Road Trip to Ipo and Angat Dam in Norzagaray, Bulacan

Norzagaray , Bulacan province-Philippines

After the tour of Pinagrealan Cave system , Our group headed for two of the most important dams which supply water and vital electricity for Metro Manila , Bulacan and nearby provinces.  The Nissan Urvan that we rode along the way is very comfortable and the van owner is also a member of the Nissan Urvan Club . They would have regular road trips to different tourist spots . We need to move around the road side to take a clear photo of the dam .  Unfortunately,  we saw some trash uncollected along the roadside , They are not noticeable to passing motorist since tall cogon grass cover the trash.

Ipo Dam ( photo by the author) 

 The dam is located about 7.5 kilometers downstream of the Angat Dam in Norzagaray  Bulacan province. It was a part of the Angat -Ipo and La Mesa ( Fairview/ Novaliches) water system. Its normal level is 101 m.

L-R Mr. Roy Vincent Santigao , Mr. Rence Chan , Mr. Jam Ki , Mr. Allan Martinez , Ms. Maria Rona Beltran , Mr. Gilbert Dino , Mr. Ruben Bala and Mr. Dennis Dy Kho  (photo courtesy of  Mr. Jam Ki ) 

Much of the surrounding hills are colored brown , There are also disturbances in the land . On the viewing decks ( view deck)   , There are few mature trees which covers the slope.

There are some rustic bamboo waiting shed in which an ideal place to take photos of the nearby dam. There are also makeshift vendors near the waiting shed selling buko juice and other snacks items from passing motorists , tourists, bike groups and road trippers .

Some of the bamboo waiting shed were project of the municipal government of Norzagaray . This is to provide an ideal resting and picturesque place for all passing motorists.

Ipo dam ( Photo courtesy of Mr. Ruben Bala Jr. )

The watershed has an area of about 70 square kilometers and receives an average annual rainfall of 3,500 millimeters. Tributaries to the Angat River at this section include the Ipo, Sapa Pako and Sapa Anginon Rivers. These tributaries drain into the Angat River from the eastern section of the watershed.  You should have  prior arrangements before the Ipo Dam management will allow entry to their facilities .

Bitbit River ( photo courtesy : Mr. Ruben Bala Jr.)

We took several souvenir photos before we headed to the famed Bitbit River nearby , The place is ideal spot for nature photography , bird watching, rappelling, bungee jumping bridge free fall and nature trail walk.

Unfortunately , We were not able to meet the people who had proper equipment. Our group were just contented to see the sight of the river from the bridge. Perhaps some other time . We also saw several makeshift river huts good for camping and picnic .

Bitbit Bridge ( photo courtesy : Mr. Ruben Bala Jr.)

Bitbit Bridge with its panoramic view of the surrounding mountains , river  , coupled with the wonderful view of nature in full circle are the reasons why it is a favorite among thrill seekers.  Our group decided to go meet the Barangay Chairman of Barangay San Lorenzo , Norzagaray .

National Power Corporation main gate ( photo by the author)

After making a courtesy call to the barangay chairman of the place , We made an unplanned tour of Angat Dam.  For those planning to visit the place, There are strict security protocols and briefing .  Each of the visitors must logged-in their names at the security office and small piece of note is handed to every security check-point within the dam premises. There is a small fee of Php25.00 which goes to the upkeep of the viewing deck and maintenance of the ecological office.

Angat reservoir with hydroelectric power plant ( photo by the author) 

For larger group ( around 30 or more ) a written permit or an appointment must be made prior to the date of the tour. NAPOCOR will  require a short briefing and a guide for the group. Since our visit was coordinated with the barangay and local government of Norzagaray (  Kuya Roy Santiago -our guide knows his way around the facility ) Hence our small group  did not undergo a rigid briefing . According to Kuya Roy , There was a viewing deck which was funded by the local government of Norzagaray .

Angat Hydroelectric Power Plant ( photo courtesy : Mr. Ruben Bala Jr.)

Angat Dam

The reservoir supplies about 90 percent of raw water requirements for Metro Manila through the facilities of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System  and it irrigates about 28,000 hectares of farmland in the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga.

Angat Dam is located in Barangay San Lorenzo (Hilltop), Norzagaray, Bulacan. It supplies potable water to Metro Manila and powers a hydro-electric power plant. The dam is 131 meters high and impounds water from the Angat River that subsequently created the Angat Lake.

It has three gates opening a total of 1.5 meters to gradually release water that had accumulated due to incessant rains during typhoons.

