Fiesta del Mar Summer Fun: Narvacan raises its game

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Remember my very own adventure (hahah, tricycle adventure) in and out of NOAH, in institutional parlance, the Narvacan Outdoor Adventure Hub, a tourism complex in Bulanos in the Southern Ilocos town of Narvacan, which centers on eco-adventure activities, primarily the 280-ft. via ferrata along the walls of Bantay Abot (again, not to be confused with the Bantay Abot Cave in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte) and river and sea adventure thrills?

From its caterpillar stage, Narvacan’s tourism project has morphed into a butterfly, staging sports events and attracting extreme sports enthusiasts.

Fiesta del Mar, NarvacanNarvacan Mountain Bike ChallengeNarvacan Mountain Bike ChallengeNarvacan Mountain Bike Challenge

Among the activities of various genres in the line-up for their summer sea festival, dubbed Fiesta del Mar, was the Narvacan Mountain Bike Challenge, consisting of DH, Enduro, XCO and Fatbike races, attended by top Filipino riders, among them JR Barba, Jeric Farr and Parabanne Mendoza, international downhillers and XCO bikers from as far as Slovenia and Indonesia and local mountain biking enthusiasts.

The number one advocate of eco and adventure tourism in his town, young and dynamic Mayor Zuriel Zaragoza was visible throughout the events.

Narvacan Mayor Zuriel ZaragozaNarvacan Mountain Bike Challenge

To calm down the adrenaline rush, on the first night of the weekend races, everyone was treated to the mellow music of the Freestyle band surrounding the Bulanos Beach, harmonizing with the rushing waves from the West Philippine Sea.

Narvacan Mountain Bike ChallengeIndonesian riders chilling in between rides.Paragliding from Bantay Abot, NarvacanNarvacan Mountain Bike ChallengeNarvacan Mountain Bike ChallengeNarvacan XCO RaceNarvacan Mountain Bike Challenge XCO RaceNarvacan Mountain Bike ChallengeNarvacan Mountain Bike ChallengeHalo-HaloOff-RoadJohn Robert BurgosIlocos Norte’s very own consistent national placer in his age category, the Burgy of downhill biking, Robert John Eulalio Burgos. (now a board-certified engineer, congrats for successfully juggling biking and studies!).

Photographed by BlauEarth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2015

Via ferrata in Narvacan: Explore your audacious side

Bantay Abot

Freedom, they say, is both a curse and a blessing. To the anxiety of my housemates, my instinctive ability to take to the road will never be tamed (like photographer Marianne Pasion says about me here, pretty embarassed).


As I recoil from crafty Frankenstein-like writing, seaming together a story about fresh ways to enjoy the Ilocos provinces, both here in Norte and Sur, for the October 2014 issue of Mabuhay Magazine (the Philippine Airlines’ in-flight read), was not a cinch.

I haven’t read the magazine, I saw snippets from a stewardess friend’s phone, so I’m starting anew with the story of my journey to Narvacan.

Rainbow CloudA rainbow on a cloud.

I didn’t know the whereabouts of NOAH, hence I picked the oldest manong tricycle driver waiting at the curb in the centro of Narvacan. All heart, he was heaven-sent. As we approached Bulanos Beach, Bantay Abot (not to be confused with the Bantay Abot Cave in Paqudpud) towered more and more upon my sight.

Narvacan Outdoor Adventure Hub - Bulanos

A container van structure facing the beach beckons. The sun was fast going down. While manong parked his tricycle, I entered the doors, my eyes wandered around the stark white room and as fast as I could, I introduced myself as a writer and photographer for the magazine.

Via Ferrata adventure. Screengrab from Direk Arman on YouTube

The 250-meter via ferrata adventure at NOAH. Screengrab from Direk Arman on YouTube

The Narvacan Outdoor Adventure Hub or NOAH has made via ferrata its hallmark. Via ferrata is a passage through a steep rock wall, aided with harness and anchor cables that secure the climber from a fall, so it might be as well safe, unless, of course, the person has extreme fear of heights. As I had already rappelled from a chopper, a worm’s eye view from the foot of the hill was just the same intimidating. (Learn the ropes of via ferrata in the video below.)

NOAH equipment centerNOAH, Bulanos, Narvacan, Ilocos Sur

I ran around the vicinity. I imagine, after letting out a hurrah and sucking in a bird’s eye view of Bulanos from the peak of Bantay Abot, one can rappel back down and enjoy the other thrills of NOAH as kayaking, paddle boarding, ziplining, and kitesurfing are within reach.

Bulanos RiverBulanos RiverNOAHThe lounge and cafe.A Glorious Sunset at Bulanos, Narvacan, Ilocos SurSunset BeachSpaceBulanos

The appeal of Bulanos Beach is in its bucolic scenery and sedate locality. One of these days, I’m heading back to NOAH to get on that iron path.

Beach CommuteSunset over Narvacan TownBack at the center of Narvacan. UNESCO World Heritage Site Vigan is about 30-45 minutes north of Narvacan.

With special thanks to the Narvacan Outdoor Adventure Hub, Mayor Zuriel Zaragoza, Ace Corrales, Eastgate Publishing and the wonderful staff of NOAH.

NOAH (Narvacan Outdoor Adventure Hub) Bulanos, Bulanos Beach, Narvacan, Ilocos Sur CP No. 0905 3396624 Facebook page

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014