Where are the gold mines in the Philippines? Are there any untapped areas left?
The answer is YES.
If you love exploring, like a real individual willing to brave through the caves and mountains just to discover assorted earth treasures, or perhaps willing to tag along with miners and mineralogists, then my country the Philippines is the best place for you. I will recommend you to include this little gem of a town called Paracale, “The Town of Gold”, known to be one of the sources of gold in the Philippines.
During the Spanish colonialization in the 1500s, this little sleepy mining town was established around 1863 and some settlers along with the Spaniards found a gold mine after a couple of years. This has created an excitement so they started digging and searching along rivers and streams, and even Americans set up huge dredges, hence the name para cale which means “canal digger” came into existence. This little peaceful town only comprised of 59,149 people as per the census record.
We arrived in Paracale riding the hired van. Our first stop was at the municipal office to give us a little briefing and the places we’re about to visit. As mentioned before, it’s my first time in the Bicol region and I didn’t know that there are some parts of Bicol that don’t speak the native dialect Bicolano, including Paracale. Only a few locals there speaks the Bicolano dialect, specifically from some parts of the islands like Macolabo island. It just goes to show how vast the Bicol region is and I bet there are some parts that haven’t been explored yet by many.
Nuestra Señora De Candelaria Church
The church was established in 1611 and built by Franciscan friars. Made by strong hardwood and adobe cemented with egg whites, the beautiful historical church sits facing the eastern sea and was built to guard the pirates. Folklore was told that The Our Lady of Candelaria fought off the moros who attempted to invade the town, Amused by the sight of the little woman on the beach, her intruders came nearer only to find that the woman really meant business. In no time, she was waving and brandishing her sword to warn the pirates to flee. Wading through the foamy waters, she struck and thrust with such lightning speed and wonderful accuracy that her foes found no time to defend at the same time, her handful of enemies were swallowed in one huge gulp by the waters of the sea. The Virgin lost a finger in this battle, several attempts were later made by devotees to have her hand grafted with a new finger, but each attempt proved a failure.
We rode the tricycle going to Pulang Daga beach where our boat is waiting to bring us to Macolabo Island. These guys are so crazy and fun not minding the scorching heat of the sun and riding on top of this tricycle.
Pulang Daga beach is another tourist attraction of this town. Why is it called Pulang Daga (which directly translates to red rat), it’s because of the red soil in this town comprised of minerals like iron oxide. Interesting right?
There were many other boats on the waters, all out on similar errands, which brings the people going to and from the islands.
You may hire boats going to Macolabo Island or Calaguas Island and contact Pulandaga Calaguas Adventures owned by Ms. Shiela Andrade.
My imagination suddenly became active on our way to this little paradise. To tell you frankly, I am scared of the waters only because I don’t know how to swim. I had so many traumatic experiences in the past and drowning on the beach when I was 10 years old was one of them. But I can’t help getting struck by the peaceful and serenity of the vast blue waters. I imagined the divers and explorers who would seek their fortunes hunting for shipwrecks, discovering old artifacts and making it their hobbies. I also wish someday, I’ll have the courage to explore the depths of the sea, although the idea can be really scary.
We spent a few hours here swimming and enjoying the white sand and the quietness of the island. No tourist flocking the shores, no vendors, only cute local dogs joining in the fun and entertaining its visitors.
After docking, we each chose our spots to take photos. We are bloggers after all, and for us, we don’t find this superficial. It is a requirement that we need to do this in order to help local businesses to thrive with the help of promotions and word-of-mouth through digital avenues.
Boats are perfect to “beautify” a photo, aside from the subject of course.
Overwhelmed with my IG photoshoots? Okay, we move on to lunch! We ate my favorite Sinantolan cooked by Mr. Mark Zamudio’s mom. Mark is our tourism officer who accompanied us during the tour. His mom also owned the Calaguas Villas Resort
I can eat this Sinantolan everyday without any complaints.
This little island is totally relying on solar energy. It has enough solar generation capacity and megawatt hours of battery storage, enough to power the whole island night and day.
We had to leave the island really early because of the threat of rainfall, which could cause angry waves. We don’t want to be stuck in the island since we still have another activity to try, which is the ATV!
We pulled away from the island, ready to go back to the main town of Paracale. I was a little shaken when the angry waves hit the sides of the boat and for some reason, the scared little girl in me surfaced and I wanted to meditate, however, it is too distracting and as much as I want to try being equanimous, I failed. I guess I need more practice with this skill.
The ATV experience
Preparing for a bumpy ride going on top of the mountain to check out the beautiful scenic views of the whole of Paracale. Sponsored by RRC ATV Motors, we rode their ATV on pairs. ATV rental only costs 900 good for 2 persons, and if you prefer the boggy, you just add 100 pesos. Using the golden trail going uphill was a bit challenging but fun as we stumbled upon huge rocks causing us to bounce a little. We took the moderate course suitable for beginners and then there’s a hard trail for those who are already experts in driving the ATV.
This is what greeted us upon arriving n top of the mountain.
Whenever I see mountains, I see this parallel between nature and life. Mountains aren’t just beautiful, they are very symbolic to life. It represents struggle, challenge, disappointments, courage, and triumph. This isn’t just about having instagrammable photos. There’s more to see than our naked eye. Close your eyes and be aware of what nature tells you. It’s giving you positive energy and vibrations. It’s touching your soul. Sadly, most of us are unaware of this and we ignore these subtle signs that the Universe is sending us. We just become so absorbed by worldly things, too focused on having so much money, so much fame, all thinking that this will equate to happiness. But you know what, since I had the privilege to experience being alone and silent for 10 days on a meditation camp, without anything to do, no phone and no anything, I appreciated nature even more. My senses are more active and more in-tune with the Universe, and I realized I can actually live in this world all stripped of these things—gadgets, TV, internet, etc, and just live a simple life, on an island or maybe anywhere peaceful, and be really happy. Genuinely happy with the simple pleasures of life.
HOW TO GO TO PARACALE, CAMARINES NORTE:
From Manila, you can ride the bus in Cubao (Superlines is the most known bus) with the signboard going to Paracale Panganiban. To go to the islands of Macolabo, you may ride a tricycle going o the fish ports, and from there, these boats will transport you going to the island. You may contact Pulandaga Calaguas Adventures for boat rentals.
If via air, you’ll be coming from Naga Airport going to Daet, Camarines Norte. Upon arriving in Daet, you can either ride the jeepney or passenger vans going to Paracale.
I am indeed lucky that I was chosen as one of the bloggers to experience this. I am very happy to spread the word through my writing and telling everybody that this town Paracale is indeed a wonderful gem carefully preserved, maintaining its simplicity and peaceful way of living that attracts many tourists from Manila.