A PHP26.1MM floating playground opens in Paoay Lake

Photo from IN Tourism

A resident of Paoay before moving to Laoag to live with my family in the mid-sixties, my (nanny) manang Cion had a fave story to tell me when I wouldn’t sleep at night — the folklore tale of the Paoay Lake which was about an inundated village punished for its extreme greed for wealth and material gain.

During the Marcos rule, another Malacañang Palace was built by the lake. My manang Cion had a new story to replace the story of the bejeweled tilapia and other lake creatures. Their family house was among those displaced for the rise of a palace.

Declared a national park in 1969, the serene protected area became an important bird destination for birding enthusiasts in the country. The arrival of the great cormorant in Paoay is an awaited event. I was able to attend a bird census at the lake a decade ago (story here). Only recently, the bird sanctuary as a birdwatching tourism destination was unveiled by the Department of Tourism (story here).

Last week, amid promotions for the opening of a new multimillion inflatable island project by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte, more fit for the beach, news of E. coli made the rounds and sparked discussions among Ilocano residents. Other than the health and safety hazards, environment protection and conservation issues, considering the status of the lake as a national park under the National Integrated Protected Areas System, is an ongoing debate among commenters on social media. In a public post on FB, local birder and staunch environmentalist, Dr. Petrus Calope commented, “Distorted sense of beauty! Is the $$$ more important than nature?”

Amid the E. coli news, the great vinyl park in a protected area opened to the public with a no swimming rule. Play at your own risk.


Northwestern University Ecotourism Park and Botanic Gardens arouse a sense of wonderment

“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.” ~ Rachel Louise Carson

Amazement struck me when I visited the Northwestern University’s ecotourism park and botanic gardens. During my nursing school days, Northwestern University was still Northwestern College. We had our biology and zoology classes at the antiquated Engineering Building. Our learning experience was limited to textbooks and class discussions. To make the subjects more interesting, our teachers would conduct “name that specie” contests in class. It was quite weird memorizing scientific names or even common names of flora and fauna, and not knowing how they actually look like. My old school has grown by leaps and bounds.

Spread over 7.8 hectares on a hilly area in the southwestern end of San Nicolas in Ilocos Norte, the NWU Ecotourism Park and Botanical Gardens is a breath of fresh air to each and everyone. Over 1000 plants species from 134 families and 123 subfamilies are catalogued. NWU aims to promote the preservation and conservation of the World’s flora, most especially our indigenous Philippine plants that are on the verge of extinction. A member of the Botanic Gardens Conservation International, the NWU botanic garden is among the 12 largest gardens of its kind in the country, and perhaps, the biggest in Region I, in regard to a broader spectrum of collections.

Butterfly garden to support butterfly propagation

While hiking up and down the park, I found exotic wildlife, and emotions welled up as I focused the camera on my subjects. The place is such a paradise to nature trippers and photographers. Awesome endemic creatures that are hard to find elsewhere are everywhere in this wonderful nature park conveniently situated a few kilometers south of Laoag City.

Learning through a natural atmosphere as beauteous as the Northwestern University Ecotourism Park and Botanic Gardens enriches one’s spirituality as well. Botanical study and recreational activities such as camping, mountain biking and group training can be arranged.

Rain conservation pond

Solanum pseudo-capsicum or ornamental pepper

Tongue orchids

The NWU continuously adds more species to their vast collection of living plant species as germplasm stocks for horticultural trade to other botanical institutions around the world and establishes micro environments to display the World’s flora according to their system of classification. They implement ex-situ and in-situ conservation practices, and Zero waste management to emulate sustainable natural cycles.

Leea philippinensis, or simply leea

Off-season tomato production

Northwestern University’s vision and mission to help mitigate the effects of climate change and address the man-made threats to our environment exhibit the legacy of world-renowned Rachel Louise Carson, the great biologist, writer and ecologist of her life-long love for nature and the living world.

Find time to visit this relaxing park and nurture that sense of wonder.


Northwestern University Ecotourism Park and Botanic Gardens, Payas-Samac, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, Philippines Contact: Michael Jay Calaramo (Ecosystem Management and Development Officer) General Manager 0915-7932003/ 0908-5330037 email: nwu_ecopark@yahoo.com
How to get there: From Laoag, turn right on the ‘to Gertes Resort’ signage on the National Highway, a few blocks past the San Nicolas Municipal Hall. Continue driving after Takuat Training Center and Gertes Resort until you hit the Northwestern University Ecotourism Park and Botanical Gardens on your left hand side.


Photos by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The X-Life shoots pilot episode in Ilocos Norte

This is a repost. The show airs Wednesday, June 2, 2010, 10pm.

The sweltering 34º Celsius heat in Ilocos didn’t prevent QTV’s X-Life from shooting sandboarding scenes with the LEAD Movement, the innovator of sandboarding in the Philippines, in the world-renowned Desert of the North, or the Laoag Sand Dunes in La Paz.X-Life, a public affairs magazine show focusing on fitness and lifestyle, airs its pilot on QTV Channel 11, channel on free TV powered by GMA Network Inc, on May 26 June 2, Wednesday, at 10PM. The  initial episode also includes segments on extreme mountain biking and surfing, shot in scenic Maira-ira Point in Pagudpud. The show promises to be entertaining, informative and cutting edge.

More BTS photos…

LEAD Movement’s MC talks about the do’s and don’ts of sandboarding


Gino de la Peña gets a close look at the boards

Preparing for another descent

Yes, she can…

Stunning Stef wants more

The X-Life hosts — Gino de la Peña, Stef Henares and JC Tiuseco — had fun x-ploring the new surfing sport on Ilocos sand.


PS Sorry, guys, they didn’t air like what we were told. I was waiting for the show last night, too. I heard it was rescheduled for another week. Let me check.

PPS I finally received word that is finally airing tonight. June 2 at 10pm.

Sandboarding Contact Reny Tan 0919-873-5516 ; 0932-358-7521 or Benny Arce 0917-523-0331 . P2500–/hour-maximum of 4 persons/jeep. Price includes 4×4 & sandboarding adventure.
Photos by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
More photos by Cockroach