How many islands are really there in Hundred Islands? That was my question when I recently visited Pangasinan. And the answer is: 124 at low tide (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and 123 at high tide (5 p.m. to 5 a.m.). As much as I want to sound like Ms. Universe Philippines’ 1994 Charlene Gonzales-Muhlach during her Q&A at the prestigious beauty pageant, this answer wasn’t originally from me but was from Pangasinan Tourism’s Ms. Joy Napolitan, the real “Ms. Pangasinan” during our tour.
But why was I in Pangasinan in the first place? Hundred Islands is just one of the many “hundred” reasons why I was in this beautiful province but my main agenda was to speak at the First Pangasinan Tourism Youth Conference (PTY Con). And what a pleasure to be invited and to share about my passion – blogging + traveling.
I should say that I was first and foremost very impressed at the conference’s venue. Imagine being at a historical 1920’s structure with all the woodwork and architecture surrounding us. I think it really deserves to be the Cultural Center of the Ilocos Region.
My admiration for this place’s design and history was very evident as I took advantage of accessing the second level of the auditorium just to have a glimpse and photo of its panoramic grandeur after my talk.
Going back to my talk, I felt really energized by the crowd when I “tested” how young and loving the hundreds of Pangasinenses were. As I was given the topic “Blog About Your Passion”, I realized how it turned out to be an experience of a bit of drama and fun.
I can say that they’re one of the best audience ever! They were listening intently, they were very participative, they were taking down notes, they were empathetic during one of my main points and they… danced with me too! Yes you heard it right… MAN, THEY. CAN. DANCE. 😉
What we did wasn’t just a warmup or “Zumba” but just what I promised, each movement that we did describes a meaning and a point as we did a simplified #FettyWapDanceChallenge.
Fetty Wap? What was I thinking? Well, I really wanted to have a talk that’s unique and interactive that’s why I conceptualized a “trendy” approach so everyone can remember about making an IMPACT (while blogging).
In a nutshell the heart of my topic was this:
“Blog not just with passion but with a purpose that will leave an impact to your world.”
The one thing that also made this conference so cool… yes, I’m using the word “cool”… was FACEBOOK LIVE! Yes, the conference was on FB LIVE (can’t believe I’m on it, haha) and so happy that it garnered 4,000 plus views! So that means more people were able to watch/ listen and hopefully learned something from the event too. (Kudos to Pangasinan for using the social media to reach more people and share updates about their province.)
If you want to watch our talk and see how the Pangasinenses danced this warmup and simplified challenge (sounds like an oxymoron), you may check this link: PTY Con on FB LIVE (Go straight to the special activity / simplified #FettyWapDanceChallenge at 35:37)
What a wonderful experience with everyone! They’re definitely another reason or should I say a hundred of the hundreds of reasons why you should visit Pangasinan. To everyone who made this event possible, thank you for your warm reception and hospitality!
HERE ARE A FEW MORE REASONS TO VISIT:
Harry Potter? Lingayen’s Capitol Building was just A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Think about another colonial structure that was restored. It’s beautiful inside and out, which can even be a place perfect for “Harry-Potter-like” scenes or movies.
(I have to be honest that I had an allergic reaction while I was inside the building… but it just proved about the structure’s “old age”. :p So to those who are allergic to old wooden things… just be aware of this, okay?)
Maxine by the Sea’s Grilled Seafood Platter and fresh mango shake were just some of the few things that you can enjoy after a 45-minute ride. A delicious lunch near the sea with fresh sea breeze, a view of the nearby islands, and kids selling stuff from their banka was definitely the best way to transition from Lingayen’s Capitol Complex to Alaminos’ Hundred Islands National Park.
(Short clips about this trip were posted on my Instagram accounts: @MsJMdelarama and @LifestyleByJM)
It’s okay to do a “quick” 300 or more steps heading up from the island’s beach to the view deck. But it could be a challenge for some if the weight from your harness (for the zip line) was already attached to your waist and groin while hiking! :p
Heading to the final steps of our grueling journey (exaggerated po), our tour guide Ms. Joy encouraged us to have an exciting pause, which felt like we were heading to a surprise victory party. When we finally made it, we all agreed (even without saying a word) that it was all worth the sweat!
The wide view of the Hundred Islands from the observation deck was majestic. This island is the perfect spot to enjoy and maybe even count the islands and islets as far as your eyes can see. I wanted to stay there for a bit longer but our time and the unkind heat of the sun didn’t allow me to do so. But at least I got some photos showing how magnificent it is to have a canvas of the captivating blues of the sky and sea, with the eternal greens of the lush islands.
I used to wonder if we have National Parks in our country that’s worth the visit just like in other places like Taiwan, this my friend just showed me that yes, there’s definitely something beautiful and rich in the Philippines that everyone should visit. Imagine just a few hours drive from Manila and you can take your loved ones and visitors to an incredible adventure at our very own Hundred Islands National Park. Makes me a proud Filipina!
And the zip line? I think it was one of the best aerial runway where I took pleasure of the 360-degree view (yes, I was kinda turning around while being suspended from the cable) of all the islands that were surrounding me! Yes, I kept on screaming when I was pushed by manong from the top of the Governor’s Island but the silence in between the 546-meter long and 230-feet above sea level ride showed how impressed I was while enjoying the view of the park. (The half a minute thrilling ride was around P200.) It’s my recommended playground for those who love nature and adventure.
Due to our very tight schedule the day after the conference, we only got to see three islands from the Hundred Islands National Park. After Governor’s Island we rushed to have a quick and fun swim at Quezon Island then tried to catch the sunset (but wasn’t able to do so) at the very interesting Cuenco Cave (it used to be a hidden hospital for the wounded soldiers during WWII).
I was in Pangasinan for just a short period of time but I can clearly say that it’s one of the places that anyone should visit when traveling North Philippines. With the hundreds of people that I was able to encounter at the PTY Con and to the Hundred Islands, this province truly made a remarkable space in my traveler’s heart.
Thank you, Pangasinan!
Leaving you guys with my panoramic iPhone shot of the Hundred Islands from the view deck at the Governor’s Island.
Any suggestion where to go next?
Special thanks to the following for making this special talk and trip possible:
North Philippines Visitors Bureau
(especially to Ms. Grace of MNTC, Rhycel, Sheila and the whole team)
The Province of Pangasinan and Pangasinan Visitors Bureau
(Hon. Amado I. Espino, III, Ms. Malu Elduayan, and everyone who warmly welcomed and toured us around)
All the wonderful participants of PTY Con
(You’re all awesome! I hope you already started with your blogs. Looking forward to read them soon.)
To old and new friends and very supportive co-speakers
(Nina & Greco, Maycee, Kristine, Guido, et al.)
Of course, to the One who gives all special life opportunities like this, thank you Lord.