Gov. Marcos steps up drive to develop cultural heritage as Ilocos Norte gears for bicentennial anniversary

LAOAG CITY — In preparation for Ilocos Norte’s 200th founding anniversary, Governor Ma. Imelda Josefa Marcos is accelerating the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN)’s drive towards developing and promoting its cultural heritage as a catalyst of growth and opportunity.

Established under Provincial Ordinance No. 041-2015 by the ninth Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Ilocos Norte’s cultural policy is founded on Republic Act No. 10066 or the National Heritage Act of 2009 which encourages local government units (LGUs) to incorporate programs and budgets for the protection and conservation of cultural properties whether through environmental, educational, or cultural activities.

The policy implements nine strategies, including the establishment of new art venues; strengthening of institutions involved in the study and research of the Ilocano heritage; provision of training for artists and a cultural workforce; investment in cultural entrepreneurs and producers; and promotion of the province’s cultural sites, products, and events.

Ilocos Norte had already begun the said establishment and promotion of cultural treasures in 2014. To revive the trades such as carpentry, wood-carving, and handloom weaving, the first conservation school in the country was launched in the Paoay Campus of Mariano Marcos State University━College of Industrial Technology (MMSU-CIT): the Paoay School for Craftsmen.

It was also under Governor Marcos’ leadership that Ilocos Norte began spearheading large-scale cultural-tourism events like the Himala sa Buhangin! Arts and Music Festival on the Ilocos desert and the Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals, known as the grandest display of festival culture in Northern Luzon.

“All too often, we take our immense heritage for granted. We must urgently put in place a cultural strategy not merely to protect heritage sites and museums, but to promote art galleries and spaces, endow schools of architecture, design, literature, gastronomy, and renew vanishing indigenous cultures,” Marcos had said in her 2014 State of the Province Address.

She added, “In Ilocos Norte, culture sells, and for many among us today, heritage is our living.”

Aside from events showcasing Ilocano talents, PGIN continued accelerating its cultural-tourism campaign through the opening of new museums such as the Ilocano-Cordilleran Taoid Museum in Laoag City and the “rice farmer’s house” attraction known as the Balay Dingras.

The provincial government also heavily supports the House of Inabel opened earlier this month in Pinili, which serves to display loom-woven products, widen its market, and educate young Ilocanos on the craft as a cultural heritage.

“As we grow, we must maintain the social networks and compassion that are traditionally Ilocano. And while we embrace technology and all its devices, we will honor our culture, heritage and the values that define us as a people,” the governor stressed.