Miss Universe 2018 titleholder Catriona Gray visited Ilocos Norte from November 11 to 14, 2022, to experience the Ilokano way of life and explore attractions across the province for her vlog series “Raise Your Flag.”
Hosting her are the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte’s Tourism Office and Communications and Media Office, certain local government units, and many homegrown accommodations and food establishments that served as sponsors.
The “Raise Your Flag” team was welcomed by the City of Batac, where Ms. Gray and Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc learned to make and cook the city’s world-famous empanada. As a wartime invention, this famous delicacy gives insights into the values of the Ilokano people, as well as their capacity to innovate.
“Raise Your Flag IlocosNorte has kicked off! Ilocos has long been on my bucket list to feature for my Raise Your Flag series at hindi ito yung first time ko sa region, pero magiging first time ko to truly immerse myself in the culture, traditions, sights and foods of the North,” she said in her post.
The first day of Ms. Gray’s visit to the province immediately trended on social media as it sparked a hilarious online debate after she was spotted eating the empanada with ketchup. Many netizens have argued that the snack is better paired with sukang Iloko, a locally produced vinegar.
Ms. Gray also visited Mrs. Magdalena Gamayo, a master weaver and a National Living Treasure, at the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan Cultural Center in Pinili town.
“I don’t find myself welling up with tears for many things. But watching Nana Magdalena sitting at her loom, at the graceful age of 98, naiiyak ako“
Her hands have literally woven tradition…the hands of a national living treasure. I’m so honored to have met her and witnessed her craft with my own eyes,” Ms. Gray expressed.
Throughout her stay, she wore dresses made by local designers using inabel, Ilocos Norte’s handwoven heritage fabric.
“Raise Your Flag” also featured the UNESCO World Heritage site of St. Augustine’s Church, the Paseo de Paoay, and the Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes in Paoay town. In addition, the Bangui Wind Farm and the Kaangrian Falls in Burgos were also promoted.
Moreover, the coast of Barangay Saud in Pagudpud town will be featured in the series.
In April 2021, it was listed in the “25 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World” by the Travel & Leisure International magazine for “its white sand [which] pitches gradually into the clear-as-glass water, like a real-world example of a zero-entry swimming pool.”
While in the said town, Ms. Gray also visited the DelMar Shellcrafts Multi-purpose Cooperative, which specializes in handicrafts made by women in the community.
Anticipate the premiere of the episode of “Raise Your Flag,” featuring the province of Ilocos Norte, on Ms. Gray’s official YouTube channel.－Edison Justin B. Deus, PGIN-CMO