Summer is far from over. If you are looking forward to experience the sun, sand, sea in Pangasinan, then this list is probably for you. The coastal province of Pangasinan is one of the largest provinces in the Philippines. Because it is massively wide, we’ve managed to only visit 5 municipalities with popular beaches. We’ll be featuring more soon.
We are glad because we have JM of Gabrillo Photography on this trip.
Without further ado, we present you these beautiful beaches in Pangasinan to visit this summer:
Speaking of low cost beach destination, the beaches of San Fabian is a favorite among locals. Privately operated sheds can be rented for reasonable fees. You can cook and grill your food or ask someone to do that for you. Shed owners usually have sari-sari stores where you can buy basic necessities.
Boats are also available to tour you around. These are usually small fishing vessels where they drop off their harvests on the beach. Fish traders and fishermen meet on the shore early in the morning for the catch.
And of course, having sunset on the beach!
As far as we saw, this is the most flocked beach on this list. Especially during holidays, beach goers from the surrounding landlocked municipalities go to Tondaligan Beach.
Way back before, sheds are privately operated. Videoke machines can also be rented and someone can sing to their heart’s desire until dawn. Alcohol is also readily accessible from nearby sari-sari stores. But not until the City Government of Dagupan implemented stricter regulations.
The city government also developed the area similar to that of Lingayen. Newly-constructed nipa sheds are free and open to the public. The shores are cleaner and safer. It’s a good thing that most can now enjoy the beach without too much to worry about.
Along with the Central Bank of the Philippines, Dagupan City Justice Hall, and other government offices, prominent historical landmark like the Japan-Philippine Friendship Garden is also located here on Tondaligan Beach.
The public beach in Lingayen was developed by the provincial government. It is clean and well-maintained. There are also cottages that you can occupy for free but you need to walk approximately 50 meters to get to the beach.
Aside from the beach, you can also see the Pangasinan Provincial Capitol Building, Urduja House, and the Veteran’s Memorial Park.
We previously had Bolinao exploration to see what this town has to offer. This revisit is much more different.
The pristine waters of Bolinao is teeming with marine life. You can see them through your goggles even on the shallow part. We hope this condition will be preserved for the generations to come.
Ok, we’re saving the best for last. So far this was the most enjoyable place we’ve gone to during our trip. We particularly went to the Hundred Islands National Park and rode a boat to tour the islands.
First things first. You need to register at the tourism office and to reserve a boat. You can also ask the attendants to assist you with your itinerary such as where to have your lunch, the islands you want to visit, and so on. We found it economical to bring packed meals and snacks and start the tour early because it is mandatory for the boats to be on the mainland by 5:30 in the afternoon. Yes, you may also opt to spend the night on an island but with corresponding fees.
Our first stop was on the Governor’s Island. We brought our marinated meat and grilled it on the island. We also prepared ensalada, a local type of vegetable salad, to go along with our barbecue. After our hearty lunch, we climbed to the highest point on the island and the beautiful scenery was revealed.
The view on top of the Governor’s Island is simply breathtaking. Other islands to visit are namely, Children’s Island and Cathedral Island, among others.
Aside from the usual swimming, other activities one may enjoy here are zip lining, cliff diving, snorkeling, parasailing, and banana boat ride.
Have you been to the beach lately?
When I feel my stress level is reaching its boiling point, traveling becomes a STAT order. And luckily, La Union is just 1 to 1 1/2 hours away from Baguio. Hence, equipped with a camera and a little cash, I proceeded with no itinerary in mind.
To be honest, I haven’t figured out whether I should head back home in the afternoon or stay in San Juan for the night.
So I took a passenger SUV bound for Tagudin, Ilocos Sur. The trip would pass through Bauang and going northward to San Fernando City, San Juan, Bacnotan, etc. SUV fare from Baguio to San Juan is Php 100.
At last, touchdown San Juan. I saw the public market so it’s my cue to get off.
San Juan Public Market
I continued walking and I reached the municipal building.
San Juan Municipal Hall
Oh look! An old house just along the highway.
