Within comfort zone

Regional Cave Committee (RCC) Meeting Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signing

Despite inclement weather in Laoag, the LEAD Movement tried to make it to Burgos to witness a historical first in the Ilocos ecotourism scene. After nearly a year of cave explorations, assessments and trainings, in hopes of promoting Burgos as a spelunking adventure destination, the joint undertaking is sealed with a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) during the Regional Cave Committee (RCC) Meeting, organized by the Department of Natural Resource (DENR) and Protected Areas, Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management Service (PAWCZMS) Region I Offices, chaired by RED Samuel Peñafiel, CESO III, on August 23-24, 2012.

May the partnership between Burgos (led by Mayor Cresente Garcia) and DENR for co-management of the Burgos caves be the start of well planned/supervised/monitored multisectoral ecotourism projects that are sustainable and, most importantly, improve the well-being of the community.

More power to the DENR Regional office for their tireless efforts and invaluable contribution to sustainable tourism through ecotourism, the promotion of responsible nature appreciation/adventure, the empowerment of local government units and encouragement of people’s participation in the province of Ilocos Norte.

Chinese tourist in a photo op with the Provincial Director, Police Senior Superintendent

Our visiting Chinese friend Lee Zeng Peng tagged along. He requested a photo op with Provincial Director Senior Superintendent Marlow Chan. He loves Ilocos Norte so much that he’s back in the country after his first visit exactly a year ago. He speaks neither Filipino nor English, so I communicate through hilarious sign language. However, the hubby speaks his language, so Zeng doesn’t get lost. I’m surprised, he loves pinakbet (mixed local vegetables stewed in fish paste. It comes from the word “pinakebbet” which literally means “allowed to shrink or wrinkle”), and enjoyed the igado (a popular pork meat and innards dish – mixed with canned guisantes, or green peas, green and red bell pepper slices, sauteed in flavorful liver sauce).  I’ve tried the young restaurateur’s cooking before and it’s on the bland side. He was happy to see Burgos’ picturesque places in a video presentation at the meeting.

Chinese tourist eats pinakbet and igadoIlocano food -- Grilled chicken, pinakbet and igadoWaste Segregation seen in Burgos

Something new in the Burgos Town Hall compound. Hoping proper waste segregation becomes a part of everyone’s system, in the entire town of Burgos, the province and the country as well.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2012

Connecting Ilocanos through tourism

I am honored and thankful to Miss April Chiang Rafales, who asked me to bring her to the newsworthy locales up in my list. The pretty and smart April is a new reporter of ABS-CBN TV Patrol Ilocos, a highly rated local news program. Special thanks also to Mr. Randy Menor and the TV Patrol Ilocos staff, especially to efficient cameraman Tim and driver Mulo. I had a fine day with them in the great outdoors of Burgos last Saturday. Last but not the least, I have to thank, again, the hospitable leader of Burgos in the person of Mayor Cris Garcia, who I think is now a converted adrenaline junkie. Dry fit clothing become him.

Ilocos was experiencing an inclement weather condition when I thought summer just started — might be a sign of global warming. Nonetheless, the gusty winds did not intimidate us from getting our game plan actualized. Horseback riding in Palpalokada, check, spelunking in one of the 150+ caves around Burgos, check,  and we had time left to visit the local salt-making community and Fish Sanctuary — all on a hurried day!

So as not to preempt the Burgos adventure on television, I’ll post photos next time.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2012

Burgos: Transformations Through Time

Earth itself tells us we cannot defy time. Equivalent to rimples, pits, specks, grizzly hair, a paunch and whatnot are the land’s caverns, crevices and formations. Everything goes through the inevitable processes of change.

The hubby and I had the wonderful privilege to be invited to a cave exploration and assessment in the hinterlands of Ilocos Norte’s most visited town, Burgos, hearth of the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, an icon of the Spanish Colonial Era in the Philippines and a perduring beacon of light to vessels sailing along the rocky northern coasts until this day and age.

The call came from the town mayor, Cris Garcia, and Ms. Cora Marie Pugal, Engr. II of the Department of Natural Resources (DENR) Region I Office, who hosted the Caving Management Training and Assessment for Protected Areas, Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management Service (PAWCZMS), intended to capacitate Local Government Units (LGUs) and stakeholders for cave assessment and cave management planning, and organize a cave assessment team in the 1st District of Ilocos Norte. Ecosystem Management Specialist (EMS) Ronnie Jacinto of the DENR Reg I Office headed the exploration and evaluation crew of spelunking experts, trainees and eco-adventurers.Burgos prides itself with a plethora of natural assets. One exemplification is the Tanap Watershed Forest Reserve, a reforestation area supporting a sustainable water supply in the town and other neighboring towns.Mayor Cris shepherded us to the nooks and crannies of Tanap. Regardless of dull weather and  a damp earth, we were so ready to explore the dark underground cavities far off the beaten path.

A most unassuming (new breed) politician with an eco-oriented leadership, Mayor Cresente Garcia.

We were divided into two teams. The first team descended the Matakwal Cave I,  a 33-meter deep hollow. I didn’t get to see firsthand the wet cave, which they say has interesting formations. I tailed after the hubby, who trekked farther to Matakwal Cave II, which is shorter in length, but nevertheless worth the backbreaking footslog. Not to mention my four-hundred-fifty-pesos-but-efficient Ryder bike/sandboarding helmet saved me several times from near catastropheツAs if the keeper of the cave, an owl-like formation greeted us near the opening. Spelunking affords mere mortals like me to know the difference between stalactites and stalagmites and to learn speleology jargon such as flowstone, column, karst, dissolution, twilight, dead end, etc.ツThe experts snaked their way through two more potholes. The assessment brought about good news for ecotourism in the town. Ms. Cora says that majority of the caves she has surveyed are Class II or III Caves, which are suitable for tourism.The crew had time left for a cliff rappelling adventure within the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation area. The dreary skies rained on my fireworks. On my way to the location, I slipped off the mossy reef right after taking photos of the odd massive white rock. I swam with my left hand up while trying to save my cam. It was one damn fine wet adventure I’ll never forget. Thanks to sir Ronnie, who helped me regain my equilibrium. Just my luck! I was drenched, but not my trusty slave. I didn’t have extra clothing for yet another thrill with matching gusty winds. Rappelling opportunities never cease to come anyhow.Atmospheric factors have contributed largely to the awesome peculiarity of Kapurpurawan. Like all things on this planet, time changes things for better or for worse.Let’s learn to love the world we live in more.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2011