The Paoay Sand Dunes wonder has lured thousands of tourists since the Himala sa Buhangin Festival staged its maiden presentation in May 2012 which partly featured unique and thrilling sands sports adventures in the country.
According to the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office, the Paoay Sand Dunes is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the north which recorded over 150,000 local and foreign visitors last year.
Local tourism officers are expecting an increase of visitors this year as the third Himala sa Buhangin! Festival will present bigger and more exciting activities next month.
Set on May 1, the biggest and most recognized outdoor arts and music festival in the north will offer various sand sports activities including the famous 4×4 ride, sand boarding, zorbing and sand castle-making.
“Tourists really enjoy 4×4 riding, sand boarding and many more sports here in Paoay Sand Dunes. They say it is one of their happiest and most exciting experiences in Ilocos Norte,” said Elmer Ramento of Brgy. 37 Calayab, Laoag City, a member of Paoay Off Roaders and Adventure Group.
Paoay Sand Dunes turned into a beehive of sand sports activities, thanks to Himala sa Buhangin! festival, he said.
Before, only few tourists visited the sand dunes until television shows and the Himala sa Buhangin! Festival popularized the place. As a result, more tourists are now coming here in droves.
Aside from these exciting adventures, the festival will also highlight avant-garde art installations by resident visual artist Leeroy New and the unveiling of Raphael David’s sculpture of Flavio, the iconic character played by Fernando Poe Jr. in the film series ‘Panday.’
Himala sa Buhangin! Festival is one of the highlights of the Provincial Fiesta which honors Ilocos Norte’s patroness, La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc.
The unique celebration of La Milagrosa Festival will also stage the reenactment of the arrival of La Virgen Milagrosa along the white sands of Logo Cove in Barangay La Virgen Milagrosa in Badoc town more than 400 years ago.
Launched in May 2012 by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte through Governor Imee Marcos, the festival aims to highlight the potentials of Paoay Sand Dunes in conducting various sand sports activities in the north.
Last year, Himala sa Buhangin! Festival featured the unveiling of the life-size statue of Elsa, the iconic character of Nora Aunor in the film ‘Himala’ which was entirely shot in Paoay Sand Dunes in 1982.
The event paved way for the recognition of the town of Paoay as the ‘Center of Film Tourism’ in the Philippines.
Gov. Marcos said that through Himala sa Buhangin!, Paoay Sand Dunes has already been transformed into a lively, eventful and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. —Jennifer T. Pambid, PGIN-CMO