Crossing the street, an old Catholic church is seated, St. John the Baptist Parish.
And here is the memorial wall notably of Captain Candonino Gaerlan, a Filipino war hero.
The weather is warm so it’s about time to get some ice cream (“sor-BEH-tess”, in Filipino). No, it’s not on a cone rather I prefer an ice cream sandwich.
I felt like I am completely detached to the world as I continued walking. I don’t mind if I look like I’m lost or a stranded tourist. Later that afternoon, I found myself in a local eatery (“ka-RIN-der-yah”, in Filipino) where I had my early dinner. After the hearty meal, I became too lazy to head back to San Fernando, where bus terminals bound for Baguio are located. I think I need another day of rest (or wandering).
And so I found Puerto de San Juan to stay for the night.
All of the staff in Puerto de San Juan are nice and helpful. I noticed that this beach resort/hotel in San Juan is undergoing intense renovation and is under a new management. I have heard and read that PSJ was once a high-end resort. Now, the people in PSJ are working to bring back the resort to its former glory. Nevertheless, with the renovations done, overall, PSJ is outstanding.
The theme park is said to be opening soon. Once it does, I will be back here.
The main hotel building
The iconic arch of Puerto de San Juan
My room before I turned in
My night shots
The next day, I was thinking of a new itinerary. San Juan is dubbed as the Surfing Capital of Northern Philippines. So, I headed to Point Break, the famous surfing spot. While Puerto de San Juan is in Ili Sur (Poblacion), Point Break is in Urbiztondo. Walking along the shore towards Point Break is about 20 to 30 minutes. Not bad for testing your leg power.
Me and my light-capturing contraption: Shots fired! Shots fired!
The sky is getting dim and unfortunately, I have to head back to Baguio. As I was walking back to PSJ, San Juan showed its magnificent sunset.
These I learned: San Juan is a good quick fix should I lack Vitamin Sea and La Union is a great place to explore. I wasn’t able to see Tangadan Falls in San Gabriel; Bahay na Bato and the old Spanish watch tower, both in Luna; or other interesting attractions in San Fernando City. But I. Will. Be Back.
Life’s a beach!
One of the magnificent protected areas in Luzon, Minalungao National Park offers a lot of activities for the thrill seekers. This national park in General Tinio, Nueva Ecija covers 2,018 hectares of land area. Located north of Metro Manila, the local government promotes Minalungao as an ecotourism destination.
Minalungao National Park has facilities for having picnics, rafting, swimming, and more. It features the clean waters of Peñaranda River, the caves, and the rock formations.
We had our private ride to take us to Minalungao. From Baguio, it took us around 5 hours to reach the park. Along the way, I got a snap of Papaya Municipal Mall through my window.
But what does Papaya have to do with this? After some reading, I learned that the Municipality of General Tinio was formerly known as the Municipality of Papaya until 1957. It makes sense to me now.
A complete set of activities is what you’ll get from the park. And here are those:
The long trip was quite exhausting. I don’t have a photo of our crew having lunch by the river but this is a shot from where we had our meal:
You may have your meal cooked by arranging it with your tour coordinator.
This mini-hike is also called One Thousand Steps to the Cross. But yes, it was more than a thousand for me.
Along the way, we stopped by to pay our respects on the memorial marker of Missionary Innyoung (Ester) Choi.
The magnificent Sierra Madre mountain ranges can be seen from the top of the hill.
Alas, we reached the cross.
At this moment, we rode a bamboo raft on our way to the cave’s jump off site.
Your visit to the park won’t be complete without trying this!
The weather is slightly overcast but luckily it didn’t rain. Hence, we explored the Minalungao Caves.
We noticed that there are dry segments in the cave. And when the stalactites are no longer moist, they would no longer grow. These changes though might be due to natural causes. However, there are still parts of the cave that are alive.
Of course, nobody wants to miss experiencing the cold and clean waters of the park. Remember though that for tourists, wearing a life vest is a must. We can’t help but admire these kids who went to dive and swim with us. There are parts of the river that can be as deep as 30 feet.
For just a minimal fee, you can experience ziplining here in the park.
