Paoay Church & Culili Point Sand Dunes Ilocos Norte Travel Destinations and How to Make You a Better Photographer | AvianQuests

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Paoay Church & Culili Point Sand Dunes Ilocos Norte Travel Destinations and How to Make You a Better Photographer

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Paoay Church Culili Point Sand Dunes Collage Ilocos Norte Philippines

Paoay Church

Saint Augustine Church Dawn (Spanish Iglesia de San Agustín de Paoay), commonly known as the Paoay Church which is located at Marcos Avenue, Paoay, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. The fastest route & time from Laoag City to reach Paoay Church is approximately 25 min (19.6 km) via the  Laoag - Paoay Road.

It's good that I arrived at Laoag City around 4:30 a.m. and took a jeepney to reach Marcos Avenue. By the way, Laoag City is the gateway to Paoay, Ilocos Norte. My aim/objective was to shoot at dawn, so since time was on my side, I have to run ahead of the sun. 

Paoay Church Dawn Ilocos Norte Philippines

I have full trust to serendipity and I arrived at 5:16 a.m. and did some scouting for good shooting spots and also took some camera (DSLR) test shots and this was one of them. According to Wiki/Wikipedia "Paoay Church was completed in 1710 and is famous for its distinct architecture highlighted by the enormous buttresses on the sides and back of the building." 

Saint Augustine Church Dawn Spanish Iglesia de San Agustín de Paoay commonly known as the Paoay Church Ilocos Norte Philippines

After getting my tripod set-up and at exactly 5:30 a.m., I took this image. 

Saint Augustine Church Dawn (Spanish Iglesia de San Agustín de Paoay), commonly known as the Paoay Church Ilocos Norte Philippines

Here's my favorite shot of Paoay Church at dawn. 
One Saint Augustine Church Dawn (Spanish Iglesia de San Agustín de Paoay), commonly known as the Paoay Church Ilocos Norte Philippines

Paoay Church was declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the Philippine government in 1973 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the collective group of Baroque Churches of the Philippines in 1993." - Wiki/Wikipedia

Paoay Church Ilocos Norte Philippines
This is the first time that I personally visited this beautiful place and I spent approximately 45 minutes fully visually immersed in the area. I asked a local where is the closest sand dune area and I was advised to take a 10 minutes tricycle ride to Culili Point Sand Dunes which I immediately did.

Culili Point 

Culili Point Sand Dunes Paoay Ilocos Norte Philippines

I just can't explain why I developed a strong disinterest in riding 4x4s that day. 

Culili Point Paoay Extract

I call this nature minimalism, my first Culili Point Sand Dunes image.

Coastal Culili Paoay Ilocos Norte Philippines

If you ever arrive at Culili Point at this time of the day, 100% guaranteed all the tiredness/stress will literally vanish. So still and quiet that you won't hear sea waves lapping the shoreline. 

Culili Point Early Morning Coastal View Paoay Ilocos Norte Philippines

No short cuts and go the long way down which my mind dictated to my body. I started to move around and go closer to the inland body of water where coastal locals call a "Sabangan" in Ilocano dialect, a place designed by nature where a confluence of freshwater and sea water meet.

Confluence of Fresh and Salt Water Culili Point Coastal Paoay Ilocos Norte Philippines

Gathered in the inland "shoreline waters" is a couple parked of makeshift bamboo rafts. By chance, I see a Culili local attending to what looks like a coastal livelihood area mainly designed for fishing.

"Coastal Parking"

Whilst I was looking with all curiosity at the parked water riding/catching implements (nets, bamboo rafts) and the coastal livelihood structures (marooned bamboo stilts), three boat rafts passed me by. Two of them were manned singly and one bamboo raft manned by two locals. Bamboo rafts are not motorized and are manually rowed by using small handmade wooden paddles. 

Inland Fisherfolks Culili Point Paoay Ilocos Norte

What I can audibly hear are gentle strokes of water as I watched the local fisherfolks riding their handmade bamboo rafts pass me by. I will make another in-depth standalone blog of Culili Point focusing more on coastal livelihood.

Coastal Self Portrait Culili Point Paoay Ilocos Norte Philippines

I went started going up and took this coastal self-portraiture. I highly advise future trekkers to this place to be very early as you can take maximum advantage of dawn landscape/seascape photography.

Overcast back end Culili Point Sand Dunes Paoay Ilocos Norte Philippines.

Just 15 minutes earlier, it was overcast and cool ....

Cool Shade Culili Point Paoay Ilocos Norte Philippines

As I reached the Culili Point staging area where there are open nipa huts for visitors/tour guide operators ... the heat was on at exactly 6:22 a.m. At a distance, I spotted a local passing by. 

