The original early settlers of Ilocos were the Dumagats, a kind of Negrito tribe, and Tinguians (of malay ancestry). These inhabitants were pushed to the interior by the rush of new immigrants in the succeeding eras. The term Ilocos came from the settlement of migrants who lived in the coves, or locos, along the shore of the land and were thus called Y-locos.
In the 18th century, Ilocanos proved their leniency from other towns by accepting the transfer of Northern Luzon diocese, Nueva Segovia, from Lal-loc Cagayan to Vigan.
When the Spanish discovered the high potential of soil and climate of Ilocos for cultivating tobacco, they introduced tobacco culture and banned all farmers from growing other crops. They even monopolized the selling of tobacco to government alone. This unfair agreement resulted to severe problems for the locals, who reasonably resisted and disobeyed the law in any ways they could. In 1881, King Alphonso XII annulled the tobacco monopoly to cut off the thriving rebellion.
This event is now commemorated through the presence of Tobacco Monopoly Monument beyond the bridge over the Laoag River, inside the plaza fronting the provincial capitol building. It was erected to gratify the King of Spain for recognizing the local’s struggle against tobacco monopoly.
History of Vigan
Juan de Salcedo, grandson of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, settled in Vigan in 1572 and renamed the area Villa Fernandina after his King’s son. He built Vigan patterned after his grandfather’s construction of Intramuros. In 1755, the seat of Nueva Segovia, the diocese of northern Luzon that was first established in Cagayan, was moved to Vigan. The cathedral was built in 1790 and 1800 and stood out among Vigan’s beautiful sights. Since then, the city was developed by the Chinese merchants and artisans who inherited the next aristocracy.
Intramuros of Manila suffered serious damage from successive forces of war including WWII but the Mestizo District of Vigan remained unharmed. Due to inevitable waves of change, commerce moved down to lower districts of Luzon leaving Vigan a sight of unforgettable events in the past.
Vigan witnessed several revolts of Filipinos against the Spaniards. One of them was Diego Silang, who overtly raised a violent battle against the invaders. After his death, his wife continued the battle but similarly then captured and executed.
Vigan as well is the native home of Padre Burgos, one of three Filipino priests who were executed by the Spaniards to warn the natives of putting up more revolts against them. His house is now recognized as a prestigious museum containing articles used by the Tinguians (the tribe once inhabited the district), details of the arrivals of the Spaniards, and the Filipinos’ difficult life at the time of their occupation.