Pangasinan: Bolinao or Never!
Travel dates: June 26 – 27, 2015
Everyday is summer. In every part of the world it is, maybe except in the opposite poles of Earth. With this belief, we hurriedly brought ourselves to this one getaway before the monsoon rain starts in one of the hidden treasures here in the Philippines: Bolinao.
My friends are mostly from the province of Pangasinan, so they suggested that we go to one of the places they knew that would give us a perfect beach getaway. So we planned for just a week, packed our bags, and as always, slipped into the night and proceeded to go to the bus station in Cubao and managed to find a bus embarking around midnight going to the town. We have been on board for almost six hours, slept and ate through most of it. Around four in the morning, we arrived in the town, and it was eerily quiet.
In this early days of experimenting on exploring, planning is the hardest part. Sometimes it comes through, most of the time, it doesn’t. And so we were in such a big predicament, not realizing early on, how to go to our accommodation. The town still sleeps unlike in the city. We must be very attuned in our city life that we overlooked the scenario. Luckily there are tricycles parked around the are and so we asked if they could take us to our accommodation in Patar beach. Thankfully, we were able to ride for maybe an hour or two until we arrived at Kuya Benjie’s Kubo and Cottages.
The sun is still nowhere to be found when we arrived in our accommodation. We talked to the caretaker of the place to arrange a room for a night, and they proceeded to fix and clean the room. While waiting, we checked the surroundings while the signal of our phones dwindled (Smart subscribers, rejoice). The waves are still strong, based on what we were hearing. The place is riddled with many small cottages and nipa huts, some on treetops. The town is still.
I could describe the accommodation as simple, basically the rooms are made out of wood and bamboos. I wouldn’t say it is a perfect place for resting, as you would sleep on a double deck bed with a thin mattress or on the floor with just a banig (sleeping mat in Filipino) topped with a blanket. The room is equipped with an electric fan and the restroom has a dim light, while the sink is outside the room, shared with the other room. I wouldn’t recommend the place as it also is a bit pricey with low quality amenities, but then we had no other fast option as we planned for this trip in a rush, without a back-up arrangement while armed with a small budget. Nevertheless, the accommodation has the perfect beach front, as you could listen to the sound of the waves and stare at the vast area of the ocean. There are also other cottage rentals beside Kuya Benjie’s and other hotels dotting the shoreline of Patar.
Before our two tricycle drivers embarked, we got their cellphone numbers and arranged a tour later on the day after we settled in our room.
After settling down, we waited for the sunrise and frolicked on the sand. We waded a bit in the strong waves as we wait for our tour. I noted that the waves are strong and the shore is deep, and it would be difficult to swim. I cast the thought aside for a while as we first toured the other parts of Bolinao.
After many grueling hours in a tricycle, and a little walk, we first arrived at Bolinao Falls #2 or Tara Falls. It was magical. We hiked a little going to the falls and as we looked down on it, we were all astounded, silenced by the elegance of it. There are no other people around except us! That is why one of my friends hurriedly rented a floater, threw it in the falls, then jumped onto the cold water, all in a minute. The water sure looked inviting! It was very hot that day, that’s why seeing a body of water made us immediately submerge ourselves under. But then, it takes a whole 2 minutes before I got to plunge in the water by jumping from the highest point of the falls. It is not my first time to go cliff diving or jumping, but I can see those rocks underneath the water and that made me nervous. And when I did jump over, it was freeing, and then it took me seconds before going afloat that a friend had to pull me up and this is why I did not repeat the notion.
En route to our next destination, we passed by a bridge and stopped over as our tricycle drivers, who also act as our tour guides, pointed out the Balingasay River. We recognize how the salt water and the fresh water of the river meet. The guides also said that there is a restaurant that serves lunch during a river cruise. According also to them, it is one of the cleanest rivers in the Philippines. It can also be seen that there are lots of mangroves in the area, a symbol of the river’s good health. We never had the chance to try out the river cruise, so maybe someday I’ll be able to go back in Bolinao to try this out.
Since it is near lunch time, we bought our own lunch in a little market before going to our next destination. The drivers told us that Sungayan, a fish specie, is great for grilling. One of the drivers offered us to grill it at our next destination!
Our next destination are caves!
First off, we went to the Wonderful Cave, which we also have for ourselves. One of the tricycle drivers led us to this cave, and it was a bit of scary since it is dark and has a black passage within. Kind of creepy, but we went on because we won’t say no to an adventure.
Before we went into the water, one of our guides got in, and said that we are good to go. He told us that they owned this cave, and he said we were in good hands. And that is somewhat creepy, since talks about “engkanto” or enchanted creatures are predominant in the province. He then proceeded to go to grill the lunch we bought earlier.
The water is indeed cold. We enjoyed it, since we are the only people inside the small cave, and we tried going into a black passage as it would only lead us to the same spot of the cave.
Minutes later, the guide called us for lunch. It was perfect! The menu includes the grilled Sinungayan, a can of Vienna sausage, a can of tuna, and a pot of rice.
After the energizing meal, we went to the next cave, the Enchanted Cave. It is much more bigger than the Wonderful Cave, and the steps going down inside is already concreted. The other parts of the cave is also cemented. There is big hole at the far part of the cave, which is prohibited. We wouldn’t want to pursue it also, as it is too dark. Personally, I liked the first cave more since we had it to ourselves and it is not too spacious.
The next stop is the Rock Formation of Bolinao, which is one of my favorite place in Bolinao. These ragged rocks line the shore, where it meets the angry waves. There is also the biggest rock wherein it reminds me of a scene in the Lion King, where Simba was presented to all animals of the kingdom. I never had the guts to go to the place since they are too jagged and rough, and the waves are scary. I also had that teeny-tiny fear of heights.Yet, the place is a perfect spot to unwind and just listen to the waves. I imagine I could drink a cold can of softdrinks while reading in a hammock nearby, under the shade of the trees, and listening to the birds and the waves, while glancing at the shore for a bit.
The last part of the tour is going to Bolinao’s lighthouse. We haven’t been inside the lighthouse since it is prohibited so we took pictures outside, with the lighthouse. There is also a store that sells souvenirs, and it is where I got a t-shirt.
After the tour we went back to Patar beach and waited for the sunset. It was the most amazing sunset I have ever seen, as the sky becomes a mix of blue, violet, orange and pink. I love sunsets before, and I love it much more at that moment.
We had a late breakfast the next day, after again enjoying the beach. We tried snorkeling, but like I said previously, it was difficult since the waves are strong. The sea is very much alive though, since we are still near the shoreline and yet we could see corals and fishes nearby.We had dinner around eight at night, had grilled eggplants, fish, and grilled marshmallows. We had an early nightcap since we were too tired with our trip around the town.
At noon, we had our last photo ops by the sea, and went to our final destination, The St. James the Great Parish Church in the town proper of Bolinao. We went to have our final blessings before we embark on our way home, giving thanks to Him on making the journey happen.