Ilocos Region

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Ilocos Region
Region I
Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte
Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Bangui Wind Farm in Ilocos Norte
Ma-Cho Temple in San Fernando, La Union
Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos, Pangasinan
Location in the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 16°37′N 120°19′E / 16.62°N 120.32°E / 16.62; 120.32Coordinates: 16°37′N 120°19′E / 16.62°N 120.32°E / 16.62; 120.32
Country Philippines
Island groupLuzon
Regional centerSan Fernando (La Union)
 • Total13,013.60 km2 (5,024.58 sq mi)
 (2020 census) [2]
 • Total5,301,139
 • Estimate 
 • Density410/km2 (1,100/sq mi)
Human Development Index
 • HDI (2019)0.725[3]
high · 5th
Time zoneUTC+8 (PST)
ISO 3166 codePH-01
Independent Cities
Component Cities
Cong. districts12

Ilocos Region (Ilocano: Rehion/Deppaar ti Ilocos; Pangasinan: Sagor na Baybay na Luzon; Tagalog: Rehiyon ng Ilocos) is an administrative region of the Philippines, designated as Region I, occupying the northwestern section of Luzon. It is bordered by the Cordillera Administrative Region to the east, the Cagayan Valley to the northeast and southeast, and the Central Luzon to the south. To the west lies the South China Sea.[4]

The region comprises four provinces: Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan. Its regional center is San Fernando, La Union. The 2000 Census reported that the major languages spoken in the region are Ilocano at 66.36% of the total population at that time, Pangasinan with 27.05%, and Tagalog with 3.21%.[5]


Early history[edit]

The region was first inhabited by the aboriginal Negritos, before they were pushed by successive waves of Austronesian immigrants that penetrated the narrow coast. Tingguians (Igorot) in the interior, Ilocanos in the north, Pangasinans in the south, and Zambals in the southwesternmost areas settled the region.

Spanish colonial era[edit]

The Spanish arrived in the 16th century and established Christian missions and governmental institutions to control the native population and convert them to Catholicism. Present-day Vigan in Ilocos Sur province became the diocesan seat of Nueva Segovia. Ilocanos in the northern parts were less easily swayed, however, and remained an area filled with deep resentments against Spain. These resentments surfaced at various points in the Ilocos provinces' history as insurrections, most notably that of Andres Malong and Palaris of Pangasinan, Diego Silang and his wife Gabriela Silang in 1764, and the Basi Revolt in the 19th century. However, it was the Pangasinans in the south who were the last to stand against the Spaniards.[6][better source needed]

American colonial era and World War II[edit]

In 1901, the region came under American colonial rule, and in 1941, under Japanese occupation.

During 1945, the combined American and the Philippine Commonwealth troops including with the Ilocano and Pangasinan guerillas liberated the Ilocos Region from Japanese forces during the Second World War.

Post-independence period[edit]

Several modern presidents of the Republic of the Philippines hailed from the Region: Elpidio Quirino, Ferdinand Marcos, and Fidel V. Ramos. The province of Pangasinan was transferred by Ferdinand Marcos from Region III into Region I in 1973 and afterwards imposed a migration policy for Ilokanos into Pangasinan, to the moderate detriment of the native Pangasinenses. Before the administration of Ferdinand Marcos, Pangasinan was not a part of the region.[7] He also included Abra, Mountain Province, and Benguet in the Ilocos region in a bid to expand Ilokano influence among the ethnic peoples of the Cordilleras.[8]

Martial law era[edit]

Various human rights violations were documented in the Ilocos region during the Marcos martial law era, despite public perception that the region was supportive of Marcos' administration.[9] In Ilocos Norte, various farmers from the towns of Vintar, Dumalneg, Solsona, Marcos, and Piddig were documented to have been tortured,[9] and eight farmers in Bangui and three indigenous community members in Vintar were "salvaged" in 1984.[9]

Ilocanos who were critical of Marcos' authoritarian rule included Roman Catholic Archbishop and Agoo, La Union native Antonio L. Mabutas, who spoke actively against the torture and killings of church workers.[10][11] Other La Union natives who fought the dictatorship were student activists student activists Romulo and Armando Palabay of San Fernando, La Union, whose torture and death in a military camp in Pampanga would lead them to being honored as martyrs in the fight against the dictatorship in the Philippines' Bantayog ng mga Bayani memorial.[12]

In Ilocos Norte, one of the prominent victims of the Martial Law era who came from Laoag was Catholic layperson and social worker Purificacion Pedro, who volunteered in organizations protesting the Chico River Dam Project in the nearby Cordillera Central mountains.[13] Wounded while visiting activist friends in Bataan, she was later killed by Marcos administration soldiers while recouperating in the hospital.[14][15] Another prominent opponent of the martial law regime was human rights advocate and Bombo Radyo Laoag program host David Bueno, who worked with the Free Legal Assistance Group in Ilocos Norte during the later part of the Marcos administration and the early part of the succeeding Aquino administration. He would later be assassinated by motorcycle-riding men in fatigue uniforms on October 22, 1987 – part of a wave of assassinations which coincided with the 1986-87 coup d'etat which tried to unseat the democratic government set up after the 1986 People Power Revolution.[16] Both Bueno and Pedro were later honored among the first 65 people to have their names inscribed on the wall of remembrance of the Philippines' Bantayog ng mga Bayani, which honors the martyrs and heroes who fought the dictatorship,[17] and Pedro was listed among Filipino Catholics nominated to be named Servant of God.[18]

Transfer of provinces to the Cordillera Administrative Region[edit]

When the Cordillera Administrative Region was established under Corazon Aquino, the indigenous provinces of Abra, Mountain Province, and Benguet were transferred into the newly formed region.


