Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Mystery of Kapurpurawan

The botanists sorting through the green
On the road, in Ilocos Norte
I joined the post symposium trip of PNPCSI to Ilocos Norte.  We stayed in Northwestern University in Laoag and went on a 3 day whirlwind tour of the province from the common tourist attractions to the not so common areas where we got to explore the untouched flora. We were in the company of local and foreign delegates, some botanists, horticulturists, enthusiasts, collectors but all in general, plant lovers. I would say that most our company enjoyed the plants much more than the tourist spots. I heard more hoorays and moans when we spotted flowering trees than when we saw churches, the windmills and architecture.
Coastal vegetation of Kapurpurawan
Saltwater marsh
A network of saltwater pools and streams
In terms of the destinations we went to, it is Kapurpurawan in Burgos town which was most intriguing.  It was one of the last attractions we visited yet it made the most impact on me because of its unique landforms and vegetation. The cove is probably  a result of water and wind erosion. It created unique headlands, bays and a lot of undulating plains in between. Instead of a beach, the coast is covered with hard-edged sharp rocks, remnants of old coral reefs. Cutting through the hard surface are pools and small streams filled with salt water, like an estuarine swamp. And on one end, a headland is sculpted clean white mimicking a large block of chalk. It is like a big iceberg in tropical waters.       
Kapurpurawan means white, maybe so called because of the whiteness of this rock

The Kapurpurawan silhouette
Dwarfed mangroves
The patches of mangroves
Another weird thing is the flora.  Coastal species which grow big in other parts of the Philippines are dwarfed by the wind and the sea in  this part of Ilocos. The mangrove specimens, which are small trees, grow close to the ground like grass. Yet you know they are healthy because they flourish and flower. Just goes to show how diverse the Philippine landscape is - as diverse as the plants we saw in our trip.  The remaining green patches, plus the equally interesting landforms they grow in,  however small they have been reduced into, still solicited amazement from our botanist and plant enthusiast companions.
Unique rock landscape

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