AREP Ecology Center

Not all areas are  accessible to photography , Angat Dam spillway is off limits to photography and  thus only limited at the viewing deck and outer perimeter gate ( security protocol ) . There were several  2 to 3 more security sentry gate before we reach the viewing deck .

small landscaped garden with concrete tables and chairs

The construction of the dam started on November 1961 and finished on October 16, 1967 spanning almost 6 years . The watershed encompasses portions of the towns of Norzagaray , Doña Remedios Trinidad ( DRT ),  San Jose Del Monte  in Bulacan.  Total land area is 62,309 hectares.

viewing deck

group photo by Mr. Allan Pardilla Martinez

After the group photo , we decided to explore the lower parts of the dam where we saw a thriving community of Dumagats and bought some snacks at the nearby sari-sari store

Dumagat children ( photo courtesy : Mr. Ruben Bala Jr.) 

There are also several communities of Dumagats and locals which lived within the Angat watershed areas. They are living there even before the dam was constructed and the Dumagats consider the place as their ancestral domain.

native pig

They used to be semi-nomadic, putting up temporary homes wherever they could find sustenance from hunting, fishing and from crops, fruits and other products from the forest. We also saw a native pig with litters, the moment they saw our group the litter began hiding .

Dumagat communities

There were between 500 to 800 plus Dumagats tribes living within the site. Some had intermarried local people.

boats

Some of the tribes have small rafts and boats which they use to cross the dam. They also harvest bamboo , root crops or vegetables which they sell to locals downstream .

Angat Rainforest and Eco Park

Dike Elementary School

One of the projects of the local government ( office of the Mayor)  is installation of solar panel and electricity within the community . There are several more living on the other side of the dam.

Travel Organizer:
 Lakad Pamana  is a a local travel and advocacy organizer which promotes the local tour of Norzagaray and Bulacan province .
The whole day tour includes well-known Local restaurants, Pinagrealan cave, Angat Dam , Ipo Dam ,  Punduhan sa mga Dumagats , Bato sa Bitbit trekking .  ( itinerary may vary and can be customized upon request of the group).
There will be an organized tour scheduled on May 1, 2016 .
Note: There is a minimum number of participants of 12 people per van for those planning to book a whole day tour.

For Booking & Inquiries:

Globe – 0975 733 6464
Sun – 0923 346 7575
Viber – (+63) 975 733 6464

Contact Person :GILBERT S. DINO

Email – lakad_pamana@yahoo.com.ph

Gastronomic Treat in Norzagaray , Bulacan

Norzagaray , Bulacan province -Philippines

Lakad Pamana dabarkats whenever we had provincial tour would sample local dishes and restaurants . Norzagaray is particularly rich in local foods and had its share of well-known restaurants and culinary heritage.

lunch buffet

After the hearty lunch buffet which consists of cripsy pata and crispy fried chicken with special soy sauce and atchara from JL Jamie’s Crispy Pata and Restaurant , fried dalagang bukid , munggo , rice and soft drink.  , We proceeded at the San Pedro’s pavilion for another round of food trip.

Seated: Mrs. Maricar San Pedro -Pelayo , Mayor Alfredo ” Fred”  Germar , Mr. Pelayo together with Lakad Pamana and the group

We were invited to the birthday party  of the local tourism officer and community affairs officer III   Ms. Maricar San Pedro husband held at the San Pedro’s residence . The hosts graciously “welcomed” the group despite last minute advisory .

Torres & Joaquin Catering Services

We took some time to sample sample food that the caterer served . Their specialties included  Arroz de Valenciana ,  vegetable chopseuy , steamed prawns, lengua estofado ( ox tongue ) , lumpiang ubod with sauce , spaghetti carbonara , sinampalukan manok ( chicken soup cooked with young tamarind leaves)  , lechon .  Desserts like serbert made from lychee and buko , coconut and beans  and fresh slices of watermelon .

visitors

Torres and Joaquin Catering Service ( since 2002)

Address: Km 40 Pulong Buhangin, Santa Maria , Bulacan

Contact : (044) 328-0179 Cellphone : (0917) 857-4587 (0917)808-38-48

Facebook Page: Torres and Joaquin Catering Services

San Pedro’s Pavilion signage 

San Pedro’s Pavilion is a private function area with the property of the parents of Ms. Maricar San Pedro -Pelayo .

pavilion

The place is good for weddings, baptism or special event.  It can be rented for Php 6,000 during day time and Php 7,000 during nigh-time.

smaller gazebo

There are smaller gazebos within the property for smaller group – around 10 to 12 people. We finally took an opportunity to have our photo taken with the mayor together with the gracious host . Some  bloggers had an informal conversation with Ms. Maricar San Pedro-Pelayo about the role of tourism in their municipality .

small greenhouse with collection of Denrdobium orchid hybrids

We finally bid farewell to our gracious host and proceeded to the next destination for  food tasting .

