"There should be a tourism plan for these places."
A female lawmaker and tourism advocate wants Saud Beach and Blue Lagoon Beach in Pagudpud town, Ilocos Norte to be the next major tourist destination in the country, but says their development should be guided with sustainability and preservation objectives.
House Deputy Majority Leader Ria Christina FariÅ„as, representing the First District of Ilocos Norte, says the twin beaches of Saud and Blue Lagoon have the makings of the “next Boracay,” given their creamy white and powdery sand that is comparable to that of Aklan’s island resort.
Ria believes that tourism can unleash the economic potential of Ilocos Norte province which has spectacular natural wonders as well as key cultural and historical sites.
This is why Ria, daughter of former Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, co-authored House Bill No. 10095 and House Bill 10008, declaring Saud Beach and Blue Lagoon Beach as tourist destinations.
While the idyllic beaches already draw foreign and local visitors, Ria believes that the formal declaration of the sites as tourist destinations will direct government resources to their sustainable development. The proposed measures will also generate thousands of jobs and livelihood opportunities for the residents of Ilocos Norte’s first district, she says.
The first district includes Laoag City and the municipalities of Bacarra, Bangui, Pasuquin, Piddig, Sarrat (San Miguel), Vintar, Burgos (Nagparitan), Pagudpud, Adams, Carasi and Dumalneg.
Under the proposed bills of Farinas, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Public Works and Highways should craft a comprehensive development plan, including infrastructure projects, for the twin beaches.
Ria says Saud Beach is what Boracay used to look like in its prime. It is known for its two-kilometer fine and creamy white sand that frames the pristine water of the heart-shaped bay. From the shore, one will be greeted with the beautiful windmills of Bangui, the clear water of the South China Sea and the rolling hills of Ilocos Norte. The beach is dubbed as the “Boracay of Northern Philippines.”
In 2008, the Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun Newspaper named Saud Beach as one of the top beaches in Asia. In April 2021, it was listed among the 25 most beautiful beaches in the world by New York-based travel magazine Travel & Leisure.
“It is within the best interest of the government to ensure the sustainability and preservation of this natural beauty by providing a comprehensive development plan to ensure that the beach maintains its stature while promoting it to both local and foreign tourists,” says Ria.
HB 10095, authored by Ria and Party List Probinsyano Ako Rep. Rudys Caesar FariÅ„as I, aims to declare the Saud Beach as a tourist destination, mandating the Department of Tourism and its attached agencies, in coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways and in consultation with the local government unit of Pagudpud, to come up with a development plan for the beach and its surroundings.
Meanwhile, the Blue Lagoon is adjacent to Saud Beach. HB 10008, authored by Ria and Rudys Caesar, also seeks to declare Maira-Ira Cove or Blue Lagoon as a tourist destination to enhance its development with the support of the national government. Ria says this will ensure the area’s sustainability and preservation by providing a comprehensive development plan to guarantee its maintenance while promoting it for both local and foreign tourists.
The majestic beach used to be a secret getaway for the locals, but because of its rustic beauty, it has eventually gained attention of adventurers and sightseers. The Blue Lagoon is slowly becoming the next surfers’ haven because of the area’s strong winds that also power the Bangui windmills, providing electricity to the whole province.
Ria says to ensure the development of Saud Beach and Blue Lagoon Beach, the DOT, in coordination with the concerned local government units and agencies of the government, should prepare a tourism development plan involving the construction, installation and maintenance of appropriate infrastructure and facilities to encourage tourism in the area.
She says the development plan should ensure the preservation and conservation of the natural beauty and resources of the area and conform with the concept of ecotourism as provided in the national ecotourism strategy jointly issued by the DENR and the DOT.
“Moreover, it will provide job opportunities for the residents of Ilocos Norte,” says Ria.
Dindo Danao is a public relations strategist. He is the managing partner of A. Danao Media, a public relations firm.