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.


Preserving the Fading Threads of the Abra Abel

Abra Abel

Abra, a former  Ilocos town, now among the provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR),  has a rich texture of social, political and cultural history.  Abreños are largely Tingguians and Ilocanos.

The centuries-old impaod (backstrap) weaving and its many forms, developed through rituals and dreams, are so much a piece of history of the people (Itnegs) of the Tineg River. Pinaing is the goddess of  the women weavers who were taught to weave at the age of ten.

Nana Norma

Norma Agaid with a hand-embroidered ritual tapis.

With pride and flame, nana Norma Gintengan Agaid, an Itneg native (internationally referred to as Tingguian) of Abra, speaks about the traditional craft she inherited from ancestors, “It’s the only thing I can pass down to my children and their children.”

The Tingguian colors are predominantly muted. Natural dyes such as malatayum plant (for indigo) were prominent in the designs of the olden days.

White sinugkitan  is worn to signify mourning.

Tingguian Tapis and Lace

A lace-edged slip underneath the tapis signifies wealth, according to nana Norma.

Piningitan edging such as tinulbek (tulbek ti biag) symbolizes life.


An Ilocano pagablan (loom).

The Abra abel of today are based on traditional pinilian (sampaga, python, river and horse patterns), dinapat (a special seamless weave), and binakol (op art weave like kosikos). The pastel and livelier  motifs are influenced by the times.

The ethnic handwoven fabric comes in the forms of traditional garments, blankets, scarves, table covers and many more. Special designs can be ordered from the remaining indigenous loom weavers in Abra.

Impaod FabricPinilian FabricAbra Binakol ScarfImpaod Weavers

Namarabar Ethnic Crafts and Antiques, Namarabar, Peñarrubia, Abra, Philippines
Maria Librada M. Donato
CP Nos.: 0905 2422069 / 0921 4359173
Zita M. Benabese
CP Nos.: 0905 5036515 / 0920 5437921

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

New place to visit in Norte: The Nueva Era Eco-Cultural Park

Sitting On A Tree

In my hometown of Ilocos Norte, it is still normal to find a little spot without effort and let yourself soak in the healing powers of nature. But sometimes, you need to fly a distance. The newly-opened park in the town of Nueva Era, however, has more to offer to the lover of nature. It provides glimpses into the local Tingguian culture while enjoying a day or two relaxing in cottages made of indigenous materials or tree-shaded picnic grounds.

We failed to experience tribal dancing, but my friend Leehua and I were satisfied with our quick getaway. We really did climb trees:)

They have a little museum and at the back is a lovely setting for weddings and events.

Nueva Era is about an hour drive from Laoag City via the Dingras road. It is the next town from Banna, and bordered by Kalinga, Apayao, Abra and Ilocos Sur on the east, southeast and south.

Nueva Era Eco-Cultural ParkNueva Era Eco-Cultural ParkLeafy InsectPadpadonTingguian Dap-ayan

The Tingguian dap-ayan.

IndayonForest HutsHunting VillageBamboo BridgeNueva Era Eco-Cultural ParkIlocano Living RoomRiza

Thanks to Riza  for touring us around the museum!

Nueva Era Eco-Cultural ParkTerraceRed PineappleNueva Era Eco-Cultural ParkLeehua
Photographed by Leehua, Riza and Blauearth
© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014