Sunday, January 31, 2016

Simple pleasures in laidback Dasol, Pangasinan

A month ago just before 2015 bid us goodbye, our family went on a short vacation to Dasol in Pangasinan. It was one joyous trip with my sisters, our mom, my kids, nephews and a niece. Two of my sisters had just flown in from the US and Canada the night before we headed up North, so you could just imagine how happy and memorable our trip was. 
Dasol is a third class municipality and tourism is its fast-rising industry. According to the caretaker of the resort where we stayed, fishing used to be the main source of livelihood of the locals but because their area has been declared a marine sanctuary and large-scale fishing was banned, the local government encouraged the residents to shift their focus to tourism-related businesses. As it is, Dasol's beach resorts are still in their "development stage" and I believe there is still not even a three-star establishment here, only small facilities that are more in the homestay accommodation category. For this reason, I received some dressing down from two of my "ates" (elder sisters) once we've settled inside our rented rooms (one for us adults and another for the kids). Not that they're snooty (haha!). They just did not like the kind of accommodation 
that I had booked for our trip.
 We stayed in Pantalan Resort, which only has four air-conditioned rooms and with the two not even having their own comfort room. There are two CRs outside, however, and four more (two are shower rooms) downstairs, near the two other rooms where we stayed for two nights.  
For one thing, my sisters were concerned about our security as there was no security guard, and really, the place is simply a typical rural neighborhood where some elderly men gathered for beer when we arrived at 9 pm. Secondly, they (even me as well) were a bit disappointed about the rooms, which had only one bed each with and with no hot and cold shower 
and no TV nor refrigerator, nor wifi. 
And oh yes, this place was a looong drive from Manila! We left at 12 noon and spent nine hours on the road (minus the two hours of lunch and merienda stopovers) with the last hour of travel spent on the unlit, winding road that seemed uninhabited on both sides from Burgos town to Dasol. It almost felt like a scene from a horror movie as we sat there in silence and impatience on the van that was traversing a dark, eerie road. 
I was just thankful we arrived in Pantalan all in one piece, and we were welcomed by our kind but shy host, Joey, the caretaker of the resort. We asked where and what we could have for dinner and were told that he and his wife, Weng, cook for their guests, but they did not have any stocks and would only buy from the neighborhood store upon request. At that time of the night, the only thing they could offer us was canned goods and so corned beef was our dinner that first night. Not so bad for our growling tummies!  
Meanwhile, as I said, each of the rooms only had one huge bed (double size, maybe) so we requested for two mattresses for each room. We were six in our room and seven kids in the other. Joey had assured us that Tambobong Beach (where Pantalan is located) was safe so we slept soundly that night. After all, we were all tired from the long travel.
And then, morning.....

I woke up to the aroma of fried fish and found our host cooking our breakfast.
Fresh fish from the sea smells so good while it sizzles on the pan. 
I think this fish is called "biluan".

As we waited for breakfast to be ready, I took the opportunity to walk on the shore and take some pictures. This place is lovely! There are caves around here but we didn't have much time to explore. At this early, we had the beach all to ourselves but later, people came in, most of whom didn't stay but boarded motorboats, presumably going to Snake Island.
Breakfast is now ready! Fried fish with sliced tomatoes and tortang talong (eggplant omelette). By the way, we had our brekkie inside a bahay kubo (nipa hut) on the seashore.
 Simple but yummy breakfast on the beach is just heavenly!

My son found a starfish on the beach. I took a shot of it at the bahay kubo together with some colored stones that I had picked up from the sand.
Afterwards, I put the starfish back on the water.
These are the two air-conditioned rooms that were our home for two nights here in Dasol. There are two others inside the compound of Pantalan Resort.
Our hosts cooking fish sinigang for lunch.

After lunch, we requested for bananacue, which we had for merienda. This was really delicious. Talk about simple pleasures!
At 4 in the afternoon, our group split and went on board two motorboats that took us to Snake Island, which was about a 20-minute ride from the shores of Tambobong Beach.
Snake Island was named as such because it used to be inhabited by a lot of sea snakes which could be seen gliding on the sand and swimming on the water, the boatman and guide told us. As time passed, however, the snake population dwindled, such that we didn't see any (thank God!). Snake Island is partly rocky and walking around was quite difficult on one side. But the sand here is whiter and finer than in Tambobong. The girl in the picture, by the way, is my green-haired daughter. No, she wasn't born with that hair. Haha!
Snake Island has lots of "treasures" - beautiful, colored stones and shells. My sisters and I enjoyed picking these up, which we took home.
Sunset on Snake Island.
After sundown, it was time to return to Tambobong.
On the boat back to Tambobong Beach.
And then, dinner! Pinakbet Ilocano and grilled tuna. Yum!
   At dawn on our last day in Dasol, just before we hit the road going to our next destination  -   
 Monasterio de Tarlac.

Despite my sisters' initial fears, we had a relaxed, peaceful and happy stay in Dasol - a quiet, small and peaceful town in Pangasinan. The place was worth all the hours of travel, being endowed with beautiful beaches and shy (I think they all were. Hehe..) but friendly people. Joey and Weng, our hosts, couldn't be any more accommodating, granting our every request (for food, water in our rooms, mattresses, hot water for our bath, etc.) and making sure 
we were comfortable. 
Although Pantalan Resort is not one of those nice beach hotel-resorts that our family had been to in the past whenever my sisters abroad went on vacation to the Philippines, it nonetheless gave us an enjoyable, more laid-back and comfortable stay. No fancy food either but everything 
we ate was fresh and delicious.
If you're interested in staying at Pantalan Resort, you may contact Joey Bobis at 09489264248. Each of our rooms, by the way, cost P3,500 per night and each meal was around P1,000. We were 14 in the group, excluding the driver of our rented van, who preferred to sleep in the vehicle. Meanwhile, we paid P1,000 for each boat that took us to Snake Island.
Enjoy Dasol, Pangasinan on your next out-of-town trip, won't you?

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