Before I proceed to this travelogue, i want to confess something first: I haven’t been to Hundred Islands in Alaminos City, Pangasinan prior to this trip despite the fact that live only 1 1/2 hrs away from it.
It is the reason why I am excited to go to Hundred Islands. As a little kid, i remember my father passing through the port of the Hundred Islands National Park, but I never really had the chance to ride in a boat and explore Pangasinan’s most prized tourism destination. If you’re favorite subject in Elementary is Civics and Culture or Sibika at Kultura, you surely had that urge as a little kid to go to the Hundred Islands and simply be amazed on how these islands appeared in that clean body of water. Whew.
When Anton and I were discussing about the Pangasinan trip, I told him that i am dying to see the Hundred Islands and i think going there with a bunch of travel bloggers will make it extra special.
And I was right.
After exploring Dagupan, Calasiao and Lingayen, Ada, Josh, Robbie, Estan, Darwin and I rented a van to Alaminos City. Although commuting is a budget-friendly option, we had to leave as early as 5AM in order to arrive in Islandia Hotel, our chosen accommodation in Alaminos City and be reunited with Anton, Gael, Marky and Cai, who were all fresh (or haggard? LOL!) from their full-time jobs.
Much to my surprise, our trip only lasted for an hour. I didn’t take a nap although i was sleepy because i really missed our family’s roadtrip to Western Pangasinan especially when we’re bound to visit San Marcelino, Zambales. The view especially in Sual and nearby towns gave me that instant excitement for our first adventure as a group.
We arrived in Islandia Hotel at 6AM. We’re glad that the hotel staff gave us the room keys in an instant. We waited for the rest to arrive so we can eat our breakfast together as one big blogging family (drama ever so much! hehehe)
When you’re in Islandia Hotel, you will notice a number of framed photographs of beauty queens in their simple and glamorous outfits. It just happened that the candidates of Miss Earth 2008 actually stayed there that year. We were joking around if we can also have our own gallery of photos in one of the walls 😛
As expected, majority of us ordered the Alaminos Longanisa (pork sausages) for breakfast. It is extra special because instead of strings, the people of Alaminos uses tiny sticks and tied together with strips of palm leaves. What also makes the Alaminos Longganisa special is that it is made using natural meat with no preservatives and flavorings. It is almost similar to Binalonan Longganisa in terms of taste, but that deserves another blog entry.
The group decided to rest and relax in our respective rooms for an hour before proceeding to the Hundred Islands Nature Park, which is the highlight of the trip. Mr. Klydz Busto, the manager of Islandia Hotel gladly entertained us by answering some of our questions. He also informed us that the Alaminos City Airport is already on the works and it might be ready for use by 2011 😀 In my personal opinion, this can help boost Alaminos City’s tourism since tourists can come over in a much more convenient way. The long travel hours is actually the main factor why there are less travelers going up north compared to those flying to Visayas and Mindanao.
The staff and crew of Islandia Hotel also toured us around the place. The swimming pool was being filled out with new water that morning that’s why I concentrated on taking pictures of the rooms.
I bet the foreigners who are staying there are satisfied with the accommodation due to its native look. I love the beds and the place is really clean. (I’ll write more about Islandia Hotel soon at Senyorita.net)
We group rode two tricycles and traveled for 10-15 minutes to Brgy. Lucap, where the port to the Hundred Islands is located. We spotted a number of tourist when we arrived. There was even this one foreigner who took a photo with us much to our surprise LOL 😛
Anton and I looked for Mr. Rey Livara, who was then Â busy in preparing for Christmas Parol Decorations to be displayed in the town. To be honest, i was expecting a very ‘strict-looking’ tourism officer prior to meeting him. I am glad that he is actually nice and accommodating. You can also see his sincerity and excitement of touring us around Hundred Islands. I know that he is always doing the island hopping rounds with other visitors, but he appeared as if its also his first time with bits of interesting information while we travel.
