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Dingalan, Aurora (The Batanes of the East)


 
I'm not a huge fan of Aurora province and if you're  into white sand beaches this province isn't a place for you. I'm more into powdery white sand littoral sites in a seclusive setting, but then why on earth I'm writing this article now?  So how did this place turned the table that I'm now writing an article for It? Obviously, my wrong impression bit the dust.

Half a year ago when I witnessed the charm of Batanes Islands, I still have the after taste of its sweet memories, my experience was just surreal that I still couldn't get over it. Far from the nearness of Batanes you probably heard the so called Batanes Of The East, Dingalan in Aurora province. Dingalan is a third class municipality and a subtle town lies in the southern portion of Aurora province which is a prominent surfing nook across the island of Luzon, I realized this province isn't just limited to surfing/extreme activities but also has an eliciting surprise just waiting to be unveiled. The town of Dingalan lays a pile of great jewels concealed from the travelers eyes and that is what I'm going to feature in this article. Dingalan is climbing its way to becoming one of the traveler's choice due to its proximity and less intricate itinerary, just take a bus heading to Cabanatuan and ride a van from Cabanatuan to Dingalan and you'll reach the town, making an itinerary to Dingalan is absolutely no rocket science.
 


We left Manila at 2am via FiveStar bus heading to Cabanatuan, I suggest 12mn-2am is the best time to leave Manila to get there earliest possible specially if you had your reservation in white beach, note that the coast guard no longer permits a boat transfer from the jumpoff town to the white beach beyond 6pm. In our case, we had a Chinese friend (a foreigner) who left Manila at 12nn and reached Dingalan at 7pm, apparently he missed the last trip going to the island so he had no choice but to walk from the town going to the white beach (yes, it's connected) to meet us and it was not an easy trek. 

We visited five famous landmarks in Dingalan: The mountain view, The lighthouse, White Beach, Lamao Cave and Tanawan Falls. 


The Mountain View

This I think is the most well-known destination in Dingalan, this captured the interest of the tourists through its identical features to Batanes. I believe this is the major reason why people are raving with curiosity to see this place. You'll need to hike 20-30mins depending on your pacing, we visited in a rainy season so the trail was a bit slippery and the trek was difficult to manage.

 



 
The light house

Another breath taking site in the island but somehow similar to the mountain view although the trail to the lighthouse is an opposing path. The trail going up was scenic ocean view and we took photos most of the time so we didn't really feel the rigorous trail (slightly backbreaking). Unfortunately, due to the unmindful behaviors of previous travelers they restricted to open it to the public, we weren't allowed to enter the lighthouse, it's now covered with fence and locked up.



 
Lamao Caves

From the White Beach it will take you 20 minutes going the caves, these caves lies on the coastal stretched of Paltic. Here we discovered hidden tidal pool covered by huge rock forms, it's 7-8feet deep.




 
The White Beach

This is the starting point of all the above mentioned places, if you're planning to go to the places I discussed above white beach is the perfect place to set your accommodation to, though the shelters are a bit rustic still it's the convenience we're after. They call it white beach but ironically the sand isn't even close to being a white sand beach.

 

 
Tanawan Falls

This is the last venue of our Dingalan getaway. From the Feder Port just hire a tricycle heading to Tanawan Falls registration area (50 per passenger), from the registration area you'll need to hike 20-30mins going to the falls (20php for registration). This falls reminds me of Majayjay Falls in Laguna, not to its structure but because of its water temperature, the water was ice cold that I can hardly dip my entire body.

 



 
How to get there?

-      There are several buses you can choose going to Cabanatuan, we took FiveStar bus from Pasay, fare is 196Php

-      From Cabanatuan you may take another bus ride or van heading to Dingalan, fare is 100Php for van transfer.

-       Alight at the Dingalan public market to buy your supplies.

-        Hire a tricycle to the Feder Port, 20Php per passenger.

-        If you reserved your accommodation at the White Beach you will have two options to get there. First (advisable) ride a boat going there and the second option is to trek (45m-1hr). If you’re conscious on your budget you may take the option number two but if you’re in a big group option number one is still the best, 800php if you’ll rent the boat by yourself and 100php each passenger for 10pax.


Good to know:

-        Leave Manila earliest possible, preferably 12mn to 2am.

-        Total travel duration is 5-6hrs (public transport).


-       Buy your supplies at the market and complete your essentials before heading to the white beach.

-       Last Trip from Feder Port is 5pm
 

-       Wear appropriate attire and gear when you go to the mountain view/Lighthouse, the trail can be difficult during the rainy season.


Breakdownn of Expenses:
- 196Php X 2- Bus heading to Cabanatuan
- 100Php X 2- Van going to Dingalan
- 20Php (per head)- going to the feder port
- 100Php (per head)- boat transfer to White Beach
-  200Php (per head, group of 3) Food and supplies
- 1200Php (for the entire group) 5 tourist spots including the guide fee, overnight.
 
- 2500 (3pax)- accommodation.
 
- 300Php (for group of 3)- tricycle going to Tanawan falls
1,912Php per head for group of 3
If there’s one thing I didn’t like in my entire stay in Dingalan it was the accommodation, I didn’t have high expectation at all but the price of our shelter was a bit overpriced, it was 3000Php we haggled till they agreed for 2500, it’s pretty decent but not worthy for its price, they should at least provided new linens, unlimited water supply, there are two water containers but when we exhausted everything we had to go out and use a public restroom, even the lightbulb in our rest room was not working (yes walang ilaw yung cr). There’s no issue paying 2500Php as long as it’s synchronized to what we’re getting but it is not, you may be wondering why we accepted it in the first place? Because we hosted a Chinese friend, a first time traveler in the Philippines, that's the best accommodation they have and somehow we wanted him to leave a good impression of the place. If you’re a traveler you know what I’m saying, 2500Php is already a fancy accommodation (sometimes breakfast included).  
On the lighter note I still want to commend the locals of Dingalan, our issue with the accommodation is nothing compare to their hospitality and warm generosity, all the town locals I talked to were very nice and friendly, I also want to  recommend our guide Kuya Edgar Tipontipon, he's just referred to us since our tour guide that I contacted back in Manila was not available. Dingalan was unexpectedly captivating, this is something want I to keep hidden from travelers eyes but this deserves to be noticed.  I will surely recommend this place to everyone.  




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