Hello Pangasinan!: Dagupan, Calasiao and Lingayen Tour
It was a different way of celebrating my one and only rest day this week. When I woke up from a long travel last night, I am now ready to face the day which seems to be full of adventure and discoveries. We fixed ourselves quickly to meet another blogger. We went to Lyceum-Northwestern University, Mica’s alma mater, which is just a few walks away from their house. There we met Robbie who was still sleepy that time. We then had our breakfast and I loved their “binagoongan”. Mica took us for a tour around the university and gave us a glimpse of their “Anatomy Laboratory”, but it was close that time so we were not able to get in. We then proceed in the town of Calasiao.
We started the tour right by asking for guidance and personal prayer at Senor Divino Tesoro Shrine. Many believed that the crucified statue of Jesus Christ grows in size and grant wishes. Then we headed to Calasiao Church, San Pedro y San Pablo de Calasiao. I was amazed because it was my first time to see a big old church with an interesting and complex architecture, even if it was already reconstructed after according to history, being burned during a revolt and then ruined by an earthquake. I then had the time to ask some locals about my long lost grandparent. It was a long story to tell. They were the uncle and aunt of my father who then took care of the latter when he was young. We used to visit them in their house in Pasig but one time when we went there, we saw their house being reconstructed and found out that they already sold it and they both moved to Pangasinan. From that time, we already lost our communication with them. No one knows exactly where they are. I failed to locate them. And I felt sad because it’s one of the reasons why I joined this trip, to find a long lost relative. Anyway, our trip to Calasiao wouldn’t be complete without tasting their most proud of delicacy, “puto”, a soft bite-sized rice cake. Being considered as the town’s “white gold”, this is famous to all locals and tourists especially pilgrims of the Senor Divino Tesoro.
It was lunch time when we rode a tricycle to meet another blogger, the famous and well-known travel photographer, Kuya Estan. Read his blog and you’ll know why. We commonly see Plato Wraps as a small stall in the malls, but not in Calasiao. It is the only Plato Wraps Restaurant that can be found in the Philippines. You know why? Simply because, Plato Wraps originated here so they decided to put a big one to cater their growing number of patrons and to serve more than what they can offer in their stalls in Manila. After taking some photo shoot while the place is being surrounded by “No Picture Talking” sign, we started to fill our stomach with sumptuous lunch. I’m not really a fan of bangus (milkfish) because of its “tinik”, but since the place is famous for “bangus”, I tried it. And believe me, I enjoyed it. It’s boneless and well fried. Their vinegar dip is a must try. You can feel the sweet and sour taste in your mouth that will surely make you crave more.
Then afternoon was spent in Lingayen where the provincial capitol is located. It’s weird to know that I experienced it first here than in our own capitol in Batangas. The park located in front of it is really relaxing. The place is clean and you’ll see a row of pine trees along your way. The area is covered by grass where you can just sit and do your thing. No wonder while some students and lovers hangout there. Behind the capitol are the Veterans Memorial Park and the World War II Memorabilia Site. From there you will see some relics of war; military tanker, aircraft and other armours, which now then serve as a playground for every kid that I see. Nearby is the Lingayen Gulf, this long stretch of grayish shore witnessed the historical World War II. It is now perfect for a beach walk and picnic as they already provide nipa huts along the spacious area. It is also a perfect spot for photo op.
Before it gets dark, we headed to Dagupan to meet another blogger based in Pangasinan, the Chinese banker, Josh with his yellow car.:) He drove for us to Matutina’s, which according to Mica, is former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s favourite whenever she travels to Pangasinan. In fact, I even saw other photos of celebrities and politician posted in the wall. We tried different seafood like tahong, squid, bangus and shrimp. They also served “buco pastillas” alongside your meal. After devouring ourselves with such sumptuous meal, I know understand why tourists prefer to dined in Matutina’s Seafood Haus and Restaurant.
Before we end the night, they let us try “pigar pigar”. Galvan Street is the place where you can find the stalls for this gastronomic adventure. It is in between Dagupan Malimyas Supermarket and an old condemned cinema and according to Josh, there was a rotating restaurant standing there before. Pigar pigar will be served as you order. In every stall you see the piece of freshly slaughtered meat hanging and displayed in front. The fresh meat can either be beef or dark carabao and is immersed in a simmering oil and sautéed with salt and sliced of white onions. You can also ask the cook to put cabbage or cauliflower in your order. That time we had carabao meat instead of beef. I was kind of hesitant to taste it because I am not into exotic food. But my adventure wouldn’t be complete unless I taste it, so I give it a try. Then it continuous and I ordered for a cup of rice. To add more taste, you can dip it in soy or fish sauce mixed with calamansi and chilli. The richness of the buffalo taste is felt after the second bite with the crunch, texture and sweet juiciness of white onions mixing with the meat.
We haven’t tried kaleskesan because there’s no more space in our stomach, maybe in my next visit, hopefully.
What a day! Next stop Alaminos.
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