Culili Point Sand Dunes

Tire Tracks Culili Point Paoay Ilocos Norte Philippines

Here's one side of the activities normal tourists pursue and leave once they are at Culili Point Sand Dunes. Personally, my mind was already set and that a leisurely walk on the sand dunes and doing some exploration and photography is what I consider more fulfilling.

Thrive Culili Point Sand Dunes Paoay Ilocos Norte Philippines

On the other side of the view, since I tend to alter my mindset especially whilst in a tourist area that I am not a mere tourist but a guest in quest of an adventure. Word of caution, don't be deceived by the vastness of the Paoay Culili Point Sand Dunes which is just so overwhelming to take in one go. It was good that my timing of being there very early in the morning worked to my advantage as there is no presence of 4x4 sand dune vehicles and tourists around. The feeling of being lost in a sandy with some patches of greens and coastal bamboo/wood structures. My vision was drawn towards a house at the distance. Looking at the cow hoofs footprints and a patch of grass signals that it will be a long day.

Culili Point Paoay Vast Sand Dunes Ilocos Norte Philippines

Here is vastness in one go and using a wide angle lens in one go gobbled up the scenery. Handholding the camera at the well-lighted scenery is good, however, always check your camera settings to be sure.

House on the Hill

House on a Hill Culili Point Paoay Sand Dunes Ilocos Norte Philippines

In a minute I reached the frontage of the house on the hill. I let my mindset just dominate my vision and interpretation as I let the natural flow of things be. No struggle of thinking but just a free flow of energies and selective camera clicks.

One House on the Hill Culili Point Sand Dunes Paoay Ilocos Norte Philippines

I used the flow of vegetation patch as the dominant foreground and the house my background in this landscape image. 

The heat was starting to become unbearable as I was sweating profusely. I remembered a scene where Bear Grylls mentioned something about dehydration and here are some valuable survival tips that I've picked up from past reads 

"Fluid Loss
Your body loses fluid at a rate of about two to three (2-3) liters (2.11-3.16qts) per day under normal conditions. This is through sweat, evaporation, digestion etc. In some conditions, you can lose up to two (2) liters (2.11qts) per hour. Even resting in the shade you can still lose about one (1) liter (1.05qt) per day. If you are unfortunate enough to have vomiting and or diarrhea you will lose even more fluid. Lost fluids need to be replaced or you will soon become dehydrated and you will lose your ability to think and perform efficiently.

Minimizing Fluid Loss

Fluid loss is unavoidable but there are steps you can take to minimize the amount you lose.

The following steps may seem extreme but they will help you minimize fluid loss and ultimately increase your chances of survival:


Exerting yourself will cause you to sweat to stay cool, which uses up precious fluid.

Don’t smoke or drink alcohol
If you smoke or drink alcohol, your body will use fluid to flush out your kidneys etc as your body goes into a detoxification process.

Laying directly on hot ground or heated surfaces such as rocks
If feasible, dig or clear a shallow trench in a shady spot and lay in it. The earth underneath will be cooler than the hot surface, but you must consider that the shade will move with the sun.

If water is extremely scarce. If water is available but in smaller quantities eat only small amounts avoiding fat (digesting fat requires a lot of fluid to break it down). If you eat without keeping your fluids levels up, your body will take fluid from wherever it is available, for digestion. Unfortunately, this will be from your vital organs and will cause further dehydration.

Fluid is lost through evaporation. Observing the steam which comes off from your breath on a cold morning will give you some indication of the amount which can be lost through evaporation.

Things you can do
Breathe through the nose and keep your mouth closed as much as possible
This will help you to avoid losing fluid through evaporation. Your mouth has a much larger, damp, surface area and therefore, you will lose much more fluid through your mouth than your nose.
Keep water in your mouth

When moving over a distance in the heat, take a sip of water and hold it in your mouth, without swallowing it, as you travel. This will slow the rate at which you lose fluid through breathing and it will help to stop your mouth and lips from drying out.

Travel at Night
In warmer regions, travel at night or early in the morning, where possible, and rest in a cool place during the heat of the day.

Keep cool
Stay in the shade where possible. Where there is no shade readily available, then you should erect something which will provide shade." survivor magazine

Culili Point Paoay Sandunes Ilocos Norte Philippines

I'll leave you guys with this landscape image of the blue sky, gray sands, and something hint: an unidentified flying object in between. Laughs, it's one of those long photo-docus that I've made and there will be definitely a concluding part 2 of this long blog post.

Thanks for dropping by. 😊

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