24 Sep2007


I only had 10 minutes to run through one or two stories of a cramped and almost claustrophoic Laoag city market. It wasn’t even clear if this was the main market, but it was a relatively large one near the center of town, also on Rizal Street, I think. I managed to hurry through one of the most amazing dried fish and shrimp sections I have ever seen, smaller than the Tabuan dried fish market in Cebu, but the variety of goods on offer in Vigan was nevertheless quite impressive. I would have loved to stop and chat and ask vendors precisely what several of the bilaos or sacks contained, but the self-imposed timer was ticking. Besides, I couldn’t buy any of the dried fish or other goods as we were still heading up to the Northernmost tip of Luzon, rather than sprinting back home to Manila.


Around the corner from the dried fish, the Laoag market had a wickedly “fat-laden” bagnet (double deep fried pork belly) and longganisa (pork sausages with vinegar and garlic) section… At least 300 kilos or more of bagnet was on display from several vendors who were hawking their special seasoning (timpla) or style, as the best Ilocos had to offer. At PHP300 a kilo, I thought the bagnet was quite reasonably priced, considering that pork costs nearly half as much in the grocery and the process of making bagnet really reduces its selling weight. The aroma of fried pork was truly and utterly heady. Stick your head into a glass case filled with bagnet and I swear you could feel calories being inhaled into your system.


Longannisa in the Laoag market appeared bigger and plumper than examples that I saw in Vigan, but that may just be a personal observation. I am not certain if Laoag longganisa are meant to physically appear any different from their Vigan cousins. Some vendors were selling wickedly red looking sausages, clearly colored with artifical food coloring, as opposed to a more orange tinge of achuete or other natural colorings. At any rate, I came, I saw, I inhaled and I left…



  1. palengkera says:

    MM, did you visit the lighthouse in Cape Bojeador? Mang Ben (Labuguen), the old housekeeper entertained us with his story about war and ghosts when we were there. He even offered to cook us his version of pinakbet but we were on our way to catch the next bus (or any bus) headed towards the patapat. I would have enjoyed the visit more if it wasn’t also for the self-imposed timer.

    Sep 24, 2007 | 3:47 pm


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  3. palengkera says:

    By the way, I have also been to that market place. If my memories serve me right, the Tobacco leaves are sold on the 3rd level. I don’t smoke but after eating supercalorific delights like Bagnet and Longganisa parang masarap manabako to get rid of the umay.

    Sep 24, 2007 | 3:50 pm

  4. joey says:

    Whoa! Those slabs of bagnet look absolutely lovely to my eyes :) And I’m sure I would have loved the smell too ;)

    Sep 24, 2007 | 7:30 pm

  5. elaine says:

    That was a lot of bagnet and indeed very very tempting! But I wouldn’t refuse the longganisa and I’m sure I would have gotten a few kilos, they’re simply irristble and love them a whole lot better than the usual Vigan longganisa..

    Sep 24, 2007 | 8:10 pm

  6. Apicio says:

    Ummm those look like what mother warned me about, to eat all the good things while young because they all turn bad for your when you’re old. The assorted dried fish though are not so bad and the dried dilis just delicious as long as you live in a tolerant neighborhood.

    Sep 24, 2007 | 10:25 pm

  7. eej says:

    MM’s post on Ilocandia has made me add Laoag a must visit place on my list. My itinerary for PI in August ’08 is growing. Gosh, at this rate, I don’t think 3 weeks is enough!

    Sep 25, 2007 | 12:46 am

  8. brownedgnat says:

    Vigan is a nice escape from the frenzy of city life. I’ve been to Vigan three times and the allure has yet to wear off. Cape Bojeador was the highlight of my trip. A place that I truly took pleasure in visiting. I was beguiled with stories from the older gentleman who cared for the lighthouse. As we bid goodbye headed to Pagudpod, he handed me a piece of paper with the poem he wrote paying homage to the lighthouse. Vigan is definitely on my agenda when I visit PI next year.

    Sep 25, 2007 | 7:21 am

  9. wil-b cariaga says:

    in my experience i find more produce in Laoag market than in Vigan. . .

    Sep 25, 2007 | 8:15 am

  10. danney says:

    Those bagnet are yummy!! I like the fat juicy longganisas like garlic and hamonado in our local market. Most of the time I find longganisa from the north to be hard, chewy and taste old. Is it old meat or overly mature slaughtered pigs or wild pigs? Though I like wild pig tapas!!

    Sep 25, 2007 | 10:38 am

  11. allen says:

    You should have brought cooked rice with you, with the smell of the bagnet for viand. You’d have a 100% fat & sodium free meal, with less calories too!:) What I hate about fried pork 9or any fried food for that matter) is that the smell sticks to your hair & clothes :(

    Sep 25, 2007 | 12:01 pm

  12. Marisa says:

    1. Did you see longganisa that don’t have segments? Its long straight and blackish, from the sukang iloko I think. Like a black snake, thats the longganisa that comes from laoag that I remember. We coil it around a frying pan covered with water let it boil till it dries up and let it fry in it its own oil. Then cut it up, surprisingly its easy to cut after crunchy and YUMMY!!! It tastes like vigan longganisa to none ilocano’s but somehow a lot different…

    2. Did you notice that what they call “bagnet”, is called “chicharon” in Laoag (actually with their accent it sounds more like chichiron.. hahaha)?

    I miss these things… wish the old days were back.. when people from the province would visit and always arrive with boxes and/or bayongs of native vegetables ( as in the mini eggplants, tomatoes, sitaw, okra etc. which are really cute it looked like toys…)and the longganisa, chicharons and ooh the live chickens…lol

    Sep 25, 2007 | 11:47 pm

  13. sonny sj says:

    To eej,

    August is usually typhoon month, you may not enjoy a trip up north during this time of the year.

    Sep 26, 2007 | 5:51 pm

  14. Maria Clara says:

    Bagnet looks divine.

    Sep 27, 2007 | 12:54 am

  15. eej says:

    Thanks for the heads up sonny sj… With the wonderful market photos and bagnet stories, I may brave the typhoon to experience all these things first hand.

    Sep 27, 2007 | 7:52 am

  16. ellafitz says:

    next time youre in the area i suggest you also check out san nicolas market. about 3 mins drive from central laoag, just ask which corner to turn from the bridge leading to laoag city. its more manageable to browse there

    Sep 28, 2007 | 1:39 pm

  17. katrina says:

    san nicolas market has the best bagnets (chicharon’s) in Ilocos Norte. A little less cheaper too, i believe.

    Oct 26, 2007 | 12:06 pm

  18. marya says:

    you should try batac’s longganisa, miki and empanada too!

    Nov 6, 2007 | 9:27 am

  19. Myvel says:

    Try using the bagnet with pinakbet or diningding, it’s really good!!! Boil water with bagoong isda and kamatis then add the vegetables, lastly add the bagnet (chopped). There, quick and easy.

    Nov 14, 2007 | 3:40 pm

  20. isabel says:

    I was in Manila recently with some Canadian friends and my mom bought us some Vigan longganisa — yummy of course, my friends all enjoyed it and and they were impressed that something so yummy could be vegetarian … huh? They thought my mom said it was VEGAN longganisa! That was a pretty good laugh!

    Nov 28, 2007 | 7:27 am

  21. Raquel Cruz Vertucio says:

    I love the recipes I find here. I have plenty of ampalaya to cook given to me by my friends here in Bristol, PA, and pinakbet is healthy dish. I am also making Ampalaya Salad.

    Sep 2, 2009 | 10:19 pm


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