JL Jamie’s Crispy Pata

JL Jamie’s Crispy Pata and Restaurant- This restaurant is one of the best places to dine whenever you are in Norzagaray , Bulacan. They also have a branch located in Santa Maria , Bulacan.  The restaurant is located  near the Norzagaray Municipal Hall grounds so almost every government employees had eaten at this place.

facade of the restaurant also have several succulents and cacti

The place is had an interesting nipa hut and tree house , The nipa hut is good for small group . We were met by the manager and daughter of the proprietor .

specialty foods

The Crispy Pata  price range Php 550 to Php 650. According to one of the staff, it take more than 4 hours to boil the crispy pata and deep fry  into perfection.

crispy pata

Other popular menus includes  Crispy Ulo Php 480 /Php 500 , Liempo ( Fried or Grilled)  Php 150  , Fried Chicken Php 300 , Chicharon Bituka Php 120 , Kambing Kaldereta Php 150 per order , Kambing Adobo Php 150 per order , Kilawin Php 150 per order , Papaitan Baka Php 130

They also have Sizzling Gambas Php 130 , Sizzling Mixed Seafood Php 150 , Sizzling Sisig Php 130 Kinilaw Tanigue at Php 150 and Kinilaw na Igat  at Php 130 ( prices quoted are based on our April 24 tour and is subject to change )

crispy bituka with vinegar

We also liked the crispy bituka with vinegar and chopped chillies and onions . There is no after taste or rancid smell coming from the pork intestines .

interior of the restaurant

The restaurant was featured in several television shows like Biyahe ni Drew Arellano which aired on September 2, 2013 , Day Off of QTV channel 11 which aired on June 28, 2014 and Ms. Doris Bigoria of ABS-CBN channel 2 visited the restaurant on December 30, 2015 .

palmera with native orchids like sanggumays

There are also a small pocket  garden are with native orchids and plants .are  several nipa huts and tree huts.

spiral staircase going up to the tree house

fish pond

Address : 0646 A. Payumo St. Municipal Access Road, Norzagaray

Bulacan

The restaurant opens daily from 7:00am until past 9:00pm

Telephone : (044) 815 8108

Facebook Page: JL Jamie’s Crispy Pata and Restaurant

There are a lot more local restaurants that we failed to visit during the tour ,  i am sure that there will still lot more restaurants to visit.

Note: all photos were taken by the author, any person who wish to grab the photos for personal use , please cite this blog as link .

The group would like to ” THANK” the local tourism officer Ms. Maricar San Pedro-Pelayo , Mayor Alfredo Germar , Mr. Roy Vincent Santigao and LJL Jamie’s Crispy Pata and restaurant for the invite .

A Visit to the Historic Pinagrealan Cave in Norzagaray, Bulacan

Sitio Upper Bigte , Barangay Minuyan , Pinagrealan Cave, Norzagaray , Bulacan province -Philippines

The Pinagrealan cave system is accessible commuting via jeepneys and bus coming from North Caloocan, Novaliches , Fairview and via EDSA.  This is a favorite get- away among people living in northern part of Metro Manila . Aside from real nature trek adventure , there are a lot of interesting rock formations,  resorts and river system which traverse this place.

entrance arch of Norzagaray , Bulacan via San Jose del Monte City

Norzagaray is a first class municipality of the province of Bulacan . Political boundaries of Angat and Pueblo de Casay y Matictic were demarcated and the newly created town was renamed as “Norzagaray” in honor of the said Governor-General Fernando de Norzagaray (1857-1860). The place is also known for shorten word ” GARAY “.

signage to the cave

The signage had a lot of government agencies attached to the signage like Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Historical Commission of the Philippines and local government of Norzagaray . The cave system is about 300 meters from the main highway . We also saw some private houses that were constructed near the cave .  Development is inevitable .

private pool and cottages

The road leading to the cave is paved with crush marbles and pebbles – a by product of quarry and mining near the vicinity . The cave underwent beautification and restorations. , these are made through the initiative of the Local Government Unit of Norzagaray.

