Pangasinan, located on the west central portion of mainland Luzon, is one of the four provinces in the Ilocos region. Recognized as a major supplier of fish and salt in the Philippines, the province is also famous for the unique cluster of islets known as the Hundred Islands. Considered a "land of miracles," Pangasinan is home to some of the most visited pilgrim sites in the country, including the Our Lady of Manaoag Shrine.
When to Go
The dry season, which spans from November to April, is the best time to visit Pangasinan and enjoy its attractions.
Things to Do
Being a coastal province, there are several noteworthy beaches in Pangasinan. The Hundred Islands National Park features natural wonders such as underground pools, rivers, bat caves, mangrove forests, migratory birds, white sand beaches, rock formations and coral gardens. Along the area of the Lingayen Gulf near the Provincial Capitol is Lingayen Beach, one of the most popular public beaches in Pangasinan. The Cape Bolinao Beach in Patar has a freshwater source nearby that is believed to come from an underground river and is also perfect for board surfing. For scuba divers and anglers, Tambobong White Beach in the town of Dasol has rich marine life that is a sight to explore.
There are a few well-known churches in Pangasinan. The Our Lady of Manaoag Shrine is known all over the Philippines for drawing devotees, pilgrims and people who seek miraculous healing. Most devotees flock to the shrine on weekends, every first Sunday of October and 18th day after Easter Sunday. The Sanctuario Del Seņor Divino Tesoro, an image of Jesus Christ on a cross that stands beside the municipal building of Calasiao, is believed to have grown as a small boy. Devotees and pilgrims also believe it to be capable of miraculous deeds. The Church of St. James Fortress in Bolinao keeps rare wooden statues and age-old grinning Aztec figures with exposed tongues. These are believed to have been brought to the Philippines through the galleon trade.
Given its diverse topography, Pangasinan has several natural attractions around the province. Bani and Alaminos City are seasonally flocked by different species of birds, both local and migratory, making bird watching a new activity that has boosted Pangasinan's tourism industry. The Villacorta Caves is noted for its pools, waterfalls, rock terraces, chamber-like formations and stalactites and stalagmites. The Enchanted Cave in Bolinao has a freshwater pool where visitors can swim. Mount Balungao, located five kilometres away from Balungao townproper, is known for its hot and cold spring waters. Every summer, tourists come to visit the hot springs for medicinal purposes.
Other sights visitors get to see when in Pangasinan are the manmade structures. The Provincial Capitol Complex houses the Capitol Building included in the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Filipino Heritage Festival list of eight architectural treasures in the Philippines, and is considered the most beautiful of its kind. There is also the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse, a lighthouse built in 1903 by the Americans which stands second to Cape Bojeador in Ilocos Norte as the tallest lighthouse in the Philippines.
What to Buy
Alaminos, Dagupan, Bolinao, and other Pangasinan coastal towns and cities have abundant supply of bangus (milk fish) and other seafood staples.
For Pangasinan's famous bagoong, drop by Lingayen.
Various towns in Pangasinan offer different kinds of native Pangasinense sweets. You can visit Calasiao for its puto, Urdaneta and Mangata for tupig, Bolinao and Anda for some binungey and Mangaldan for export-quality peanut brittle.
San Carlos City, Bugallon, Binmaley, Manaoag, and Sison are must-visit stops for shoppers in search of handicrafts, woodworks, and native furniture.
Swords and Daggers
The town of Pozzorubio is known for making world-class metalcrafts such as swords and daggers. They are known for providing the swords and other metal weapons used in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The coastal city of Alaminos is home to the famed Hundred Islands National Park and is also known for their Alaminos longganisa, where the segments of the meat are divided using toothpicks and are a garlicky variety of the traditional Filipino sausages.
Located on the northernmost portion of Pangasinan, Bolinao is most known as the home of Cape Bolinao, a 107-year-old lighthouse, as well as the popular Patar Beach.
Nicknamed the Bangus Capital of the Philippines, Dagupan City is an independent component city of Pangasinan and also serves as the center of commerce and medicine in Northern Luzon. Visitors in Dagupan City often visit the Bonuan Blue Beach and historic sites such as MacArthur's Park, the landing site of the American General, and St. John Cathedral, where the Katipuneros won the last battle against the Spaniards.
There are many things to see in Lingayen, as it is home to Lingayen Beach, the Provincial Capitol, the Urduja House, and the World War II Memorabilia Ground Site.
Devotees from all over the country come to visit the Our Lady of Manaoag Shrine, which is where the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Manaog is housed.
Pangasinan is accessible from Manila by land. Riding a local bus line to Pangasinan takes 4-5 hours. Victory Liner has a daily direct route to Alaminos and Bolinao from four terminals in Metro Manila (Pasay, Caloocan and two in Cubao). Five Star Bus Company has regular daily trips to Dagupan, San Carlos, and Alaminos from their depots in Cubao and Pasay. Viron Transit has daily trips to Dagupan, Tayuf, and San Carlos. Bus lines such as Partas Bus Lines, Farinas Trans, Viron Transit, and Dominion Bus Lines pass through some municipalities of Pangasinan (Rosales, Villasis, Urdaneta City, Binalonan, Pozorrubio, and Sison) on the way to San Fernando, Vigan, Laoag, or Abra.
Public buses and jeepneys are readily available around the province to ferry passengers within the province.