Personal · Places

Pangasinan 2019

“In terms of our happiness, time is really the fundamental currency. What really matters for your day-to-day moods is what it is you’re doing with your time.” -Psychology Professor Elizabeth Dunn

Our family spent another happy weekend out of town as we visited Alaminos City in the province of Pangasinan. It was also the weekend of Owa’s birthday. We left Manila by 1am and arrived by 6am. We first went to Minor Basilica of our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag, attending the 7am mass.

We had our breakfast after the mass, and started another journey to Alaminos. Manaoag was far from Alaminos, grabe! We passed by Lingayen and Dagupan. We arrived in Alaminos shortly after 11am. We stayed in a rest house owned by Ate Gem’s relatives. It was actually small for us (we’re 15 people!) but it was beautiful and well-maintained, even though it doesn’t cost a lot. It was actually a 10-minute drive from Hundred Islands, and just 5-minute away from Alaminos Market and Victory Liner terminal.

Our itinerary was to visit Bolo Beach in the afternoon and Alaminos municipal hall in the evening, but we decided against it because the weather was bad. We’re actually starting to worry if we can still push through with the island hopping in Hundred Islands. But as always, God is so good to us. We woke up by 4:30am the following day on clear Pangasinan skies.

We started island hopping in Hundred Islands by 6:30am. It cost us P 3, 710– 2,000 for the boat rental, 1,510 entrance fee for 15 pax and 1 baby (babies are not charged for an entrance or environmental fee but the 10 pesos daw is for insurance), and 200 pesos refundable fee for the trash bag. I actually liked the initiative of giving insurance to the tourists, as well as the fee for the trash. It’s about time to change tourism system for the better.

We visited 5 islands, and passed by several more (according to our boat man, those that don’t have shores are just rock formation, HAHAH). We decided to just land on those islands where we can actually do “something”, because we have “elderly companions” who wanted to drive back home to Manila in the afternoon.

First island we visited was the Governor’s Island. It’s a 5 to 10-minute hike up to be able to see the panoramic view of all 122 islands around you. Tip: Be careful for even though the steps were not very steep, however, it can be slippery because of the moss. There were also 2 viewing decks- the second and higher one can give you a better view.

Our second stop was the Romulo Island. It’s my favorite island because of its calm waters and fine sand. We went swimming here, and I love that the water was clear and the view was spectacular. Tip: It is a small island, can easily be strolled around. Behind it is the Mayor’s island, you can also check it out. Also, it can be a very good spot to take your lunch, if you’re opting not to rent a cottage in other busier, more developed islands. Be very careful though because it is rocky underwater, wearing aqua shoes may be necessary.

We passed by Virgin Island and the Pilgrimage Island on our way to our third island. We decided not to land because our elderly companions were tired already daw, hehe. Sayang lang, because Virgin has a floating bridge. Pilgrimage Island, on the other hand, features a large statue of Jesus the Redeemer, stations of the Cross, and a 1000-step hike trail.

Third island was Marcos Island. We stayed here the shortest period, but it was actually the most intense: we survived the cliff diving in Imelda’s cave! It wasn’t actually a daredevil jump (12 feet), but it was exciting. Tip: They observed a No Life vest, No Diving policy, which is very good. What’s not right was our boatmen insisted to make us pay P50 for each person who jumped, their exact words were: bawal po kasi gamitin ang life vest sa labas ng bangka. Kung gagamitin sa pagdive, rerentahan ng P50pesos (Life vests cannot be used outside the boat, otherwise you have to rent it for P50). And they have informed us of this “policy” after we’re done cliff diving. Kudos na sana to Hundred Islands eh, meron lang pa din talagang nananamantala sa mga turista (btw, bakit nga kaya ganun? 😥) Anyhoo, at least we enjoyed the experience. In addition pala, don’t bring any valuables (or even slippers, if you’re not wearing aqua shoes) to Imelda’s cave, unless you have somebody with you who won’t be jumping, for it’s a one-way out from the cave.

After the exciting jump in Marcos Island, we then headed to Quezon Island, the largest (I think) and most developed island. It’s like a big resort where you can rent a cottage, cook your meals, swim all you want, and take amazing pictures. Some of us opted to go swimming, but I and my siblings went up to the Hanging Bridge.

We stayed in Quezon Island for about 30 minutes, and our elderly companions were starting to complain and wanted to go home na daw. Haha 😋 So our boatmen just let us see the other islands (Old Scout, Lopez, and Children’s Islands) from our boat. Our last stop was my second favorite- the Cuenco Cave. Yes, upon landing, you have to go through this large cave to be able to go to a restaurant at the other side. It has comfort rooms, and a cliff diving spot. This is where we had good pictures of our jump. 😊

We ended our Hundred Islands visit at 11:30am, a little bit tired but full of happy memories. If you’re running out of time, and just wanted to experience what each island has to offer (you don’t really care about beach bumming or having lunch in the islands) you may also do what we did, but I do strongly suggest you take your time, explore each island, and experience all the other activities (snorkeling, helmet diving, zip line, banana boat ride, and even go hike in Pilgrimage Island). Please check this blog post from Pinay Solo Backpacker for complete fees and sample itinerary for your own Hundred Islands visit.

Overall, I enjoyed our trip in Alaminos. I will probably come back, once Ella is old enough to fully appreciate the trip, and I’m also knowledgeable enough of the place’s history, marine life, and biology. Haha, oo, mag-eeducational trip kami dito. And I really wanted to do the 1000-step hike in Pilgrimage Island. And I’ll bring our tent the next time so I can stay over night and camp.

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