Even before the Spanish Colonial regime, the Ilocanos are known for their brave warriors and hardworking people. It wasn’t easy for the colonizers to conquer the Ilocano people. The native Ilocano warriors have put up tough battles with the Spaniards for land occupation. Unfortunately, the conquistadors outnumber them. Also, they have more advanced weaponry compared to the natives.
During the mid-19th century, the Ilocanos have migrated in mass numbers out of their historical hometown to search for greener pastures in other regions in the Philippines. Most of these Ilocanos moved to more fertile lands in the Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon (which includes provinces Tarlac, Pangasinan, and Nueva Ecija), and to Metro Manila.
An inside joke among the Filipino community in Hawaii has been passed down from generation to generation. It goes something like this: the “luna” (overseer) in one of the sugar plantations asked a new worker whether he was a Filipino. The worker replies, “No, I’m Ilokano.” Obviously, this joke unmasks the reality of the massive migration of the Ilocanos to Hawaii and to the United States.
The Ilocanos are known for being hardworking, appreciative, simple and determined. However, they are also known as stingy or “kuripot”. Of course, the Ilocanos being called stingy and cheap is just treated as a joke or pun among Filipinos and not as a negative regional stereotype. It is a regional characteristic that their Filipino brethren have grown to understand.
The Ilocanos are the third largest ethnolinguistic group in the Philippines. The term “Ilocano” was derived from the words “i-“ (from) and “looc” (cove or bay), which when combined means “People of the bay”. They were also referred to as Samtoy, which is a contraction of the phrase sao mi ditoy (this is our language).
Six former Philippine presidents were Ilocanos. Elpidio Quirino, the country’s sixth president and the first from the Ilocos region, was a native of Caoayan, Ilocos Sur. Quirino was a lawyer by profession and a representative of his province before assuming the presidency. Ramon F. Magsaysay, the country’s seventh president, was a pure Ilocano from Castillejos, Zambales. Magsaysay, however, was not able to finish his term as he died in a plane crash four years into the presidency. His successor, Carlos P. Garcia, was born in Bohol but has parents who trace their roots to Bangued, Abra. Garcia was most known for being the proponent of the “Filipino First” policy which put a premium on everything Filipino over that of any foreign entity.