Unveiling the Beauty of Dingalan in Aurora, Philippines
by Glen Reniel
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Quick Escape to Dingalan
After a stressful week of non-stop classroom and online trainings preparing for going live on my new job, I felt the need of breathing some fresh-air away from civilization gone mad. For some weird reasons, it came to my mind how about take a trip to a strange place nearby, go nature tripping, take a weekend hike, or soak up in a beach. One important thing I have to consider is to do hibernation since it’s been pouring rain the whole week. I got no time for some joke trips.
Yet, a co-newbies of mine, had plans of a getaway to a newly discovered ecotourism hotspot up Northern East of Luzon. The Dingalan Lighthouse, located in the Municipality of Dingalan, Aurora Province, one of the blooming tourist destination for local travelers. It’s kind of similar to Batanes, a paradise in the Northern most of the Philippines. Without having any idea about the place (although few friends have posted pictures about it), it certainly felt like seeing myself bonding with nature is the next weekend agenda.
And so we did. At 12:00mn we went on a 6 hours drive straight to our destination. Had no stop over and almost went lost on the road. But if you take a look at the window and the incredible sights while the sky is starting to turn vibrant blue, the view was definitely stunning. It excites the senses and relieves the stress despite the long-haul, tiring road trip.
Dropped by the town proper with an inviting lush green mountains of the surrounding area, covered with clouds and the sunrise can never be seen. It slowly started pouring rain soon after we arrive and take our breakfast. That moment, I thought my escape was already ruined, not knowing weekend thrill is about to unfold.
Dingalan Feeder Port
It’s 8am and still no sign of a good weather. After taking our breakfast, we proceeded to the port of Dingalan and took a boat ride and reached the other side of the coast where the lighthouse is situated. On that boat alone, we made friends with some strangers, happen to be fellow frequent travelers as well. Seems like everything was getting fine and the clouds are starting to dissolve in the fresh open field with blue sky and rainbow forming up.
The coast was a bit rocky and the wind was cold when we reached our first stop. We take the changing weather for granted and took photographs of the inviting ambiance of the Dingalan vibe.
Hiking the Dingalan Lighthouse
Sumptuous lunch was served and we’re getting ready for the hike. No one was ever prepared. Muddy slopes and slippery trail dragged us almost every time to the ground making the traverse intensely difficult and challenging. But we laughed our way out of that path and make it through the top of the hill where the famous lighthouse, lies. Unfortunately, the peak was nowhere isolated. A great number of tourists were on queue almost everywhere, destroying the view of the green sceneries. The scorching hot sun started to hide from darker clouds. And then I’m pissed.
It took us almost I don’t know how long to finally climb up to the beacon. And damn! The scene was indeed almost exactly like what you’ve dreamed of Batanes. It was no doubt deserves the title “Batanes of the East”. The cliffs and the hills, the breeze and the sea, the sky and the not-so-friendly clouds, felt like it was all connected and my sense of wonderment is at its absolute fullest. Descending, this time, was not as hard as how we trek.
Rest for a bit and we’re ready to jump off to our next stop, the falls and caves. But before we took off, the coastguards came in to close the lighthouse’s gates and restrict tourists from hiking. The reason was unclear. I guess it’s mainly because of the rudeness of one another during the day hike (remember the queue). Just glad we made it through that morning.
Abungan Falls and Lamao Caves
To hop our way to the next destination, the same boat ride (the not-so-safe one, yes) took us to another lonely coast of in Dingalan. The breeze was heavy and the waves are angry yet we made to pass by it. It was raining hard back then when we landed.
Upon touching the ground, a 40-50 feet tall waterfalls known as Abungan Falls, enclosed between cliffs adjacent to the turquoise blue ocean, and the Lamao caves, formed due to raging waves for centuries, welcomed our worried thoughts. That very spot that I’m standing at, looking at the nature’s majestic creation, left me in awe. Jaw-droppingly stunning. Hands down. Couldn’t think of excuses not to go back to this place in summer. A photogenic, instagrammable, travel goals escape like this? No wonder hardcore explorers loved everything about it.
Well, considering the rare, untouched beauty of Dingalan has been attracting tourist from all over Luzon, that certain boom made a sudden rise over the local’s source of income, basically, apart from fishing. There are huts and rooms previously owned by the land natives, transformed into mini house for rent. They’ll also be the one to cook the fresh sea-to-table buffet lunch for guests to share, commonly known as “Boodle Fight”. With banana leaves on the table, freshly cooked white rice topped with seafood and stuffed grilled and fried fish, partnered with anchovies and salted egg, a variety of fruits, and hot “Sinigang” (pork sour soup), we’ve definitely enjoyed our remaining time in the beach.
A bond between strangers was formed and genuine generosity that everyone demonstrated, the whole experience was priceless. You won’t usually get that in the office. Sometimes, you just have to sneak out and try them adventures.
So here’s how we get there:
Actually, we joined an arranged tour. Inclusive of roundtrip van transfer, buffet lunch, boat and hut fee, and driver/host fees. It’s so convenient it will left you nothing to worry about. If you happen to have more time to explore the province of Aurora, Baler is a good choice. Score it on most of Philippine travel agencies on Facebook or perhaps join the country’s well known Facebook travel group, DIY Travel Philippines. Ask questions on how to get there and the members would be more happy to help you. Trust me!
Here’s to my next travels. Cheers!