Hundred Islands National Park, Alaminos, Pangasinan – A staple in the Department of Tourism’s list of top tourist destination in the country; a 2 million-year-old national geological monument, and some may call it to the extent as a ‘Paradise’ on Earth - Yet, here I am, been living in Pangasinan for 16 years, just an hour or two at max bus ride away from this stunning spot, and still it took about 11 years (been there once when I was a kid) and 9 outsiders (mostly Manila-based bloggers) to made me fully experience what this group of 124 mushroom-shaped islands (during low tide, 123 during high tide) has to offer. I’ve been raving about the beaches of Boracay and Palawan, about the activities in Camarines Sur, raving about how great it would be to go to those places and yet taking for granted the majestic place just outside of my doorstep that is the Hundred Islands. I guess you can never truly see the value of something (or someone) until you lose it.
|Different Islands along the way|
So with Mica of Micamyx.com and Anton of Pusangkalye.net standing as chief organizers (both originally from Pangasinan, from Dagupan and Anda respectively); me, together with seven other bloggers, Ada of adaphobic.com, Cai of pinkurinal.com, Gael of thepinaysolobackpacker.com, Marky of nomadicexperiences.blogspot.com, Robbie of thecreativedork.com, Darwin of trackingtreasure.net, and Sir Estan of langyaw.com; set out on a Western Pangasinan Blogger’s Tour primarily sponsored by Islandia Hotel in Palamis, Alaminos; the Tourism Office of Alaminos c/o Mr. Rey Livara; and Island Tropic Restaurant.
Mica, Ada, Darwin, Robbie, and Estan were already in Dagupan City the day before and stayed with Mica’s grandparents. We left Dagupan at around 5:30 am and arrived at Islandia Hotel about an hour later. I must say that the hotel’s staff were very accommodating even if we arrived so early in the morning, a time when people are usually grumpy J . Islandia Hotel located at Marcos, Avenue, Palamis, Alaminos was the home of Miss Earth 2008 and is the only true hotel in the city of Alaminos. It’s the choice of personalities visiting Alaminos, as shown by the numerous photos of celebrities enjoying their stay and posing with the hotel manager, Mr. Klydz Busto, and staff of Islandia displayed in the lobby. Islandia Hotel boasts such amenities as a swimming pool, entertainment room, function hall, and a specialty restaurant. Not to mention their comfortable rooms with a relax ambience perfect for chilling out after a day of travel and adventure. For reservations, you can call (075)551-3683, or visit their website at http://www.islandiahotelph.com
After checking in, the six of as headed straight to our room to chill and relax for a while, then Anton, Gael, and Marky arrived. So we headed to Islandia’s ‘Specialty Restaurant’ to have breakfast which I thought was c/o Robbie, but I was wrong.. haha :D . Most of us ordered the infamous ‘Alaminos Longganisa’ which main distinction from other ‘Longganisa’ is that it uses sticks, like a toothpick, instead of just tying a knot to divide each piece.
|From Left: Darwin, Gael,Anton, AkosiShinchan, Sir Klydz, Mica, and me (pusangkalye.net)|
After breakfast, sir Klydz toured us around the hotel and if you’re familiar with the saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover”??? Well forget about it, cause I have really no idea how to relate it in what I’m trying to say :D it’s just that by looking at the facade of the building, you’ll never expect that Islandia Hotel offers 26 rooms divided into ‘standard’, ‘superior’, ‘deluxe’, ‘family’, and ‘suite’ and still houses the amenities mentioned above. Truly, it’s a great place to stay whenever you’re in Alaminos City.
Now, we’re almost complete (Cai is still on her way due to work, boo! :( ) we’ve unloaded some our luggage, prepared our gear, and has a full and happy tummy! So we’re off to the Hundred Islands, through Lucap wharf :D
|Lucap Wharf's Light house|
Lucap wharf is the jump off point to any of the islands, this is where numerous boats are stationed, where souvenir shops are found, and where the Tourism Office of Alaminos is located. For those who are planning to go to Alaminos and experience the Hundred Islands, it would be wise to go straight first to the Tourism Office and look for Mr. Rey Livara to gather information regarding the rates of different tour packages around the islands. For more info go to alaminoscity.gov.ph
Mr. Rey Livara is the official tour guide for the Hundred Islands, and is also the very first tour guide accredited by the Department of Tourism in Pangasinan. He’s like a gentle giant, very jolly and knows the whole area by heart, no need for maps or any ‘kodigo’, he just keep on telling stories about the islands like a he’s a documentary film, foreign and local tourist will surely be pleased with his personality, hospitality and sincerity. He’s our host for the day, and he set up a series of activities aimed to make sure that this Hundred Island- experience would be unforgettable. First stop: Governor Island.
