LAOAG CITY, July 17 (PIA) — Ilocos Norte has finally established a one-stop lifestyle and shopping center at the heart of the province, serving a daily taste of magnificent Ilocano history and culture.
Located beside the Ilocos Norte Museum, the La Tabacalera is a haven, enticing more tourists to visit the province by offering an unforgettable Ilocano experience with scenery and architecture incomparable to some international destinations.
La Tabacalera, which means ‘the tobacco,’ is an apt name as the Museo Ilocos Norte beside it was originally designed as the administrative center of the tobacco monopoly in Ilocos Norte during the Spanish regime in the Philippines.
It is also in contrast with the museum, which is an old structure made of brick, wood and iron. The non-resemblance of the two sparks curiosity among travelers and visitors but adds to their eagerness to take a tour inside the center.
Amid its tiny space, the La Tabacalera managed to bring out the best of Ilocos with a handful stands, food centers, bookstores and local cafes’ offering gastronomic goodness and fine Ilocano architecture.
The famous Ilocano painter Juan Luna, known for the painting “Spoliarium,” is the inspiration for the Johnny Moon Café’ located inside the center, a fusion restaurant serving traditional Ilocano favorites in western flair.
For only P100-P200 per person, visitors can have a taste of the famous Ilocano cuisines like dragon fruit rolls, chicharon flakes, crispy dinuguan with ensalada, tupig con tsokolate, bagnet sandwich, Laureana’s pasta verde, and poque-poque lasagna.
The interior of the café is decorated with colorful pop art murals inspired from old paintings and displays of a man sporting a handle bar mustache.
Johnny Moon is the English translation of Juan Luna where the concept of the said restaurant was acquired.
On the second level of ‘La Tabacalera’ is Samtoy Books, the first bookstore in Ilocos that features Ilocano classics and fascinating literature from local born talents.
Book enthusiasts get to purchase limited editions of history and political books. The bookstore also offers film viewing of classic movies every Saturday nights.
Lacasa Ilokano, a shopping center, is also a stand-out collection inside the center.
A mix of accessories and crafts for pasalubong can be found here like Ilocos Norte branded clothing, mugs, fashion accessories, and the Imelda Marcos’ wardrobe and accessory collections.
Other shops in La Tabacalera include Cheesecake, etc., Gerry’s Grill, Export Queen, Karimadon, Wade Shoes, Jelly Bean, and Folded and Hung.
The La Tabacalera added a cosmopolitan flavor to the province but not so much to overpower its natural charms.
La Tabacalera continues to draw not only local and domestic tourists but also, backpackers and travel bloggers, spreading the scenic and cultural wealth of Ilocos Norte. (ANL/CDG-PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)