Bolinao Pangasinan: Backpacking Friendship

Cherish the moments with people who support and love you beyond imperfection.”

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Bolinao Rock Formation

  • Fakir

Features: Bolinao Pangasinan Backpacking, Enchanted Cave, Wonderful Cave, Bolinao Rock Formation, Bolinao Lighthouse, Patar Beach, Camping and Tricycle Tour.

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Jei, Pher, Lee and Nilo (Left to Right)

It was time of the year where I meet my high school buddies and have our annual trip. We are celebrating decade of friendship, we choose to celebrate in Bolinao, Pangasinan. Amidst the uncanny weather condition due to the recent December typhoon, I manage to convince our friend Pher which is a balikbayan (OFW) from Dubai to spend the weekend with me and Nhey. The south is being bashed by rain and winds so we decide to go to Northern Philippines to avoid the rainy weather. Another chasing the sun in Ber months, an episode of catching the rays of the sun under extreme weather.

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Since I am Manila-based and they are living in Pampanga, we decide meet up in DAU Terminal to be chance passengers bound to Alaminos or Bolinao. Fare from Manila to Dau cost Php 132.00. We are able to complete the group of 4 around 0630, hopped in to the bus bound to Alaminos (non-aircondition) fare price cost around Php200.00. One of the most irritating bus ride of my life. After entering Tarlac proper, the bus did nothing but stop/go. There is no express public bus to Pangasinan, you need to be patient with the run around of public transport system especially if you ride a non-aircondition bus which fare is less expensive apart from AC bus. I recommend you to ride the AC bus it cost more but a lot faster that non-AC. It will save you so much time.

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We arrive in Alaminos at 1100, the cloudy sky line of Pangasinan greet us warmly. We had an early lunch in Food Court Alaminos, taste the great Pangasinan / Ilocano dish. We want to explore the Hundred Islands National Park so we rent 2 tricycles which cost us Php 80.00 per ride. Unfortunately, gale warning is not lifted even though there is no signal warning in Pangasinan. A total waste of time since terminals in Alaminos Bayan should be aware so I feel scammed by the drivers. NOT HELPFUL AT ALL.

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So we went back to Alaminos, transfer to van to Bolinao which cost Php 50.00. Apart from eating we haven’t started the trip, the sky is getting gloomy and drops of water started to fall. I am still praying for clear sky because dragging your friends with your adventure while a typhoon is ongoing, guilty feeling lingers. We only have this little chance of being together since we have long distance relationship so we need to push this plan further. The van dropped us in gasoline station where his kumpare Kuya Rey will tour us in Bolinao. We decide to start the trip and closed the deal at Php 700.00 for a day tour in Bolinao to Patar Beach.

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Before starting the tour we stop over to flee market to complete our camping supplies. I already brought my camping gears and equipments, we need the food and drinks. After getting all the supplies we need to last the night in Bolinao, we proceed on our tour. The rain is softly kissing my lips as I back ride in the tricycle. According to Kuya Rey, Patar is pretty far from the Poblacion. We reach Enchanted Cave is 1-hour time.

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First stop, ENCHANTED CAVE. My friend always want to go to Hinatuan Enchanted River in Surigao del Sur. But since we don’t have the budget for airplane tickets, I decide to go to Bolinao for this attraction. Entrance fee cost Php 150.00 and Parking Fee is Php 20.00. The entrance fee surge from Php 50.00 to Php 150.00, pricing change when summer 2015 arrive. As per the cashier they change the pricing to upgrade the resort. The fees are way too much, other tourist destination don’t charge that much because it is supposed to be for free.

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Anyway, the cave is spectacular. Clear turquoise water welcome us, the artificial lighting did not do good but enchanted cave is still amazing. At the time we are there, the water is 10-foot deep, according to the caretaker it can take up to 15-foot if its high tide. The water is cold and refreshing after the long travel time from Manila. This officially kick our day tour. We spend at least an hour swimming and taking pictures before deciding to move on to the next cave.

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Second destination, Wonderful Cave. I accidentally drop my sling bag which carries my dslr camera and tablet. Disappointed to learn that it damage the lens of my beloved camera and my tablet got a nicked. REALLY SAD FACE HERE. Nevertheless we resume the tour, we haggle for the entrance fee since we will just look around for a few minutes. We are able to cut the fee from Php 100.00 to Php 70.00 which might will not be applicable during peak season. Comparing it to other sight seeing cities, Bolinao is not yet administer properly by the tourism office because the caves are owned by private persons.

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The cave is pretty much the same with enchanted cave but the latter is more formidable in terms of facility. Enchanted is more on business tourist spot while wonderful is quiet. Its already 1630, we still need to check out 2 more spots before proceeding to Patar Beach. I was quite disoriented about my broken lens. HEHE! Still need to continue, we spend a good 15 minutes here then went to Bolinao Rock Formation.

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Bolinao Rock Formation, supposed to be we are route to Cindy’s Cave but Kuya Rey informed us that the cave is a bit mysterious. I was a freak when it comes to ghost stories and spiritual events. We passed the last cave and proceed to the Rock Formation. Entrance fee cost Php 80.00, we haggle again since we are not staying here. We were able to pay for Php 50.00 each and explore the site. The rockies can be compare to the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Ilocos Norte, although the rocks here are black while the Kapurpurawan have smooth white marble formation.

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We had fun here because the view is spectacular. The high tidal waves that bumping to the rocks made an awesome view. There are moments when the storm bring so much life to certain places. This is the best moment to capture the rapture of the waves against the high rocks that play as barrier to the entire Rock Formation shoreline. Indeed a worthy place to visit on your next rainy season adventure. We took a lot of picture and videos, stayed at least an hour. At 0530 we move to Bolinao Lighthouse to view the sun set.

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Last part of the day tour, Bolinao Lighthouse. The sun is now embracing the sea and the sky is on fire. The lively yellow orange ball of fire is now bidding farewell to its day. It was the perfect time of the day to be at the Bolinao Lighthouse, free entrance and if the caretaker is available you can actually get inside it. Unfortunately, the caretaker already left since its almost night time. We just settle on taking our moment while viewing the beautiful sunset. The night sky easily spread, then we proceed to Patar Beach to rest. The day tour is a success even though we embarked with turmoil onset of the tour.

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Reaching Patar Beach. The waves are stronger and the cold wind is giving chill to our spines. I brought two tents to occupy so that we can save on our budget. Table rent will only cost Php 300.00 for the entire night but my friend have another thought about staying outdoors. He still check-in to one of the Nipa Hut with bedroom and receiving room which is good for 4-6 pax. The overnight rental is Php 1500.00, the cost is lower because its off peak season.

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We set our packs down, rest a bit and start to cook our dinner we bought over the flee market. We have Pork Sinigang and Grilled Pork, some booze to share and life to talk about. It seems like our friendship matures over the years but we are still the same people. We are happy to reunite once more and bit by bit we are able to fulfil some of our life goals. Truly, backpacking with my high school buddies is great and the experience that will last. Its about time to sleep, lights, camera, out.

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Day 1 is done with a blast. I will write another review for our Day 2. Exploring Patar Beach and Bolinao Falls.

Sojourn to our next trip Pirates!!

Source: Personal Photos Jerleen Custodio Copyright

Manlalayag is Seafarer in Filipino. I want to be a pirate who travels to Collect Memories and Steal Happiness from the places I want to go.

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