Dingras has a total population of 40,127 with 8,252 households. The Locality’s Average Annual Growth rate is 1.03%. Most of the population are engaged in farming as the primary source of income.
The Municipality of Dingras has a total area of 17,962 hectares, ranks 8th in size among the 21 municipalities and 2 cities . It accounts for practically 5.2% of the total land area of Ilocos Norte and corresponding percentage to the municipal area composed of thirty one (31) barangays. Six (6) are on the Poblacion and twenty five (25) in the rural area. Out of the total area 6,305 hectares is devoted to rice and corn production. Other non-productive areas are devoted to livestock production, swine production and other livelihood projects.
The main development thrust of the Municipality of Dingras is to prepare the layer of facilities that will respond to the service requirements of the expected growth in industry and in tourism sector. The Municipality of Dingras was indentified as Growth Center of the eastern town of Ilocos Norte by NEDA. As a Growth Center, the LGU of Dingras envisioned to implement priority that will lead to town’s fullest development potentials as well as its surrounding municipalities.
The twenty five (25) rural barangays are divided into four cluster and most of its barangay roads are gravel or earth filled that are hardly unpassable during rainy seasons. Hence, there is a need to improve these barangay roads to provide an efficient linkage of these barangays to the poblacion where commercial establishment and activities are located. Also, these urban barangays possesses a vast agriculture land which produces considerable agriculture harvest all year round, the project will benefit the farmers in the said barangays in transporting their agricultural products to the market.
Establishment of the Town
One of the early towns of Ilocos Norte which was established by Juan de Salcedo is the Municipality of Dingras. Records of the Augustinian Friars show that Dingras was founded by Salcedo in 1598 in the name of St. Joseph as its Patron Saint before Ilocos Norte was divided into Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur in 1819 by the Royal Cedula of February 2, 1818. Its founding was after the establishment of the towns of Batac founded in 1580, San Nicolas founded in 1854, Laoag in 1585. It was succeeded by Paoay, founded in 1593, and Bacarra founded in 1594. After the founding of Dingras in 1598, the other municipalities of Ilocos Norte were established including Badoc in 1714, Sarrat and Vintar in 1724. Creations of other towns were carved out of Dingras like Piddig in 1775, Banna, Santiago (now Solsona), and Marcos in 1960.
Corollary to this, the ruin, town plaza, Spanish ancestral houses, convents, public market of the town were built in accordance of the encomienda system imposed by the Spanish colony. These edifices are living proofs of the glory of Spain in its early days. Owing to a decree issued by that time, these important edifices were built through forced labor performed by the natives where male Filipinos between the ages of 16-60 render services for forty days every year.
Who Finds Dingras
When Capt. Juan De Salcedo was going north in his expedition, he stopped at Laoag. He found the natives wearing necklace, bracelets and trinkets of gold. He also found gold dust among their articles of trade. This surprised the Captain, so he inquired about the source of their wealth. He was told that some 20 kilometers east of Laoag, there was region where gold was as abundant as the leaves of the tress. The news interest the captain, but history failed to record whether or not Salcedo reached the region. The other people heard the news were to find that there was a little or no truth about the reports. Instead of tracing Salcedo’s steps, they paid their attention to the inviting plains and its rivers.
They cut the big tress and cleared the wide plains, and began to build crude homes and till the soil, planting crops like rice, corn and camote. Soon some intelligent people came to settle. More lands were cleared and much wider areas were cultivated until it became a prosperous settlement.
Origin of its Name
As in other communities, the town of Dingras has an interesting legend as to how its name evolved. The legend, as handed down from generation to generation, was classically romantic, a gallant heir – warrior fighting for a lady’s love.
In the early times, there were two prosperous barangays in the present site of the town each one ruled by a powerful chief or datu. They were bitter and mortal enemies. Naslag was the powerful chief of the barangay north of the river while Allawigan was the chief of the south of the river. One day, Allawigan and his warriors went to hunt. Ras, his son, was the bravest among them. During the hunt, Ras followed the deer, which went north across the river. While he was watching the fleeing deer, he saw a beautiful damsel gathering wild flowers on the opposite side of the riverbank. She was Ding, the daughter of Naslag. To help the lady, Ras gathered the most beautiful flowers near him; put them at the head of his arrow and shoot near the lady’s feet. Ding looked at the other side of the river and waved her hands. Ras went home happily.