For your safety, listen and cooperate with your tour guide at all times, most especially in the cave and in the water. When rafting and swimming, your life vest must be worn even if you know how to swim.
From Manila: Ride a bus headed for Cabanatuan. Disembark in Gapan. From Gapan, take a jeep going to Papaya/General Tinio. Lastly, hire a tricycle to take you to Minalungao. Travel time is around 4-5 hours, depending on the traffic and your pace.
Traveling around Minalungao National Park is lot safer and more fun with a local who knows the place by heart. Get in touch with Mr. Darine De Guzman at (0920) 225-9562 or (0935) 538-7330. He can assist you from planning to the actual touring as well as provide relevant info to your inquiries and coordinate your tour necessities.
All in a day’s tour.
Who wouldn’t be excited to explore the 5th longest cave system in the Philippines? This is my second spelunking experience and I’ll try to make this really worth it. The Capisaan Cave System comprises of several entry/exit points that are connected through narrow paths. Capisaan Cave seems to be less explored but it really sounds promising. It is said to have speleothems, straws, draperies, and helictites making it a spelunker’s paradise.
Here, we’re set to traverse the Alayan-Lion System. During the orientation, we were given a heads up on what to expect inside the cave. Since the cave has underground river, a dry bag is a must. We were warned of sharp rocks and stalactites hence proper protective gear such as helmets are required. The trail is mostly rocky and slippery hence wearing proper footwear is advised.
We’ve set our camp near the information center. The Lion entrance is just near but we chose to start from Alayan. We rode our jeep going to Alayan jump-off and walked for around 30 minutes to reach the entrance.
Kasibu is a hidden gem. The view along the way is breathtaking. The air is fresh and clean. Life is so simple.
Before entering the cave, we were given some reminders. Safety always comes first.
With flashlights and headlamps to light our path, we walked, squeezed, ducked, and crawled our way through narrow passages and sharp rocks. Some of us got bruised but the magnificent views inside the cave didn’t deter us from pushing through.
There’s also a part in this cave where we need to cross the underground river with a rope (or a floater, but we preferred to pull ourselves with the rope).
Bringing a DSLR camera inside the cave may seem to be a crazy idea. But even though how outrageous as it sounds, it is really worth it. It is an excellent chance to enhance shooting in low light. We have nothing but internal flash and headlamps.
I used the following camera settings for most of the shots:
We only have a very short time to take a photo since we can’t just make our companions wait for us. Spending too much time adjusting the settings for every failed shot means we have to dash to catch up. There are also parts inside the cave where the slightest mistake in your footing leads to your doom (or injury).
Nevertheless, it was all worth it.
I was praying for my cam battery not to fail on me yet. There is so much more amazing cave features to capture. We were already approaching the Lion exit at this point.
After almost 5 hours inside the cave, we’re finally back to the surface… in one piece, thankfully.
The Lion entrance of the Capisaan Cave system.
We don’t want to pollute or destroy this marvelous cave, do we?
Coordinate your Capisaan spelunking trip with the provincial tourism office before proceeding to the caves. Learn more about it here.
Are you afraid of the dark?
One of the oldest churches in Pangasinan, St. James the Great Parish Church in Bolinao, Pangasinan was constructed in 1600s using native materials that includes wood, ground coral stones, rocks, and eggs (probably as binding agent). The church remains the center of catholic faith in Bolinao and served as shelter from pirate raids as well as during the WW2.
The church survived multiple natural calamities including the 1788 earthquake that damaged the church tower, the 1819 fire that burned the convent, and the 2009 typhoon that caused heavy damage on the church structures.
In front of the church is a marker stating that the first mass was celebrated in the Philippines in 1324. After being forced to land due to a stormy weather, Blessed Fr. Odorico held a thanksgiving mass. He also baptized several locals before returning home in Italy.
The marker reads:
Born in Pordinone (Italy) around 1275 A.D., Father ODORICO, a courageours and religious Franciscan missionary pioneered the spread of the Gospel in Asia and China. He traveled always barefooted among undescribable difficulties and dangers, exhausting his energies in the service of the Kingdom of GOD.
