Museo Ilocos Norte

2 must visit Laoag museums you should check out

I love museums! It’s where you can get a glimpse of the place’s history and culture. Whenever I visit countries and cities, I’m sure to pass by some. Although I’ve been a long time visitor of Laoag, I should confess that it was just a few months ago that I was able to visit its Museo Ilocos Norte as well as its Taoid Museum, both a must visit for the serious Laoag visitor or tourist. The two museums are just beside each other, in a very accessible complex.

The Museo Ilocos Norte compound has two museums: Museo Ilocos Norte and the Taoid Museum which deals with the Cordillera culture and way of life and their relationship with the lowlanders. There's also a good selection of cafes and restaurants.

The Museo Ilocos Norte compound has two museums: Museo Ilocos Norte and the Taoid Museum which deals with the Cordillera culture and way of life and their relationship with the lowlanders. There’s also a good selection of cafes and restaurants.

Museo Ilocos Norte

Housed at a beautiful heritage brick building that used to be the tabacalera warehouse during the Spanish colonial period, you can explore the exhibit that showcases Ilocano history and culture, their way of life. From agricultural artefacts, including the processes in tobacco farming and preparation, which the region is known for, to outfit to recent history. It’s not airconditioned but there are fans inside that keeps the temperature manageable.

But what makes this museum a must visit is its replica of a traditional affluent Ilocano bahay na bato house patterned after one of the old houses. It gives you a glimpse of life with its furnishings: the old furnitures and decors, dining setup, the kitchen and sleeping quarters. It’s an interesting abode before the advent of modern houses fitted with air conditioning.

The old tabacalera warehouse during the Spanish colonial period has been transformed into the Museo Ilocos Norte

The old tabacalera warehouse during the Spanish colonial period has been transformed into the Museo Ilocos Norte

Artifacts inside the Museo attests to the traditional way of life of the industrious Ilocano. The exhibit shows agricultural life that includes implements used in farming and the preparation of tobacco, fishing, clothing and so much more

Artifacts inside the Museo attests to the traditional way of life of the industrious Ilocano. The exhibit shows agricultural life that includes implements used in farming and the preparation of tobacco, fishing, clothing and so much more

A replica of a traditional Ilocano home is even exhibited complete with living space, dining room, kitchen and the bedroom. It's a glimpse of the Ilocano way of life best shown through an actual home setup.

A replica of a traditional Ilocano home is even exhibited complete with living space, dining room, kitchen and the bedroom. It’s a glimpse of the Ilocano way of life best shown through an actual home setup.

Taoid: Museum of the Cordilleras in Ilocos Norte

Perhaps this is the more interesting of the two museums. Located just beside Museo Ilocos Norte, It’s a two level structure with better exhibits, important artefacts and information and its air conditioned. The purpose of this museum is to showcase the Cordillera culture and of its many tribes as well as to give the visitor an understanding of their way of life, rituals and cosmology. It also highlights the relationship of both the upland Cordillera with the lowland Ilocanos who are not only trading partners but stewards of this important geographic areas. Thus, Taoid is a term that refers to a shared heritage.

The visit to this museum was very enlightening. It was more educational and will make you appreciate the complex way of living of the various tribes of the Cordillera, their rituals and practices, governed by the environment and nature. The brutality of the headhunting culture as well as the role of animism in the day to day lives. But what is more intriguing for me is the death ritual which involves mummification which got me interested because of a lenten practice that I documented in Paete, Laguna before.

These two museums are a must visit and will surely enrich your understanding of the Ilocano and their geographic partners, the various tribes of the Cordilleras.

The Taoid Museum is perhaps the best there is when it comes to Cordillera tribes and culture, their practices, rituals and artifacts

The Taoid Museum is perhaps the best there is when it comes to Cordillera tribes and culture, their practices, rituals and artifacts

Detail of the bul-ol as part of traditional Cordillera wear and during rituals.

Detail of the bul-ol as part of traditional Cordillera wear and during rituals.

Traditional textile of one of the tribes in the Cordilleras. Inset, preserved skulls of men and an animal.

Traditional textile of one of the tribes in the Cordilleras. Inset, preserved skulls of men and animals.

Other important but valuable artefacts in the exhibition.

Other important but valuable artefacts in the exhibition.

This is one of the intriguing death ritual practices which is explained in great detail at the Taoid Museum

This is one of the intriguing death ritual practices which is explained in great detail at the Taoid Museum

Museo Ilocos Norte & Taoid: Museum of the Cordillera in Ilocos Norte
V. Llanes, Laoag City
Ilocos Norte

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

One Comment

  1. Estan, Ang Langyaw (@LangyawMedia)
    July 21, 2016 @ 15:50

    Have you visited Laoag’s beautiful museums: Museo Ilocos Norte & Taoid Musuem?

    https://t.co/ahzvPL6PZ9 https://t.co/6eWyI2bmlA

Tell me what you think