Sombrero Island, Batangas

Sombrero Island (named because the island looked like a big hat sticking out of the water) is about 15 minute boat ride from Mabini Batangas (My start point going to the island).

Sombrero Island is a small patch of land known only to local fishermen. The changing tides and rainy season make it less known to tourists, but also unsurprisingly more pristine.


The east side of the island, you’ll find the beach but it does not offer much for the snorkeler but the white pristine sand makes the island more attractive. However, on the western side, you’ll find a spectacular coral reef garden. The only problem is that the snorkeler is limited only to about 50ft from the island. The farther you go out the stronger the current. To better enjoy this reef, scuba gear is needed.

Entrance to the island is 200Php cottage rent is 800Php

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Pangasinan

Pangasinan is known for “Asin” and “Bagoong”

PangASINan was one of the early provinces into which the island of Luzon was divided after the arrival of the Spaniards. Pangasinan was then formally created as a province by Governor-General Ronquillo de Peñalosa in 1580.

Etymologically, the term Pangasinan means the “place where salt is made”, owing to the rich and fine salt beds which were the prime source of livelihood for the province’s coastal towns.

Another name for the region, but not as widely known is Caboloan. The word Bolo in the native language refers to a species of bamboo that was abundant in the interior areas, and favored in the practice of weaving light baskets and winnowing plates called bilao. Historians believe that both names may have been used at the same time. Today, salt is still being produced in abundance, creating not a few fortunes for some enterprising families although much of its use is for industry.

A local product that has become synonymous with Pangasinan is bagoong, or fermented fish sauce. Salt of course, is the prime ingredient. Mud-colored with a strong smell, bagoong has captured the national palate. Native cuisine, mostly Ilocano in origin, owes its authenticity to the lowly bagoong. Taking from the spare and starkly humble lifestyle of the Pangasinense with his dependence on the sea and rivers and the land, bagoong lends itself well to the local diet. Mixed with plain fresh vegetables like okra, squash and eggplant in an invigorating broth or as a dip for grilled catfish or Bonuan bangus, bagoong brings out the true flavor of the land’s origins.

The Northern Gate

Pangasinan is a crescent-shaped province that occupies 5,368.82 square kilometers of verdant farmlands, hills, forests and rivers. To the east, it is bounded by the mighty Cordillera Mountains, the Zambales ranges to the west, the rice plains of Tarlac to the south and the Lingayen Gulf and the China Sea to the north. Because of this strategic geographical positioning, it has always been described as a gateway of sorts. Most travellers going up North often remember Pangasinan as the place where they had last seen some semblance of civilization, comparing it with the sparsely populated regions of the Ilocos and the Cagayan Valley (with the exception of Baguio and the old Spanish towns of Vigan and Laoag).

Connections

Historian Rosario Mendoza Cortes writes in her book, Pangasinan 1572-1800 that according to Bishop Domingo de Salazar, Pangasinan “was forty leagues distant from Manila either by land or by sea.” Roughly translated, travelers of old normally take about thirty-hours to reach Manila via horse and carriage. After the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, travel time was normally 5 to 7 hours as normal route points like Bamban and Mabalacat were closed temporarily. Today, 5 hours is the norm although private vehicles can sometimes negotiate the route under 4 hours. Most major bus companies ply the Manila-Pangasinan route complemented by a host of local bus lines, which can be hired for private purposes and tours. Most bus services operate on a 24-hour basis. Media services are active in Pangasinan. National dailies as well as local publications (several weeklies and one daily) are available. There are 20 radio stations and one regional television station. Cable services have mushroomed even in areas far from the urbanized centers of Dagupan, Urdaneta and Alaminos. At the latest survey, Pangasinan has the highest tele-density in the country outside of Metro Manila with the presence of three major telecommunication companies.

The Gifts of the Earth and Sea

Pangasinan is rooted to the earth – agriculture based production remains as a major source of income for the majority of the populace. Aqua-culture is also popular in areas where instead of farmlands, variated squares of artificial ponds for fish rearing are found. Through the years, as the demand for particular fish stocks rose and fell, fishpond owners have adapted by sticking to traditionally favored, and stable growing fish species like the bangus or milkfish, the malaga and prawns. With agriculture currently mobilizing more than half of the local labor force, the current administration has seen the need to boost its efforts in this area.

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Mt. Gulugod Baboy

Jump-off point: Philpan Dive Resort, Anilao, Mabini
LLA: 13°42’55″N; 120°53’43″E; 525 MASL
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 2/9, Trail class 1-2

Gulugod-Baboy is the general term that describes the hills that traverse Calumpan Peninsula. Located in Southern Batangas, the peninsula is more known for the diving resorts of Anilao – the birthplace of Philippine scuba diving. Since dive enthusiasts are also enthusiasts for anything ‘outdoor’, they began exploring the hills, and soon, Gulugod Baboy became a hiking destination on its right, although today it remains a popular sidetrip to a diving escapade to Anilao, or to the nearby Sombrero or Maricaban islands.
There is confusion regarding where the real “Gulugod-Baboy” is. From SE to NW (from Brgy. San Teodoro to Brgy. Laurel), there are three peaks in the range. The first is 470 MASL, the second is 485 MASL, and the third is 525 MASL. This third has a large, ancient tree as its landmark, and is known to mountaineers as the real Gulugod Baboy. However, locals say that this third peak is actually Mt. Pinagbanderahan, and the first peak is the Gulugod Baboy.
Gulugod-Baboy is a playground for adventure: you can refer to the map and ascend/descend to any point in the peninsula using the compass. Most directions have trails; indeed there are many trails in the mountain which is both an advantage and a disadvantage. At its peaks, you can see, from east to west: Janao Bay, Maricaban strait which bears Sombrero and Maricaban islands, a distant, faint blue Mindoro, Verde Island (SW) and Batangas Bay. The city and port of Batangas is visible on the west, following a farther Mt. Daguldul. To the north is Mt. Maculot, and even Mt. Batulao and the Tagaytay highlands.

TRIVIA

Gulugod-Baboy means “pig’s spine”, so named because of the contours of the hills. “Gulod”, however, means hill; “pig’s hill” can also depict the pastoral scene of the mountain. You would normal encounter cows, goats, and in the past, pigs, as you trek through the mountain.
For its part, Pinagbanderahan has a historical background. It can be translated, “Where the flag was hoisted”, and it commemorates the crash landing of the Japanese in early 1942. In the heat of World War II, Japanese airmen had a mishap and crash landed in the slopes of Gulugod-Baboy. To celebrate their survival, they planted a flag in the summit. Since then, locals called it “Pinagbanderahan”.

(Thanks for this Article Gideon Lasco)

SPECIAL CONCERNS
As you trek through Gulugod-Baboy you will be passing by private property; make sure you observe proper courtesy. Also, there are dogs on the loose and cows in some parts so be careful.

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