A trip to Ilocos will not be completed without buying their famous products and delicacies! Ilocos region is not just known for their historically significant destinations and their old magnificent towns and churches. They are not just popular with their marvelous windfarms and stunning sand dunes but also proud of their native items and delicacies! Listed below are some of the items that you should never miss buying when visiting the province of Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte! Let’s start shall we?
If there is one famous Ilocano dish that you should not miss, it is their crispy Bagnet! This irresistible deep fried crispy pork belly dish is more like the Ilocano’s version of Lechon Kawali but is notable for its extra crispiness which is almost as crispy as Chicharon. Bagnet is the most common dish you can find in any of the restaurant’s menu but if you hit the Vigan’s public market, you can see a pile of these freshly cooked Bagnet which are being sold per kilo. The price range per kilo is around 500Php
Photo: Philippine Canadian Inquirer
Ilocos Norte is currently being dubbed as the Garlic capital of the Philippines. Ilocos Norte alone is considered as the top most producer of garlic in the country so it is not really surprising to see a lot of these products on their market and they are relatively cheaper too compare to their prices here in the metro! If you are lucky, you can bargain these native goods for Php150 per kilo!
If Baguio is known for their Pili nuts then Ilocos is known for their crunchy and tasty Chichacorn or some of us might refer as the cornick. The term Chichacorn is obviously the combination of the words Chicharon (crispy pork belly) and corn. It is basically a deep fried corn snack that is available in wide variety of flavors such as garlic, cheese and spicy. The price is Php100 for 3 packs. You can also buy smaller packs for Php100/5 pcs (Php20 each).
A uniquely Ilocano delicacy ~ Balikutsa/ Balicutia, a melt-in-your-mouth candy made from cooked, molten, and sticky sugarcane molasses. Balikutsya is not really new to me, this sweet candy has become a part of my childhood but I have no idea that it is originated from Ilocos. The one I grew up with are those stick-like candy that are shaped like logs (check Pinoy Candies from 80s and 90s that are still Available today) while the authentic balikutsya of Ilocos are curled. If you’ve been to Baguio’s Cafe by the Ruins, you should know that this popular Ilocano candy is always being paired with their signature coffees. The price for Balicutia goes around Php100/ 3 packs.
If you are talking about the best longanisa in the Philippines, I only have two places in mind. It is either the longanisa in Lucban or the one in Vigan! Considering that Ilocos is known for their garlic, Vigan Longanisa is getting its rich and aromatic flavor from the generous amount of garlic along with other equally tasteful ingredients! Best paired with rice, this popular Ilocano dish is definitely a must try in Ilocos! The price range goes around Php100-Php150 per kilo!
Speaking of Longanisa, you should definitely not miss the famous Vigan Empanada! Known for its distinct orange color, the Vigan empanada is a pastry dish made from rice dough that is filled with various ingredients like vigan longanisa, shredded papaya, and a freshly cracked egg. You can actually watch how this pastry is being prepared and cooked and it is often served hot and crispy. We spotted a lot of stores in Vigan near the cathedral (Check Vigan Cathedral) and also outside the Paoay Church (Check Paoay Church). The price will vary from Php35 to 50. This is best matched with Sukang Ilocos
Sukang Ilocos is not just a popular condiment in the region. It is an export-quality product and is becoming popular in countries like Guam and Hawaii because of its distinctive taste. Sukang Ilocos is a vinegar made from made from sugar cane juice. It is often sold in recycled bottles with an overwhelming amount spices like chili (siling labuyo) and garlic. The price will vary depending on the size of its container ranging from Php50 to Php100.
Another export quality product of the North ~ the Sugarcane wine of Ilocos which is more popularly known as the Basi. The production of Basi can be traced since the Spanish period. It is produced by first crushing sugarcane and extracting the juice. The juice is boiled in vats and then stored in earthen jars. Once the juice has cooled, flavorings made of ground glutinous rice and duhat bark or other fruits or barks is added. The jars are then sealed with banana leaves and allowed to ferment for several years. A bottle of Basi may range from Php100 and above depending on the production quality and how it is being manufactured! Branded Basi are more expensive.
Ilocos region is also known for their rich pottery industry. Known as Burnay Jars, this native earthware are much sought-after by both foreign and local visitors. Some visitors may even try making their own clay pot and jars too. If you are looking for a very unique souvenir from the region, these cute and high-quality jars are absolutely perfect. The price of each jar will vary depending on the size. It starts from around Php50 to Php300.
Baskets and Handicrafts
Photo: Alvin Jason Flickr
Another great pasalubong from Ilocos are their wonderful handwoven baskets and other handicrafts that are usually made from buri palm leaves. Specifically in San Juan, Ilocos Sur which is now being dubbed as the Buri Capital of the Phillippines, you can find wide range of amazing handicrafts which only shows how creative the Ilocanos are. You can spot some of their products in Vigan including their colorful mats, baskets, bags, wallets and bayong!
The cobblestone street of Calle Crisologo in Vigan is not the only thing that will put you in awe. You can also spot an overwhelming amount of shops selling wide range of antiques. Lucy’s Antique shop alone caters a bunch of interesting items like old saint replicas, chinaware, paintings and a whole lot more that collectors and antique enthusiasts will surely appreciate. Just make sure you have a vehicle that is huge enough to transport these antiques back to your place!
Bangui Windmill Souvenirs
If you happen to pass by the famous Bangui Windmills, make sure to buy some of their cute mini windmill replicas. : It reminds me of those cute replicas in Pillila Windfarm in Tanay (Check : Pillila Windfarm). These cute souvenirs come in different sizes. Some are in form of keychains while others are made for display purposes. The price starts at Php50 to Php300. Also, don’t forget to include keychains and I Love Ilocos shirts on your list too!