Often overshadowed by neighboring Laoag and Pagudpod, the sleepy town of Sarrat has slowly been coming to life with a steady influx of visitors – both local and foreign, alike.
With several historical sites to visit, local delicacies to bite into, and the annual Binakol Festival to attend – Sarrat is definitely one of Ilocos Norte’s underrated tourist spots. If and when you make the trip, here are the top 5 things to do in Sarrat:
- Bite into local delicacies
- Explore historical sites
- Watch the sunset by the lake
- Support the locals and buy Binakol products
- Relax and unwind at Sarrat’s hidden gem
When exploring a new place, one of the best ways to immerse yourself is to eat as the locals do! Some of the local favorites are easily found being cooked and sold roadside or at some of the stores. Take a bite into “Tupig” which is basically a glutinous rice cake wrapped in banana leaves. It comes with melted butter and is garnished with grated coconut and sesame seeds.
Another glutinous rice cake treat you should try is “Patupat” which is made with coconut milk, sugar and a sprinkle of salt. Don’t miss out on their “Sapin-sapin” which is again a glutinous rice cake with coconut milk but with several layers. Each layer has a different color and flavor, making it a delicious symphony in your mouth.
Step into Sta. Monica Church which is best known as the largest church in Ilocos Norte. Built in 1779, the church was originally known as San Miguel Church in remembrance of the first Augustinian missionaries that arrived in Sarrat. Connected by a stairway to the church is a former convent, also known as Casa del Palacio Real.
Just a few steps away is the Rit-ritemon Kayong Uprising Monument that commemorates the locals’ heroic resistance and attack on an American garrison in Laoag. It is a testament to the nationalism and love for freedom and country that the Sarrateños displayed.
Head over to the Marcos Museum which is actually the house where former President Ferdinand E. Marcos was born in 1917. The 2-storey bahay na bato turned museum is open daily except Sundays, 8 am to 12nn and 2 pm to 5 pm.
Other noteworthy sites to visit include Sarrat’s New Presidencia (Municipal Hall) and Sarrat Central School which used to be the Real of Ilocos Norte during the Spanish colonial period.
Whether you’re enjoying the view of the lake from in front of Sta. Monica Church or from the infinity pool at Rivermount Hotel and Resort – it’s best to do it just before the sun sets. Gather your friends and family and watch as the sun goes down, painting the sky beautiful hues or red, orange and yellow.
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Binakol is a textile that is found originally in Sarrat. It can be woven into an array of products such as bags, coin purses, leis and the most popular product, blankets. The dizzying, playful and colorful patterns can be attributed to the belief that they would be confusing and dizzying enough to ward off evil spirits they preyed on sleeping people.
Binakol weaving has long been considered a dying industry as younger generations have grown further and further away from the practice. In an attempt to maintain the industry, Sarrat holds an annual Binakol Festival meant to promote Binakol weaving and to showcase the handicrafts.
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Tucked away in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte is the 4-star Rivermount Hotel and Resort. Nestled among trees and overlooking Padsan River, the property boasts of 48 rooms perfect for couples, families and big barkadas. Guests can feast on local dishes in the hotel’s restaurants or at one of the cabanas that make watching the sunset over Padsan River a treat.
They can also drink and sing to their heart’s content at Ram’s Tavern. Or take a dip in the infinity pool that comes with a stunning view. No matter what guests choose to do, they’re sure to enjoy themselves as they relax and unwind at this hidden gem.
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