The town of Manaoag is the pilgrimage center of Pangasinan and Northern Luzon. What is so striking about Manaoag as a religious center is that the templet sets on top of a hill. It hues to the Biblical teaching that a light should be on top of a hill so that it could be seen by all. “You Are The Light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it inside a basket, but on a lampstand and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let Your Light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16).
According to the record of the evangelization of Pangasinan, the first town to be converted was Lingayen, the capital town. After Lingayen was converted the Augustinian missionaries invaded Manaoag, then known as Sapang. “Here the preachers met hostility. The record says “they were harmed.” The pioneer Augustinians were pulled out. The reason for the pull out is not clear. But in due time, the Augustinians were replaced by the Domicans. It was the Dominicians who gained a headway.
It appears from the record that what prepared the ground in Manaoag was not a John The Baptist who called upon the people to repent from their sins, but a miracle. And the miracle is credited to Virgin Mary, who is due time was recognized at the Miraculous Lady of Manaoag. The reported miracle is this: There was a peasant taking a leisurely walk along the rolling hill of the town above the Baloking creek.
He heard a melodioes voice call his name. Surprised, he turned his head around to look for the person who call his name. He saw the Virgin mary perched on a brance of a molave tree. Unable to contain his excited emotion, he told every one he met along the way his experience. This story spread like wildfire in a praire. Those who were touched by the miracle started to come to pay homage to the Miraculous Lady of Manaoag.
The Bishop ordered that a chapel be built on top of the hill in the vicinity were the miracle occured. Believers decided to settle in Sapang. In due time the settlers organized the settlement into a town and called it Manaoag. It became a town in 1600. The tale of Manaoag was one of the factors that triggered the Ilocano migration to Pangasinan.