The towns of Ilocos Norte are beehives of traditional crafts and trades. The making of pots, mats, cloth, blankets, bolos (multi-purpose knives) and basi (sugarcane wine) are important sources of livelihood. In particular, the abel Iloko (hand wooven cloth) has found ready markets both here and abroad.
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The proximity of the Luzon Sea has challenged the people of Ilocos Norte to plough its coastal waters for whatever food and livelihood opportunities it can yield. Local folks trap and gather fish, snails, clams, octopus, shrimp, seaweeds and other edibles for personal consumption. Salt making and bagoong (fish paste) production are likewise conducted
Bamboo has been the source of many musical instruments in the province: pito (flute), kulkultong (bamboo zither) and (jaws harp), among others. Other traditional instruments are the ludag (log drum) and tangguyob (carabao horn). Western-influenced instruments include the arpa (harp) and tambor (drum).
The market is regarded as a social and economic institution by the people of Ilocos Norte. In Laoag, the market is open everyday. In smaller towns, market day is held once or twice a week. Here, one can find sellers and buyers haggling with each other. Noisy vendors broadcast the merits of their goods. For