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Cagayan Cagayan Philippines Travel

Cagayan: The Minagdaklis and the Magnetic Black Sands of Buguey

There seems to be no sign of the rains stopping on the 3rd day of Lakbay Norte 2. Checking out of Eastern Hawaii Hotel at Sta Ana, we boarded a new bus this time on our way to our first stop at Buguey (boo -gay), a small coastal town mid-north of Cagayan province. I was seated on the right side of the bus watching the gloomy landscape pass by my window. In a couple of hours we reached the El Presidente Resort Conference Hall where the locals there prepared meals for our lunch and some programs.

The Minagdaklis, Caribaryo Shell gatherers of Buguey
The Minagdaklis, Caribaryo Shell gatherers of Buguey

There seems to be no sign of the rains stopping on the 3rd day of Lakbay Norte 2. Checking out of Eastern Hawaii Hotel at Sta Ana, we boarded a new bus this time on our way to our first stop at Buguey (boo -gay), a small coastal town mid-north of Cagayan province. I was seated on the right side of the bus watching the gloomy landscape pass by my window. In a couple of hours we reached the El Presidente Resort Conference Hall where the locals there prepared meals for our lunch and some cultural programs.

El Presidente Resort Conference hall
El Presidente Resort Conference hall, Buguey is the Crab Capital of the North

Buguey prides themselves as the Crab Capital of the North (some say the Philippines) and they showed it on the sumptuous seafood buffet they prepared. They also have some local wine and delicacies we were able to try. I slipped out of the conference hall to check out the beach. Local children were quick to stop me on the way to have their pictures taken. I was looking at the shore and was curious as to what the people were doing. I saw Estan head to the beach and I followed to take a look.

A Minagdaklis with his tako
A Minagdaklis with his tako

I stepped on the soft black sand beach of Buguey and headed to where a number of people were pulling a long pole with some sort of a net on its end half buried under the sands while they were withstanding the waves. They do this repeatedly until they harvest a fair amount of small shells. Then they sort out the shells to get the fine ones and put it in a net bag.

 

Gathered shells are laid out and sorted
Gathered shells are laid out and sorted

They were the Minagdaklis, a local told me, they use a Tako, the wooden poles with steel nets to harvest these small pumpkin-seed-like shells called Gacca. These shells have edible meat inside which we were able to eat on a soup at the buffet. How interesting as it’s the first time I’ve a shell harvest like this.

The caribaryo shells are put into this net pouch
The caribaryo shells are put into this net pouch

I noticed a good amount of black sands clung on my feet and slippers. I didn’t realize how fine the sands here were despite being black until I washed them off. Upon further research, I found out how unique the black sands on Buguey were. There was a time in 2009 when Korean vessels would mine these black sands and ship them to Korea. People have no idea why they were doing this but they were more concerned on how the lands were being stripped.

The Magnetic Black Sands of Buguey
The Magnetic Black Sands of Buguey

They soon learned that the black sands of Buguey have large quantities of magnetite, the most magnetic of natural minerals. Magnetite is used by highly industrialized country, like Korea, in making steel, paper, jewels, inks and magnets to name a few. It’s a good thing the local government were alerted of this and the mining was stopped before the sands were completely stripped off.

It’s just surprising what one would find on a far away sleepy coastal town like Buguey.

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