|Sandboarding into the Paoay sunset • Photo by Oggie Ramos for InFlight|
Curious that in several trips to Ilocos over the years, it took a photo assignment from InFlight Magazine for me to pay the province's famous sand dunes a visit. Oh, I grew up seeing the trailers of the Panday movies or watching Mad Max and hearing those were shot somewhere up north. A desert in the tropics? Such is the geology and topography of Ilocos Norte -- a curious mix of plains and valleys, wild coasts and surreal rock formations, uplands, waterfalls and a desert.
Standing on a 20-foot hill, the sand still hot from the scorching afternoon sun and the intermittent wind blowing particles into my face, my clothes and my gear, I gaze at sand dunes stretching as far as my eyes can see to the southwest while the South China Sea glimmers in the west. As the sunset approaches, the breeze coming from the sea escalates, giving us a semblance of how it feels like to be in a sandstorm.
|Sunset drama at Paoay Sand Dunes • Photo by Oggie Ramos for InFlight|
The Paoay Sand Dunes is part of the 52-square mile Ilocos Sand Dunes, a protected landscape (or should it be desertscape?) and if I may say, a rather beautiful anomaly that is recognized as one of the National Geological Monuments by the National Committee on Geological Sciences (NCGS). The Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes, as a whole, stretches from Currimao to Pasuquin. To put it poetically, it is the symphony of the wind, sea and river that created the sand dunes over eons.
|4x4 action in Paoay • Photo by Oggie Ramos for InFlight|
Info: Ilocos Norte can be reached via air and land travel. Via air, several airlines service the route Manila-Laoag including Seair; travel time: less than an hour • Via land, many bus companies ply the Manila-Laoag route; you can choose from a variety of rides from regular buses to the sleeper bus of the G.V. Florida Bus Company; travel time: 9-10 hours. Attribution: InFlight Magazine, Wikipedia, Ilocos Norte website