Monday, July 21, 2008

Hundred Islands

Comprising the 1,844-hectare nature and recreational park, the Hundred Islands National Park was the venue of the recent Triathlon Open organized by the Department of Tourism (DoT) together with the City Government of Alaminos and the Triathlon Association of the Philippines (TRAP).

DoT Secretary Joseph "Ace" Durano said, "The event shows that sports can be a very good ingredient to further develop tourism in the country."

He added that Filipinos are capable of keeping pace with the rest of the world in sports that require great skills and rigid discipline and training.

Aside from being geared as Pangasinan's tourism capital, the Hundred Islands National Park will also be groomed as one of the prime adventure sports destinations in the country. "Hundred Islands can be a perfect getaway for those who thirst for adventure and adrenalinepumping sports," he said.

The triathlon, which is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world today, is a multi-sport race against time and other competitors, known as triathletes. It involves completing three sporting disciplines-swimming, biking, and running-done in immediate succession. The goal is to complete the three-leg race in the shortest time. The transition periods and activities, from swim to bike and from bike to run, are part of the race and included in the total time.

The Hundred Islands Triathlon Open attracted over 80 participants from neighboring cities and provinces, mostly from Manila and Subic. This is the first team-up between DoT and TRAP and is the second time that TRAP is collaborating with Alaminos City in the conduct of a triathlon event at the Hundred Islands. The first one was way back in 1996, dubbed as the "Alaminos Sprint Triathlon".

The race distance for the Hundred Islands Triathlon Open covered a 750-meter ocean swim, 20-km road bike, and 5km road run. The swim leg was held along the waters of Lucap Wharf through a rectangular swim course, while the bike and run legs were held on a concrete road at the Lucap area.

Alaminos City, known for its natural beauty, is decorated with a cluster of 124 islets (during low tide and 123 on high tide), located west of Lingayen Gulf. Hundred Islands was established as a park on Jan. 18, 1940 under Proclamation No. 667 issued by the late President Manuel L. Quezon making it the first national park, and in whose honor the biggest of the islands was named.

Truly a breathtaking wonder of nature, the islands are mainly composed of coralline limestone, characterized by a wide reef flat. A highly diverse ecosystem supports a variety of marine and terrestrial floral and fauna and wildlife resources while various marine resources such as sea grasses, corals and numerous fish species abound in the waters.

On many points between the islets, the waters are shallow making it ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Other recreational activities in the islands are picnicking, diving, island hopping and spelunking. Among the most frequently visited caves here are Milagrosa, Cathedral and Virgin.

Only three islands have been developed for tourism, namely: Governor; Quezon and Children's Islands.

How to get there:

From Lucap, one takes a 30-minute boatride to any of these islands. Of the three islands, only the Governor's Island keeps a guesthouse which is ideal for family use. It has two bedrooms, living room, dining room, bathroom and kitchen.

The nipa huts and mini pavilion with bedrooms at Children's Island are for budget travelers. Common areas are provided for dining and cooking. Meanwhile, Quezon Island is often visited by picnickers and campers. It also has a pavilion with picnic tables.

Getting to Pangasinan

Buses that ply the Manila - Pangasinan route:

● Dagupan Bus Line (Quezon City to Dagupan) New York St., Cubao Tel # 929-6123, 727-2330

● Victory Liner (Quezon City to Dagupan & Alaminos) Cubao, Q.C. Tel # 727-4688, 727-4534

● Five Star Bus Line (Pasay City to Dagupan & Bolinao) Tel # 833 8339, 833 3009

● City Trans (Manila to Dagupan & Bolinao)

● Philippine Rabbit (Quezon City to Dagupan & Bolinao) EDSA, Q.C. Tel # 734-9838, 734-9836

● Philippine Rapid Manila to Dagupan & Bolinao)

Buses that ply the Manila – Baguio and Manila – Ilocos Route also pass thru Pangasinan

● Victory Liner

561 EDSA Pasay City 833-0293, 833-5019 to 20
713 Rizal Ave., Ext.Caloocan City361-1506 to 10
EDSA cor. East Ave.Kamias Quezon City921-3296, 920-7396
EDSA near Aurora Blvd. Cubao Quezon City 727-4688, 727-4534
España cor. Galecia St. Sampaloc Manila 741-1436
Utility cor. Old Forestry Roads Baguio (074) 619-0000

● Partas -Aurora Blvd. cor. Bernardino St. Quezon City Tel. 725-1740, 725-1256, 725-7303, 724-9820

● Maria de Leon - 1449 Geliños (at the back of UST) Manila Tel. 731-4907

● Farinas Transit - Lacson St. Sampaloc Manila (63 2) 743-8582

RCJ Bus Lines Inc. Earnshaw cor Lacson St. Manila 741-2994, 781-9306

● Genesis –

● Autobus


Bolinao is nothing like Boracay and that's the beauty of it. Just like many other beaches all over the country, it has its own charms that will definitely attract its own crowd.

