Actually that's last year's summer. Just thought it would sound witty as a title. Cliche. Ramona and I had been friends since high school but this was our first time to go to the beach together. With our gang of high school friends, we went to Pangasinan in April of 2010. Over a year ago now, but the experience is still etched in my memory.
It was a well planned trip. Two months before the date a detailed itinerary was written and everyone had a part to do. We'd been long anticipating the escapade. But one Saturday morning when everybody was all ready and set to go, the van we hired bailed out. I couldn't believe we were doomed. Taking a bus was another option but for a large group it was cheaper and more comfortable to ride a private vehicle. Instead of pining, some of our friends pulled out their contacts and started dialing the right people. After an hour of negotiation, we found a replacement.
Alaminos, Pangasinan was a 5 hour ride from Manila. We arrived around 2 PM, stopped by to eat and buy some goods at the market and after much confusion on the directions, finally found our way to Lucap Wharf where a boat was waiting to tour us to the Hundred Islands National Park. Only three of the islands have been developed for tourists: Governor, Quezon, and Children's Islands. And we eagerly hopped from one island to another.
After thirty minutes on the boat, we docked on our first destination, Governor's Island. Being the largest island in the entire park, it has an area of 74, 408 square/meter. The island has the best accommodations for tourists who would like to stay for the night. It also features the highest peak that offers a bird's eye view of the park. Climbing to the summit on a hot summer day was no easy task for me, but the sight from up there was more than rewarding. It was breathtaking.
Scattered along Lingayen Gulf are 124 islands resembling green mushrooms floating on the water. Believed to be about 2 million years old, these islands are ancient corals in an ancient sea. Through time the lowering of sea levels have exposed them to the surface. I have always imagined these islands have real land in them with green trees actually growing on soil. But when I stepped foot on an islet for the first time, I realized it's mainly made of stone and all sands.
The next stop was Children's Island so called because the shallow waters near the beach is ideal for little children. With wooden cottages, floating picnic sheds, restrooms, tent rentals, camping areas among other things – this island is perfect for family gatherings. Seeing the crowd of people, we decided not to get out of the boat. We just coasted along to our next destination.
Then finally there was Quezon Island. Another well developed and favorite among enthusiasts in the Park. Our group decided to relax for a while in here.There was lot of going on in the island. Though I wasn't impressed with its shore, I found the clear blue water tempting enough. I could hear people singing from the nipa huts strategically built on elevated rocks. There were others geared with binoculars, catching a glimpse of migratory birds nesting all over the place.
Probably the most remarkable activity for me was our kayak experience.Ramona and I were first timers. Both of us weren't great swimmers. Both of us were scared (but good scared). Both of us didn't know what we were doing. But after paddling against the current, crashing on the rocks more than a couple of times, Ramona and I were addicted. And though we realized we might end up with Johnny Bravo's triceps after so many rounds, we definitely loved Kayaking!
The original plan was to camp on the island but a friend had discovered, through the wonders of internet, this beautiful beach tucked an hour away from civilization. So we embarked on our boat and with hearts full of praise, we blew kisses to the Hundred Islands National Park. As a young schoolgirl, I have always thought these islands existed only in the pages of my geography textbooks. When I saw them before my eyes and even laid foot on some of the islets, it felt like taking part in a living postcard.
PART II: PATAR WHITE BEACH
The night was filled with fun, booze and laughter. And when the morrow came, everything spelled paradise to my senses.
PART III: CAPE BOLINAO LIGHTHOUSE
Light house photo credit