There are three main islands specifically developed for tourists: The Governor Island, Children Island, and the Quezon Island. After buying our packed lunch at Lucap Wharf, we set sail (though we rode a motor boat, but who cares, its more dramatic that way :D ) to our first destination, The Governor Island. It has the best view of the group islands since it features an elevated view deck, a natural view deck with rocks acting as stairs which you need to trek. Though tiring, it was all worth it, just check out the photo below, you can also see the Virgin Island from there. It’s where all the virgin people come and celebrate their celibacy,hahahaha :D
Sir Rey asked if we would like to crossed the waters to go to Virgin Island, and Ada said yes… in behalf of everybody… enthusiastically! :D so off we go, in the middle of the sea we walked, here is where we had a lot of fun chatting and taking photos of each other. :D
After, our little adventure, we headed to Shell Island, which is I think a perfect place for a pre-nup shoot, but hey who needs a pre-nup, all we did their was take pictures of everything and everyone, jump shot here, jump shot there, jump shot everywhere! :D
|Walang katapusang jumpshot :D|
We stroke and we stroke and we stroke and finally we arrived inside Imelda cave, this is where we got off our Kayaks to swim and snorkel ( Bad Idea :D ) we never thought that getting back to our ‘Kayak’ would require us to be Olympic gymnasts, I still can’t stop laughing whenever I remember what happen to Anton, it goes like this, me, Anton, Darwin, the Lady guide, and her son all had a hard time to help Gael get back atop the kayak, and after we finally did it (Naubos ang gulay naming sa katawan :D) Anton was so eager to get back up on his own kayak, he tried to push himself up with Gael’s, tipping it over leaving all our efforts in vain,hahahaha :D peace!
Next activity lined up was snorkeling to see giant clams, we then again stroke and stroke and stroke until we reached a floating dock. There we are in the middle of the sea, floating , surrounded by Islands,this was when Darwin blurted out “whoa, is this for real?’ which made me laugh so hard while wearing my gear (Nakainum tuloy ako ng tubig, alat!) Comically Dramatic ang mokong! Hahaha :D
|Survivor Alaminos! (adaphobic.com)|
And after circling the giant clams a couple of times, we kayaked our way back to Quezon Island, just in time to catch the sunset, and what good is the sunset if you won’t take pictures of it right?, so ayun, walang katapusang jumpshot! Hahaha we ended our Hundred Island experience there and head back to Lucap Wharf, but before ending the our whole Alaminos experience, Sir Rey invited us to joined him for dinner at Island Tropic Hotel and Restaurant, which we respectfully and unhesitantly oblige. :D
|Frog versus Cheerleader thing|
After freshening up, we made our way, now with Cai and Estan, to Island Tropic Restaurant located just within Brgy. Lucap. There we were served with an array of specialty dishes; ‘Alaminos Longganisa’ included, and got to hear more of Alaminos City and the Hundred Islands from Sir Rey.
After dinner, Sir Rey and Ms. Von, his officemate, brought us back to our hotel officially ending the Day 1 of the Western Pangasinan Blogger’s Tour experience. And again, I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to our primary sponsors who made this trip possible and memorable; Islandia Hotel for the warm accommodation, Tourism Office of Alaminos and Sir Rey Livara for the wonderful activities, and Island Tropic Hotel and Restaurant for the scrumptious dinner; and to my secondary sponsors, Nikon for my Camera, Ego jeans for my shirt, Lee for my shorts, NBA for my tsinelas, and special thanks to Carter! :D watch out for Day 2: Bolinao Birthday Bash with Bloggers! Babush!