I used to be a Fernando Poe Jr. fan when I was a kid. My favorite of course were the Panday series and I’ve always wondered where those epic fight scenes with his arch nemesis Lizardo were shot, in the Middle East perhaps, I thought to myself.
I never imagined that those scenes were filmed just ten hours away by bus from Manila. Encompassing 85 square kilometers of arid land, the Paoay Sand Dunes in Ilocos Norte is something out of the ordinary for a tropical country like the Philippines.
I have been dying to see this dry landscape ever since visiting the Ilocos Region years ago but it was always somehow never in the itinerary and when I got the chance to visit it by myself, I can’t find a cheap way to get there.
I was ecstatic then when the powers that be of Lakbay Norte 3 decided to drop by for a few minutes at the Paoay Sand Dunes for a few Temtation Island photo ops.
The blinding heat of twelve noon greeted us as we got off the bus and stepped into the dry landscape of the sand dunes. My mind was flashing images of Panday and Frank Herbert’s Dune. I kept expecting to see a sandworm suddenly leap out of the curving dunes and FPJ to appear and plunge his sword down.
Considered a National Geologic Monument, the landscape’s a neverending sea of brown and grey punctuated once in a while by green pine trees and hardy dessert plants. The Lakbay Norte team looked like ants on hills; we were dwarfed by the immensity of the desert.
Besides gawking at its beauty, I read about how one can ride its dunes via 4x4 trucks, not as fun as a Fremen riding a sandworm, but totally exhilarating nonetheless. I have also heard of sandboarding activities in the area which is perfect for adrenaline junkies.
Our visit at Paoay’s Sand Dunes took a total of ten brief scorching minutes.
I wish I was able to explore its landscapes more, I wish I was able to ride a 4x4 and surf its sandy waves and I wish I was able to wait for the sun to rise and set on its infinite horizon. But one step at a time; for now, I’m actually satisfied to just be able to set foot on its sandy hills.