When Bucao River dries up, it’s photo time

Hot, dry and dusty like a desert. This is what to expect when you plan on going to Bucao River during the summer season in Zambales. While the Mt. Pinatubo, Lady of Poonbato, ‘Domorokdok’ Festival and their beach resorts may be the most popular reasons to visit the town, you may want to consider checking out their waterfalls, try hiking, or visiting historic sites, such as their Catholic church.

Every day, I commute to work and one of the rivers I pass by is the Bucao River. Its bridge, one of the longest in Zambales, collapsed after a strong typhoon hit the province a few years ago, which, sadly, also destroyed roads, facilities and other infrastructures. Today, another bridge was built but a section of the old one is still standing, reminding the people of the devastation.

Now, back to the present, there are some things to remember when crossing the Bucao Bridge.

From December to February, when the wind is strong, it can become really dusty. Although technically, you cannot call it a sandstorm, strong winds can blow tons of dust and sand and it is important, when travelling to bring a mask or a handkerchief and eye protection. In summer, the Bucao River can completely dry up.

During the rainy season, the water becomes murky and the strong current can be felt on the bridge. The water level had already passed the height of the old bridge at some point.

We planned on going to the Kainomayan in Botolan, Zambales. “Kainomayan” is a Zambal word, which could mean “state of comfort”. The place is a recreational area open to the public and had been used as a camping ground. There are huts, with seats and tables, which could be used as beds as well, along the side of the dike and even in the water. It is located along a dike adjacent to the Bucao River. The plan was to swim and eat but immediately changed because the water level was too low.

While waiting for the tricycles so we could go to the nearest resort, we climbed Bucao’s riverbank (a high wall – not really sure if that is how you call it – of sand that separates the dike to Bucao River) and what we saw was a picturesque landscape of the barren riverbed.

The river’s bed is sandy.

Noticeable were the striations on the sand, which were probably produced by the strong winds and sand dunes, which were probably piled up by the trucks and loaders.

However, there was a catch. The wind was blowing hard the time we were there so it meant that the little grains of sand were blown and it could really hurt. Tip to survive: you need to wear long-sleeved shirt, pants and eye protection because it is really painful.

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