The first destination for the fifth day of the Lakbay Norte 3 tour was at La Union’s Holcim compound. Today we are going to walk; as evident on my blog’s name, I love walking be it on hard concrete or rough trails.
A brief introduction was in order before we took off. Holcim is a Swedish mining company that supplies cement and aggregates for construction. They have four cement production sites across the country and is one of the leading cement suppliers around the world. Sounds bad for our environment right?
So what’s an ecotrail doing in their production yard? It turns out Holcim isn’t like many of the big bad mining companies out there. They’re actually trying to promote a sustainable way of mining; greening their mining locations, making it as good or even better if its possible than when they first touched the land.
The Bacnotan Ecotrail in La Union is just one of their green projects. Made not only for the enjoyment of their staff, it is also meant as a recreational area for the general public as well.
After introductions were made, we started on the trail at nine in the morning. The sun was just starting to heat up, casting golden colors on the rustling leaves overhead. An ascending dirt path lined with bamboos signals the start of the trail. The air was starting to get humid as we went up. Here we go!
The well-maintained path is lined on both sides by nothing but greens. Our silly chatter, broken only by birdcalls and nature sounds.
The trail is really not that long, taking only about a quarter of an hour to fully traverse. It is not a walk in the park though, almost half of the path winds up and down through the hilly forest. It was a leisurely if somewhat tiring walk.
Afterwards, the team was moved to a bare land that has just been mined by the company. The place was as desolate as desolate can be; there were a few trees at the perimeter but most or the land was just raw earth.
Committed to be a responsible mining company, Holcim has already planned the long term redevelopment of this bare land into a lush park.
We helped plant trees hoping to reap a greener landscape after five to eight years. It is interesting to note that even though the company could have just bulldozed everything, they left a few towering landscapes. They say it would be an interesting feature after the land has been greened to a park.
But I’m still having doubts; are they really serious in their endeavors? My questions were all answered after we had a quick snack at a grassy knoll where a colorful Harry Potteresque tent was put up.
We again headed to another trail, this time a planted forest from a mined location. Our guide says it took more than five years for the trail to reach its current woody-tangled-up status. Although the trees are not as tall as the previous ecotrail yet, the forest looks lush and healthy. Nowhere can I see the dried-earth look of a mining location.
Aside from the current green trails at the compound, Holcim is still bent on improving everything like having campsites, treehouses and other outdoor activities for the local community.
To say that I’m impressed was an understatement. It’s not everyday that you hear a mining company that’s trying to do things right. The industry which is usually associated with the destruction of our environment has been given a new light by Holcim; let’s just hope all others follow suit.
La Union, Ilocos Region
Phone: (072) 888-4252
GPS Location: 16.769582,120.335312 | Click to view location on Google Maps