Bacarra, an idyllic town along the coast of Ilocos Norte, rewards the curious adventurer with a wealth of natural and historic treasures. Its rustic streets, wooden houses and imposing church structures from the Spanish era offer a glimpse into the distant past as Bacarra holds claim to being the third oldest town in Ilocos Norte. A charming locale surrounded by the endless sea, lush fields, and extensive river channels, Bacarra is a town blessed with the bounty of nature.
If local lore is to be believed, an Igorot by the name of Bacsalandoc was the town’s first inhabitant and first leader. Eventually, the town proper was established by Augustinians in September 1590 headed by Fr. Benito Mena.
St. Andrew Parish, also called the Bacarra Church, is believed to have been built in the 16th century and it lies at the heart of the town. The church is unique in that it was made entirely through manual labor using distinctly local materials like coral bricks and lime. Its facade had originally been Baroque in terms of architecture. The church had been damaged by several earthquakes but it was rebuilt around the 19th century.
Another fascinating aspect of the church is its bell tower, the Torre Ti Bacarra. Built in 1828, it was 50 meters high, 16 meters in diameter at the base and slowly narrows towards the peak. Its top is adorned by an ornate brass bell. The townspeople have affectionately considered the tower their most precious heritage. An earthquake in 1931 damaged it and made it lean on its side.
The people there have since called it the Bowing Bell Tower of Bacarra, while visitors call it the Leaning Tower of the North. After another earthquake in 1983, the tower collapsed, leaving only the flattened top. It has since been named a national cultural treasure.
During the month of November, the town celebrates the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle. The Bacarreños feel an affinity for the Patron Saint of Fishermen, as fishing is an important livelihood and way of life here. Since 2005, the townspeople have celebrated the Bac-Bacarra Festival, named after the freshwater fish once found in the surrounding waters. It is also from that fish that the name of the town was derived. The Bac-Bacarra is a celebration of the town’s culture and history, as well as a form of gratitude for the year’s bountiful fish harvest. The festivities culminate with street dancing by youths in blue and yellow fish net costumes, reflecting the colorful, vibrant heritage of the people.
Other interesting attractions in the town of Bacarra include:
- Lazo Ancestral Home
- Ruins of Vijia Watchtower
- Municipal Park
- Libtong-Teppang Irrigation Tunnel
Should you decide to stay in the province for several days, you’ll definitely find great lodging at the nearest hotels in Pagupud. Other prominent hotels in Ilocos Norte include:
Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel
Brgy. 37 Calayab, Laoag (Ilocos Norte), Ilocos Region, Philippines
National Highway, Brgy. 22, 2901 San Nicholas, Laoag (Ilocos Norte), Ilocos Region, Philippines
Laoag (Ilocos Norte) 55B Salet Gen. Segundo Avenue, Laoag City, Laoag (Ilocos Norte), Ilocos Region, Philippines
Pannzian Beach Mountain and Resort
Barangay Pancian, Pagudpud (Ilocos Norte), Ilocos Region, Philippines
Plaza Del Norte Hotel and Convention Center
15 Suba, Paoay, Laoag (Ilocos Norte), Ilocos Region, Philippines
How to Get There
Distances (Bacarra to:)
Manila: 494 kms. (Maria de Leon Transit)
Laoag City: 8 kms.
Pasuquin: 10 kms.
Vintar: 4 kms.