Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Cape Bojeador, Paoay Sand Dunes, Kapurpurawan White Rocks, Bangui Windmills, Pagudpud Resorts, and Cagayan River: Just a few of North Luzon’s wonders worth visiting
A tour around the northern tip of Luzon is really an amazing experience. For those interested in our natural environment, it is a must. This short report describes briefly some of the wonderful places that one can visit starting from Vigan City in the west (1) to Cagayan Valley in the east (10).
Vigan is an old city in Ilocos Sur with well-preserved Spanish colonial and Asian architecture. This UNESCO World Heritage site reminds me of some small towns in southern Spain. It is without question the most beautiful old city in the Philippines.
The Paoay Sand Dunes
The sand dunes area appears to be a raised sea bed. First evidence of this is the fact that it is directly adjacent to the sea. Second reason is the presence of shells of marine organisms in many parts of the area. Third, a road cut exposure east of the sand dunes reveals thick sandstones (formed under the sea) which could be the source, through weathering, of the sand particles. The subduction of the Sunda Plate underneath the Philippine Mobile Belt produced the Manila Trench in the South China Sea and has resulted in the uplift of northwest Luzon. Decades of soil mismanagement and the resulting soil erosion have without doubt contributed to the spread of the sand dunes.
This is the headland at the northwestern tip of Luzon in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. The raised marine terrace is flanked to the east by steep-sided volcanic and greywacke hills and to the west by the turbulent South China Sea. Perched on top of the hill at about 90m asl is the famous Cape Bojeador Lighthouse constructed in 1892 during the Spanish Colonial period.
Kapurpurawan White Rock Formation
The famous white rock formation in Kapurpurawan, Burgos, is actually a raised reef limestone that has been carved by the waves through time. The raised limestone is associated with the uplifting of northwest Luzon as a result of the subduction of the Sunda Plate underneath the Philippine Mobile Belt as has been mentioned above.
Standing 70 m tall on the black sand beach of Bangui, Ilocos Norte, are 20 giant wind turbines (giant fans) facing the South China Sea in the direction of Taiwan. The area is so windy making it ideal for such a modern energy harvesting facility.
A large resort and convention center called Hanna’s Beach Resort is found near the northernmost tip of Luzon and hidden from the highway by the mountain range in Balaoi, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. The bay, which has fine white sand, is unique in its location and local geography. A chat with the locals would reveal controversial stories about the real owner of the resort.
One of the many major infrastructure projects of former President Marcos is the Patapat Viaduct in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. The 1.3 km bridge is elevated about 30 meters above the sea and connects the Maharlika Highway from Laoag, Ilocos Norte to the Cagayan Valley Region. It is now part of the Asian Highway network (AH 26).
Anahaw or anahau (Livistona rotundifolia) is an erect palm that is widespread in northern Luzon particularly in Claveria, Cagayan. This makes the landscape in this part of Luzon different to the monotonous coconut plantations in the Visayas.
The Cagayan River
The Cagayan River (the Rio Grande de Cagayan) is considered as the second largest river in the Philippines next to the Rio Grande de Mindanao. The mighty river in the Cagayan Valley region traverses the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Isabela and Cagayan and has a drainage area of about 27,300 square kilometers. The picture below shows the river from the Magapit Bridge in Magapit, Cagayan.
Soil Degradation in Cagayan Valley
Deforestation followed by decades of grazing (pasture) have caused widespread soil degradation in Cagayan Valley. This is clearly observable from Tuguegarao City down to Enrile and Sta Maria, Cagayan where the traveler sees an endless view of denuded and degraded hills and mountains.