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Sights and Attractions

Museo Ilocos Norte

Museo Ilocos NorteLocated in the downtown area of Laoag City and just close to the provincial capitol and about a block away from the town plaza is the Museo Ilocos Norte. One of the best ways to get to know Ilocano culture is by visiting the museum. The museum is housed in the restored historic Tabacalera warehouse, which was a factory of sorts for tabacco back in the Spanish Era. The museum was primarily designed to bring a sense of pride to the citizens of the province. It showcases the varied ethnicity and multi-faceted cultural heritage of the Ilocano people. It is one of the few attractions in Laoag City which is most visited by school children, visitors, and tourists.

The museum is nicknamed, “Gameng,” from the Iloco word meaning treasure. It symbolizes the wealth of Ilocos Norte. There is an assortment of items displayed on both floors of the two-storey building. Before you exit out of the museum, you will find a small gift shop1 which sells an assortment of native products and handicraft of Ilocos Norte, and a few books and other publications written about the province. The symbol of the museum, a many-rayed sun, was taken from one of the finials at the back of the 19th century church in San Nicolas.

The Gameng Foundation


If there is one important legacy that the Filipinos earned from the Marcoses, it is the renaissance of arts and literature in the country, through the holding of national contests, staging of shows, construction of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Folk Arts Theater and the Film Center. These significant contributions speak of their love of the arts, of culture and heritage preservation, traits which the Marcos children have inherited and are imparting to their fellow Ilocanos until now.

In Ilocos Norte, the Museo Ilocos Norte was built in 1999 to instill a sense of pride among the young Ilocanos and ethnic groups of the province such as the Yapayaos, Itnegs and Igorots, and deepen their feelings of belonging. This is Irene Marcos Araneta‘s pet project. The Museo is nicknamed “Gameng,” an Iloco word meaning “treasure.” Indeed, the museum is a treasure trove of everything that makes the region of Ilocos the “home of the brave and the land of the free.” The Museo Ilocos aims to preserve the wealth and treasures of the Ilocos region that reeks of a glorious history through its multifaceted cultural heritage and a sturdy and industrious people.

The Museum building itself is an art, and is historically significant as the collection of artifacts found inside. This centuries-old building is a restored Tabacalera warehouse, a tabacco factory during the Spanish period. The museum houses artifacts culled from various places all over the province, mostly discoveries by museum staff and some personal collections of kind donors.

Featured Exhibit(s)

  • Philippine Fiestas (May 21, 2010 to August 21, 2010)
  • Panagtali (February 20, 2010 – May 15, 2010)
  • 2005 to 2009 Chronology (November 09, 2009 to January 09, 2010)
  • Alát (September 01, 2009 to November 05, 2009)
  • American Bridges in the Philippines (June 01, 2009 to July 31, 2009)
  • Gabaldon Schools of Ilocos Norte (March 09, 2009 to May 20, 2009)
  • Ani (September 26, 2008 to January 16, 2009)
  • Farola (April 16, 2008 to July 16, 2008)
  • Puentes de España en las Filipinas (February 08, 2008 to April 12, 2008)

For all previous exhibits check it here!


  • Abel Iloco
    On view are samples of clothing and weaves popular until a few generations ago.
  • Ancestral House
    In as much as the people of Ilocos Norte are clannish and traditional, they always come back to the ancestral house.
  • Basket Gallery
    A collection of hand-made baskets.
  • Dap-ayan
    This modest structure is usually found in the barangay. Made from light materials, its cool confines are where barangay officials usually holds their meetings.
  • Farm
    Every farmer in Ilocos Norte is pre-occupied with the innate desire to produce as much of his needs as possible. Despite the poor quality of the soil, the Ilocano farmer manages to wrest a bountiful harvest from the land.
  • Historical Glimpse of Ilocos Norte
    The history of the province from 1572 to 1999 is presented in an outsized book with dates, events and photos.
  • Market
    The market is regarded as a social and economic institution by the people of Ilocos Norte.
  • Musical Instruments
    Bamboo has been the source of many musical instruments in the province: pito (flute), kulkultong (bamboo zither) and (jaws harp), among others. Other traditional instruments are the ludag (log drum) and tangguyob (carabao horn). Western-influenced instruments include the arpa (harp) and tambor (drum).
  • Tabacalera Hall
    For changing exhibits.
  • Teatro
    Everybody loves a show, and a small stage-decked out in provincial style, has been set up for lectures and informal performances for the benefit of small groups. A 15-minute video provides an introduction of Ilocos Norte musical traditions.
  • The Highland
    The highlands of the eastern and southern parts of Ilocos Norte are homes to a number of ethno-linguistic groups.
  • The Highland Cabinet
    Various artifacts.
  • The Land
    Ilocos Norte is a narrow plain bounded by water on the north (the Babuyan Chanel) and the west (the South China Sea) and jammed in by the mountains on the east and south (the Cordillera of the provinces of Cagayan, Apayao, Kalinga, Abra and Ilocos Sur).
  • The Pugon
    Tobacco leaves are flue-cured in a tall structure known as the pugon (from Spanish fogon or fumace).
  • The Sea
    The proximity of the Luzon Sea has challenged the people of Ilocos Norte to plough its coastal waters for whatever food and livelihood opportunities it can yield. Local folks trap and gather fish, snails, clams, octopus, shrimp, seaweeds and other edibles for personal consumption. Salt making and bagoong (fish paste) production are likewise conducted on a commercial scale.
  • Towns
    The towns of Ilocos Norte are beehives of traditional crafts and trades. The making of pots, mats, cloth, blankets, bolos (multi-purpose knives) and basi (sugarcane wine) are important sources of livelihood. In particular, the abel Iloko (hand wooven cloth) has found ready markets both here and abroad.

For more details of these collections check it here!

To help and promote the preservation of their museum, the provincial government, the Gameng Foundation Inc. and benevolent sponsors organize an annual fundraiser called the “Governor’s Ball” which is usually held at the Sierra Madre Ballroom at the Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel. It is also in this event, that Gameng Foundation awards Gameng Lifetime Achievement for Ilocanos who showed exemplary performance in the preservation of culture and arts.

About the Sarusar (Museo Sarusar Shop)

Sarusar (sa-roo-sar) is an Ilocano word for storage place. It is a separate area in the Ilocano home where the daily as well as future provisions of a family are kept.

Here one can find various agricultural products such as rice, mongo, garlic, vinegar, molasses, tobacco and wine (BASI). Ilocanos likewise use this place to store valuable items that bring back pleasant memories, the significance of which are handed down from the one generation to another.

It is in recognition of this Ilocano tradition that they have adopted the name SARUSAR for the center. Fort this, too, will be a repository of the valuable products, skills and expertise of the Ilocano for generation to come.

Museo Sarusar Shop a showcase of the finest products of Ilocos Norte. At the same time making it a well known emporium of a wide selection of the most finely crafted works of art not available anywhere else.

Gameng Learning Center

For Ilocano Traditions is designed to create a study environment for researchers specially students who are interested in the rich Ilocano historical and cultural heritage. The study center has 3 computers, is well-lighted, air-conditioned and furnished with comfortable furniture.

Website: Click here!
Address: Gen. Luna corner Llanes Streets, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte 2900 Philippines

General Information

  • Location: Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
  • Nickname: "Gameng" (English: Treasure)
  • Date Established: 1999
  • Established By: Irene Marcos Araneta
  • About the Building: restored Tabacalera Warehouse
  • Museum Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Tuesdays to Sundays (Closed on Mondays)