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Hundred Islands in Alaminos City, Pangasinan

5 Aug

I have dreamed of going to Hundred Islands since I was in kindergarten. I was still very young when my mom’s friend came to our house. She just came back from her vacation. She shared how she enjoyed her time in Hundred Islands. It must have been with how her face brightened up as she was describing her experience and her overflowing excitement that got me to promise myself:ย  I will also visit that place someday.

Fast track to 2007, a few days after my Pagsanjan trip, I found myself and C on a bus to Pangasinan.

Hundred Islands is about 5 hours away from Manila. I used to think these islands were very small that they are just a few steps away from each other. I really thought you can explore all one hundred islands by foot! Much to my surprise, it did not turn out like that.

They were this size. Some were even much bigger!

Well, we didn’t actually see the islands until the next day. Since we arrived in Alaminos around7 PM, we just checked in to a resort. Its name escapes me now.

This is just one of the beds in the room. Shame on the T&B, though. It was just too small for my liking.

We went to the wharf early the next day. We got a small boat since there were only us two.

I think we paid about 600- 750 php for the boat.

Our boatman gave us the names of the islands as we pass by them. He mentioned Marcos Island, Governor’s island where there’s a Pinoy Big Brother (reality TV show) house, andย  Quezon island where most boats make a stopover. Guests can go swimming and cook here. This is where we rented a kayak.

Some islands are not developed and don't have names

At that time, a lot of people where in Quezon island so I convinced C that we go to another island. It was C’s first time to try kayaking. I’m sure she found it a fun challenge to kayak all the way to Lopez island.

It was a long way for us to get to Lopez island but it really made our adventurous spirits happy.

Lopez island is great for sunbathing. We got to enjoy the clear waters and fine sand all to ourselves. It was like we have our very own island.

The island farthest in the background is the Quezon island.

We stayed for a few hours just swimming and getting baked.We also looked for shells and whatnot from the sea.

Limestones behind C

We didn’t bring anything to eat. So when we could no longer ignore our stomachs, we had to leave. The current by this time was significantly stronger. But we made it safely back to Quezon island.

We then went back to the resort for some food.

C shocked by the amount of food we have to devour

Me feeling all excited to finally fill my stomach with something

After lunch, we hurriedly packed our things and checked out so we can catch an earlier bus to Manila.

The view outside our room and C with her funny face! ;p

It was really a great trip! And I proudly ticked it off the list. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Laguna in ’07

2 Aug

A little more than three years ago, my friend C and I decided to explore Laguna. I was about to quit my call center job at that time and I thought of using up all my leave credits. C lives in Manila so I just met up with her there.ย  The main reason we were going to Laguna was to see the Pagsanjan Falls. But just like in every trip, I wanted to make the most of our time. So we also got to visit other places. We didn’t hire tour guides and private vehicles. We just brought a map and made commuting and walking on foot fun for the both of us. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Seeing each other again several years after college

C picked me up from the airport. We then took the MRT (Metro Rail Transit) to get to Alabang (south of Manila). We took a bus from there to get to Laguna. It was already late and we didn’t have any reservations. When we reached Pagsanjan, we just asked a tricycle driver to take us to any good resort in the area. He took us to Pagsanjan Falls Lodge and Summer Resort. The only accommodation they had available for that night was this:

The boat house

And we could not complain. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The boat house has two rooms. Our room cost 1500 php/ night. It was decent and quite stable for a boat house. Not that I have been on any other boat houses before. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We woke up early the next day for our trip to the falls. Reservations can be made with the resort.ย  I think we paid a little less than a 1000 php for this trip.

Our ride

The canoe can accommodate a maximum of five people- three tourists and two boatmen. In our case, we had a father- son tandem. The father was a bit chatty. He told us about participating in the boat racing contest during the Bangkero Festival. This is a festival held every first week of March in Pagsanjan, Laguna.

The view on the way to the falls is very enchanting.

The trip was quite long. We didn’t mind though. There were a lot of things to see, just like this life- size Lady of Guadalupe in front of a colorful house.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the town's patroness.

It was amazing how our boatmen maneuver the canoe against the strong current and the many rapids along the way as we pass through cliffs. It definitely requires some serious skills. They paddled, they pushed their feet against the rocks, and they carried the boat. Still, they managed to make it look so easy.

Mr. Boatman expertly maneuvering our way to the falls.

Our boatmen parked the canoeย  as we caught sight of the falls. We had to get on a raft to take us closer the falls. We paid about 15 php each. It was a good thing that we got their early. There weren’t a lot of tourists yet.

Behind the cascading waters is the Devil's cave

We stayed here for a while, just swimming and enjoying the cool waters as it hits our bodies angrily. It was really relaxing.

We then headed back to the resort to take some pictures before we checked out. The resort was big. It had a swimming with a long, winding slide.

The resort had a good view of the river.

From the resort, we went to explore more of Laguna. We saw old houses and churches. Most of the time we were walking or riding a tricycle to get to our destination.

Lumban Church

Then we went to the Japanese Garden in Cavinti. We had quite a trouble finding this garden. For some reason, the locals whom we got to ask were not very familiar with it. But we did eventually find somebody to take us there.

It was very quiet when we got there and we hardly saw anybody. The silence was so deafening that I had to play some music from my phone, just so we won’t be scared out of our wits! I was thinking maybe it was because we visited during noon. We still continued to walk further. We then climbed the steep stairs.

Since this garden was created in memory of the Japanese soldiers who died during World War II, I wasn’t surprised to find tombs with Japanese inscriptions. But they surely added to the eerie feel of the place.

Japanese Garden

The steep stairs seemed endless. It had a landing every fifteen steps or so. But as you reach a landing, you will only be greeted by another set of stairs. And from each landing, you won’t really see what’s up ahead. You will just see the stairs meeting the sky. As much as we were hesitant to climb that next set of stairs, we were also curious of what lies ahead. We even heard voices that really made us reconsider our decision of continuing the plight of stairs.

Boy, were we glad we didn’t give up!

At the Japanese Garden with a view of Lake Caliraya

After that last step, we were greeted by the magnificent view of Lake Caliraya. And those voices, they actually belonged to a family who were there to have a picnic. We couldn’t help but laugh at ourselves! We were such scaredy cats! I couldn’t even stop laughing as I am writing this!

We took more pictures and spent some time just to take in the view. And of course, to rest a bit after that climb. When we headed back, we found some picnic huts on the lower level of the garden. By this time, there were more people in the garden as it was already about 4pm.

Entrance to the cemetery

Our last stop for this trip was the Underground Cemetery in Nagcarlan. There weren’t any tourists when we got there. We went inside and headed to the chapel. We saw a guy who introduced himself as the guide and caretaker of the place. We signed the guestbook and we started the tour. The guy was nice and he clearly knows what he was talking about.

No picture taking was allowed inside the cemetery. Most of the things we saw inside were really, really old. Some parts of the structure haven’t even been replaced yet. According to the guide, if there’s heavy rain, the whole underground will be filled with water that entered through the windows.

Outside the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery; the guy at the back was our tour guide

We were hoping to visit the house of Jose Rizal in Calamba but we were already pressed for time as we had to go back to Manila on that day.

Overall, it was really a fun experience. ๐Ÿ™‚