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Eco-Tourism in the Philippines

Nelson Alcantara launches Project Ilocandia

eTN Staff Writer  May 28, 2011

Six lucky eco-tourists/adventure travelers will be given an opportunity to be hosted by eTN editor-in-chief Nelson Alcantara for the first-ever Project Ilocandia tour.

According to Alcantara, Project Ilocandia aims to to provide a cultural experience to tourists seeking to learn about the Ilocano way of life by following an eco-tourism model. He said: "I will personally be hosting an educational trip to Ilocos Norte (aka Adventuring in Ilocos) this summer. Only six slots are available. It will be an immersive experience that will highlight traditional Ilocano craftsmanship in pottery, Ilocano folklore, nature activities, Ilocano gastronomy and a chance to interact with locals."

The tentative itinerary for Project Ilocandia 2011 is below:
Day One: Arrival in Manila
Bus ride to Camachile House at Barangay 18
Tour of the community
Welcome reception with Ilocano Folklore entertainment

Day Two: Arts and Crafts Day
Among the industries available in the locality are pottery/ ceramics making, particularly the kiln-fired earthenware that comes in various shapes and sizes; from cooking pots, and stoves to water jars and well casings to roof tiles and flue pipes to miniature toys and flowerpots. The century old industry was dying but the present administration made it their primary concern to help the plight of the potters in the industry promotion and improvement of their products through various trainings, attendance to exhibits and the most valuable impact made was the construction of the downdraft kiln for their mass production. The façade of 365 plaza and the Robinson’s Mall is made of bricks which is one illustration of industry promotion. The pottery industry is the entry of the municipality to the One-Town-One Product project of the DTI which aims to promote it entire the country.

Dapil is a process of sugarcane production which connotes the hard work, patience, endurance, unity, discipline, and vision, among others, of the people involved in the industry to yield the desired products. These qualities are tested as the raw sugarcane stalks (unas) are milled to extract the sap then boiled and fermented to produce basi (a mild alcoholic drink) or curdled to produce molasses. The basi could be further distilled to come out with basi wine (arak ti basi) or aged to produce vinegar.

Today, dapil festival is a must see event for tourist as they will be able to feel how molasses are made and taste the different products using molasses gulped down with basi. Prominent personalities have experienced the dapil such as Gov. Linda Lingle and Mayor Alan Arakawa, both from the island of Hawaii, USA.

PANAGPANDAY (Blacksmith)
Black smith is creating objects from iron or steel by forging the metal; that is, by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut.

This industry produce objects such as wrought iron gates, grills, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, cooking utensils, horseshoes and weapons.

In Barangay 9, San Lucas and Barangay 10, San Paulo are the barangays where blacksmith originated.

San Nicolas is a town that is recommended for destination of folk arts’ collector.

It is the process of converting thin sheets of metals and aluminums into pails, basins, metal decorations and sprinkles.

Aside from the “damili” as the trademark of San Nicolas, the municipality also has its tinsmith industry for San Nicoleños are also skilled in this process.

Barangay 21, San Agustin, Barangay 18, San Pedro and Barangay 10, San Paulo are the barangays where tourists can find high-quality tinsmith products.

Tannery is a facility where tanning process is applied to produce leather.

Today, the main source of leather is mostly from animal skin such as snakes, crocodile, wild pig, elephant and ostrich that makes them endangered.

This industry called tannery, is a great help to minimize or eradicate the number of animals that are being endangered.

PANAGLAGA (Bamboo Weaving)
As bamboo is abundant in the locality, weaving has been one of the livelihood of San Nicoleños. Baskets, nets, hats, “kuribot”, and “bigao” are some of the products from bamboo weaving. These are more preferable to use for they are more durable and safer to use.

Weaved baskets and hats are usually used as props by San Nicoleños during the Damili Festival particularly during the Damili Street Dance Competition.

One of the means of transportation in the province is tricycle----a three wheel vehicle that can accommodate 3-4 persons that from time to time, San Nicoleños are riding on it to travel from one place to another.

These side cars are popularized and being ventured at Barangay 1, San Francisco, Barangay 18, San Pedro and Barangay 20, San Pablo. As a matter of fact, tricycle drivers from nearby municipalities come to San Nicolas to buy side car for their motorcycles.

