The game-changing Laoag sandboarding on its 9th year

The LEAD (Laoag Eco-Adventure Development) Movement kids, who helped put the Laoag Sand Dunes on the adventure map, now grown-ups, in a more adultish vid.


So many changes since that trial ride on August 2, 2009 in La Paz. A co-op has brought together LEAD, the originators of sandboarding in the Philippines, and all the other operators who came after LEAD, for a common good, which is to boost tourism in Laoag City and the rest of the North. The expansive dunes which also cover parts of Paoay and Currimao make Ilocos Norte extraordinary. Have you had your own sand adventure yet?


Chevylle V. Fariñas: Tailor-made for public service


Chevylle sounds like Chevy Chevelle, the car of choice of Baby Boomers, somewhat hinting at the age of the first woman mayor of the city of Laoag. The only daughter among the two children of Baby and the late Rudy Villanueva (not originally from Ilocos), Chevylle spent her formative years in Laoag. An honor student at the Holy Spirit Academy of Laoag, she had that kind of beauty that made the boys swoon. Her college years were at the Maryknoll (now Miriam College). As cupid would have it, Michael Fariñas, the first grandchild of the late Fariñas Trans patriarch, Don Federico, and nephew of then Laoag mayor Rudy, never let her go, and they tied the knot and had children. Michael worked in the family business while Chevylle was full-time mom, yet helped manage their own retail store, and later on they dabbled in politics (Chevylle always supported Michael, who was tasked to organize and manage his uncles’ election campaigns). When it was Michael’s turn to win the mayoralty in Laoag, Chevylle assumed the other essential posts like the barangay heads association chair.

Fellow-barangay heads helped her “walk” for the mayoralty post, with last-termer mayor Michael defying family wishes, which caused a split-up in the Fariñas family and supporters (the first time it happened to the close-knit family), and indeed she eventually won by more than 21K votes over reelectionist uncle, Roger. But that’s all water under the bridge. The passing away of cousin JR ( Rudy’s son) made Laoag’s most prominent political family whole again.

More low-key than the average Ilocano politician, her strength lies in her diligence and organizational skills. And I see that feisty streak in her, exactly what a woman leader should be born with.

Under her leadership, Laoag continues to reap awards, awards such as most livable and most business-friendly city, notwithstanding the controversial disappearance of former City Treasurer Elena V. Asuncion and 85 million from the coffers of the city, which political opponents of the Fariñases are trying to link to both the mayor and vice-mayor (husband Michael).


Fun Facts about Laoag City Mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas

•  She sings very well. Very well means like a professional singer.

•  She’s a hands on mom, albeit her other duties. Now that her two older children, Jami and Mikee, are able to help serve her constituents, we can see how she has influenced them in their career paths — Jami is the City Administrator, after Perry Martinez vacated the post, and Mikee has followed her parents’ footsteps into politics.

•  Creativity is her middle name. She likes arts and crafts, she’s her own stylist, she loves makeup (like you and me, darling), and dressing up as seen in her fashion choices (well, her mom owns a clothing store). Her personal strong liking for happy colors extends to her office like Barbie pink and apple green are the official colors of her administration.

•  She drives like a man. She will drive to Manila alone if she has to. What are the Sampaloc and Divisoria streets to her?

• A city hall employee will attest to her exemplary work ethic. One more employee says she pushes them to think out of the box, and likes to hear innovations.


•  It is hard to imagine her in a different hairstyle. It might be a politician thing like Imelda has had that bouffant since time immemorial.

• Basically, between Michael and Chevylle, she is the more approachable one.

• As city mayor, despite her busy schedule, she has time for everyone, (this I experienced three times, to be precise, no cordon sanitaire).

All photos lifted from the Agserbi 24/7 Facebook page.

Laoag Sand Dunes heat up all the more… don’t miss out!


What’s sexier at the celebrated Laoag Sand Dunes than a pumped up night of music? The much anticipated Pamulinawen Sand Tunes Music Festival is finally happening! (Check out poster above.)

Then there’s also the chance to experience Laoag’s signature sand dune adventure for free, courtesy of the Laoag Sand Dunes Coop, in cooperation with the City Government of Laoag.

Save the date, folks… February 21, 2018! Am to Pm!

Happy Fiesta, Laoag!


Laoag at 50 waste to art exhibit: Art from the heart

Laoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibit

The Laoag City 50th Charter Day Anniversary was the perfect venue for the just concluded “naglabas, agdama, masakbayan [past, present, future]” eco art exhibition, inspired by “basura ti naglabas, tignay ti agdama, para ti narimat a agsapa”. To borrow the words of Francis Kettering, we should all be concerned about the future because we have to spend the rest of our lives there.

Seasoned Ilocano artists and rising local talents pooled their efforts to draw attention to environment issues such as the global plastics issue, environmental degradation through tree cutting, dynamite fishing, irresponsible consumerism, among others. Guests were appreciative of the art created from everyday waste such as styro containers, packing materials, empty bottles and cans, used motor oil, and space-eating trash such as abused skateboards, scratched vinyl, old toys,  galvanized iron sheets and so on.

Laoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibit

Garnering good reviews and requests for a rerun, the zero waste art exhibit was a worthy show of local artistry. Juan Elani Tulas’ art installation from styro and 400 pieces of wood scraps, entitled “Poetree”, was inspired by Joyce Kilmer’s “Trese”. Each enigmatic piece can stand on its own. Janer Santos, a tattooist by profession, infused humor into his compositions. “Pagfiesta-an” with recycled junk is rather provocative. UP Fine Arts graduate Margo Rae Alesna had a winner in “The Heart of the Matter” in mixed media on old wood. Young artist Gerome Malbas put to good use his predilection for pop art by turning used spray paint cans as his canvas. His “Mandala” inked skull was unexpected. Khervin John Gallandez put life into rusty galvanized iron scraps. To convey his message of anti-dynamite fishing, MMSU student Marvin Xavier Vea incorporated his intricate doodle art into an installation. Carl Martin Aragones and Dexter Robiñol highlighted the wonders of nature with vibrant colors while Rizaldie Altuna used heritage as the subject of his mixed media work. Reluctant artist Marc Nicolas made his debut via his scotch tape sculpture.

Styro Art - Juan Elani TulasLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag Mayor Chevylle Fariñas with LEAD member and City Hall IT department employee Marc Nicolas.

When styro artist Juan Elani Tulas messaged me for a possible collaboration with LEAD Movement, I didn’t think twice even if it meant I had to bypass protocol within the organization (LEAD is a NGO, btw) and work double time, with barely two weeks preparation. By happy chance, Laoag Mayor Chevylle Fariñas was open to community involvement. A proponent for a clean environment, the City of Laoag hopes to sustain its initiatives and efforts in environment management, among them the banning of plastic bags.

Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitThe Heart of the Matter.Laoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitMixed media artist Janer Santos.Laoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitfacesRiknakem columnist and blogger Herdy La Yumul.Laoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitLaoag at 50 Zero Waste art exhibitZero Waste art exhibit in LaoagZero Waste art exhibitWith me from left to right are Marvin Xavier Vea, Janer Santos, Juan Elani Tulas and Khervin John Gallandez.

LEAD Movement would like to extend its gratitude to the City Government of Laoag for allowing the use of the city hall auditorium, Mayor Chevylle Fariñas for her invaluble help and for welcoming artistic freedom as a tool for change, the artists, the staff of the GSO and mayor’s office and those who viewed the show and continue to share the advocacy.

Photos of author by Khervin Gallandez and Marvin Xavier Vea
Photographed by BlauEarth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2015