This is a guest post from one of Road Tripper, Abby Don Parpan, from Random OUTings #5 at Bani and Bolinao, Pangasinan. Aby works as a credit and collections analyst at creditcorp (i.e. he chases debtors for a living). He is an introvert. He loves the indoors. And if, he is not busy at work, you’d probably catch him lounging at home, watching tv the whole day, if not, he could be lounging at his friend’s house instead. A few things that interests him would be – music, politics, religion, health & fitness.
I knew about Experience Philippines through a facebook friend who, posted pictures of his recent travel with them. The first thing that came to my mind after knowing about this was – “No way!” The concept was just too risky for me. I’m not the outdoorsy adventurous type, so not knowing where I’ll be heading, how I’m gonna get there, who I’ll be travelling with, where I’ll be sleeping, the activities that I’ll be doing, the food, not to mention the bathroom setting etc, it would really make my anxiety rise up. But then, there was that voice inside me that turned the “No way!” into “What if?” And then later on it progressed to “Why not now?”. And then suddenly one day I found myself clicking the “book now” button on their homepage, I almost cried for how reckless and stupid I thought was for doing that. Hehe.
Challenges Of An Introvert
That fateful night came. I was one of the few people to arrive early at our meeting place. I was greeted by no other than the Founder of Experience PH, Mr. Giancarlo G. My first impression of him was, he is super daldal! (charr hahaha peace Gian!) But in a nice way naman hehe. Being an introvert, one of my worries in joining this travel was getting along with the other people in the group. Gian, was just so easy to get along with, very down to earth and very outgoing. I find it amusing to see a person who has so much energy and enthusiasm in him, it was so contagious that during the whole trip it helped me to let loose and get out of my comfort zone.
And so our journey to this fabulous (fabulous talaga? beking beki hahaha) weekend started. We departed almost midnight and without us knowing where we were heading, our main source of information was google maps. Five or six hours later our ride stopped and we were asked to step off from the van. Outside, waiting for us was this huge lighthouse! It was my first time to see one in real life. Medyo pupungas pungas pa kami nun kasi most of us were asleep when we got there. A clear night sky full of stars were also there to greet us. The moon was still shining bright and it’s almost break of dawn. The group started to bond while we waited for the sun to rise. I forgot the last time I did this. Although I could just easily go out of our house and watch the stars and the sunrise, I think it would still be different. This one was special. Wala pa man I was beginning to like our trip!
We checked google maps for our location and voila! Our destination has been revealed. We are in – Bolinao! I have always wanted to go there since college, it was such a great feeling to finally be able to visit this place! Our journey continued and we were taken to the rocky beaches of Patar in Pangasinan where, we were set to stay at one of the resorts there. I was in awe seeing the beautiful rock formations, feeling ko parang nasa set ako ng Iron Islands sa Game Of Thrones hehe. Syempre umaatikabong selfie at picturan nanaman ang naganap dun. Then we were asked to take our things and secure them inside our rooms. Gian also instructed us to bring our head lights or flashlights, change our outfits and prepare to get wet! Exciting! We set off again to grab a quick breakfast, after which, we paid a courtesy call to the local tourism office and a couple of guys there accompanied us to our next destination. They said something about us doing spelunking, which got my travel mates excited, while I had no idea what that word meant, wala na signal sa area doon kaya di maigoogle haha, but it kinda sounded good so I just pretended I’m also excited lol! hehe
the exploration of caves, especially as a hobby.
