Ilocos Quick Tour, Part 3: Aurora Park, Tobacco Monopoly Monument, City Hall in Laoag
Sorry if it took some time for me to get back to blogging. I’ve been swamped with deadlines in the office and though I am itching to complete my Laoag and Vigan posts, my boss always gets in the way of my writing 🙂 🙂 But now that my boss has left for his 2-week business trip and though he has left me with stacks of documents to work on, at least, this time I might be able to have time to write. I won’t be too tired to write when I go home.
Anyway, here it is – the long overdue Part 3…
I am very nationalistic but not really Philippine history-savvy so when I decided to walk from the Sinking Bell Tower to explore the place, I ended up at Aurora Park. It’s a 5-minute walk from the tower.
Aurora Park is located south of the Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol and at the center is where the statue of the maiden Pamulinawen is strategically placed atop the fountain.
Tobacco Monopoly Monument
Originally, I planned to take a rest in the little “bahay-kubo” that stands erect in the park. It was, after all, almost mid-day. While in the bahay-kubo, my attention was caught by a monument. I thought it was nothing significant, just one of those traditional landmarks. Little did I know, it was the Tobacco Monopoly monument. The only one of its kind in the country, a slender tall but graceful monument.
The plate on the monument reads that it was erected by the people in 1882 as an expression of joy and gratitude over the abolition of the tobacco monopoly.
Recall that the monopoly existed from 1781-1881, a total of exactly 100 years. History books say that it was a dark era for all of Ilocos. The locals were not only coerced to plant nothing but tobacco, they were also forced to sell the tobacco leaves only to no one else but the Spanish government.
So, when then Governor Fernando Primo de Rivera issued a royal decree on June 25, 1881, calling for the abolition of the monopoly, the people of Ilocos rejoiced thus, the Tobacco Monopoly monument.
The monument is a landmark located at the foot of the Marcos Bridge, thus, when coming from the south, it’s the first historical attraction you will see. Interestingly, to this day, tobacco remains a major cash crop in the province.
Laoag City Hall
On the left of the Marcos Bridge is a vintage Spanish colonial structure. Seeing it from the monument, I thought it was a Starbucks branch.
According to Ilocos Times, the city hall was impressively restored under the administration of Hon. Mayor, Atty. Rodolfo C. Fariñas.
Marcos Hall of Justice
This building was once the detention center of former President Ferdinand Marcos. He was accused of killing the political opponent (Nalundasan) of his father, the late Cong. Mariano Marcos. He was a Law graduate of UP Diliman then, but due to his imprisonment, he was not able to attend formal review for the upcoming bar exam. Instead, he had a self-study inside his prison cell. He was allowed to take the bar exam and successfully topped it (ranked No. 1).
As a lawyer, during the court hearing, he was permitted to represent and defend himself of the charged against him.Finally, he won the case, acquitted and released from jail. This was the start of the brilliant political career of Ferdinand Marcos that leads him to power all the way to Malacanang and became the best (in my opinion) President of the Republic of the Philippines ever had.
Now, the Marcos Hall of Justice houses the different Regional Trial Courts of the Department of Justice.
Ilocos Norte Capitol
Very near these places is the Ilocos Norte Capitol. Obviously, this is where the Governor, the Vice-Governor, and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members hold office.