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Batac City, Ilocos Norte » Understanding the Final Argument of a Dictator's Town

My Ilocondia getaway seems rather uneventful in the retelling. I know. And it surprises me a little to say that my travel experiences in Ilocos has become a meaningful part of my summer which was rather really short and scorching, maybe because of climate change or maybe because it is naturally hot in Ilocos. I review my Ilocos tour blog posts and realized that they are sprinkled with subtleties – an unconscious way of looking at things and at life. The reason maybe has as much, or more, to do with life context as with the Province of Ilocos. Ilocandia makes me feel old and think old, and I like it.

It’s an odd thing, probably no decent Filipino would think or consider, but upon entering any old town in the Philippines with century old church at its center, I always felt that Filipinos don’t really have a nation as the Spaniards or as the Japanese do. We are just a persecuted minority. That’s what they’ve done to us.
View of Immaculate Conception Church at Batac City Central square
However, upon entering Batac, the quaint town in the province of Ilocos Norte and hometown of many significant figures in the history of the Philippines, the seat of Marcos’ enigma, I realized that the fabric of Filipino society – the culture, rules and laws and customs that we lived by – is reflected in direct proportion to how many revolutions we had and how many uprisings we are still planning. When we pause and stop, that is the only time we will have a nation. When the Filipinos stopped being angry.

Marcos during wartime in the Philippine Army
Pardon me, but this is how Batac City makes me feel. I admit I’m born a little late for the revolution. I’m just a child then in Mindoro, happily playing and jumping at the haystack after the palay harvest oblivious of nuns and freedom fighters chanting Hail Marys against tanks in EDSA.

I don’t know why I feel this compulsion to understand – maybe because the body of the greatest leader for the Ilocanos and a usurper and dictator for the human rights victims lies here.

But wait, before we move on, let me grab one of those famous Ilocos Empanada and a bowl of miki at the Riverside Empanadahan.  [gutom lang siguro to.]
Batac Riverside Empanadahan

The Marcos Museum and Mausoleum

There is something about my Batac experience that I find disturbing. It is the famous preserved body of the late Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos in a refrigerated glass crypt for public viewing – which, to my surprise is actually a wax!
Marcos has a wall dedicated to Marcos' wartime service in the Philippine Army, as a soldier in the defense of Bataan and with American Forces after liberation. There are also photos of him and Imelda, his military awards, his letters, important documents, license plates of his cars, the bust of the president and his work desk at Malacanang.
The Marcos Museum is a large stately tomb supposedly housing Marcos’ embalmed remains, which is contained in a vacuum-sealed glass coffin. It is the first structure seen from the main street and is the one, which follows the lines of a Spanish wood-and-brick house, with solid ground floor walls and an upper storey of wood decorated with floral carvings. The Mausoleum is a cube of adobe blocks and is stepped towards the top of the structure. Its centerpiece is the body of Ferdinand Marcos encased in glass, dressed in a white barong tagalog with a red, white and blue ceremonial sash and polished medals. The dark interior is divided into a square path lining the elevated glass coffin with white capiz flowers and shells underfoot. The dark echoing room is eerily filled with Gregorian chants like summoning Ferdinand to come alive.   

It would be hard to classify me as credulous and uncritical – because I firmly believe that – with the right level of common sense, you can instantly know what you’re looking at. Some insisted it’s the actual body of Ferdinand Marcos, but let’s face it, those who are saying it are blind loyalists. See it for yourself.
Batac World Peace Center and Photo Gallery  
A few blocks away from the Mausoleum is the Marcos Photo Gallery (World Peace Center), a photo archive of the Marcos family which include a collage of news clippings and photos during the Marcos era. 
Gregorio Aglipay Monument and Church
Across the gallery is the Iglesia Filipina Independiente Church, which was founded by Msgr. Gregorio L. Aglipay. Gregorio Aglipay was a former Catholic priest who, due to his support for the Philippine Revolution, was excommunicated and later on founded the Philippine Independent Church aka the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI).

The final argument

The title of this post caused me a lot of trouble. I thought it was brilliant like the treason of the intellectuals theme but unfortunately when I came to write the body to go with it, I found difficulty in making a match – maybe because I am not there at the EDSA revolution. For a while it seemed that my post was leading only to Batac and understanding Marcos and its symbolism but it did give me reason to traipse around Aglipay Shrine, meet peace loving and friendly Batacqueños, have a bite of their famous Empanada, miki and bagnet.

I gathered a fair amount of sense of history on my short stop to Batac City. There is, however no time to go into analysis of the contrasting beliefs of Marcos’ state funeral at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and of the distinct political and religious circumstances and debate surrounding the Marcos-Aquino-EDSA names.

But one thing is for sure, Batac is still a loyalist, forever arguing that no dictator ever lived in the Home of Great Leaders. Visit Batac so you’ll understand.

Batac City Ilocos Norte Quick Facts:
  • Batac is located in the mid southwestern portion of the province of Ilocos Norte.
  • The town was founded by the Augustinians in 1587 under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception.
  • The word "Batac" in a local dialect translates as "pull". More loosely, it refers to "the people's pulling their efforts together."
  • Travel time by motor vehicle at this time is very convenient because of well paved roads and is 15 to 20 minutes to Laoag City and 8 to 9 hours to Metro Manila.
  • On February 2011, the supreme court upheld the cityhood of Batac
  • Major event is the of City Charter Day which highlights the Empanada Festival, a showcase of the famous product- the BATAC EMPANADA held every June 23rd.
»  Official websiteof the City of Batac:
» “Batac” Wikipedia Entry:

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