The owner of the lot near the cave ( private lot) constructed a small pool with several cottages . They are renting the place for a standard fee of Php 3,500 to Php 4,000 for a group of 20 to 50 people. We think that the pool cannot accommodate a lot of people , so it is safe to say that – 30 to 35 people or less would be ideal.

cottages with tables and chairs plus grilling area.

It was in 1896 when the cave was a site  of secret meeting and a camp of the Filipino revolutionary forces during the war against Spain.  Andres Bonifacio and his men also hid in the cave network, but it was not well documented. The cave used to be called Minuyan Cave during the 19th century until late early part of the 20th century.

history timeline

In the year 1898, during the Filipino-American war,  it was  used as hideout of General Emilio Aguinaldo (The first President of the Philippines) and General Pio del Pilar try to set-up a camp within the cave . It is where they hid and have a make shift tents, mostly made of light materials.

It was also used as a sanctuary by the Japanese Imperial Army when the Philippines was liberated by American Forces.

waiting shed for visitors

Much of the work and road improvements were done by the local government thru the office of the current mayor .

Mr. Edison Tolentino is one of the tour guides of the place

important reminders to those visiting the cave

There are no entrance fees except when one enters the cave system which the land owner would rent caving hat  and with separate flashlight which cost Php 50.00 .

group photo with lifestyle , travel bloggers and local media at the entrance of the cave

The cave system can be flooded during the wet season ( monsoon season June to November ) . The place that we pose for our souvenir photo is a spillway .

 Pinagrealan cave entrance

The cave system is about 1 kilometer with parts of the cave with waist deep water . There were colonies of bats inside the cave , we also saw some crickets and small spiders. A journey inside the cave would be between 1 hour to 1 hour and a half .

ugly graffiti marks

Another sad reality is that some people have fond of drawing their names unto the cave walls.  Some parts of the cave have a lot of vandalism caused by people who do not know the proper etiquette of spelunking and visiting a natural wonder. I hope that thru this blog-site ,  People would be properly educated . They should also avoid holding the crystal formation with their bare hands since natural oil of hands will ceased their growth.

crystal formation

There were areas with pristine condition. But there are still treats of development at the nearby rock formations by cement and quarry companies. Some of them got permits from local and national government over a long period of time. Contract  would be between 25 years and 50 years  .  Famous rock formations like Rhino’s Rock  Formation, Lioness Head were in a serious threat . Fortunately along with the support of the locals and other mountaineering , outdoor groups , travel bloggers and concern citizens took some legal actions that led to the suspension of the plan.

Ms. Maria Rona Beltran , Mr. Dennis Dy Kho together with local tourists

We were also met by a group of local bike tourists from Bulacan , One of them have gone to the cave network at least 3 times . His 2 other friends were first timers .  Tip for the guide is necessary and can be shared upon the group.

Note : all photos are taken by the author , For those who wanted to grab the photos for personal and other uses, please cite this blog link .

How to Get There

There are many routes and way on how to get to the Pinagrealan Cave.

BUS from EDSA to Tunggkong Mangga ( Grotto- San Jose del Monte ) then take jeepney ride from Tunggkong Mangga to Bigte , Tricycle ride from Rotunda to the cave.

SM Fairview or Lagro -Jeepney station to Garay or Bigte , then from rotunda take a tricycle ride to Pinagrealan Cave.

Novaliches – Susano Road – Take a jeepney route with Novaliches – Bigte , then from Rotunda take a tricycle ride to Pinagrealan cave.

 Norzagaray town proper and  Barangay Bigte jeep ask the driver
to drop you at the rotunda.  From there, board a motorcycle straight to the cave starting point.
Travel Organizer
 Lakad Pamana  is a a local travel and advocacy organizer which promotes the local and heritage tour of Norzagaray and Bulacan province .
The whole day tour includes well-known Local restaurants, Pinagrealan cave, Angat Dam , Ipo Dam ,  Punduhan sa mga Dumagats , Bato sa Bitbit trekking .  ( itinerary may vary and can be customized upon request of the group).
There will be an organized tour scheduled on May 1, 2016 .
Note: There is a minimum number of participants of 12 people per van for those planning to book a whole day tour.

For Booking & Inquiries:

Globe – 0975 733 6464
Sun – 0923 346 7575
Viber – (+63) 975 733 6464

Contact Person :GILBERT S. DINO

Email – lakad_pamana@yahoo.com.ph

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