Ras begged his father for permission to win Ding for his wife. But because the fathers of Ding and Ras were bitter enemies, the only way he could win her was in the open battle fiercely fought between the two tribes. Ras led his father’s warriors. They fought valiant and came out victorious in the end. Ras asked for Ding as a prize but Naslag refused. This angered him and hurled a challenge to the bravest warrior of Naslag in single combat with Ding as prize. The challenge was accepted. The combat was fought, and again, Ras was victorious. He brought Ding triumphantly to Allawigan, his father. Thereafter, the people named the two barangays Dingras, after Ras, their valiant warrior ruler, and Ding, his beautiful wife.
It is said that the first people of the place were of Indonesian origin. Later, the civilized Malays occupied the northern sides of the river and moved southward to occupy Naguillan which called Bagut. As settlers increased in number, they moved eastward to occupy the barangay now known as Cacafean and Matantanobog.
About the end of the 18th century, these ethnic groups were raided by the Christian from the lowlands. Among their brave warriors were, Onze, Angin, Langao Dugguing. These leaders lead their warriors in many furious battles, however, they where defeated because of their inferiority, both in numbers and in numbers. Thus, more immigrants occupied the lowlands and the ethnic people retreated to the mountains where their descendants can be located up to now.
The last group to occupy the area were civilized Malays who drove away the Indonesians. The latest immigrants were from Sarrat, Piddig, San Nicolas; others came from Ilocos Sur, Abra and La Union.
Historical Edifices: A Part of the Town’s Establishment
The encomienda system is the form of government commissioned by the Spanish Governor General throughout the foundation of the early established municipalities by Spanish colonizers. This system began in Spain. Originally, encomiendas were assigned to religious orders, charitable groups and Spaniards. The assignment of the grant carried the right to collect tribute from the natives living within the boundaries of the grant. Spaniards were assigned land grants as a reward for their services rendered to the crown. The appointed encomenderos in obedience to the order must have to order it.
Along the encomendero system, construction of churches within the town must built at the center of the community. Near it a plaza was laid out. Surroundings the public square were stone houses of the Spanish residents and the principalia. All the natives were also prevailed to built their houses not far from church.
Farming: A Way of Life
The principal occupation of the people ever since the early settlement of the town is agriculture. There are wide, fertile and flood plains drained by the Padsan River and its tributaries. Irrigation system is extensive. The principal food crop of the people is rice. Tobacco is also one of the important farm products of the people.
Commerce, Trade & Industry
Trading in this town received its encouragement in 1885. The Governor set aside one week for market day and the trading center is the Padsan Valley. A modern sanitary market was constructed in 1952.
Vegetable farming and stock raising were among the most important industries of Dingras because of the wide grassy lands for pasturing areas.
The town experience different seasons, the wet and the dry seasons. The very long dry seasons starts from November and last up to April, while the wet or rainy seasons starts from May up to November.
Disecting the town into its northern and southern parts is the Padsan River which flows from the Condillera in the east and moves towards La Paz, Laoag City in the northwest. The river teems with the fresh water fishes and oysters which provide a good source of livelihood for the people.
Potential Investment Areas
The municipality of Dingras, basically an agricultural town has an irrigated area of 5,135 hectares; rainfed lowland, 828 hectares; upland, 260 hectares, highland or hillside, 915 hectares; and fishpond and creek areas, 32.82 hectares.
The commercial center/business area of the municipality is located at the urban area of the town where several wholesale, retail, stores and shops are also accessible by the public for basic commodities and services.
BELIEFS, CUSTOMS, AND PRACTICES
In Dingras, there are elaborated network of beliefs and practices through which he deals with the world around him. These beliefs and practices guide the Dingrenios in going through the different stages of life.
Pregnancy and Childbirth
Dingrenios consider every child “sagut ni Apo Dios” (a God-given gift); hence every child is nurtured with love and adoration. There are a number of beliefs, rites, and taboos intended to protect the child and mother before and after delivery.
A pregnant woman enjoys special attention from the husband and parents. Fastidious about food, she will not be denied of anything lest she suffers a miscarriage, should she crave for a fruit that is out of season, the harassed husband must find a means of securing it. If she expresses a strong liking for the fruits of a particular tree, the tree will henceforth bear sour fruits or die. “Naginawanda ti bungana isu a natay”. (The fruits were picked by a pregnant woman, so it died).