After buying our packed lunch, the group proceeded to our designated boat. I think there is an ongoing issue circulating right now that Hundred Islands is already polluted. I was looking for polluted areas at the whole duration of the tour, but i haven’t spotted one. I am happy to testify that 😛
Our first stop is the Governor’s Island. If i’m not mistaken, it is the most visited among all the islands. We were asked to do a little trekking to have an overlook view of the whole area. I was surprised when i finally went there – Totoo pala yung mga drawing sa textbooks dati na marami talagang islands wehehe 😛
Like a little kid, i had a photo of me taken with some of the islands as the background. Of course, the whole group didn’t miss this souvenir photo opportunity 😛
Sir Rey also showed to us the famous PBB House, where Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition Final 4 housemates Kim, Mikee, Gerald and Claire stayed four years ago. I remember during that time, some of the Kimerald fans at ABS-CBN Forum and PinoyExchange were planning to go there just to see the said house. (Why am i aware of that? I work for a tabloid hehe lame excuse LOLOLOL 😛 )
The next island we explored is the Virgin Islands. Nah, Celso Ad Castillo’s cult movie Virgin People wasn’t shot there. The group decided to cross Governor’s Island to the Virgin Islands because Sir Rey told us that we can walk our way there. With our individual cameras and happy faces, we all went there. I was partly scared because there are some species living within the island. S’yempre, kodakan moment along the way. ‘Di na baleng mabasa ang mga kamera basta may piktur 😛
Our next destination is the Shell Island. I haven’t read any newspaper article or blog entry about this island before, and wow, it is surprisingly beautiful. Am i still in the Philippines?! Ganda ng Pilipinas! Hehehe 😛 As usual, the bloggers had their own emo moments. Some took self-portrait shots and group shots. Mawawala ba ang jumpshots? Hehe 😛 Although the heat is literally making us sweat too much, we didn’t really mind. Taking photos in this beautiful island under the sun is just a bliss.
We had our late lunch at the Quezon Island, which i believe is the most populated island. There’s a number of food stalls and accommodations there. It is also the starting point of some water activities such as snorkeling, kayaking and diving. We were all hungry and we need to recharge for some physical activities in store for us.
We were taught on-the-spot about the Basics of Kayaking. Our rushed tutorial was done in less than 10 minutes. Before we know it, we were already with our partners and we’re on our way in a far, far away island. Robbie was my partner in crime and we were the last to reach our destination (ang layo naman kasi – hindi kami prepared na ganun kaagad kalayo wah!).
We found ourselves entering the Imelda Cave which is really beautiful! Too bad we didn’t bring our cameras with us. The exact look while inside is still in my mind though. I tried snorkeling within the cave (kamusta naman ang pahirapang pag-akyat pabalik sa kayak boat?!). Anton and the rest had to push me real hard back to the boat dahil ‘di ko na kayang buhatin ang sarili ko :)) Some of the guests tried jumping from the cliff to the center of the underwater cave. I am tempted to try it, but i can’t swim LOL 😛
Robbie and I hurriedly went to our next destination, where the giant clams were located. Snorkeling within that area is a good experience. You’d be able to see some corals (unfortunately, some of which are already dead although they still look appealing to me). There’s a lot of giant clams and some of which are placed in a table-like storage. The group, although tired and a bit thirsty were fascinated with the fact that we tried snorkeling and kayaking there. It’s already pass 5pm and we need to go back to Quezon Island to catch the beautiful sunset. <3
Overall, i am really happy and more than satisfied with this experience. I didn’t expect that Sir Rey and the rest of the local tourism of Alaminos City prepared these activities for us!
We rode our designated boat back to Brgy. Lucap for 45 minutes. We were all tired, but we managed to take some interesting photos:
The group went back to Islandia Hotel to rest and freshen up. Cai and Estan finally arrived in the hotel. Together, we rode a tricycle to Island Tropic Hotel and Restaurant, which is located adjacent to the Hundred Islands Nature Park. Sir Rey and Von introduced us to the owner and yes, the food! As usual, the bloggers took food shots and ate quietly afterwards. Galit-galit muna tayo mga kaberks, ha?! Kain mode haha 😛
While we were eating dinner, we also took the opportunity to ask Sir Rey about different trivias related to Alaminos City. The good news is the increase of tourists going to Alaminos is increasing. I bet there will be a more positive increasing rate once the Alaminos City Domestic Airport is fully operational 😀
Sir Rey and Von brought us back to Islandia Hotel. Anton kept on sharing many many jokes on our trip back to the hotel :)) Majority of us fell asleep in an instant when we arrived in our respective rooms. Our overnight stay in Islandia Hotel is a comfortable one. I slept at around 9pm and woke up at 7am. Tulog na tulog na tulog! Sulit na sulit!
We would like to thank Sir Rey Livera and the rest of the Alaminos City Local Tourism staff, Mr. Klydz Busto and the rest of the staff and crew of Islandia Resort, Island Tropic Hotel and Restaurant for the uber sarap na dinner and my nine travel blogger friends for giving me a hundred reasons to smile on the 20th Day of November, 2010.
Photo Credits: Rey Livera, Anton Carranza and Ada Lajara