Today, furnitures are widely seen in all households, offices, theme parks and even in beauty salons.

Barangay 1, San Francisco and Barangay 16, San Marcos are the areas in the town where products such beds, chairs, tables and even movable bahay-kubo can be found and bought there.

This industry is one of the main sources of livelihood in the town.

These hollow blocks come out within a mixture of farm water and ordinary soil that can be found within the bounds of the locality. It is sure to become very durable, comparable in strength to commercial products.

Barangays 1, 4, 7, 10, and 20 are the main producers of hollow blocks in San Nicolas, and these are exported outside the province.

Day Three: Taste of Ilocandia and visit to Coca Cola Bottles Plant
SUKA (Vinegar Making)
Vinegar can be used as additive, preservative and seasoning. It can prolong the span of food for it is an effective agent in preserving foods. It can also make food tastier and craved for more for it adds life to the smell of it.

Vinegar or “suka” is made from sugarcane stalks (unas) and placed in “burnay” (huge jar) which is enclosed or sealed for one to two weeks to be fermented.

This industry is traced in Baranagy 23, Sta. Cecilia.

Mouth watering. This is the best word to describe this Ilocos’ best sisiron which is a classic style of turning pork into crispy and juicy appearance.

The pork is chopped into large quantities and dip fried in boiling cooking oil.

Sisiron is best served with bagoong and tomato while eating with your bare hand alone.

As a matter of fact, C & E Pizza Pasta produced a pizza which was popularized by its name Bagnet Pizza for it is topped with creamy sauce, grated cheese and most especially, the sisiron bits.

Another product of San Nicolas that makes it proud of is the Longganisa. It is called to be the native-sausage, formed like a chain. It is made out of ground pork with garlic and peppermint as its flavoring.

San Nicolas has been selling and making longganisa for many years. This can be serve in all meal times especially during breakfast with fried rice and egg.

This product can turn people especially the tourists to crave for mor because it has its own aroma and appeal. Barangay 6, San Juan and Barangay 7, San Miguel are the barangays in the town where the production of longanissa originated and are known of.

Whenever people who are on the go with road trips, they would always think of something that they can give to their family or friends.

This instance, the crispy and tasty fish crackers and skin chicaron are the best “pasalubong” that tourists can have. These crackers are made out of flour, meat and fish added with seasoning to make it tastier.

As a matter of fact, these products also serve as chichirya (but nutritious) during the ample time or get together gatherings of groups or peers.

Mang Caloy which is located at Barangay 12, San Cayetano and Ama Joe of Barangay 22, San Guillermo are the number one manufacturers of fish crackers and skin chicaron in the municipality.

Empanada is made up of egg, mongo sprout (toge) and grated green papaya for ordinary orders and added with San Nicolas longganisa for special, covered with orange crust made up of flour with food coloring.

At some point, Batac City is known to be the hometown of this delicacy, but as time goes by, San Nicolas is also recognized as a cradle for it.

Empanada stands can be found and seen along the highway of San Nicolas especially in the poblacion area. It is best served with catsup or vinegar. Enjoy this food with the whole "barkada" (friends).

This is one of the native delicacies which can be found in the town. It’s common ingredients are grinded diket (glutinous rice), gata (coconut milk) and linga (sesame seeds), wrapped in a banana leaf.

Tupig is mostly served during Christmas Season in the rural areas but it is available throughout the year at the Public Market. In making this, patience and joy are the main ingredient to come up with an authentic tupig.

UKOY This toothsome cuisine is the Filipino version of shrimp fritters. It can be served during snack time or even an appetizer during lunch or dinner. The real taste of ukoy will come up if it when soaked in spicy vinegar.

Day Three: Visit to elementary and high schools to engage in a dialogue and learn about Philippine literature, heritage and culture.

Day Four: River explorations, including "river karaoke"

Day Five: Pagudpud Beach

Day Six: Free day

Day Seven: Departure

For more information or to apply for a spot, send an email with the subject "Project Ilocandia" to the address:

Nelson Alcantara launches Project Ilocandia

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