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Beyond the churches and the beaches of Pangasinan
Source: Manila Bulletin
Date: 2011-04-11
MANIlA, Philippines -- Like grains of salt in the palm of your hand, the surprising wonders of nature in the province of Pangasinan are truly immeasurable.

The province was named after its leading product which is salt or asin in Filipino. Just like its famous product, the number of discoveries waiting for tourists in the province is spread out in more than just one municipality.

There are many ways to describe Pangasinan. For its famous landmarks, others describe the province as “the land of romance and miracles”. There are also those who describe it based on its etymological definition which is “the place where salt is made”.

Most Filipinos are familiar with Pangasinan because of the Hundred Islands. And who hasn’t been to Manoag for a religious visit? But now, the province is mapping out new activities and tourist destinations to entice tourists to discover its other wonders.

Recently, the province celebrated the Pista’y Dayat festival which showcased the culture and other destinations in Pangasinan.

“We have float parades which showed the different themes and culture of the province’s towns. Also during the celebration, we held beach concerts as well as water activities. The celebration ushers in the season of summer when our beaches will be filled with people,” said Malou Elduayan, Head of the Tourism Office of the province of Pangasinan.

Pista’y Dayat literally means sea festival and with the province’s fine beaches, Pangasinan has a good reason to welcome the summer season.

“We have wonderful beaches that range from white to brown soft sands. Most of them have shallow depths which are perfect for swimming. There are also resorts within the province that offer great water activities. But our public beaches which are very accessible are already good enough for most of our guests who just want to have a good time and enjoy a refreshing dip,” added Elduayan.

But aside from the beaches and the other familiar destinations within the province, Pangasinan is also trying out new things with the help of local municipalities.

“Our local government units or LGUs are being strengthened and are being given the chance to identify and showcase their own attractions. Aside from that, we are also setting up tourist assistance centers and we are improving our local tour guides through seminars. Aside from the Hundred Islands, we are really not that well-known as a tourist destination and we want to change that; our province has really a lot more to offer,” shared Elduayan.

She added, “Now we are trying to educate the municipalities that even without the traditional tourist attractions, they can still create something interesting which can attract tourists. There are things such as the historical and cultural side of the province which have their own market of tourists and we have that here. The prov¬ince is definitely rich when it comes to history and culture.”

From waterfalls, enchanting caves and historical sites, Pangasinan indeed is just waiting to be discovered by both local and foreign tourists.

“Right now we have some foreigners coming in and touring our province most notably Koreans. There are also balikbayans who come to the province in big groups wanting to explore more of our province. Aside from Alaminos, they also go to Bolinao as well as the capital of the province which is Lingayen,” relayed Elduayan.

Pangasinan is also looking at the agricultural side to help boost local tourism. According to Edluayan, they are trying to integrate agriculture into their tourism sites. She explained: “It’s something like rural-tourism where guests can experience the local side as well as the coastal towns which have scenic places. We are also developing other components such as the fishing culture and the mango growing sites. We are planning to capitalize on these things and promote them as a unique experiential tourist destination.”

“We have 48 towns and each of them has its own unique culture and beautiful scenery. The number of old churches alone in the province is enough to have a pilgrimage tour. The CBCP has even endorsed us for the Visita Iglesia because of the history that comes with it. Pangasinan is really a diverse province. Here, tourists can explore and discover new places and do a lot of new and interesting things.”

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