In 1324, after landing and taking refuge in Bolinao Pangasinan during a stormy weather, Father ODORICO celebrated a thanksgiving Mass in honor of their safe journey and his mission. He also indoctrinated and baptized many of the Malay immigrants in Bolinao.
He returned home to Udine (Friuli) Italy after thirteen years mission. He died a holy death on January 14, 1331. His precious remains are kept in an artistic tomb of the parish Church of our Lady of Mount Carmel in Udine (Italy).
This historical church as a lot to be proud of. Take a look at these other markers:
The ST. JAMES THE GREAT PARISH Bolinao, Pangasinan was canonically erected in the year 1609 when the Augustinian Friars took over this mission territory which was earlier entrusted by the Spanish Colonial Government to the Dominican Friars in the year 1594 and left the place in the year 1607 due to the vastness of their mission territories and the scarcity of their missionary members.
The Church tower of Bolinao measuring seventy five (75) feet was then the tallest in the whole Pangasinan if not in the entire Northern Luzon. However, an earthquake in 1788 toppled about half of it. Then in 1819, the Church Convent was also accidentally burned.
Here below is the church’s altar and tabernacle.
The church is undergoing structural repairs and maintenance.
This wraps up our 3D/2N Bolinao exploration.
After our Santiago Island trip, we headed back to the mainland to visit Patar rock formations and view the sunset at Cape Bolinao Lighthouse. Along the way, we were forced to stop by and capture this magnificent view. This is the usual scene on Balingasay River.
Part of Bolinao, especially the area along the shore, was believed to be submerged. This is the reason for the unusual rock formations. Another thing we noticed is that the water is still shallow even we’ve already walked (quite) far away from the beach.
We named this “The Ship’s Bow” (just for fun) because if its shape and standing on the edge feels like a popular scene on Titanic. Oh, that was me BTW.
Marine life flourishes on this area. The crevices on the rocks are not only good for the eyes but also for the sea creatures. We couldn’t help but take photos.
Patar is a great place for photographers, indeed. Breathtaking views await visitors. What’s good with this place is that Patar is not overcrowded. It is simply wonderful and we hope we keep it clean.
The sky is getting dim so we rushed to our next destination. Bolinao lighthouse, here we come!
The moment we’re all waiting for, catching the sunset on one of Bolinao’s highest spots. Cape Bolinao Lighthouse stands on top of Punta Piedra Point. Constructed in early 1900s, the lighthouse is still functioning to this day.
Finally, the sun gave us a spectacular sunset.
We took several shots but this one’s our favorite. My brother, JM, was the only one with a DSLR cam and we took turns shooting. I found his words true, “Ito ang experience na hindi nakakasawa“.
Special thanks to JM of Gabrillo Photography for sharing their photos with us.
Bolinao, Pangasinan can be a perfect getaway for a family or backpacking trip. Although Bolinao may not be as popular with Alaminos or San Fabian, this town offers a unique charm. The enchanting places to visit in Bolinao are really worth exploring. The experience of knowing more and exploring Bolinao, Pangasinan is totally exhilarating!
Located at the westernmost tip of Pangasinan, getting to Bolinao is a test of patience. It took us almost 3 hours from Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan. Since we were on a family trip, we have our own private ride. We brought pretty much everything we need like kitchen utensils, charcoal, water, and food.
It was late afternoon when we arrived. To save time, we immediately set up our camp while others prepared dinner. I was mesmerized by the sunset.
There are several places to stay in Bolinao but we preferred to sleep in our family-size tent for a real outdoor experience. We built a fire along the shore and got ourselves chilled drinks (bonfire was permitted by a local).
We set sail off to Bolinao’s Santiago Island. The island is comprised of six barangays namely, Pilar, Goyoden, Salud, Victory, Lucero, and Binabalian. We rode a motorized boat to reach the island. The locals also rely on boats to take them and their goods to and fro the mainland.
We arrived on the island and this sign welcomed us. Sibarbar Juction.