Bolinao at the tip of the Pangasinan peninsula on Lingayen Gulf is sufficiently far from the madding crowd for one to get lost in the beauty and solitude of nature. Yet it is near enough (some 280 kilometers and four-and-a-half hours by car) to reach in a weekend trip on good roads from Manila .

For those who come to have a swim, the waters are crystal clear and the sands of Bolinao are white – well, actually yellowish and grainy unlike the well known sugar powdery white sands of Boracay. In a way, it is actually better because the sand dries off easily and can be brushed off in a few sweeps of the hand. Moreover, it feels good between the feet – sort of therapeutic for the nerve endings on the soles. The crunching sound that the feet make while walking on the sand adds to the awesome experience.

During the colder months of the year, large swells from the South China Sea break into huge waves as they approach inland. Bolinao is surrounded by a broad barrier of coral reefs that would prevent most swimmers from venturing far out but the area is ideal for wonderful solitary snorkeling with many soft sand beds all over. This also a hint for surfers looking for virgin waves to give Bolinao a try. Click here to view some pictures.

There are quite many resorts ranging from hotel type accommodation to those with thatched hut picnic sheds that cater to day trippers.

Bolinao surf – White Beach in Patar may have one of the biggest waves in Northern Luzon and may rival the already popular waves of La Union and Zambales. Pro surfers on their way up north to La Union are encouraged to take a side trip and confirm this.

22-kilometer-long barrier reef offshore, near Santiago Island , offers some wonderful solitary snorkelling. To explore the reef you can rent a banca for the day either at Bolinao wharf (two blocks north of the main road) or at one of the nearby beach resorts.

Cape Bolinao Lighthouse , constructed in 1905 and the second tallest lighthouse in the country. There's an easy path to the base of the building, and the views across the South China Sea are worth the climb.

Enchanted, Cindy and Wonderful Caves – for those looking for a break form the salt water, the caves in Patar have freshwater pools for a refreshing swim. The waters of Cindy caves are shallower and safer for children while those in Enchanted caves are already chest deep upon entry to the water.

Diving - Nor far offsore lie a number of old Spanish galleons and Chinese junks that local wisdom says contain treasure. Unfortunately, there are no accredited dive operators in the area except for an unnamed PADI dive center near the town proper, on the road to Patar, so to bring your own equipment may be your only chance of diving here.

There are only a couple of sights in the town itself. The small Bolinao Museum (Mon-Sat 9am-4pm ), on Rizal Street opposite Cape Bolinao High School , contains art, geology, botany and zoology materials collected in the area. The Church of St. James Fortress , also known as Bolinao Church is in the main square close to the museum, built by the Augustinians in 1609, it houses rare wooden statues and an antique altar with Astec masks brought by galleon from Mexico .

Travel Tips


Tourists staying overnight are advised to bring all the essentials – including the toiletries as they might not be available in the rooms. Confirm with the resort beforehand.


Safety first! Always observe safety measures especially when new to a swimming area.

It is better to swim in the morning when it is low tide and the sea is calmer. The winds pick up in the afternoon and would get chilly by nightfall.


Bring all the consumables you wish to have unless you plan to dine at the resort restaurant. Some resorts charge a corkage fee per head for outside food brought in. Bring your own bottled water, enough for brushing.

Snorkel Equipment

Bring your own as the resort may not have any.

Cape Bolinao Light House

Because of the construction, the road to the Lighthouse is closed and vehicles will have top be left at the foot of the hill. Prepare for a short but serious hiking.


Tourists start flocking in at around 2pm. Visit the caves in the morning if you want to have the caves to yourselves.

Stop Overs

Every town has a roadside string of vendors selling local delicacies. Don't forget to stop by and sample some treats whether they may be coconut products, fresh catch from the sea or sundried fish.

Hotel/ Resorts/Accommodations

There are quite many resorts ranging from hotel type accommodation to those with thatched hut picnic sheds that cater to day trippers.


Ilog Malino, Bolinao,

Telephone No.: (075) 969-93-60 / 969-3803

Mobile No.: (0918) 519-21-470


Brgy. Arnedo, Bolinao

Tel.No. (+6375) 554-2876

(+63912) 313-9553


Brgy. Patar, Bolinao

Tel. No. (+63912) 856-1585

(+63912) 691-0082

Contact: Bing dePerio Dodson


Luciente 1, Bolinao

Tel. No. (+6375) 554-2292


Contact: Fedelour Caasi-Westbroek


Brgy. Patar, Bolinao

Manila Office Tel. No. (+632) 375-8884

(+632) 413-4914

Bolinao Office Tel. No. (+63921) 559-2732

(+6375) 554-2882


Balingasay, Bolinao


Germinal District, Bolinao

Contact: Mr. Jesus Celeste

Tel. No. (+6375) 554-2035


Germinal District, Bolinao

Tel. No. (+6375) 554-2559

Friday, June 27, 2008

Overview of Pangasinan Cities and Towns

Cities and Municipalities of Pangasinan

Pangasinan today has 44 municipalities and 4 cities (Dagupan, San Carlos, Urdaneta, and Alaminos) and has natural, cultural, historical and religious attractions that merit a purposeful visit and not just a passing through. These areas and their come-ons are described here.