The pregnant woman is also warned not to act in certain ways at the door lest she will have a hard labor. Upon giving birth, a binded cloth called “anglem” is burned to drive away evil spirits. In the early days, the woman who has just delivered lied on bed called “balitang” where it is a little bit tilted at the foot so that blood would not come out profusely. A firewood stove is kept burning by the bedside, so the one who newly delivered is “maluto a nalaing”. It is in this stove where a pot of water is kept boiling for the mother’s drink. The woman is bathed daily with warm water for thirteen days. She is massaged by the “partera” or “mangilot” (midwife) morning and afternoon. On the thirteenth day, she is shampooed with burnt rice stalk. Later, she undergoes “sidor” where three big stones are heated and aromatic leaves are placed and poured with “anisado” with the woman sitting on a chair and covered with big blanket. Here the woman sweats profusely. A big bowl of boiled chicken waits for the woman to eat. The profuse sweating is believed to remove everything bad inside the woman’s body.
After the sidor, the woman is ready to go out and visit her neighbors or relatives. Here, she is given “pabalon” which is usually rice. The “pabalon” must have to be cooked in the morning or noon but never in the afternoon so that the child will not be always sleepy when old.
On the fifteenth day, the new mother shall have her “tenneb” which is usually done in the river. She now takes a bath in the river at nine o’clock in the morning. She must walk on the river stones barefooted so she is “maluto a nalaing”. After this, she will have a normal life again ready to assume her routinary chores and responsibilities as a mother.
However, within a year after delivery, she is advised not to eat some foods like gabi, linga, carabeef, crabs and shrimps.
Mothers in Dingras usually breastfeed their babies. They drink a lot of water, eat chicken with marunggay leaves. The milk of the mother should not be spilled lest the house lizard will lick it and there would no longer be milk from the mother. The baby is not weaned before he is one year old. The child should be weaned when the grasses are not robustly growing lest the child will suffer loose bowel movement.
The hair of the child should not be cut not until he is a year old. These beliefs will immune him from diseases. The hair should first be cut by an intelligent person so that he will grow intelligently.
Courtship and Marriage
Before the introduction of Christianity and even during the Spanish regime, the Dingrenios had their own courtship and marriage customs. Parents chose the bride for their son. They prepare “buyo”, “suman”, “basi” and cooked rice before going to the bride’s house to ask her parents for her hand in marriage.
At the onset of the full moon, the party of the parents’ groom would go to the house of the girl. They bring along with them an old woman/ men who could do the “dallot”. The “dallot” call the attention of the girl’s parents for the admittance of their visit. If the purpose of the visit is admitted by the girl’s parents, they, too answer in “dallot”. Then, the “uli” or “pamanhikan” is done usually on a full moon.
In the “pamanhikan” which may be done three times, the approval and setting of the date of wedding are done. The dowry and bridal attire are also decided in the “uli”.
The place of reception during the wedding is usually held at the bridegroom’s house. The wedding ceremony is usually officiated by the head of the barangay. The party lasted for many days. It depended on the status of the family of the groom. The groom’s family foot all the bills. The relatives of the groom “lalakian” also gave their assistance for they would show their galore at this moment.
Another practice is the “pandangguhan” after the sumptuous meal, where both parties (lalakian and babai-ian) throw coins and pin bills on the bride’s and groom’s dress. After the “pandangguhan”, the coins and money bills are then wrapped in white handkerchief and is turned over to the bride. The couple is advised not to spend the money before the first wedding anniversary.
After the ceremony, the newly wed stay in the groom’s house and should not go out lest evil winds would blow on them. After the third day, they would visit relatives of both parties, where they are given tribute to start their wedded life …
During the early times, when death came to a family, the services of an expert would work on the casket. The casket was ochovado. The poor would just be a “tarimban”. The wake lasted only for twenty four hours.
Mourning depends on the proximity of the relation to the dead. Mourning for a spouse last for one year; for a mother, nine months – the length of the baby in the mother’s womb; for a father, it is seven months. Other relatives may mourn up to three or six months. Usually, the mourners wear black clothes.
During the wake, one is forbidden to clean and sweep the yard and floor. Sour fruits should not be brought inside the house. Taking a bath was also a taboo.
Ceremonies called “panaglaguip” are also offered to the dead where the bereaved family must have to do the “atang” or “lualo”. This pananglaguip is done thrice, one after nine days called “makasiam”; the second is after one month called “makabulan” and the last year after a year called “makatawen” or mangwaksi”.
People of the town believe in spirit, “mangmangkik”, “ansisit”, “caibaan”, “capre” and “di katatawan” (preternatural beings). These spiritual beings are capable of assuming any form and causing illness to those who offend them. The evil spirits cast on man can be driven away by performing rituals, reciting prayers, making offerings, and using the crucifix and holy water.
