We also revisited Lingayen, my mom’s hometown. A rush of wonderful memories of many happy childhood summers came back as I toured the town’s plaza, capitol building, market, church, grandma’s resting place, and of course, our beloved Lingayen Gulf!

There you are, Lelong! Locating my maternal great grandfather’s name etched on a bronze plate (at right) on a Rizal monument in the Lingayen town plaza.

(Left) We took part in a good old-fashioned small town religious procession making its way around the plaza…

How much does it weigh? One of the old retired bells from Lingayen Church on display (right)…

At dusk, we strolled along the sprawling, well-kept Capitol grounds and admired Pangasinan’s pride: the elegant Capitol building with its American design, Commonwealth era neo-classical architecture at left.

Better lift those shorts, guys…Night strolling at Lingayen Gulf (right) and enjoying the salty cool breeze and the rhythmic sounds of the waves.

Good food and awesome brood…

Relatives welcomed us with open arms and warm smiles. At left, we were treated to a fantastic feast as we relived memories, went through photos, and updated each other with news regarding family.

Special thanks to Tita Dolly, Tita Nene, Malu and the rest of the clan! We had a blast! We hope to come back soon.  Next, we promise to revisit the ancestral house, pay respect to the rest of our brood and tour more of Pangasinan as well–Bolinao, Sual, and those secret white beaches you guys have been raving about. So excited already…

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We stayed in Tita Dolly’s beautiful home in Alaminos.  And for the rest of the Holy Week, we spent it in various ways to amuse ourselves:

zzz…sleeping and snoringHUY, GISING NA!

Mani, ang daming mani…shelling and eating toasted peanuts by the bushel…

and rocking and swaying in a hammock…What can I say? I love lying in hammocks!

Tita Dolly lovingly took time in designing and constructing this Filipino zen-styled garden in front of her home (photos below). We love spending time here…a real refreshing and peaceful place that every home should have…

However, when Typhoon Cosme wreaked havoc all over Central and Northern Luzon, her beloved garden was badly damaged.  But no worries, my artistic and creative tita will rebuild it in no time.

…I also practiced my henna tattooing skills:

Is this “Pangasinan Ink?” Naaah! –its just toy henna that didn’t stain much–not the real thing. But it was fun though. At left is my version of a Scorpion henna.

At right, Levic proudly showcased his Fire Dragon…

Pchie’s Cross of Hearts…in honor of the Holy Week (left).

Doc’s Ethnic Dragon…versus Sis’ Fluttering Butterfly…(below):

…More revisiting in the next post…Part 3: Revisiting Beloved Pangasinan…

We spent Holy Week 2008 in Pangasinan. Most of the time, we spent it in Alaminos, the home of the Hundred Islands. It was a vacation well spent…

I’ve been to the Hundred Islands before but this is the first time I truly enjoyed it, being more adventurous and fearless now than I’ve ever been. At the Don Gonzalo Montemayor wharf, we chartered an outrigger motorized boat that could seat 10-12 people (I think we paid 1,500 pesos but you can haggle if you know how).

Picturesque emerald isles. We snorkeled and picnicked in and around some of the main islands (Quezon, Governor’s and Marcos).

The facilities were alright (although there was a funky smell at the Gov’s Island at that time), the heat was bearable and the tourists (and there were a good number of them) were tolerable. The Alaminos city government did a pretty good job in handling their local tourism industry.

Picnic at the beach (at left). Enjoying Pangasinan mangoes and burritos…and with a great view to boot!

Sizzle, sizzle!Ang init! The three beauties (Sis, Pchie and Paula) taking shelter from the summer heat (at right) in one of the main islands, Quezon island….

Sis and I with our “hermana mayor” for this memorable vacay: Dolly, our gorgeous tita (in the middle)! Galing, babalik kami!

Next post…Part 2: Revisiting Beloved Pangasinan!

We stayed in Gumasa for a week (continuation from last post). Aside from a few people staying in the other resorts and some locals passing by, we had the beach all to ourselves most of the time.

What am I supposed to be? A sarimanok? Donning a colorful costume mask for Halloween.

WBC Lightweight Champion and Gensan’s favorite son, Manny Pacquiao, his family and entourage plus the mayor of Gumasa stayed for two days and one night as well. We celebrated Halloween Night parading in costumes around the beach. During daytime, we as usual whiled the time away by taking pictures, playing frisbee, nature strolling, eating and kulitan, building sandcastles, napping, and swimming.

Meron pa doon o! That’s not fish they’re catching…The Doc and son cleaning up the leaves and husks along the seashore.

Food was one of the perks from this trip. The fragrant local rice, asparagus from Bukidnon, and fresh Gensan tuna were superb! Plus fisherfolk plying their wares on the shore–freshly caught seafood from Sarangani Bay–was something we anticipated each day.

