|Besides being a popular swimming spot, the sands of Pug-os Beach are used in salt-making
Only 30 minutes north of Vigan City, not far away from the highway, is the sandy cove of Pug-os in Cabugao town, which may very well be the best beach in Ilocos Sur. Besides being a popular swimming area for locals, its silvery sands also doubles as a salt-making bed for a local cottage industry. I’ve seen salt beds before, but not a salt-making process that utilizes beach sand and boiling to obtain the finished product.
|The salt mixture extracted from the sand is boil for up to eight hours to obtain the salt crystals.
|The finished product: Pug-os sea salt!
This traditional method of salt-making has been practiced by generations, according to one lady salt-maker, who took the time to explain the labor-intensive way they make salt. The first step involves pouring buckets of seawater on a section of the beach. After a day of drying, the salted sand is collected in a box strainer, where more seawater is poured into to dissolve the crystallized salt in the sand. The runoff is collected in a large metal pot; and boiled over a clay stove for up to eight hours to remove the excess water. The reduced mixture is then poured into a basket to collect the salt; the liquid drips down, cooling down through a rope or bamboo stick, upon which more salt crystallizes. This is later on collected as well.
The finished product is sold to villagers and locals at only PHP 30 for a large cup, weighing roughly 1.5 kilograms. No part of the process goes to waste. Even the leftover salty liquid collected in a hole in the sand is used to supplement the diet of carabaos (water buffalos), goats and other domesticated animals.
|Salt-making huts at Pug-os Beach in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur
HOW TO GET THERE: From Manila, take a Laoag-bound bus and alight at Pug-os National High School. Look for the “Cabugao Beach Resort” sign. A Partas bus ride from the Pasay terminal to Barangay Pug-os costs PHP 701. From Vigan, one can take a northbound as well (30 to 45 minutes, PHP 30/50 for a non-AC/AC bus). Located some 200 meters from the main road, Pug-os Beach is only a few minutes walk. If you miss this corner, you can always take a tricycle to the beach (PHP 30).
|Of course, Pug-os Beach also makes for an excellent place to enjoy the sea.
WHERE TO STAY: Ponce del Mar Resort offers affordable and basic accommodation that starts at PHP 700 for a twin fan room. Meals at PHP 65 to 100 only. Free wifi available. Mobile: +63 9163584907 or +63 908551660. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org