This lone island town of Pangasinan, which thrives on farming and deep-sea fishing, is unlike other "out-of-way" places for progress has already caught up with it. If a Pangasinense has a surname beginning with the letter C, chances are, he is from this town.
This quaint little town boasts of several attractions aside from its rugged coastline and wide expanse of unspoiled seascapes. Its museum, a branch of the national museum, showcases the rich heritage of the people. Santiago Island, Cape Bolinao Beach, and the Church of St. James, almost 400 years old, are its stronger points.

This town thrives on the bounties of sea and farm. It boasts of a new park which is a haven for those who want to lose themselves in the sweet clutch of nature.

Known as an "old seat of civilization", it competes with Hundred Islands in natural beauty. Its umbrella rocks that just out of its clear lake and its long-winding beachline are tourists' musts.

The "Cowboy Country" or "Marlboro Country" of Pangasinan is not for dudes alone as its Cabungaoan Beach Resort, Klowar Spring, and Sangbay Falls are crowd-drawers.

A town gifted with tourist lures: Noah's Island Beach Resort, Tambobong Beach, Salabusoban Falls, and Magunao Resort, all simply marvelous.

Once the rice granary of Western Pangasinan, it now has its beaches to rely on for exposure, the Balqui Island Beach Resort, for one.

This rustic town is visited for its Cacupangan Caves, formerly Balincaguing Caves, a lair of 1001 bats, Balincaguing River, basin perfect for skinny dipping, Binmatya Spring and Barlo Mines.

This is Hundred Islands town. The 100 islands, some 123 of them, is the most popular tourist destination in the province.

The zigzagging way up Sualsalito and the panoramic view of Sual from up there are reasons enough to visit this boom town in the making. The historic Aguinaldo debarkation point is another count in too the alluring Cabalitian Island beach resort.


This boat building town beckons to tourists through a religious shrine, Lawis Uyong, and two resorts, Tandoc and Stone Quarry Falls.

San Jose Hillside Resort is its main tourist attraction, but historically, its Salasa Church offers more having housed, for instance, the bell that lures tourists to the Agoo Basilica Church.

Once a bastion of the brave, and an anathema to invaders of yore, it is a breathtaking dip in rusticana, with its green meadows and thick forests.


The "corn and cacao basket of Pangasinan", Urbiztondo stands as a symbol of man's will to survive, metamorphosing from a sleepy town to a hive in a matter of years.

Once a part of San Carlos City, it is now a big town for its cottage industry and a name in international markets for its handicrafts.

An encomienda when Pangasinan was created, it was then designated and remains the provincial capital. Lingayen earned a place in contemporary history when American forces designated it the landing area for the liberation of Northern Luzon from the Japanese. The town is likewise noted for the Limahong Channel which the men of the Chinese pirate dug to elude the pursuing forces of Salcedo. Its "bagoong", also known as maniboc, referring to its place of origin, Barangay Maniboc, is the best in the market, local, national or international.

A standout for three things: the largest church in the province, its furniture industry centered in Malindong, and its fishponds which gained for itself the title "Bangus Queen of the Philippines."


Became a city through a congressional act authored by the late Congressman Angel B. Fernandez after the late Speaker Eugenio Perez Sr. authored the city charter of Dagupan. The home town of legendary hero Palaris is the seat of exportable handicrafts.

Religious devotees flock to this town, thanks to its miraculous Sanctuario del Señor Tesoro, chewy puto, tender Bocayo and coconut pastilles flavored with anise.

Tagged as the agricultural nursery of Pangasinan, it is expected to progress by leaps and bounds with the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) there, and with the entry of La Tondeña Distillery Plant. Its mango-tree-lined highway offers a breather to motorists.

A nationally known spot in Mapandan is Barrio Golden, once selected as a "model barrio" in integrated community development. "Tanggal Ya Bato" or stonewalls is its other tourist bait.

Like other Central Pangasinan towns, the Pangasinan dialect it its pure form is spoken here, in lilting tones in fact. Three of its barangays, Canan, Palapar and Lareg-lareg, offer spots ideal for relaxation.

