A Souvenir Shirt with More Than a Hundred Memories

I am a traveler. It's been a teenage dream of mine that I am fulfilling just now. And though, I let a lot of time past by, I have no regrets about them because what I'm having right now are enough proofs that dreams do come true.

Looking back at the time I started travelling, I cannot help but to smile at every picture I saw on my albums. I guess it is just natural to express something like that, especially if that trip was one of a kind.

Back in 2009, my superfriends (term I call to my dear high school friends who are still with me up to now) and I decided to change our lives by taking a journey that no one from us ever thought would be that blessed.

Pack with clothes that are good for an over night stay and money that was just enough to take us to our destination and feed us, we bravely asked our parents permission to let us experience a different Holy Week at the breath-taking Hundred Island in Alaminos, Pangasinan.

Summer outing has been our yearly thing since we graduated from high school, and up to now we do this to strengthen our bond - and maybe to somehow renew our friendship. Anyway, on that summer escapade, every action was very new to use because we're not just going to some swimming pool-filled resort, we're off to a top tourist destination, with open sea and different terrain.

It was also our first time to take a trip and leave our houses on a Good Friday night. Since we are all Catholic, our families have high respect to the tradition. And since us, coming from the cream of the crop of our batch, they expect nothing but every thing good - that's why asking our parents permission to allow us to take this journey really took a lot of effort and convincing. 

Right from the very start, we knew that this trip will be a memorable one.

The travel time from Manila to Pangasinan is 5 hours. And with the help of some few researching and planning before packing our stuff, we found ourselves hailing a cab at around 11 p.m. on the night on of April 12th of that year. Our group's number was quite big to fit in a small cab - plus our stuff, so it would be impossible to fit in just one cab.

But some miracle happened on that one sacred night.

Out of goodness, a Toyota Tamaraw FX taxi was in sight. The driver told us that he is willing to take us to Jam Transit in Cubao all together as long as we pay him enough. Both parties agreed on a Php300.00 fare that night, so off we go.

All along we thought that Jam Transit's service to Pangasinan is 24/7, having an every hour trip to the province. But since it's Holy Week, they lessen their trips. It was just a blessing that by the time we got off of our hired service vehicle, the last trip to Alaminos, Pangasinan was about to leave the terminal. We learned that it was the last trip because the terminal guard told us to hop in quickly. 

Whew! Save by the bell!

The bus was half full, so we got some good seats at the back. And since, we knew that the travel time is 5 hours, we closed the curtains of the bus' windows and prepared ourselves for some good night sleep while on the road.

Excitement was kicking from time to time to us, so having even a nap was a challenge. Hehehe. It was already 12 midnight when hopped in to the bus, so we're expecting to be at Alaminos by 5 in the morning - just the right time to find a decent place to stay in Hundred Islands. :-)

But we really dunno what happened, shocking at it was, our excitement was answered so quickly! Because believe it or not, we were already in Alaminos by 3 in the morning. From 5 hour-travel time, our bus managed to reach Alaminos in just 3 hours! O.O

The bus dropped us off at the Alaminos town proper where the tricycle terminal to Lucap Wharf is located. I guess we were just so blessed to find tricycles there by that time too! And for more blessings, the two tricycles that we hired to take us to Hundred Island were kind enough to assist us in finding a decent place to stay in.

Blessed we were, we immediately found a place to stay in, but we have to wait til the clock ticks to 12 noon since the house that we're going to rent was still occupied then. The owner, though, assured us that they will reserve the place for us. ^_^

And since, we were all on our toes due to excitement, despite of lacking some sleep, the group decided to split into two by 4 o'clock. The first group stayed at Hundred Island's Tourism Office, which is a block away from the place where we were going to stay, and the second group went to the market to buy some supplies - I was one of them.

By 7 in the morning, the group got back together and had breakfast at the store in front of the Tourism Office. Lucky us, the place that we were staying in and the store that we were dining in were both owned by one person, and out of generosity of the lady owner, she prepared our breakfast out of the stuff we bought from the market. ^_^

After the sumptuous breakfast, we noticed that the clock was ticking fast, so the group just decided to explore the islands first before checking in - and, for me, all because of the excitement caused by the wonderful view of the islands. 

Out of generosity again, the lady owner assisted us through entrance fee and hiring of boat that will take us to the islands. She even helped us got some good discounts on the boat! Sweet!

By 9 in the morning, we were already enjoying the amazing view of the islands. We got some time to change our clothes too at Quezon Island, so we also got to enjoy the water! ^_^

Our boat man told us that if we want, we could stay in an island for hours, where we could rest and enjoy the sun, sand and water. (I think he just noticed that we were fresh from Manila and we barely had some sleep.) Haha! And so with that great idea, we agreed to him. 

At Marcos Island

We actually wanna stay at Marcos Island, an island that we tagged as the "Little Boracay" of this wonderful tourist spot in Pangasinan, but there weren't enough shade to cover us, so we went and find another place to stay in, luckily, we found a nice secluded islet named Century Island, a small place just enough for us..

The peacefulness of the place was just perfect for that Black Saturday morning. We got some good time there sunbathing and resting. And by 3 in the afternoon, our boat came back and pick us up.

The sun burnt our skin, but we didn't mind it all. As we got back to the main island, we saw this Halo-Halo stall, so we bought some to quench our thirst. Then our the nice lady owner welcomed us back and told us that our home for this trip is ready for occupancy. 