A family friend invited us for lunch. Do you smell What the folks are cooking? 😀
Finally! Bon Appetit!
There is nothing more we could ask for after our hearty lunch. Afterwards, we tried to explore the neighborhood to somehow know more about Santiago Island. Here are some shots.
We returned to the port to catch a boat back to the mainland. The day is far from over because our next stop is the famous Patar rock formation and watching the sunset at Cape Bolinao.
Click to read more about the beautiful spots in Bolinao including rock formations in Patar and Cape Bolinao Lighthouse.
This is the day to go back home. But before we do, we don’t want to miss visiting Church of St. James the Great.
Click to read more about St. James the Great Parish Church in Bolinao.
It’s sad to think that I’ll be going back to my routinary home-work-home lifestyle. Yet still, a little break from this agonizing pattern recharges me. I’m looking forward to my next adventure!
Manila (Cubao) to Bolinao is a 5-6 hour bus ride and Dagupan to Bolinao is a 2 to 2½-hour trip. Local bus trips are available daily. Once in Bolinao bus terminal, hail a tricycle to take you to Patar.
Visita Iglesia is a traditional Catholic practice observed within the Holy Week. Devotees visit seven different churches (sometimes there’s a particular or no set of number as it depends on the faithful’s personal preference) on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday and recite the Stations of the Cross (Pasyon, in Filipino). In the Philippines, the observance of Visita Iglesia dates back during the Spanish colonization era.
The reasons for practicing Visita Iglesia can be different for every individual. It may be done for penance, sending petitions, or thanksgiving for fulfilled wishes.
Most Catholic churches in Pangasinan were built during Spanish colonization in the Philippines. Although these churches have undergone or currently undergoing renovations, these parishes see to it that the old structure is maintained. The old ‘feel’ when inside these churches makes these buildings remarkable.
1. St. Joseph the Patriarch Parish Church, Mapandan, Pangasinan
Mapandan Parish Church
St. Joseph the Patriarch Parish Church (or simply, Mapandan Parish Church) was said to be established as a parish in 1905. Although most of the building’s structure is new as it was built around 1980s, the original facade was still followed during the renovation. The church is well located within the town proper.
This was the first church we visited during our visita iglesia. As old folks say, if you’ve visited a church for the first time, make a wish. And so I did.
Mapandan Parish Church Interior and Altar
2. Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, Manaoag, Pangasinan
Our Lady of Manaoag Church
The Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag is sometimes called by people as Manaoag Church, or as simple as Manaoag. Thousands visit the church all-year round as a pilgrimage site. The stature of Our Lady of Manaoag is believed to be miraculous. During the Second World War when the Japanese dropped several bombs that destroyed nearby structures. One of the bombs that fell which should have destroyed the ivory statue miraculously didn’t went off. Other miracles that happened are depicted by the murals inside the church.
The Beloved Face of Our Lady of Manaoag (up close)
Statues on church altars are covered in purple cloth from Good Friday until Easter Sunday. The photo shown was taken earlier and presented as reference.
I’ve been to Manaoag Church several times but I’m still looking forward and excited to my next visit.
3. St. Hyacinth Parish Church, San Jacinto, Pangasinan
St. Hyacinth Parish Church
St. Hyacinth Parish Church Interior and Altar
The original structure was heavily damaged during the terrible earthquake in March 1892. The church itself was rebuilt.
4. St. Thomas Aquinas Parish Church, Mangaldan, Pangasinan
Mangaldan Parish Church
Mangaldan Parish Church Interior and Altar
What fascinates me is the magnificent paintings of the Stations of the Cross.
5. St. John the Evangelist Cathedral, Dagupan City, Pangasinan
St. John’s Cathedral
St. John’s Cathedral Altar (image taken before the Holy Week)
The Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is sometimes also called Dagupan Cathedral. It is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. The Archbishop’s House is located nearby as well as St. John’s Cathedral School that caters to elementary and high school students.
6. Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church, Calasiao, Pangasinan
Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church
Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Altar
Sts. Peter and Paul Church was founded in 1588 and its construction took place between the 17th and 19th century. Several natural calamities and man-made events caused damage to the building. Reconstruction and restoration have been done. Due to its age and excellent preservation, this baroque church was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
Christ the King
7. Holy Family Parish Church, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan
Holy Family Parish Church
Holy Family Parish Interior and Altar
Holy Family Parish or Sta. Barbara Church was known to be built in 1716 making it one of the oldest churches in Pangasinan.
Another church I visited was the St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Church in San Carlos City, Pangasinan.
St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Church
St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Church or San Carlos Church was constructed around the 18th century and completed in 1773 in Binalatongan. The church has undergone destruction mostly by earthquakes and fire, which reconstruction and rehabilitation was done several times. The church resembles a Baroque architecture and made mostly of bricks which still can be seen today.
The town of Binalatongan was founded in 1578 and renamed as San Carlos in 1764. It was declared a city on the 1st of January, 1966.
St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Church Interior and Altar
Session Road in Bloom immediately follows after the float parade. It is when Session Road will be closed to vehicles and stalls are put up. This is a great opportunity for business owners all around the Philippines to showcase their local products and services.
The Market Encounter is in Burnham Park along Lake Drive. The only difference between Session Road in Bloom and Market Encounter is that the latter can take place earlier.
Only in the month of February when the three main roads within Baguio’s central business district are closed. Session Road in Bloom on Session Road, Market Encounter on Lake Drive, and one lane along Harrison Road for the Night Market. The Night Market in Harrison Road happens daily, which starts at 9:00 PM.
And where there are cars, there are these amazing, pretty ladies. We felt so lucky. Well, who won’t?
Photo credits to Paul for these images.
Photo credits to Ian for this image.
Later in the evening, the fireworks display concluded the Panagbenga Festival. I struggled to get a location with good vantage point. This is the make-the-most-of-what-I-have kind of shot.
Personally, I associate the Panagbenga Festival with beauty. Here are some shots during the 6th of March.
The float parade is one of the most awaited highlights of the Panagbenga Festival. It is usually held on the last Sunday of February before the Session Road in Bloom starts. Float designers use tons of flowers to decorate their float that attracts the attention of the crowd. Public or private entities can join to have an entry, which not only be used for their advertising but most especially to bring joy to the crowd.
Once again, I woke up at around 5:00 AM and went out at 6:00 AM. I was able to ride a jeepney. When I arrived downtown, this is what surprised me.
Now I’m too late to find a good spot now. Nobody is allowed to watch on the overpass. I thought this is the end for me. But as the parade goes near, people stayed on the overpass until nobody can’t go through anymore. Luckily, while I was walking along, I happened to get stuck in an area with a nice view of the parade.
Jeepito made a crowd appearance in Panagbenga 2016. This crowd favorite is arguably the smallest and cutest fully-operational jeepney. It is said that Jeepito originated in Baguio City and has been patented and registered by its owner. Jeepito can carry up to 4 passengers.
At last, the colorful and amazing flower floats came. In no particular order.
And with NLEX’s float participating in the parade, so as with some of PBA’s NLEX Road Warriors.
Here’s the float of Lower Dagsian. And who could be the one riding on it? Could it be…
…Yakon Man! That’s the name my co-spectators yelled. He got a loud cheer from the crowd.
Aside from the floats, there were also celebrities who joined the parade.
Manolo Pedrosa and Maris Racal, both former Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) housemates, joined Panagbenga 2016.
Real-life couple Jason Francisco and Melai Cantiveros-Francisco also joined the Panagbenga 2016 float parade.
And the much awaited personalities showed up. Here comes Coco Martin, Maja Salvador, Pepe Herrera, and Xymon “Onyok” Pineda.
Summer is far from over. If you are looking forward to experience the sun, sand, […]
One of the magnificent protected areas in Luzon, Minalungao National Park offers a lot of […]
Who wouldn’t be excited to explore the 5th longest cave system in the Philippines? This […]
One of the oldest churches in Pangasinan, St. James the Great Parish Church in Bolinao, […]
After our Santiago Island trip, we headed back to the mainland to visit Patar rock […]