Tag Archive | Pangasinan

Scattered Gem of Alaminos; Hundred Islands

IMG_4814Philippines, a country consist of 7,107 islands. These islands offered different sceneries and panoramic views to those who want to explore its beauty. Being an archipelagic country, Philippines is well-known for its beaches and beautiful underwater world. If you are Filipino, you are familiar with the group of island they called “Hundred Islands”. With the promotion of national and local government, the sets of islands became famous around the globe for its beauty and unique formation.

IMG_4815Hundred Islands is located in Alaminos, Pangasinan. The islands (124 at low tide and 123 at high tide) are scattered in the Lingayen Gulf and cover an area of 18.44 square kilometers (4,557 acres). Many legends narrate the origin of the Hundred Islands. One legend says that the island originates from the over turned boats and bodies of one hundred warriors that engage in a fierce mortal sea combat against invaders. To commemorate the braveness of the warriors, their god immortalized them by turning them into islands.


According to scientific study the islands are estimated to be two million years old. The islands are actually ancient corals that extend well inland, in an area previously comprising the seabed of an ancient sea. Lowering sea levels have exposed them to the surface and the peculiar “mushroom”-like shapes of some of the islands have been caused by the eroding action of the ocean waves. Of all the 124 islands only three of them have been developed for tourists: Governor Island, Quezon Island, and Children’s Island.


To get there, you need to rent a boat that will bring you to the islands from Alaminos port. The rent depends on what package you choose, but always beware of fixers. From the port, you will see the islands from afar. The islands look like common mass of land and seemed to nothing special.


The travel from the port to the first island you pass is approximately 20 to 30 minutes. As you approach the first islet, you will be amazed on the breath-taking views. The islands that look like long mass of land from afar, but when closely approach looks like drops of emeralds floating in sapphire blue sea. Looking down in the water you can see the bottom of the sea. The crystal clear sea-water provided a glimpse of marine biodiversity. The white sand underneath the sea looks like pulverized corals.


One by one the hidden islands from afar were being uncovered. Islands that seemed to be lump mass of soil are made up of limestone. The rocky islands were been sculpted by the waves of the sea and the top of each island is magnificently adorned of greeneries. The foliage has provided shelter for animals. Different shapes of rocks that surround every islands added marvelous sights and memorable beauty. Every island has a name. Some of the islands were named after the president and notable people of the Philippines.


You may request the boat driver to drop you off in islands but some islands are not suitable for hoping. Some islands are really rocky and no beach to serve as parking space for the boat. One of the islands that you may set afoot is the Governor’s Island. You can see partial view of scattered islands on the top of Governor’s Island. But before you can see the panorama, you need to climb series of rocky steps to reach the top. The spiky rocks and deep ravines are present while climbing that’s why you should be extra careful and you should at least wear sneakers. I must admit, if you are not used to climb high places you will be having a hard time to reach the top. But as soon as you reach the view deck of the island a picturesque and paradise view will be the showcase of your climbing. Islands of various sizes, atolls and rocks that have white sand beaches are surrounded by beautiful blue water. If you want to stay a little bit longer in Governor’s Island at want your skin to be tanned you may swim around the island.

Another island that you can hop-in is the Quezon Island. Quezon Island boasts white sand beach and wonderful rock formations. Inlets and cavities of rocks added beauty and pristine on the island. Since Quezon Island was one of the three islands developed for tourist, there are available facilities and resort in the island.


You may also visit the Cathedral Island that really has a resemblance in a cathedral. It is a hollow cave that echoes your voice as you speak. The cave interior can be compared to a massive cathedral with rugged features. The coralline limestones hanging in the cave’s ceiling are like chandeliers that give sparkles as the light from your flashlight illuminates the cave. If you are into spelunking, Cathedral Cave is ideal for you.

Marcos Island offers another view compared to other island. Inlets and hollow cavities is a must see feature of the island. In my own opinion, it has the most powdery white sand and crystal clear water among the entire island. You should try swimming in the dark Imelda Cave of the island. But always remember to wear life vest when swimming, the water inside the cave leads you back to the shore. If you love adventure diving in Imelda cave and plunging into its deep water will also give you a great experience.


Hundred Islands is protected by the government. It is a fragile gem of the archipelagic Philippines that contains role in economy, biodiversity, solaces for those who love Mother Nature and formation of the world.

The hundred islands, being a nesting place for various fishes and sea creatures nurtures and restore their population. Migratory birds also nestle in the island. Since most of the foliage of the islands was not coveted by humans, animals have found shelter.


