The Philippines

Seascapes around Ilocos Norte, North Luzon

Silhoutted Fisherman

The Philippines is a Republic in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. It is made of of an archipelago comprising 7,107 islands. Surrounded by water you have to the north across the Luzon Strait, Taiwan. West across the South China Sea is Vietnam. To the southwest across the Sulu Sea lies Borneo and to the south you have the Celebes Sea seperating it from the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi and the Moluccas.

Rocky Coast

A huge portion of Filipinos rely on the sea for their livelihood, due to the vast amount of Islands that make up the Philippines the Filipino people are never far away from the sea. Many live on the coast and work in the fishing trade although fishing nowadays is not what it used to be, stocks have been greatly depleted and most struggle to make a living this way.

Hauling in the net - Filipino fisherman on makeshift bamboo raft

Fisherman's Catch or maybe not!

The Philippinnes is divides roughly into three main geographical regions Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, here I am focussing on the Ilocos Norte region of north Luzon, particular around Pagudpud and its environs. Pagudpud itself is well known for its stunning idylic pristine beach which has been overlooked in the past but is now gaining in popularity.

Saud Beach - Pagudpud

Coconut palms adorn the beach

Pagudpud has a population of around 20,000 people and sees few tourists for most of the year but this is slowly changing.  For those willing to put themselves out to get there with either a flight from Manila to Laoag its nearest city (45 miles or 72 km's to the south) or a 10 hour coach journey you won't be let down. It is a relaxing place where buildings are no higher than two storeys on a whole. Accommodations can be found in small resorts or local homestays and you will find for most of the year you can have this lovely beach to yourselves.

Saud Beach Sunset

Long Exposure Sunset

Nearby Pagudpud is the town of Bangui (5 km's away) famed for its Wind farm. Located on the beach there are some 20 towering Wind Turbines equally spaced out cutting a rather impressive figure.

3 sec exposure to capture the motion in the wind turbines

If you are down on the beach at Bangui in the morning or late afternoon you will have a good chance of seeing the giant fishing net hauled in with a daily catch. A small boat lays a net from one part of the beach in a semi-circular fashion to another part of the beach maybe a couple of hundred metres away. Locals take hold of the net at either point and begin to slowly and laboriously haul in the net getting closer and closer to each other as they go. Encircling the fish they eventually meet after an hour or so of hard work and pull onto the beach what is hoped to be a big catch. I was told the catch these days of say two or three ton is a fraction compared to that of previous years!

After the work is done - what of the catch?

Saud Beach with Bangui Windfarm in the Distance

Other highlights around Pagudpud are Kaibigan Falls which is just off the main highway as one travels towards Maira Ira Point or The Blue Lagoon. To see the falls requires a small trek of around 45mins that runs besides rice paddies and a small river before branching off into the jungle.

Kaibigan Falls

About 16km away by road is Maira Ira point at Gaoa. Very popular place due to the Blue Lagoon being a couple of kilometres further on. Another beautiful white sand beach marred only in my opinion by the Hannah's resort which takes over most of the hillside behind the beach. Somewhat of an eyesore as you approach but can easily be overlooked when you are swimming in the turquoise coloured waters of the bay.

Mountains overlooking Maira Ira point at Gaoa

Long Exposure shot, 30secs using a B+W 10 stop ND filter

Whilst in the area myself I managed to take a few more Long Exposure shots as it was an ideal place for such seascape photography. The following images are taken around Saud Beach and the from the headland Burayoc Point.

Sunset fisherman - 8 secs using B+W 2 stop ND Grad filter

View from Burayoc Point - 30secs @f/13 using Hoya ND8 filter

Alternate View - 3 images tonemapped

Burayoc point - 30secs exposure

And if your lucky when the rains come and you're on the beach you might just see a beautiful rainbow which will really make your day, it certainly did mine.

Native Filipino boat or Banka (Bilog in Ilocano)

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