Political Map of Ilocos Region

The Ilocos Region occupies the narrow plain between the Cordillera Central mountain range and the South China Sea, and the northern portion of the Central Luzon plain, to the north-east of the Zambales Mountains.

Lingayen Gulf is the most notable body of water in the region and it contains several islands, including the Hundred Islands National Park. To the north of the region is Luzon Strait.

The Agno River runs through Pangasinan from Benguet, flowing into a broad delta at the vicinities of Lingayen and Dagupan before emptying into the Lingayen Gulf.

Administrative divisions[edit]

The Ilocos Region comprises 4 provinces, 1 independent component city, 8 component cities, 116 municipalities, and 3,265 barangays.[19]


Province Capital Population (2020 Estimate)[20] Area[21] Density Cities Muni. Barangay
km2 sq mi /km2 /sq mi
Ilocos Norte Laoag 11.7% 613,422 3,467.89 1,338.96 180 470 2 21 557
Ilocos Sur Vigan 13.7% 715,811 2,596.00 1,002.32 280 730 2 32 768
La Union San Fernando 16.5% 828,193 1,497.70 578.27 550 1,400 1 19 576
Pangasinan Lingayen 59.6% 3,113,361 5,451.01 2,104.65 570 1,500 4 44 1,364
Total 5,026,128 13,012.60 5,024.19 390 1,000 9 116 3,265

• Figures for Pangasinan include the independent component city of Dagupan.

Cities and municipalities[edit]

  •  †  Regional center


Although the economy in the southern portion of the region, especially Pangasinan, is anchored on agro-industrial and service industry, the economy in the northern portion of the region is anchored in the agricultural sector. The economy in Pangasinan is driven by agro-industrial businesses , such as milkfish (bangus) cultivation and processing, livestock raising, fish paste processing (bagoong), and others. Income in the Ilocos provinces or northern portion mostly come from cultivating rice, tobacco, corn, sugarcane, and fruits; raising livestock such as pigs, chicken, goats, and carabaos (water buffalos).

The distribution of the economic activity in the region may be seen from the collection of tax revenue of the national government. The bulk of the collections come from Pangasinan, which posted 61% of the total.[30]

The service and light manufacturing industries are concentrated in the cities. Dagupan is mostly driven by its local entrepreneurs, which have started to expand its network up to the national level. San Fernando in La Union also has an international shipping port and the upgraded and soon to be developed San Fernando International Airport. While Laoag in Ilocos Norte has an international airport.

The tourism industry, driven by local airlines and land transportation firms in the area like Farinas Transit Company and Partas, focuses on the coastal beaches and on eco-tourism. There are fine sands stretching along Bauang, La Union and the rest of the region.[citation needed]

The region is also rich in crafts, with renowned blanket-weaving and pottery.[citation needed] The Ilocanos' burnay pottery is well known for its dark colored clay.[citation needed][31]


Population census of Ilocos Region
YearPop.±% p.a.
1903 948,935—    
1918 1,210,909+1.64%
1939 1,459,294+0.89%
1948 1,685,564+1.61%
1960 2,042,865+1.61%
1970 2,488,391+1.99%
1975 2,726,220+1.85%
1980 2,922,892+1.40%
1990 3,550,642+1.96%
1995 3,803,890+1.30%
2000 4,200,478+2.15%
2007 4,546,789+1.10%
2010 4,748,372+1.59%
2015 5,026,128+1.09%
2020 5,301,139+1.05%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[32]

The Ilocos provinces are the historical homeland of the Ilocanos. In the 2000 Census, the Ilocanos comprised 66% of the region, Pangasinan people 27%, and the Tagalogs 3%.[5]

Pangasinan is the historical homeland of the Pangasinans. The population of Pangasinan comprises approximately 60% of the total population of the region. The Ilocanos started migrating to Pangasinan in the 19th century.[33] Pangasinan was formerly a province of Region III (Central Luzon) before President Marcos signed Presidential Decree No. 1, 1972, incorporating it into Region I. Minority groups include the Tingguian and Isneg communities that inhabit the foothills of the Cordillera mountains.

