Pangasinan is a place close to my heart because for one this is the place where my mom was born and grew up but more importantly this where I found refuge when I was a lost teenager. Although I stayed in Dagupan City which was at the heart of Pangasinan, this trip served as a refresher to me since it brought me back to the western part of the province which I barely remembered since I was quite young then when I first visited this part of the Pangasinan. This visit made me quite amused since a lot has changed and it’s something worth telling to some friends. This visit brought me from West to East with some stops in Bolinao, Alaminos and Manaoag.
In this trip I was with my travel buddies, Rothz de Lima, RJ Marasigan, Ian and Krisvi Siongco. We left Quezon City at 7:30 am, had some stops to buy water and snacks and only stopped when we needed to use the toile as I drove straight to the town of Bolinao. Bolinao has become a popular place for tourists in Pangasinan since it has so many tourist spots and a lot of resorts were developed the past to fifteen years.
You can actually ride a Victory liner bus or Dagupan bus that can take you to Bolinao or Alaminos straight since I saw the Bus stations of those two Bus lines. It might be a 6 – 8 hour trip depending on the stops and traffic. Since I brought my car along it took us almost six hours to get there. We passed by NLEX and SCTEX and took the Hacienda Luisita Exit. I was trying to look for familiar landmarks but used my Waze app instead to make sure I was led to the right path. After a few minutes I finally found the town that I was looking for which was the Camiling town access road. This access road will lead you to the Pangasinan towns Mangatarem and Sual which will then end leads you towards Alaminos and Bolinao.
Unfortunately when we visited there was a power interruption that made us cut our visit short because the caves we wanted to visit were not accessible because they needed light inside the caves. So we then visited one of the main attractions that is a haven for photographers – the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse tower. We then went back to our resort and rested after a long morning ride.
Our next day saw us visit one of the country’s top natural wonders – the Hundred Islands. These group of Islands used to be a place that mostly people from Northern Luzon would visit, now it is pretty much more accessible to Southerners and foreigners too. The Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan has developed into a Tourism spot where everyone can have a good time. This is my third time to go to the Hundred Islands and I am happy that there has been so many developments in the place that it has now become a popular tourist destination.
First, there are more Islands to go to. The two times I went to these Islands in 1988 and in 1994, you can only access the Quezon Islands and mostly people who can afford it can go for some Island hopping and just go around. Now there are more Islands to discover as they added the Governor’s Island where you can hang around and more importantly have a great view of the place on its view deck which will have you go up to 150 flight of stairs.
Since there were a lot of people in other Islands we decided to stay at the Old Scout Island where there are less than 50 people and was near a great snorkeling area. We eventually brought our baon to the shore and had our sumptuous lunch along the sands. After lunch we saw that the clouds were fast forming into a storm so we headed back to the wharf amidst the heavy rains that went our way. Luckily there were shower rooms for rent at the Park where we came from.
On our third day, we headed east before going back to Manila to visit another popular place in Pangasinan which is frequently visited by faithful Catholics - the town of Manaoag. Everyday, this place is visited by thousands of devout Catholics because this is where the Basilica of our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag is located. Locals would tell you that Manaoag derived its name from the word “Mantaog” which means “to call” in their Pangasinense dialect. The Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag houses the 17th century ivory image of the Virgin Mary which was brought to our country from Spain in the same century. It was told that there was an apparition of the Virgin Mary holding a rosary in this area way back in 17th century and that was where the church was built. The small church has evolved into a bigger one and I cannot recall anymore the images of the church when I last visited the place as a kid. Thousands of devotees flock the place and pray for Miracles that would alter a person’s life most specially one’s health and fate.
My reimmersion of Pangasinan was a great one and the only problem I had was that time was not on our side since we only had three days to tour almost 800 kilometers of driving and getting around. Hopefully next time I can visit my hometown Dagupan and other beautiful towns and beaches in the province to further reacquaint me of my teenage years and who knows some past acquaintances might come up.
many thanks to Ian Siongco and RJ Marasigan for the beautiful pictures