NLEX Lakbay Norte 5 Day 5 & Day 6
Waking up to the stunning view of Punta’s Island beach and river in Punta Riviera Resort gave us a good way to jumpstart the day! More than just being a beach and riverside resort situated at the estuary of Ilog Malinos in Bolinao, it advocates a certain type of farming called permaculture. The goal of this design is to include the creation of excess food, power, water and shelter that makes for a fully integrated and sustainable community.
On the morning of day 5 we were off to Pacific Salt Farm to see how salt is produced and harvested. Its tour coordinator, Christopher Tiongson, informs us that they produce a high quality of salt here because of the farm’s position. Furthermore, this is the only salt lake found in the Far East, making it comparable to the salted Dead Sea of the Middle East.
While we may know of salt to be an essential ingredient in a lot of the dishes at home, it is interesting to note that it actually has 14,000++ uses. Yes, you heard that right!
Here we paid a visit to the salt bed to get a feel of how to harvest their small salt crystals. These crystals are produced and harvested everyday, and they are the same kind of salt that are being consumed in the kitchen in normal households.
We also rode on a train in the vicinity that took to see their salt sculptures, which are built with relatively huge salt crystals. These bigger crystals are the ones used in water-filling stations for purifying and removing the hardness of water. Unlike the small salt crystals, they are harvested after a period of 90 days.
The view of the vicinity had a certain industrial charm to it and that made for wonderful pictures, but the sun was scorching hot so it was such a treat for us to be taken on a cruise along the Balingasay River afterwards. The boat ride came with a soothing back and hand massage plus some local sweets as snacks that were served as we drifted along what has been awarded as the cleanest river in the Philippines.
Flowing along this stretch of river, we saw some century-old mangroves and balete trees that were hanging into the water. From there, we saw the admirable effort taken by the local authorities into preserving this nature’s bounty. In doing so, may they serve as effective examples for other local tourism spots to follow suit.
Our river tour ended in the late afternoon and we still had a long night ahead of us. When we got back to the resort, the sun was just about to set and some of us stayed on to catch up with it before freshening up for our last official night together for this trip – a night filled with games, awarding and merriment until the wee hours of the dawn in great company!
As a way of giving back to the abundance that has been granted us by the north, our last day was aptly spent on an outreach program for the members of the Little Sisters of the Poor. It is a home for the aged, with a vast expanse of land blessed with a picturesque view of Bolinao and the Alaminos Gulf. We had the chance to meet some of the elderly here as well as perform a song number for them, which etched a huge smile on all of our faces.
A tour of the place revealed how well equipped they are in terms of facility. Aside from the nurses assigned to each room, they also have a gym, a parlor and a crafts room. It’s a spacious facility that actually felt like a home to a lot of them. It was more than enough to fit all 59 of the senior citizens.
After a much touching encounter, the time came for all of us to part ways but, of course, not without one last heavy lunch and some final awarding at Elianas’ Resto Grill.
It’s been a heartwarming five set of days with the NLEX Lakbay Norte 5 crew. The flow of events in this trip was nothing short of smooth and productive at the same time. Having carried this out successfully for the past 5 years, I have no doubt that the North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB) will continue to provide a professionally managed tour in the years to come. This and the persistent effort of Manila North Tollways Corporation’s in building world-class highways, we can continuously expect more accessibility and convenience in being connected from Metro Manila to the rest of Central and Northern Luzon.
Given all that are easily available to us in the Philippines – natural resources and man-made innovations combined – there is absolutely every reason for us to look forward to a year filled with constant discovery in our own backyard. And North Luzon, dear folks, is a good place to start.