We took turns in cleaning ourselves, and by 6 p.m., we prepared our dinner. With one us having a household chore to perform, even Quinn, my "inaanak", we had one fantastic Black Saturday night. ^_^

The house that we rented had two rooms, but we all decided to sleep in the living room. We took all the cushions and pillows from the bedrooms and placed them on the living area facing the television. After some few minutes, the telly was the only thing answering to our snores. ^_^

The following day, Easter Sunday, as the sun glistened to our faces, each one of us woke up with a big smile and good morning greetings. This time, we prepared our own breakfast and while having breakfast, we got a chance to talked about Marcos Island and how beautiful it was. Out of nowhere, we just decided to go back there again to explore the island more.

We asked the lady owner to rent the boat that we had yesterday, and so she did. After some few minutes of travelling, we found ourselves back to the island. It was more beautiful and more inviting! The white sand felt really, really nice and the sun was just enough for a morning dip.

Our boatman told us that there's a cave/cliff up in the island where we could take a plunge into the sea. He lend us his life vests, since we told him that not all of us know how to swim.

Curious as we were, we hiked the trail up to that cave, and there, to our amazement found an astonishing and thrill-seeking view. We are into Twilight books that year, so we all thought that if we took a plunge here, we will be like Bella who jumped off the cliff at the second book of that series. Hehe.

And so, despite our parents' request to take good care of ourselves, we all dived in and enjoy this exciting dare! Hahaha! Including Quinn! It was really, really, really, fun! The distance of the diving spot to the water was roughly 21 feet, so it was really scary. We all managed with the help of our life vests, but for some reason, like in my case, I also got a souvenir wound from the rocks. Hehe. But heck, these are battle scars! I like it! Charing! Haha!

Another challenging part of this adventure was to swim 3 kilometers back to shore. Haha! Some of us just went back to the cliff by climbing up through the rope there, like Quinn and her mother Bonsai. But I, and the rest of the gang took the challenge and swam back to shore. It was really, really tiring. It literally took my breath away. But since I find it so fulfilling after reaching the shore, I went back up to the cave and jumped off again! Hahaha! The adrenaline rush was very addicting!

It was our first time to do such thing, so I knew that this stuff is as memorable to my friends as it is to me. ^_^

As I got back again to the shore, we took some jump shots before bidding goodbye to this very remarkable island. We promised to go back here and experience every thing again. ^_^ It was a very memorable place to the gang.

We reached Lucap Wharf before noontime, and decided  to buy some souvenir stuff first before heading to our house. We saw this nice shirt that we thought was just perfect to describe the trip that we had on this great place. We bought each one of us and decided to wear it on our way back to Manila. Crazy people with same shirts, we thought. ^_^

I enjoyed my holiday here at the Hundred Island.

We bid goodbye to the lady owner of the house who's been soooooooo accommodating to us. We will never forget her too for she was one of the blessing we received on this trip.....

Before heading to the terminal, we asked our service vehicle to drop us to the church first because we wanna to say thanks for this very blessed trip that we had and to celebrate Easter too. ^_^

My superfriends and I, we always have a great time when we are together, but this trip is really different, as you've read. The blessings just poured on us so nicely and very unexpectedly that we managed to enjoy a simple summer getaway. 

The scars that we had from this adventure may disappear, the design on our souvenir shirts may fade, but the friendship will surely last forever. After this trip, more travels followed. We got to enjoy Subic last year and got to see Iloilo, Bacolod and Guimaras this year. And just what we started doing since our Hundred Island trip, buying a souvenir shirt has been a part of every trip that we have.

I'm keeping my souvenir shirts that I bought with during our trips - not just to have a memory of the place that we've been to, but also to remind me of the friendship that we are sharing to one another up to this very day.

We may not have a friendship bond or bracelets, but we do have friendship shirts to remind us of our friendship - a relationship that will never tarnish.

But now, as I learned about the Electrolux Wash-athon Clothes Donation Advocacy , I'm letting one of my shirts be worn by another person who I believe needs it the most - my Hundred Islands Shirt. This shirt,a s you've read is very important to me. I know my superfriends will argue on me this when they read this, but time I know they'll understand my action, for they have a wonderful and  generous heart just like me. ^_^

One thing for sure, even though this shirt will not be a part of my collection anymore, I'll have my friends with me til my very last minute of my journey here on Earth.

Thank you, superfriends! I love you all! 
May we all be there for one another forever! 
And may we have more travels to come! Cheers to great friendship! ^_^

As to end this blog, I'd say - I love this shirt! Now, I want someone else to love it too! I support the Electrolux Wash-athon Clothes Donation Advocacy.


Rommel Vivar said...

A souvenir from friends is made more special when it has a story--and yours tells of a great bond among pals.

It's not the design, nor the price--but the memories that come with that all-important shirt--that give it a priceless tag.

Congratulations on your noble deed to donate your Hundred Islands shirt! =)

Pinoy Adventurista said...

i've never been to hundred islands... this post makes me wanna pack my bag and go to Pangasinan! great post Alex! Thanks for sharing your experience...

Nherz Jane said...

Nice story. It's hard to let go of something when it's something memorable.

Unknown said...

Good to hear you are supporting this initiative. And thanks for promoting our country in the process. :)

Ruth said...

Traveling and exploring places are always fun when in a company of good friends! Lucky that you guys met a lot of good people during the whole duration of travel. I am not really fond of buying shirts from places I had been to. But would love to receive them as pasalubong. Hehe.

Unknown said...

feels like summer all over again!

JL Santiago Aquino said...

wow. looks like fun :D the t-shirt looks cool too, I think the new owner will be happy when she/he reads the story behind it! :)

Flow Galindez said...

sobrang love ko ang hundred islands

orangemagazine.ph said...

sarap naman. nakakainggit. wish i can travel din like that. salamat sa pagshare.

Mekinudols said...

literally speaking, ang daming pinag-daanan ng shirt mo! :)

Rue said...

i like your story, i like your shirt and i like you! :)) it makes me miss my highschool friends :')