We go out of our comfort zones not to escape life but rather, to enrich it with experiences. Experiences that keeps us grounded and shatters the thin ice that separates us from reality and the routinary defaults of the adult world. This time, we headed to Dingalan, the neighboring and a quaint municipality in Aurora that is hidden behind the mountain Ranges of the Sierra Madre, adjacent to Quezon province.
At the southernmost part of the Aurora province, lies Dingalan. It offers rugged shorelines and rustic features that are far from touristy and was given the moniker “The Batanes of the East” for its mountains and coasts that resembles that of in Basco. Our group assembled in Cubao by 11pm and with a rented van, we took the 5 hour ride going to the feeder port of Dingalan. By 4:30am, we arrived earlier than expected so we dozed off for a while until our boatman arrived and off we go by 5:30am.
Just in time for the sunrise, the mountain ranges were a welcoming sight. The play of colors of the morning sky were in full riot. It took around 15 minutes on still ocean waters until the glorious sunrise came into being, glad the Pacific woke up on the right side of the bed.
We arrived at the Lamao Caves by 6:00am and there were a lot of them peeking through the rugged cliffs of the mountain passes. The rock formations around are carved beautifuly by the swells.
It is said that this caves are interconnected with each other not until strong typhoons caused rockslides and eroded cave interiors that blocked cave passages.
After the affair with the turquoise waters of the Dingalan Coastline, we proceeded to the so called White Beach Resort.
Another 10 minutes passed and we docked at the shore of the lighthouse jump-off. Contrary to the name of the place, the shore is made up of gray-sand and tiny corals. We were then welcomed by the owner of the cottages.
Another fun thing about this place are the roaming pot-bellied pigs in the area, they were named Beki and Bok-Bok. By 8:00am we started the trek after having our breakfasts. The trail is relatively short and straightforward, it only took us 15 minutes to reach the very top of the hill where the Parola/lighthouse is located.
From the top of the lighthouse, the meandering mountain ridges were in full view, while contrasted by the Pacific Ocean on both sides, something a photographer couldn’t resist. A visual treat and refreshingly breathtaking.
The Batanes of the East tag truly lives up to its name, but it is not right to compare such a place to this since every destination opens up to new experiences and is different from each other. Uniquely, Dingalan, will always be Dingalan and that is how it should stay.
At the recent light of events, most people who stands atop the beacon is increasingly becoming a trend, just to catch a good glimpse of the view and a quick photo snap. Sometimes we often forget to remind ourselves of our safety , the risk of falling down a five storey lighthouse is neglected and as well as the preservation of the structure and its components may it be natural or artificial. Always pay due respect to our surroundings, we had our fair share of lesson from it and hoping that this won’t be happening again for the next visitors atop the Parola.
We then got back at the feeder port by lunch time and headed to the town proper to have a taste of some local cuisines. Surely, there are many carinderias to choose from. After lunch we had a sidetrip at the Tanawan View Deck and immediately proceeded to our next destination tucked away in the sleepy town of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija.
P.S. No Solar Panels were harmed during our visit.
P.P.S. Big thanks to Ms. Amie Valencia for reintroducing us to Dingalan, Aurora.
Next in the Niche: Rediscovering N.E. – Minalungao National Park
Budget and Itinerary
Dingalan, Aurora + Minalungao National Park Day Trip
2300 – Meet-up at Farmers Plaza, Cubao
0000 – Van bound to Dingalan, Aurora
0430 – Arrival at Dingalan Feeder Port.
0530 – Take Boat to Lamao Caves
0600 – Arrival at Lamao Caves
0630 – Depart for Nanay’s Cottages
0800 – Start trek going to lighthouse
0820 – Arrival at lighthouse
1000 – Back at Cottages, rest
1100 – Take boat back to Feeder Port
1130 – Arrival at Feeder Port
1200 – Dingalan Town Proper, Lunch
1220 – Depart for General Tinio, Nueva Ecija
1230 – Tanawan View Deck
1445 – Arrival at Minalungao National Park
1730 – Depart for Manila
2100 – ETA on Manila
Safe Budget: 1500php/pax – 2000php/pax
● One can reach Dingalan by taking Cabanatuan bound buses in Cubao, Pasay, and Avenida (Five Star, Genesis, Baliwag Transit, ES Transport), Fare is less than 200php/pax and takes 2-3 hours depending on the time of the day
● From Cabanatuan, you have 2 (two) options:
– Take Dingalan bound Vans, fare costs 120php/pax and takes 1-2 hours to reach the town proper. First trip is at 7am
– Take Umiray bound buses that passes through Dingalan Town Proper, fare costs 80php-100php and takes around 2-3hours. First trip is at 6am
● Upon arrival at Dingalan Town Proper, take tricycles going to the Feeder Port, takes 15-20 minutes, fare costs 20php-50php depending on your haggling skills
● You can stay at any of the resorts around the area then visit the lighthouse the other day, or rent a boat going to the Lighthouse, boat rental costs 800php/2 way good for 15pax, includes a sidetrip to the Lamao Caves if the weather permits
● One can trek from the port/resort going to the lighthouse, but it will take much of your time
●There are a number of waterfalls hidden inside the mountains of Dingalan which has no names until now, most of them can be reached in less than an hour by foot
● Last trip from Dingalan to Cabanatuan is until 5pm
●Practice LNT principles, respect local ordinances
Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding the azing world we are living in.
– Andrew Zimmern
Go, Carve That Niche,