Puede pong magpapiktyur? Of course, your trip to Gensan is not complete without sighting a celebrity: Mrs. Jinky Pacquiao. Her famous hubby (surrounded by many bodyguards) was out fishing in the bay. Sayang!

On the downside…since it was a non-commercialized beach with a few amenities, the locals do whatever they can to clean up the organic wastes (e.g. leaves, coconut husks) that tend to pile up along the seashores. You’ll do fine if you don’t mind all that.

La curacha! I especially enjoyed the curacha or red frog crabs which I then learned were neither alimango nor alimasag. They cooked these with squash and creamy coc0nut milk.

Moreover, there was no signal for our cellphones during the time that we were there. We had to drive to the city in order to get a signal. There was no cable link as well…the only TV network available was GMA (being a Kapuso, I didn’t mind). But that’s expected for trips like these. You’re on vacation, that’s the point! If you’re the urban type who cannot live without checking his emails, receiving SMS messages, or throws a fit if you miss an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or Lost–then don’t plan on staying here for a long time (or don’t bother going at all but sayang–you’ll be missing out, sige ka!). The only trouble we encountered was that we didn’t receive an important SMS message from Cebu Pacific, informing us that our flight for home was changed. Oh, well…

Kainan naaa! Dining alfresco (left photo) by the beach before leaving for Manila. Grabeeh! This is the LIFE!!!

Lechon de leche and lumpiang shanghai (top right) being served for Christian’s birthday and The Doc’s family reunion. Kudos to the brave Rox who climbed on a chair and hung on for his dear life just to get this bird’s eye-view shot.

If you plan to visit Gumasa, bring with you lots of music in your Ipod, frisbee, beach volleyball, sand-castle building tools (a spoon and a cup will do!) and a kite (please leave the PSP behind–get some sun and work on those lethargic muscles instead), several really good books, a laptop (if you want to write your novel, songs or poetry), art supplies (if you’re into seascapes), sunblock and Off lotions…and cameras!

And oh, by the way, the sunsets at Gumasa Beach (below right) are not to be missed. When I was there, the setting of the sun was one of the things I looked forward to each day. That’s me in the header shot for this blog, enjoying the spectacular fiery Gumasa horizon at dusk.

There are other Gumasa lovers that attest to the beach’s many splendors. They compared Gumasa to Boracay–saying this was just like Boracay decades ago without the onslaught of commercialism or Gumasa is the Boracay of Mindanao. You can check out Androtan’s, Anafilibini’s and Danny’s testimonials. They can give you the contact numbers of the Gumasa resorts as well as directions on how to get there.

Go ahead…Gumasa awaits you!

Postscript:

Thanks to Rox, Pchie and Paula for some of the shots posted here. My gratitude also goes out to Doc’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. A, and relatives for their warmth and hospitality. Maraming salamat po! This is also in loving memory of Manang Senia (Doc and Rox’s childhood nanny at left) who shared some of her last happy days with all of us together during this trip…we miss you, Manang!

During the sembreak of 2007 (last week of October), I joined Sis, Doc Drew and family on a trip to The Doc’s place of his roots, Gumasa, Glan, Sarangani. We had been planning this for ages, and I’ve heard of the place being talked about with so much awe for a long time that I had to see it myself. Taking advantage of Cebu Pacific’s promo discounted fares, we immediately booked the available seats months in advance for the sembreak period without second thoughts.

And it was without regrets…

Drew’s parents fetched us from the Gensan Airport. After a long trip, we arrived on a dark stormy afternoon with the waves crashing on the seashore. It felt like nature was telling us, “Welcome! You’ll enjoy your stay just as long as you don’t mess with me, alright?” As the waves calmed down, we walked along the beach at night and I immediately got fascinated by the soft, powdery sands underneath my feet. The next morning…well, the pictures below tell the story:

…..I lazed around, lying on the hammock under the shade of the manzanillo tree. The strong waves from the previous night had cleaned up the shore–making the sand stand out with its fine ecru-white hues. Sarangani Bay looked inviting and calm in its turquoise-blue state of serenity.

Other snapshots from the beach…

….Wow, Philippines! Pchie scanning the blue, blue horizon ala baywatch babe.

Hello, Gumasa beach boy! Levic showing off a shell he had found along the shore…

….Aah..sarraap! a local dog cavorting (more like getting a self-massage) on the sand

Ang bahay sa gulod…this privately-owned, charming, little pink house fronting the beach was where we stayed. Sis enjoys her respite on the porch, listening to the waves (top right). There is a series of simple beach resorts along the 3 kilometer stretch of the shoreline. Don’t expect anything fancy though. People who live around this area are simple folks who frown on loud, raucous drunks and ear-splitting karaoke singing…

It was a time to slow down and recharge, to breathe deep and throw away your cellphones (don’t gasp–it’s just for a while)…

More snapshots in the next post