Sunday, June 3, 2012

Flash at the Hundred Islands National Park

The trip was arranged by my wife Roshie's classmates in college in an attempt to have a last hurrah as the summer just ended days back. They found a package online which included hotel and island hopping arrangements for two days in Hundred Islands and since it wasn't very expensive, everyone was game to join. I haven't been to the park known for many islands and nice beach islands so I didn't think twice to join them when my wife invited me.

Early morning yesterday, we met up with the group in Manila and left for Hundred Islands in Pangasinan, about 5 hours drive north of Manila. Everyone was asleep or resting quietly at least for the first half of the ride and tired sitting down 3 or so hours after.
On this trip, we had Ethan, my son, to join us who was mostly behaved throughout the long drive.

En route to Alaminos, Pangasinan, our gateway to the Hundred Islands, we passed by a number of few scenic fields as we go along the highway and the country side.

It was almost lunch when we arrived at the hotel, but the rooms were not ready yet, so we left our bags, hurriedly changed our clothes ready for the island hopping, and went off to the pier area which will be our jumping point for the tour. We had to ride the van as it is 15-20 minutes away from the hotel.

Ethan, smiling and posing for the camera

Ethan and his Godfather Bert

Weather's not very good in Manila this past few days. Even up in Pangasinan, which is roughly 240kms away it is not. The whole time there has been on and off drizzles and rains but that didn't dampen the hearts of the group eager to go through this getaway.

It was a good thing that even though with slight rainshowers, the water has been calm. We're going to be wet anyway, the group thought, so it's not really much of  a problem. In fact for some it was good as they wouldn't have to worry about sunblock or getting darker.

Before embarking, we had our lunch first. Everyone was very hungry by then and we had large serving of mixed grilled items.

Roshie and Ethan

me and Ethan

Right after lunch, we then boarded a big boat. I realized we were a big group (15) and it was good that they can dus in one boat so we need not separate. It was good too that there was a makeshift roof so we didn't get soaked directly by the rain.

The Hundred Islands National Park is a group of islands located in Alaminos, Pangasinan, is a group of islands. The number to be exact is 123 or 124 depends on the tide if it's low or high respectively. It is declared to as a national park since 1940 and is a famous getaway for the beach bummers from Luzon who need not to spend much just to get the beach fix. Not all islands though are developed for tourism. I was informed that only 3-5 are visited by tourists.

Ethan and Roshie on the way to the islands

Roshie and Ethan with Mich

Our first stop was at Marcos island, named after Ferdinand Marcos, 10th president of the Philippines. It is home to the Imelda cave (named after Ferdinand's infamous wife), but one may need a quick hike to go there, so we didn't bother as we're more on for the sand and water.

Despite the rain, there were a number of visitors at the time we came in. Like us, it seems a lot of them are also in for quick and fast getaway and enjoying the season which just ended.

at Marcos island

As a child who loves water, Ethan went straight for the beach, waded through the water and played with the sand throughout.
There was also a large clam shell and although a bit dangerous, we allowed Ethan to touch it as he insisted to do so.
our boat

The group headed next to Cuenco Island, specifically for the cave. There is little sand at the island for bathing and lounging around and visitors really dock here for the cave.

By this time, Ethan was already sound asleep (started on the way to the island). But we can't help looking at the good view facing the other islands from inside the cave.

inside the cave

By the time we left for the next spot, rain has started to fell harder and with a gust of wind. Still we continued to our next destination.

Our final stop was at Governor's island where a house used by the local Big Brother franchise stands on a few of its twist in one season. It is also where a view point is located overlooking other islands is located.
To go to that point however, we had to hike up a few minutes amidst rain falling down on us.

view looking down as we hike up

It was quite dangerous as the rocks were slippery and that many of those makeshift passage has been eroded.

But it was worth it. The amazing view greeted us when we reached the top. It was indeed a good way to view the other islands! Just minutes after we came, it started to become cloudy or hazy and visibility became limited so it was just a quick time before we started to head down and back to mainland.

Everyone was exhausted by the time we were heading back. Making it worse is the rain and wind has become stronger. As soon as we reached mainland, we rode the van back to Islandia Hotel, where we stayed last night (just for a night) and a lot of us dozed off and rested before dinner.

Roshie, Ethan and I was assigned to a Superior room good for 4. It had the basic needs - cable TV, air-conditioning, toilet and bath. Not bad since we didn't pay much for the trip.

As we were hungry, and for Ethan to have something to eat, we ordered pancit bihon (fried rice noodles) to be delivered in our room. The rest of the night was uneventful and was spent by the group in a small drinking session, snacks and story-telling, until everyone decided to call it a night.

Earlier today, morning was spent by the swimming pool as everyone headed to take a dip right after breakfast.

As usual, Ethan was very happy playing with the water. Perhaps it's time we enroll him in a toddler swimming class?

He was so happy that he kept getting off the water and jump towards a person in the swimming pool to catch him, again and again.

We tried to make him float and he seems to learn the habit a bit, so perhaps it's time to do that class.

Then he got tired and rested a few minutes on the chair..

.. got off and again started playing!

First with the shower, he was giggling and laughing and having fun as he took the shower!
Then the "catch me" game. Where they started to pass around Ethan as he happily smiles while being "thrown in the air" from one person to another.

We checked-out and left the hotel around lunch time, had lunch on a fast food and passed by a market then headed back home. But on the way, we heard mass at The Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag in Manaoag, Pangasinan.

We offered prayers and lighted candles right before the mass.

We also went to the museum upstairs (we were just following the long line) where a few artifacts and memorabilias are shown collected through the history of the church.

Lastly then we heard mass and finally headed back to Manila.

It was a quick trip with 1/3 of the time spent on the road. Nevertheless, Hundred Islands National Park is a place I should get back soon, perhaps under a more cooperative weather?

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