That was me, my brother Makoi, his girlfriend Vanes and my cousin Shareena who decided to go home at the same time after my travel to India. What was exciting is our planned road trip around the North of Luzon. Our first and last stop is at my cousin’s place in Pangasinan.  It is believed that the name is derived from “asin” which means salt. The province is actually rich in fine salt beds which is a source of income for those who are in the coastal areas. Pangasinan means “where salt is made”, that is why they are the major producer of salt in the country.

sunset

Welcomed by this lovely sunset that spreads hope as we await for the next day to unfold, our first day offered the relaxation that we need after a 2-hour plane ride, and 6-hour land trip from Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

manaoag

On the next day, we went to the Lady of Manaoag since my Aunt is a devotee. Hundreds of devotees came to this shrine everyday in veneration and prayer request. People are in line, patiently waiting for their turn to come near and pray. manaoag 1After lighting the candle and following them as they headed to the small chapel, this trunk got my attention, a wood carving of the Lady of Manaoag on a tree trunk! Isn’t it amazing?

patupat

What amazed me more when we went out of the church was the array of local delicacies and they were even new to me! We craved to try them all because they all looked so appealing. Patupat is a rice cake wrap in coconut leaves which equates to “suman” in the south. The only difference is patupat is oozing with caramelized sugar.

tupig

The best Tupig in the Philippines was spotted in Pangasinan. It is a sweet rice flour wrapped in banana leaves and grilled. When I think of Pangasinan today, tupig will be the first thing which comes to my mind. This is the best pasalubong ever! The more you eat it, the more you’ll desire for more.

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From San Manuel, we rented a jeepney and headed to the famous Hundred Islands which is located in the city of Alaminos and are scattered along the Lingayen Gulf.

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If exploring the 7,107 islands in the Philippines is your plan, embark your journey and get your first 124 here at once. Ensure to come at low tide and don’t miss this mushroom-like shaped islet that is not visible on high tide.

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Most of the islands are untouched and some are being developed. Using this rented motor boat, we went island hopping for 1300 php.

hundred islands

The Governor’s island offers a spectacular view of the other islands. You can go hiking and reach this elevated part. They also have a zip line over the water.

hundred islands 1That orange line is a floating bridge connecting the Governors Island to a nearby island called The Virgin Island.

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hundred islands 6Cliff Jumping is unforgettable at the Marcos Island and yes it’s funny! I tried mustering my courage and yet still hesitant to jump until the black and white sea snake showed up. Deadly as the locals convey, I was advised not to continue. That was a relief, but a wasted opportunity and eventually, a regret implicating the importance of time.

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Some islands possess caves which are still being developed.

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In this cave is a planned church. It has the image of the Virgin Mary with little angels above her head. There is also a part in the middle of the sea where you can go snorkeling. According to your interest, there are many things to do around the Hundred Islands and they will fill every minute of your visit. Overnight is permitted in some of the islands and  a place to stay is available in case desired.

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Our whole day is fun under the sun, though in the afternoon, the skies turned dark and grey. The boatman brought us back to the wharf where we were set to sail in the beginning. The jeepney then drove us back to San Manuel with the rain pouring so hard over the night. Nonetheless, that was a blast! It is indeed, more fun in the Philippines.

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