Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hundred Islands Memoirs

     It is good to reminisce the past when there was a time when we all had free time to enjoy the sun and the beach on one of our road trips. Temporary but quality moments that money can't buy.

         It is summer time once again and time for vacation and fun. This brings memories of our summer outings with my family many years back when we had a chance to visit our relatives in my father’s hometown in Camiling, Tarlac. The next province is Pangasinan and one of their famous tourist spot is the Hundred Islands in Alaminos so we decided to cap our vacation by visiting the place. It is about four hours drive from Manila via the North Luzon Express Way and the Tarlac route. From Tarlac, we passed by Lingayen which is famous for its gulf and "bangus" or milkfish. 

     At last we reached the town proper of Alaminos, Pangasinan and it was not difficult for us to look for the way to the site of the hundred islands due to the big posters and signs that pointed us to the right "barangay". It was already late afternoon when we reached the docking area of boats going to the islands and the water is murky and there is no beach and we can’t see a single island. We have learned from the tourists that the islands are out there in the sea and can only be reached by riding a motorized boat for hire. So we went to a grocery store to buy what we need for the night and looked for a place where we can stay. Luckily, there is one that is affordable and can accommodate six people in one big room. It was the owner of the lodging house who made arrangements for the boat which we will use in the morning.  


   It was about eight o clock in the morning when we left for the island where most tourists are visiting. Our boat ride was smooth as the sea was calm and it was a fair day. The cool breeze and mild salt water spray from broken waves was very soothing. We passed some islands along the way and the beaches are white and the water is clear and very alluring.

     After about forty five minutes we reached the island that is famous for tourists and it was really a lovely island. The scenery is lush with vegetation and there are picnic areas with shades where you can eat and rest. There is also a resort with a restaurant where you can stay overnight. The place is also secured by some policemen on guard 24 hours. The beach is white and the sand is fine and clean. There is a designated area for swimming, kayaking and Jet Ski driving. We rode a kayak and cheerfully paddled in the clear water to see some beautiful corals and fishes. From time to time we stopped and paused for picture taking around the island. The adjacent islands are near with white sand beaches and we were informed that those islands can be rented exclusively for picnics or other private activities. There are native huts perched on hills and the panoramic view is fantastic. The place is a perfect haven for yachts and truly an island getaway.

     On our way back, all of us are still full of vigor. I sat near the front tip of the boat, spread my arms like the actor in the movie Titanic and felt the wind and fast movement of the boat and I felt like I was flying. We passed by the Big Brother Island where they shoot the scenes from the reality show Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition of ABS-CBN starring Kim Chui and Gerald Anderson. They constructed a bungalow with the signage of Big Brother. The island is small but beautiful with a small lagoon where we saw big fishes swimming around. It was already late afternoon when we reached the mainland. We stayed in our hostel for one more night and head for home in the morning. 

     Along the highway going to Manila somewhere in Tarlac, there were many vendors selling "alimango" or mud crabs which are as big as a plate bound by plastic string and filed on top of the other to form one heap. My daughters told me to stop and buy some crabs for our dinner; so we stopped at one vendor and asked him how much is the heap of crabs. The price is around three hundred pesos so we tried to haggle and we were glad that he agreed to sell at a discounted price. Upon reaching our house, we started to cook the crabs but we were disappointed to see that the crabs at bottom heap were already dead and are rotting. That was the time when we realized that we were duped by the crab vendor. He sold us his old stock which he secretly pulled inside his big native bag. Lesson learned was to inspect the crabs at the bottom heap if they are still alive and moving if poked. Beware of unscrupulous vendors. 

     We just laughed at the incident and charged it to experience and even if it was a bit hurting, our trip was very rejuvenating and provided us a short escape from busy city life. Another family bonding activity which we will never forget!