Monday, March 31, 2008
The Hundred Islands of Pangasinan
The Hundred Islands National Park is probably one of the oldest tourist attractions in the country. It has been promoted as a tourist spot even before I was born. It is actually the First National Park in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Noting this, I was expecting nothing much, since tourist attractions in the country have the reputation of degrading over time. It seems that the DOT or local government still doesn't know how to keep these attractions as natural as they were. No excuses here. It's done outside by all our neighboring countries.
And true enough, the Hundred Islands is a rundown. It took me 5 hours to drive all the way to Alaminos in Pangasinan, the town of the Hundred Islands. Arriving at the port in Anda in Alaminos, I immediately felt that abusive development. We stayed in some resort near the pier (forgot the name, sorry, but I have pictures). Going to the Hundred Islands requires a boat trip and you also have to pay a conservation fee (entrance fee) to the town officials at the port (makes me wonder what it really is for). Well, it is a national park, so we do have to pay a fee.
Anyway, we headed off to the islands after negotiating with the boat that cost us P600 for the afternoon. We were told that we were to visit Quezon Island, the largest of them all, Children's Island and General Island. Of course, being the adventurer, I told him that I didn't want to go these islands only. I had to negotiate more with the boatman and just told him to visit Quezon Island and just look for other ones worth visiting.
Quezon Island was the largest, yes. It was also the dirtiest. Then I saw the one thing that makes me angry: VANDALISM. I don't know how Filipinos can ruin places with their marks. I just don't get it. Anyway, Quezon Island looked like a dump. The people seemed to be ignorant of all their trash while frolicking in the waters. All the structures in Quezon Island like the huts are in ruins. Now, I really wonder where the marine park fees go.
(Manuel Quezon statue, hence the name of the island)
After going up and down the island, I rushed to look for a more pristine spot. I kept pointing to islands I liked, but the boatman kept resisting me. He told me the tide was not good and that the waves were not safe to dock. Well, I know a lot already about driving a boat, and I knew the driver was just trying to make it easy for him. He did manage to bring us to Scout Island. It was small and the sand was so much better and cleaner than in Quezon. But, as I look up the wall, there they are again, in screaming glory, as high as the wall itself: VANDALS. I can't even figure out how they managed to mark the wall that was as high as 20 feet.
It was just bad luck. The waters were rough and unclear. The skies were not blue and the sun didn't shine. It was drizzling and the surrounding was damp. Well, even with better conditions, I still would have complained about everything. But it would have been so much better. The other islands were promising to say the least.
But as I've said, I wasn't surprised. The Hundred Islands is a true example of how Filipinos can just abuse tourist attractions and leave it to rot until the next great destination is found and then developed. It's a cycle. Boracay is on its way. I just hope and pray that we have learned our lessons already. And that goes out to all you TRAVELERS too.