Folk healers or medium like the “mangngagas”, “mangngilot” and the like are called upon to perform rituals and recite prayers that drive away or appease these spirits.
The belief on the preternatural beings has diminished through education. People learn from schools that these beliefs have no scientific explanation. Children learn from the schools that diseases are caused by germs and unsanitary practices.
The sick are brought to hospitals or are treated by physicians. Infants are given vaccinations against diseases like dysentery, typhoid, pneumonia and the like. Education has improved the health condition of the people. Education is slowly erasing the malpractices of the Dingrenios.
Dingras is an agricultural town. It is the Rice Granary of Ilocos Norte.
In the old days farmers had many practices before planting rice. Before planting palay the farmers has to cook malagkit with coconut milk, boil chicken, particularly a rooster, and offer it on a bamboo stand with buyo, basi and cigar under a tree near the rice fields. This is an offering to the unseen spirits who are called upon to help the farmers reap a good harvest.
The farmers sow the seeds after the first rains in May. When it does not rain the farmers and their families perform rituals like having procession in the fields invoking the God of Agriculture to give them rain. They believed that there were practices that angered the spirits so there was drought. Only processions and offerings could appease the spirits.
On planting corn the first three hills should be planted as the sun rises, so the farmer should go to the fields early before sunrise. All other hills may now be planted on the other part of the day. This practice was believed to have the corn grow fast.
Persons with few and broken teeth should not plant corn, lest the corn will have few and inferior grains.
In planting coconuts, the seedlings should be set on the ground during a full moon so that the nuts will grow big like the moon. Coconuts were planted noontime when the sun was overhead and shadows were at their shortest. This belief was for the reason that the coconut trees bear fruits even if they were not tall. While planting coconuts one must carry a child on his shoulder so the coconuts will bear plenty of fruits.
In planting ampalayas, the farmer planting should not smoke cigar lest the fruits will be very bitter. Harvesting should not be done unless another fruit has come out, so that the plants will bear many fruits.
Much of the land in Dingras is ideal for farming because of its wide terrain which receives more rain than most towns of Ilocos Norte. The Dingrenios, through hard work, patience and diligence, have been able to make the land yield enough rice for themselves as well as for other towns and to other regions.
Rice cultivation is the principal livelihood of the Dingrenios. It is their great source of income that enables them finance their educational needs.
Rice cultivation includes three phases – the preparation, planting and harvesting stages. With the use of modern farm technology, there are already three croppings undertaken by the farmers. The main crop is planted in May or June and ready for harvest in the months of September or October; the second crop is planted on September or October and harvested in November or December and the third crop is planted on November or December and harvested in February or in March. In places where third cropping is not possible, garlic, tobacco, onions, vegetables and root crops are planted.
The preparation phase of rice growing includes the selection of good quality seeds called “bin-I” to be soaked or immersed in water for a number of days for its pre germination period. While the “bin-i” is getting ready for its pre-germination period, the rice grower prepares the seedbed called “pagbunubunan”.
The “pagbunubunan” is the place where the “bin-i” is broadcasted for its germination period. Usually before the broadcasting of the “bin-i”, the farmer must have to cook a “niniogan” – a boiled malagkit with coconut milk for offering called “atang”. With it are boiled chicken, boiled native eggs, tobacco, betel nut and leaves with the “basi” (Ilocano wine). This offering is being done with the belief that when the malagkit cooks right, the harvet will be bountiful, but when it is not cooked well, the harvest will not be good.
The second phase of the growing of rice is the planting stage. The farmer must have to transplant the full grown germinated rice seedlins called “bunubon” into the rice paddies already plowed and harrowed.
Before the transplanting period called “panagraep”, the farmers do not eat “rabong” (bamboo shoot), cut their hair, and would not give away rice seedlings. Eating “rabong” would make their palay grow tall but without grain. The cutting of hair is a taboo because the palay will be eaten by insects. Givind=g away of rice seedlings when planting is not yet over encourages the spirits which make the plants do not grow and bear fruits well.
The “panagraep” is done through “ammoyo”, “partida” or paid labor system. In the “ammoyo” system, one must go and help in the transplanting of rice of another and vice versa. Whereas, in the partida, one must have to pay a group of “agraep” (a number of farmers who do the transplanting of rice) in order to finish the transplanting of rice in a given “kasilong” (the farmland).
The last day of planting season “mangleppas”, the farmers would gain offer atang as in the first.