I’m going to tell you now most likely, this is not going to be my hobby lol hehe. This has been the hardest part of our trip, going down to this cave they have endearingly called, “Angel Cave”. It’s probably because pag nagkamali ka ng tapak mo while exploring the cave, eh makikita mo na ang guardian angel mo at susunduin ka na niya pagkatapos. Chareng haha! Ang sabi, it is because of the many beautiful white rock formations found inside resembling an Angel’s wings. It is a Class 1 cave and we were one of the lucky few to be granted access to it, alongside Rachel Grant who has previously been to this virgin cave. Since it was my first time to go inside a cave, though I’ve seen it on movies and tv shows how caving can be really challenging, I wasn’t suspecting that ours would be a difficult one. I thought, we would be walking and then we’ll see the mouth of the cave, enter it then walk some more until we reach the stone formations and marvel on its beauty and then thats it. Lekat di ko naman akalain na ang tatarik pala ng mga dadaanan namin! Sa bunganga palang ng cave pababa kami parang paano po to haha parang sing taas ng 5 storey bldg ang bababain namin! Sa isip ko, experience philippines ka pa more ha, goodbye philippines ka pagnagkataon char hahaha! Para akong si spiderman, I was crawling on all fours, minsan five pa nga kasama pwet haha. We climbed, swimmed, rappelled! I loved it! Everything was so worth it! Lalo na as we go deeper inside the cave, seeing all the beautiful white stone formations perfectly shaped by mother nature. Sabi nila it is around 6 or 7 km pero 1/4 palang ata ang na reach namin. We took a dip at one of the natural pools found there and marveled at nature’s gifts. Ang pangit ng pics na kuha ko kasi phone lang gamit, and mostly panakaw lang ang pagkuha ko kasi I was more focused on holding on for my dear life habang nageexplore kami dun hahahaha!
After that very challenging and exhausting phase, we proceeded to our next stop – Lunch! We had sinigang and kilawin. I was thinking kung ano yung ginamit na pampaasim sa sinigang I think it’s santol. It was yum! Masarap ang luto ng mga taga-Pangasinan. Then we were off to our next adventure, as if we haven’t had enough of the walking and the hiking earlier. We were hiking again to visit a hidden paradise. Getting there was a lot easier compared to what we did in the cave. Upon reaching the destination, there appeared in front of us this beautiful falls. First time to see one up close. Some locals were already enjoying its cool and relaxing waters and we happily joined in.
Strangers To Friends
Finally it was time to call it a day (or so i thought haha). We headed back to our accommodation. Rested for a while, took a well deserved bath, and prepared for dinner. There was so much food during our dinner, I ate all my exhaustion away! Of course before we hit the sack, there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep with a little alcohol in our belly. Oops did I say little? hehe! That’s how our night ended, full of booze, laughter, sharing of stories, and what you thought were strangers earlier has now become your friends!
The next day we were woken up by some of our travel mates. It was time for breakfast. And shortly thereafter we embarked on our last few adventures in Pangasinan. Pangasinan is blessed with a lot of falls. Our next destination was – Bolinao falls. This time it was bigger and wider. The water was just too inviting for your to resist. Other tourists were there as well. There were some people who were doing cliff diving, and most of my travel mates tried it too. Oh did I forget to tell you I didn’t know how to swim? So yes I just stayed there in the water wearing my life jacket trying not to drown hehe. I enjoyed the part were we rode the balsa and a guy was pushing us towards the bottom of the falls where you can feel the force of the water rushing down on you. It was definitely one of the highlights of that trip! We got out of the waters and it was almost lunch time. Our next stop to our surprise was a floating restaurant! Yes just like the one in Bohol! This is another first for me. I think that was one of the best lunch I have ever had in my life. The seafood fiesta was gastronomic, the scenery of the river was beautiful, I could not ask for more!
After that, we then headed to this white sand beach in Patar area, and waited for the sunset. I had a brief and priceless moment there while I was alone in the shore, lying on the sand, under the shade of a tree, looking at the clear blue sky, listening to the calming waves of the sea.. and then taking a selfie! hehe
A few moments later, the sun was beginning to set. We gathered around and continued to bond with each other while the breathtaking scene unfolds before us. They say the Bolinao sunset is one of the best because of the West Philippine Sea. It is true! The wait was definitely worth it.
Medyo May Konting Sepanx
Going back to Manila after this whole journey was a mix of emotions. It is true what Newt Scamander, a character in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, said- “worrying means you suffer twice”. I worry too much prior to joining this travel. But now that I have gone through it. I survived! hehe. Kahit sumuko na ang mga hita ko sa kakahike, the experiences and the lessons that I gained, most especially the new friends that I’ve met, makes this trip so worth it! Medyo may konting sepanx lang when were were about to go back to our own homes pero we will forever share this unique experience that we had in this trip.
I can’t thank myself enough for making that awesome decision of joining Experience Philippines. And I know I would regret it for the rest of my life if I hadn’t done it. I also want to thank the founders and the team behind Experience PH for giving me one of the most memorable adventures of my life!
You guys are doing an awesome job!
Until next time!