Ilocanos and Philippine Politics
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.
They are the first ethnic group in the Philippines to fight the Spanish officials and seek for democracy. Most of the noteworthy Philippine revolutions could be found in this region such as the Dingras Revolt and Cagayan Revolt (Revolts Against the Tribute 1589), Igorot revolt in 1601, Almazan Revolt in 1661, and Ambaristo Revolt (1807). The most famous is Diego Silang (1730-1763) who was a revolutionary leader who conspired with the British forces to overthrow the Spanish rule.
The Ilocanos have always been prominent in the nationalist movement. This ethnicity has produced quite handful of personalities, icons and politicians who made significant contributions to Philippine history.
They have taken a few seats in the high office of the central government including the senatorial and presidential seats. Two of the 15 Philippine presidents were full blood Ilocanos, naming Elpidio Quirino and, the famous and most controversial, Ferdinand Marcos. Latest former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is part Ilocano as well (her maternal grandfather, Juan Macaraeg, was from Bacarra, Ilocos Norte).
Ilocanos are also active participants in social organizations. Their women are very passionate members of feminist movements. Several notable women who fought for Women’s rights are of Ilocano decent. Example of this is Josefa Illanes Escoda, founder of the Girls Scouts of the Philippines, is from Dingras, Ilocos Norte.
The rough geographical location of the Ilocos region, which is situated in the northwestern tip of Luzon in between Cordillera Mountain Ranges and the South China Sea, has molded its people to be industrious, thrifty and painstaking. The harsh environment of the north has molded the Ilocanos to be “survivors”. This has inspired most Ilocanos to cherish every opportunity that comes in their way.
In the 19th century, the Ilocanos migrated en masse to different parts of the country in search for greener pastures particularly in Cagayan Valley, Central Plain of Luzon, and in Manila. In 1906, huge percentage of the Ilocano population has moved to United States particularly in Hawaii, California and Washington.
To date, the Ilocanos continue to make a mark in politics not only in the Philippines but also in other countries.