Heritage Town: Dingras, Ilocos Norte
Founded in 1598, Dingras is one of the oldest towns in Ilocos Norte. In fact, it was the sixth municipalities formed by the Spanish authorities after Batac, San Nicolas, Laoag, Sarrat, and Bacarra. Although it is not the largest town in the province, nevertheless Dingras is the Rice Granary of Ilocos Norte mainly because it has been blessed with fertile fields, vast plains, and substantial water sources.
Probably one of the most ill-fated Catholic churches is the Saint Joseph Church. With a length of 90 feet and a width of 20 feet, the Dingras Church is one of the biggest in the country. It was started as a visita of Batac by the Augustinian Recollects but was later converted into a regular parish and dedicated to Saint Joseph with Father Bartolome Conrado as the first parish priest. Reverted to visita in 1603 and back to parish two years later, the church was destroyed by an earthquake in 1619. After it was rebuilt, Saint Joseph Church was destroyed by fire in 1838 and by lightning in 1853. With the aid of alcalde mayor Camilo Millan, Father Ricardo Deza rebuilt the church from 1879-1893. Destroyed by earthquake and fire in 1913, the church is undergoing extensive reconstruction and restoration. On August 20, 2010, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines under its chairman Dr. Ambeth Ocampo issued its concurrence of the proposed rehabilitation plan of the church.
The Municipality of Dingras has a collection of well-preserved colonial houses with the Puruganan Ancestral House as the most beautiful and most prominent. Built by Don Cirilo Peralta Puruganan and Doña Ynocencia, the house was used as a town hall during the Spanish period and as headquarters by the revolutionaries like Gregorio Puruganan and Gregorio Aglipay during the Filipino-American War. Aglipay was captured by the American authorities in this house in 1899. During the World War II, it served as headquarters by the Japanese Imperial Army, then taken over by the Filipino and American defenders, and finally by the officers of the US 13th Air Force when the war was over. It is now owned by the great grandson Gregorio Rivera Puruganan, a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention.
Along the Doña Josefa Llanes Escoda National Highway is the Filipina Florence Nightingale‘s monument. Built in recognition of her exemplary achievements, the Doña Josefa Llanes Escoda Monument is one of the two tributes built by the grateful people of Dingras.
In front of Dingras Town Hall is the more significant tribute to Doña Josefa Llanes Escoda Museum. Built in a lot donated by the Municipality of Dingras, the Museum was inaugurated on the birth centenary of Josefa Llanes Escoda on September 19, 1998.
Like other towns in the north, Dingras extravagantly made use bricks in construction of houses and other structures. A prime example is one of the municipal cemeteries located along Doña Josefa Llanes Escoda National Highway. The municipal cemetery has a red brick gate and fence.
In summary, the town of Dingras has a solid credential to be considered as a major tourist destination in Ilocos Norte, which can be at par with other heritage towns in the province and the whole of the Ilocos Region.