The population is predominantly Roman Catholic with strong adherents of Protestantism such as the Aglipayan denomination further north of the country. There are also adherents to other religions, such as Iglesia ni Cristo, Mormons, and the like. There is also an undercurrent of traditional animistic beliefs especially in rural areas. The small mercantile Chinese and Indian communities are primarily Buddhists, Taoists, and Hindus.[citation needed]

Culture and the arts[edit]

Tampuhan by Juan Luna

The Ilocos region is noted for its distinctive culture, shaped by the austere demands of its geography.[34]: 55 

The region has given birth to numerous artists who have won national acclaim - among the most notable being writer and activist Isabelo de los Reyes of Vigan who helped publish the earliest currently-extant text of Biag ni Lam-Ang; Badoc-born Philippine Revolution era activist and leader Juan Luna; and Binalonan-born Carlos Bulosan, whose novel America is in the Heart has become regarded as "[t]he premier text of the Filipino-American experience."[35]

The region is also home to several National Artists of the Philippines, including National Artist for Theater Severino Montano who was conferred the honor in 2001,[36] and National Artist for Dance Lucrecia Kasilag, who was conferred the honor in 1989.

Notable people[edit]

A view of San Fernando, La Union

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "POPULATION PROJECTIONS BY REGION, PROVINCE, CITIES AND MUNICIPALITIES, 2020-2025". Department of Health. August 27, 2020. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  2. ^ Census of Population (2015). "Region I (Ilocos Region)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. PSA. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Sub-national HDI – Area Database – Global Data Lab". Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "Ilocos Region: To Reach Five Millionth Mark in Nine Years (Results from the 2000 Census of Population and Housing, NSO); Table 8. Language/Dialect Generally Spoken in the Households: Ilocos Region, 2000". Philippine Statistics Authority. January 31, 2003. Archived from the original on April 28, 2003. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  6. ^ Culture and History by Nick Joaquin
  7. ^ "Presidential Decree No. 1, s. 1972". September 24, 1972. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  8. ^ "Presidential Decree No. 224, s. 1973". June 22, 1973. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  9. ^ a b c
  10. ^ "Honoring Davao's Contributions to the Struggle for Rights, Freedom". Bantayog ng mga Bayani. Archived from the original on February 28, 2018. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  11. ^ Maglana, MAgz (July 10, 2017). "VOICES FROM MINDANAO: Fear is not a good foundation for getting Mindanao out of the rut". MindaNews. Archived from the original on February 8, 2020. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  12. ^ "PALABAY, Armando D. – Bantayog ng mga Bayani". Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  13. ^ "MARTYRS & HEROES: PEDRO, Purificacion A." July 13, 2016.
  14. ^ Remollino, Alexander Martin (December 14–20, 2003). "Human Rights Martyrs of the Word". Archived from the original on March 12, 2004.
  15. ^ "No Way to Go But Onwards! Philippine Religious Resist Marcos Repression" (PDF). Christian Conference of Asia: CCA News. Christian Conference of Asia. 18 (3): 4. March 1983.
  16. ^ Clarke, Gerard (2006). The Politics of NGOs in Southeast Asia. Routledge.
  17. ^ "A Tribute to Human Rights Lawyer David Bueno (1988)". August 19, 2015.
  18. ^ "Philippines". Archived from the original on October 9, 2019.
  19. ^ "List of Regions". National Statistical Coordination Board. Archived from the original on October 13, 2008. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
  20. ^ "POPULATION PROJECTIONS BY REGION, PROVINCE, CITIES AND MUNICIPALITIES, 2020-2025". Department of Health. August 27, 2020. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  21. ^ "PSGC Interactive; List of Provinces". Philippine Statistics Authority. Archived from the original on January 11, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  22. ^ "PSGC Interactive; List of Cities". Philippine Statistics Authority. Archived from the original on April 29, 2011. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  23. ^ "Poverty incidence (PI):". Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  24. ^; publication date: 29 November 2005; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  25. ^; publication date: 8 February 2011; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  26. ^; publication date: 27 August 2016; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  27. ^; publication date: 27 August 2016; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  28. ^; publication date: 27 August 2016; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  29. ^; publication date: 4 June 2020; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  30. ^ "National Statistical Coordination Board". Archived from the original on June 14, 2006. Retrieved July 2, 2006.
  31. ^ Retrieved November 5, 2021. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. ^ "Population and Annual Growth Rates for The Philippines and Its Regions, Provinces, and Highly Urbanized Cities" (PDF). 2010 Census and Housing Population. Philippine Statistics Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 28, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  33. ^ Rosario Mendoza Cortes, Pangasinan, 1801–1900: The Beginnings of Modernization
  34. ^ Fernandez, Doreen (2020). Tikim : essays on Philippine food and culture. Leiden ; Boston. ISBN 978-90-04-41479-2. OCLC 1114270889.
  35. ^ "America Is in the Heart: A Personal History" by Carlos Bulosan (Introduction by Carey McWilliams) Archived 2010-08-23 at the Wayback Machine, University of Washington Press,
  36. ^
  37. ^ "Honoring Davao's Contributions to the Struggle for Rights, Freedom". Bantayog ng mga Bayani. Archived from the original on February 28, 2018. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  38. ^ Maglana, MAgz (July 10, 2017). "VOICES FROM MINDANAO: Fear is not a good foundation for getting Mindanao out of the rut". MindaNews. Archived from the original on February 8, 2020. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  39. ^ "PALABAY, Armando D. – Bantayog ng mga Bayani". Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  40. ^ Armando Palabay (YouTube Video). Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines.

External links[edit]