(Yours truly in Alaminos Port Light House)


Pilgrimage to Manaoag

(In lieu of upcoming Holy Week, let me share a post I’ve written four years ago. Every other year, as a Catholic, I visit the basilica of Our Lady of Manaoag at Pangasinan. This basilica is not just a repository of unique interior architectural design, priceless paintings, and colourful history of devotions and old-age traditions that traces back in our Spanish Imperial times. Some pictures posted here were taken two years ago. I’ve edited the pictures’ captions.)
Revisiting the Queen’s Throne
by: Verjory Arga

Through the centuries, large basilicas and churches were built to commence Mary’s divine role. Her divine role seemed to look upon the Earth, that she was reported to be seen visiting in a form of apparition.

(The facade of the Basilica. Photo taken 2011.)

If you are a Catholic and praying the Virgin’s litany, you might be familiar to the her title as “Queen of the Holy Rosary”. Mary among the Catholics is well-venerated for giving birth to the Savior of the World.

A five hour drive from Manila may do to reach the imposing realm of Mary in Pangasinan- The Our Lady of Manaoag National Shrine. Being brought up in Catholic teachings, my family pays homage to Manaoag Shrine.

Our Lady of Manaoag (formally: Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario de Manaoag, literal translation: Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag) is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, associated with a statue in Manaoag, Pangasinan said to be from the 16th century. She is the patroness of the sick, the helpless and the needy.



(From the other side of the Church the statue of Mary can be seen. Photo taken 2011)


(The exact image of the Lady of Manaoag. Protected by a bullet proof glass, carved in ivory and richly adorned by quality gold and precious stones and gems. )

(Church interior. Photo taken 2011)


(Images of the four apostles who witnessed and wrote the Gospel of the Lord were painted in the four upper main columns of the shrine)

The church is one of the Philippines’ most widely visited Roman Catholic Pilgrimage sites. Many people from across the Philippine archipelago come and visit the town of Manaoag, where the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is enshrined in a church dedicated to this name.

The shrine is magnificently built in stones. The walls of the church were painted to renew its skin that reflects its long time existence that witness the strong faith, belief in miracles and the Virgin’s extension of help.

(A closer look to a the Queen’s face. This statue is a replica from the Manaoag Museum. The Museum contains the priceless artifacts and jewels of the Lady of Manaoag. It also offers a large collection of perfume that was donated by families who have strong attachment to the Virgin. Photo taken 2011)

As being brought up in a Catholic surrounding, I was introduced to the Holy Virgin. Dad and Mom said that since I am a toddler they have this “panata” or promise-to-do that every year me and my two younger brothers will pay a visit or homage to the Manaoag every year till I reach the age of seven.

The promise was fulfilled. My Dad being a devotee of the Lady at least once a year pay homage to the Queen’s Shrine.

(Photo taken 2011)


(Candles are lighted as one prays his/her wishes. It was believed that a light from the candle signifies purity and enlightenment for it defeat the darkness cause by sins.)

The statue of Our Lady of Manaoag purportedly has a long history of miraculous and pious events that are replicated in the murals within the church. These were done so that the events will never be forgotten. Devotees, from all over the globe, have varied persuasions for visiting the shrine or imploring the vital and peculiar intercession of Our Lady of Manaoag among which are pleas pertaining to good health, cure for diseases or afflictions, good voyage, posterity, the family, career, business, academic or professional examinations, surmounting challenges or trials, or any personal petition or thanksgiving.

One of the miraculous accounts regarding Our Lady of Manaoag dates back to the times when early pagans from the mountain tribes burn down newly converted Christian villages. The town of Manaoag was not spared from this. It was set on fire. The church with its thatched roof was the last refuge of the people. The leader of the pillagers climbed over its fence and shot flaming arrows to all parts of the church but all in vain. It was not set afire.

Another miraculous event was nationally reported during World War II. The Japanese army dropped several bombs on the roof of the Manaoag Shrine but inflicted no damage to the roof and the shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Some of the devotees claim that drinking from the well of the Shrine can replenish the exhausted soul and body. Others say that their diseases were cured by only drinking the well’s water plus strong faith to the Virgin.


What is true is what we cannot really tell. It’s up to us to believe it or not.

Catholics have high respect for Mary. This makes us different from other religion. As being known as the Mother of God and her divine role in salvation, some depict her a goddess. Depicting or viewing her as a goddess is totally wrong. She was created by God. And the fact that her womb is the vessel of Christ makes her divine yet she is not to be worshiped.

She is reportedly to be seen when the world is in chaos, extending help through miracles and giving us the Holy Rosary that console our soul and heart. Again, that is her divine role, yet she must not be worshiped. She must be in a high form of veneration-the hyperdulia.