Ilocos Sur, Philippines
Ilocos Sur is a province of the Philippines located in the Ilocos Region in Luzon. Vigan City, located on the mouth of the Mestizo River is the provincial capital.
Ilocos Sur is bordered by Ilocos Norte and Abra to the north, Mountain Province to the east, La Union and Benguet to the south, and the South China Sea to the west.
Ilocos Sur Provincial Capitol
Map of the Philippines with Ilocos Sur highlighted
The 32 municipalities and 2 cities of the province comprise a total of 768 barangays, with Puro in Magsingal as the most populous in 2010, and Montero in Banayoyo as the least.
Before the coming of the Spaniards, the coastal plains in northwestern Luzón, stretching from Bangui (Ilocos Norte) in the north to Namacpacan (Luna, La Unión) in the south, were a region called the Ylokos. This region lies in between the China Sea in the west and Northern Cordilleras on the east. The inhabitants built their villages near the small bays on coves called “looc” in the dialect. These coastal inhabitants were referred to as “Ylocos” which literally meant “from the lowlands”. The entire region was then called by the ancient name “Samtoy” from “sao ditoy” which in Ilokano mean “our dialect”. The region was later called by the Spaniards as “Ylocos” or “Ilocos” and its people “Ilocanos”.
The Ilocos Region was already a thriving, fairly advanced cluster of towns and settlements familiar to Chinese, Japanese and Malay traders when the Spaniard explorer Don Juan de Salcedo and members of his expedition arrived in Vigan on June 13, 1572. Forthwith, they made Cabigbigaan (Bigan), the heart of the Ylokos settlement their headquarters which Salcedo called “Villa Fernandina” and which eventually gained fame as the “Intramuros de Ilocandia”. Salcedo declared the whole Northern Luzón as an "encomienda", or a land grant. Subsequently, he became the encomendero of Vigan and Lieutenant Governor of the Ylokos until his death in July 1574.
Augustinian missionaries came to conquer the region through evangelization. They established parishes and built churches that still stand today. Three centuries later, Vigan became the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia.
The people are engaged in farming, producing food crops, mostly rice, corn, vegetable, root crops, and fruits. Non-food crops include tobacco, cotton, and tigergrass. Cottage industries include loom weaving, furniture making, jewelry making, ceramics, blacksmithing, and food processing.
- Beaches - most notable Ilocos Sur beaches include those in Cabangtalan (in Sinait, also known as Imelda's Cove), Pug-os (in Cabugao); and the towns of Santa, Santa Maria, Santiago, San Esteban, and Candon.
- Churches - most notable of these churches include the Vigan Cathedral (which is the seat of eva Segovia, and where the remains of the Ilocano poet Leona Florentino is interred), Santa Maria Church (which is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list), Candon Church (has a grand facade and is famous for its tall bell tower and the longest painting in the Philippines) and Sinait Church (which houses the miraculous Statue of the Black Nazarene).
- Nature Spots - Scenic spots include the Banaoang River in Bantay (an extension of the Abra River), Pinsal Falls in Santa Maria, and Pikkang Falls in San Juan.
- Tirad Pass - Declared as a National Shrine, the pass located in the municipality of Gregorio del Pilar was the last stand of the Filipino Revolutionary Forces under General Emilio Aguinaldo.
- Bessang Pass - A monument stands on this strategic gap west of Cervantes, which served as the backdoor to General Yamashita's last-ditch defense during the last stage of World War II.
- Pagburnayan (Jar) - The Ilocano jar called “burnay,” used for storing the local vinegar, local wine “basi,” and “bagoong” and as a decorative ware, is produced in factories using the pre-historic method in the southwestern end of Liberation Avenue in Vigan.
- Loom Weaving - Among the Ilocanos’ main cottage industries, it produces quality towels, blankets, table runners, and clothing materials with ethnic Ilocano designs.
- Santiago Cove - A stretch of golden sand beach in Santiago with amenities for picnics and water sports.
- Pinsal Falls - A favorite setting of many local films, Pinsal Falls features Angalo’s footprint, the legendary Ilocano giant. The falls is a few kilometers of rough road from the highway. Located at Barangay Babalasiwan, Sta. Maria. Other waterfalls in Ilocos Sur are Caniaw in Bantay, Gambang in Cervantes, Awasen in Sigay and Barasibis in Sinait.
- Pug-os Beach - Resthouses and picnic sheds are found in this nearly white sand beach in Cabugao.
- Sulvec Beach - The rocky shore of Sulvec, Narvacan is a favorite stop of commuters and the locals. Nearby is the Narvacan Tourism Lodge.
- Apatot Beach - This cove in San Esteban is frequented by picnic goers. During the last stage of World War II, US Submarines surfaced in the area to unload arms and supplies for the USAFIP, NL.
- Candon Beach - The beach features amenities and facilities for visitors.