A hidden gem in the north. Beaches, history and juicy watermelons, Pangasinan has it all.
I was born here, was raised and then moved to Rizal when I was 3. My parents are both from here, even my grandparents. Did I need to say that I’m proud to be a full-blooded Ilocana? I am not going to be biased, but this budding province in the North, has a lot to offer.
So, why visit?
1. Patar beach in Bolinao.
Tired of seeing the same resorts in Batangas? Doesn’t have budget to book a flight in Boracay? Need some never-been-to-place to get a dip without hurting your wallet? Just a 6-hour drive from Manila, Patar beach, boasts a long stretch of creamy white sand and clear blue waters. With its calm waves (depending on the season) and scenic rock formations, Bolinao beaches will soon be making noise on travel agencies and magazines.
The place has been a sudden boom when the local government and Ilocanos have decided to put their precious beach in tourism map. Marketing efforts became extensive and soon, plethora of resorts emerged like mushrooms. From exclusive resorts like Treasures of Bolinao to modest cottages beside the shore, Bolinao is sure to have a lot of options for beach lovers. A perfect escape from Manila’s busy life.
Patar beach is located at Barangay Patar, Bolinao, Pangasinan. Price range for cottages is between Php 450 to Php 700. Ample parking space is available in the area. Parking fee is Php 20/day.
2. Cape Bolinao lighthouse.
A walking distance from Patar Beach, Cape Bolinao notably stands at 351 feet above sea level. It has guided a lot of ships and boats to prevent sea accidents and disasters for over a hundred years. The lighthouse has been the pride of Pangasinenses being the second tallest lighthouse in the country after the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Ilocos Norte.
It is now a popular tourist site, being rooted in an elevated slope that offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the beach nearby. You can enjoy taking that Instagram worthy shots as the administration of the lighthouse are not asking for any entrance fee.
Cape Bolinao Lighthouse is located at Punta Piedra Point of Patar, Bolinao, Pangasinan.
3. Hundred Islands in Alaminos.
One of the most sought after beach during the summer season is Hundred Islands. Though the intriguing name says it got one hundred islets, only five of those coral islands are open to public. These are: Governor’s Island, Quezon Island, Children’s Island, Marcos Island and Lopez Island. The island’s what to do list is getting longer since the last time I went there.
From snorkeling, kayaking, island hopping or just a relaxing swim in the beach, Hundred Islands has boost their attempt to keep pace with other beaches in Luzon. You can even go camping overnight if you want to go extreme. Survivor candidates, anyone?
From Lucap Wharf in Alaminos, ride a boat that will take you the island. Registration and park fees are needed to be settled first. There are also souvenirs being sold in the wharf area. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com
4. Watermelons in Bani.
Dubbed as watermelon capital of the north, Bani, is making headlines as they held their first Pakwan Festival last February. The distinctive sweetness of Bani’s watermelon sets it apart from the others. Experts said that it’s because of the limestone that is present in its soil.
Make sure you have your own souvenir shot with the not-so-big watermelon replica located just in front of Bani Town Hall. Bani is an hour away from Alaminos. So after a good swim in Hundred Islands, why not grab some of these prized fruits for pasalubong.
Price range is Php 35-50 per kilo depending on the type of the watermelon. You can choose from Diana, Klondyke, Aubrey, New Dragon and Bright Gem.
5. Sunrise at Tondol Beach in Anda.
Who doesn’t love sunrise? A breakfast in the beach is all you need to melt all those stress away. So, grab those coffee and pugon-baked bread and get ready to witness the sun rise in the beauty of the horizon.
During low tide, you can observe hermit crabs crawling everywhere. The beach is suitable for swimming during high tide, otherwise, you can just take a leisurely stroll and have your feet damped in the vast wet sand.
Tondol Beach resort is located at Tondol, Anda, Pangasinan. There are also available cottages at the beach if you’re not planning to stay overnight.
6. The Shrine of our Lady of Manaoag Church
Lady of Manaoag has been the patroness of Ilocanos in the humble town of Manaoag in Pangasinan. It has been one of the most respected Marian images in the country. Devotees from all over the world wouldn’t mind waiting in line just to have their hankies touch the feet of the cherished ivory image.
Tales of her miraculous healing powers had spread by word of mouth and flock of ill people came at the shrine’s doorstep in the hope that they too can experience this rare phenomenon.
The Shrine is located at Milo St., Manaoag, Pangasinan. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com
I know. It has been banned in some airports because of its not-so-good smell. But no matter how awful the smell is, the taste was the exact opposite. For those who are still unfamiliar with it, Bagoong is a Philippine condiment made of partially or completely fermented fish or shrimp.
The salty taste of this seasoning is best eaten with fried or grilled fish, ensalada (mango, tomatoes, eggplant and onions) and steamy white rice. It also serves as one of the main ingredient in Ilocano vegetable dishes like pinakbet and dinengdeng.
Now, who loves Filipino food?
1 bottle of Bagoong costs Php 40-50 depending on the type. It can be bought in any wet and dry market in Pangasinan. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com
What I mentioned above is just a pinch of reasons why you should pack your bags and take a trip on this province. I’ve been here countless times but I always see myself wide-eyed in wonder of its charm.
Break new ground, kid, there are still a lot of things and superb places to discover here in the hidden gem of the north, Pangasinan.