, 1998-2001, 12 November 1999)
Everything inside the museum, the calesa (minus the presence of a real horse) to the house replica to the many tools, equipment, furniture and clothing, the museum is a rich experience. Indeed, one should not miss visiting the place especially when you are a nationalistic geek like I am.
Experience it for yourself.