Currimao, Ilocos Norte: Pangil Coral Rock Gardens, Tabacalera Ruins & Spanish Watchtower Ruins
|Pangil Coral Rock Gardens – a series of tidal pools and coralline rock formations stretching for more than two kilometers.|
Despite its exotic name, Currimao remains to be one of Ilocos Norte’s less-visited towns, just like neighboring Badoc. Actually, the town’s name carries a lot of history. During the Spanish period, when Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade was still flourishing, Muslim pirates frequented the coast of the West Philippine Sea. Watchtowers were built at two strategic points, one at Arboledan Point and the other at Barangay Torre. Whenever pirates – who were known as cumaws in the native tongue at the time – appeared in the distance to attack the villages, the watchmen warned the people by shouting correr which means “to run”. It was from these two words, correr and cumaws that the name Currimao was derived. Today, the Spanish watchtower still stands at Barangay Torre in a sorry, crumbled state…
|Ruins of the largest tabacalera (tobacco storehouse) in Ilocos, built in 1869|
Nearby, another historical structure lay in ruins: the tabacalera (tobacco storehouse) of the Tobacco Monopoly – or Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas – which inaugurated its trade line between Manila and Aparri, thus eventually making Currimao an intermediate port. This storehouse is reputedly the largest in the region, and by far the most incredible of its kind I’ve seen, a crumbling vestige of economic history that attests to the establishment of Currimao in 1869 as a permanent storehouse of the Company, thereby greatly contributing to its growth. People from Paoay, Batac, and other towns who were originally peddling and trading with the inhabitants of Currimao finally decided to settle in the place permanently. I hope the local government realizes the structure’s historical and architectural significance, and adaptively restores it as a museum, resort or restaurant.
|Ruins of the Spanish watchtower, which were built to warn people of Muslim pirate attacks|
Past the watchtower and tabacalera ruins is the impressive coastline of Pangil Coral Rock Gardens. Reminiscent of the Magpupungko tidal flats in Siargao Island, these extensive rock gardens is a series of tidal flats, rock pools and coralline rock formations that stretch for more than two kilometers in Barangay Pangil. Locals enjoy swimming in the hidden rock pools that glow in resplendent aquamarine and peridot hues. For its nostalgic historical decay and exceptional coastline, the low-key town of Currimao provides a rather fascinating – yes, even “exotic” – detour on a visit to the province.
HOW TO GET THERE: From Manila, ride a GV Florida or Partas bus headed for Laoag, and alight at Currimao town (9 hours).