The site of the biggest fishing sanctuary in the province, the Mangabul Fishing and Hunting Park, and the best local school for teachers education, the Pangasinan State University-College of Education (formerly Central Luzon Teachers College once referred to as "Normal School"), it is part of history as the first national anthem was sung here by the revolutionary forces under Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.


The commercial, financial, educational and communication center North of Manila, was traditionally called Nandaragupan meaning a "meeting place or rallying point". It used to be part of Binalatongan, now San Carlos City, four centuries ago. The City by the Gulf is where the great Pangasinan chieftain Andres Malong assembled his forces for a last stand against the Spanish troops after which people began calling the place as Nandaragupan. It is famous for its blue beach and Bonuan bangus.


This town has always known for its beaches, nestled in a cove, so that only the gentlest of waves ripple across the crystalline blue waters. Now it is also byword for its beach resorts, rivaling those of La Union, its pawnpushres (it has the only chess school in the country, in fact) and its amateur pugilists.

A tobacco belt and one of the province's earliest municipalities, its people's hospitality makes it ideal for residential purposes.

Before Agoo, there was already Manaoag and inspite (or maybe because) of Agoo, pilgrimage to this town has increased over the past few months. The trek to the shrine of Nuestra Señora de Manaoag or "Apo Baket" or the Lady Who Calls which has come to be known as the "Antipolo of the North" has never waned. The Virgin's in the outskirt of the town is another well-visited spot for its curative springs.


In summer, watermelon abound in this town where Jose L. Palma wrote the lyrics of the Philippine National Anthem. Julian Felipe, for his part, composed the patriotic hymn in a house near the Bautista railroad station which stands up to this day.

Its long "Great Wall," actually that of the multi-million Agno River Control dike which sometimes spares the town from the onslaught of floods, is a testament to man's efforts to preserve himself and fend for himself from natural adversities.

With well-trimmed agoho trees, shrubs and bushes lining its streetsides, Sto. Tomas, monickered the "cutest town" in Pangasinan. Looks like a dainty girl on her birthday.

Hemmed in between two bustling areas, Urdaneta City and Carmen, Villasis is one of the fastest developing town in the province. Considered as a "Vegetable Basket", it also thrives on its rice, corn and tobacco plantations. Its hilly barangays situated along the Malasiqui boundary is a perfect place for resort developers and agri-businessmen.

Next to Dagupan City, it is most alive business-wise, what with its share of banking institutions, multi-national firms, market complexes, entertainment row and cattle trading center, the largest north of Manila.

The youngest town in Pangasinan has potentials to approximate the greatness of its mother town, Manaoag, but it has yet to find what would make it unique.

This town has to its name the titles "Model Urban Community" and "Cleanest Municipality in the Philippines" garnered during the seventies.

The Buccat Hill and the Sugcong Spring in this town are bywords in local tourism. Its Dilan bamboocraft products are export fares.

Baguio-bound travellers make their entrances and exits and stopovers in this gateway to the City of Pines. Its 'covenant' with cultural minorities, extensive barangay beautification program and industrialization efforts are paving the way for its modernization. Residents of this town get away from it all in Mountain bato, a compsite and Antong Creek, a picnickers' destination.


This hometown of Juan C. Laya, of Diwang Kayumanggi fame, is one of the best rice producers of Pangasinan. It has a dam site which serves as a favorite picnic ground for vacationists, the Butao Spring and a mountain boy scout campsite.

It this town lies the historic Red Arrow Movement, otherwise known as WWII Villaverde Trail campsite, and the Agpay reforestation area with its crystal clear brooks.

The hometown of first Pangasinense President, Fidel Valdez Ramos, is a "Vegetable Country" for any which direction one looks, eggplants, ampalaya and tomatoes, in short, "pinakbet," greet the eyes.

The premier town in the northeastern part of the province, it figured prominently in Philippine history, having served as the site of the Colorum uprishing let by Pedro Calosa, an incident immortalized by novelist Kerima Polotan-Tuvera.

A farming town, Natividad has shed off its once sleepy profile, all because of Pila resort, however underdeveloped, a hilly area frequented by picnickers.

Grafted from the town of Tayug, Sta. Maria has quite a number of faith healers flocked by those who seek to be eased off their discomforts. This town, with its pristine beauty, provides a sofa for the senses.

Though its "Little Luneta" - its town plaza-has given way for other must-visit places, its Dipalo Watershed is keeping them coming for its unique charm.

Pangasinan ends and begins in Rosales. Its Barangay Carmen in particular is the take-off point to Dagupan City, Baguio City and Nueva Ecija. Its "tupig" is superb-reason enough for a stopover.

Once visited for its hot springs, it is nevertheless an interesting tourist stopover for an oddity, a Rizal monument built right in the middle of the road.

A farming town, Umingan came into existence after its natives, harrassed no end by bandits, fought back, putting an end to banditry ("inmingan") and started living a peaceful life.