Friday, March 21, 2008

Van - "Wawa" Dam

Yes, you can take your van in going to - Wawa Dam. But it would be advisable to park it in front of the local tourism office nearby since even a mountain bike would not have an easy time going through the rocky trail, and less likely your van.

Surrounded by the limestone walls of the Sierra Madre mountains, Wawa Dam was constructed by the Americans in 1909 to serve as a reservoir. It used to supply water to Metro Manila but was later de-commissioned after better dams were built in other places. Currently, officials of the metro's water system is considering the possibility of sourcing water again from Wawa together with 3 other old dams. They would act as back-up for the dwindling supply of Angat Dam during the summer seasons. But this angle might be too political for this travel blog, so let's revert back to the essence of the article. =)

The actual dam can be reached with a 20-minute trek from the aforementioned local tourism office. You would pass by a number of small caves which was said to have been used as a holding point by Japanese soldiers during WWII. If you would allow a further stretch, it was said that the 19th century Philippine revolutionary movement against Spanish regime, KKK, met in one of the caves in April of 1895.

As a scenic spot, the traveler would be amazed with the enormous limestone walls lining the mountain side. The sound of strong rushing water from the upper Marikina River, beating against boulders of rocks, would guide you along till you reach the actual dam. Some locals even dip for a swim further up stream where water is calm. Picnics are also allowed in safe areas and Nipa sheds are available for rent.

No entrance fees! Just be extra careful in trekking along the rocky cliffs and as you pass by the short and 'rusty'(but so far stable) steel bridge. Lastly, be sure to be back at the foothills (where the Van is) before dark since there are no lamp posts lining the trail back.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Three Auras of Bangui Wind Mills

Wonder why it's windy in Ilocos Norte? How about having 15 giant fans each about 70 meters high?

Seriously now, the Bangui Wind Mills of Ilocos Norte was built to generate clean energy from wind power. Aside from providing electricity in the local area, it stores power for the main station which in turn supplies some provincial substations.

They are actually wind turbines situated about 326 meters apart along the 3km stretch of Bangui bay. A little more than an hour from Laoag, visiting this wind farm in Bangui and seeing the gigantic fans would leave you in awe. You would feel like Regine Velasquez waving by the shoreline with the sea wind blowing against your face and flowing through your long hair while the wind mills are behind you; just like in the Department of Tourism TV commercial. =)


Having visited the place in three different times of day somewhat gave me an authority to suggest that it is most picturesque at sunset. My first visit was on a sun-scorching noontime of April 2 in 2007. We didn’t mind the angry sun while we were beside the white 'electric fans' taking jump shots.


8 months later, together with a bus load of photographers, we made sure to wake up very early in the morning to catch the sunrise. It was freezing cold but we were at the site before daybreak.


In the third recent visit, again as a tour guide, we hurried the day's itinerary to capture the sunset. However, the sky turned dark along the way, as if warning of a forthcoming rain. Nonetheless, we were glad that the set of rain clouds were on the other side of the horizon when we reached the site. With strong winds and sandblasted digital cameras, we froze the giants’ blades and the colorful hues of the late afternoon sky behind them.

*Photos from