Sarrat, Ilocos Norte is popular for two reasons. One, it's the birthplace of President Ferdinand Marcos and two, the Parish Church of Sta. Monica is found here.
Parish Church, Sta. Monica
If there is one landmark that is frequented by most faithful in Sarrat, it is the Cathedral of Sta. Monica. The church was constructed in the Baroque and Neoclassical styles. It has buttressed walls, 3-level Brick Bridge and staircase that connect the church to the convent. It was the last Spanish church built in Ilocos Norte and considered as the largest church in the whole region. Its bell tower which was severely damaged during the earthquake is now fully restored.
The church has a 137-meter nave which is the longest in the country. This is acknowledged by the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Encyclopedia of Philippine Art.
The church once had a clock on the dome installed by Father Jose Ruiz. The convent, known as the Casa Del Palacio Real, served as the presidencia municipal and the seat of the church's civil government.
During the Spanish era, it was believed to be used as a trial or court building. Construction of the church, convent and bell tower began in 1669 and was completed in 1679. It was damaged by a fire in 1817 and again in 1882; rebuilding after the second fire was finished in 1896.
While the church edifice was constructed by the Augustinians in 1779, the Sta. Monica Parish Museum was established in 1993 supervised by its parish priest for the bishop of Laoag. It was finished in 1997 care of the Kannawidan Foundation, Inc. - The Iloko Foundation for Arts and Culture to its present state. This organization advocates the preservation of the cultural and historical heritage of Ilokanos.
The church was used as the venue for the wedding of Irene Marcos, daughter of Ferdinand Marcos in June 1983 to Gregorio Arenta.
How to get there
The church is found in the town of Sarrat, known for being the hometown of former president Ferdinand Marcos, and lies about 7 kilometers to the east of Laoag City. The church complex is located in a windswept area overlooking the Pacsan River.
From Manila, you can go to Ilocos Norte by riding a bus bound for Laoag. There are buses that will take you directly to Laoag City like Partas, GV Florida Transport, Dominion Bus Lines, Philippine Rabbit and Fariñas Transit. There is also a direct flight from Manila to Laoag via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines. From the airport, there are available jeepneys that bring the passengers to the city proper.
Accommodations in Laoag are also available. There are lots of inns and hotels throughout the town offering comfortable rooms and cottages at a reasonable price.
• Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel - Brgy. 37 Calayab, Laoag (Ilocos Norte), Ilocos Region, Philippines
• Pamulinawen Hotel - National Highway, Brgy. 22, 2901 San Nicholas, Laoag (Ilocos Norte), Ilocos Region, Philippines
• Plaza Del Norte Hotel and Convention Center- 15 Suba, Paoay, Laoag (Ilocos Norte), Ilocos Region, Philippines
• Grand Octagon Resort - Airport Ave., Brgy.50, Butong, Laoag (Ilocos Norte), Ilocos Region, Philippines
• Java Hotel - 55B Salet Gen. Segundo Avenue, Laoag City, Laoag (Ilocos Norte), Ilocos Region, Philippines