The Hundred Islands off Alaminos in Pangasinan is one of the Philippine’s major and famous natural attractions that is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.
Last January 2010, I was invited by the North Philippines Visitors Bureau to join a media tour of travel writers and bloggers to experience North Luzon for seven days starting in Cagayan province all the way to Pampanga to sample the various local cuisines and experience the attractions offered by the various provinces along the route. Ever since I was in grade school, I’ve already known the Hundred Islands in Pangasinan. Perhaps, every Filipino school child knows what this natural attraction and where it is located but for those who are not from that region, chances are slim of ever reaching this northwestern destination. Located 250 kilometers from Manila, the Hundred Islands National Park, declared in 1940 by Pres. Manuel Quezon, is a sprinkling of 123 islets in a beautiful tropical sea with white sand beaches, caves, and habitat to various species of birds and fruit bats.
It is 5 hours by bus from Manila (4 if you have your own car) and three hours from Baguio City with the main jump off point at Lucap Wharf where rows upon rows of motorized bancas are available for hiring.
The scenery is stunning! Even in transit from Lucap Wharf, fishermen on their daily grind ply the route. Some casting their nets or are going to their destination aboard their colorful boats. In the shallows, some are wading, probably looking for seafood in these parts. Exposed rocky outcrops provide a surreal landscape with birds flying low or just resting.
In the distance, the silhouette of the famed islands are slowly coming into view. Blue waters give way to emerald as we came nearer and nearer until the familiar vegetation covered islets finally take shape. Some are just craggy rock outcrops jutting from the water while others are large.
One perfect islet to start is Governor’s Island. It’s one of the larger ones, with 24 hour electricity courtesy of a power generator. It also has a guest house built and used in one of the local Big Brother reality show a few years ago that can now be rented. A steep climb at the hill rewards one the best view of the islands. This was also the setting of several versions of a local mermaid movie, Dyesebel, done by various directors.
The Hundred Islands National Park is indeed one local natural attraction that one should visit. There are 123 islets to chose from with many still unexplored. There are several caves to visit, frolic in white sand beaches, bird and bat watch, or observe giant clams, taklobo, being raised in protected beds. It’s one destination that’s unforgettable.