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Pugaro and Sarag Mi: An Offbeat Pangasinan combo

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Pangasinan, a coastal province, is primarily known for the Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos, Dagupan’s Bangus Festival, and Bolinao’s sandy beaches. However, the province, whose name means “place of salt”, has more to offer.

Pugaro Island, Pristine and Panoramic

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

8 years ago, Dagupan’s city government, led then by Mayor Belen Fernandez, initiated the development of Pugaro, an island barangay, as a tourst destination. The unspoiled beaches of the Pangasinan island do not only offer pristine waters, but also Lingayen Gulf’s panoramic view.

Named a “secret spot” in Dagupan City by the travel website www.pinoyadventurista.com, there are two ways to get here. The easier way is to take a boat trip from the Dagupan port specifically Poblacion Oeste. Another way is to around a longer route near Pangasinan State University, Binmaley Campus and cross a small bridge.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

Pugaro is vital to Dagupan City maintaining its title as the ‘Milkfish Capital of the Philippines’ for it is one of the primary resources of the aforementioned marine product. It also served as a shooting location to some movies in 1956, such as ‘No Place to Hide’ and ‘Higit sa Korona.’

Other marine life available at this side of the Lingayen Gulf are “sapsap” (slipmouth fish), “espada” (beltfish), “alupihang dagat” (mantis shrimp) and pompano.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

The sound of the waves as well as the fresh air will relax one’s spirit, making this a good beach to chill and unwind. Most of the resorts here have overnight options, where you can either pitch a tent by the beach or sleep in a nipa hut. Apart from long walks at the beach, you can also feed some of the milkfish fingerlings if you happen to see some. If you get tired and it’s already sunset, go ahead and enjoy the breathtaking view,

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

A good spot here is the Bueracay Beach Cafe, located in Sitio Buer, which served as one of the venues of the Galila Arts Festival, one of the highlights of the Department of Tourism Region 1’s project. The ‘Philippine Experience: Culture, Heritage and Arts Caravan Travel Exchange’ is a project which intends to exhibit the region’s creative community and at the same time, showcase Pangasinan’s innovation. This venture was organized in partnership with the Office of Cong. Christopher de Venecia, who authored the Creative Industries Bill, enacted as RA 11904.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

The “instagrammable” Bueracay features comfort food like tacos, burger, and fries, as well as Pinoy staples like tocino and bihon. Some activities for tourists include day swimming and boat rides. Of course, beer and other alcoholic berages are available for those of age. You may also reserve a boodle fight meal for a group.

Who would have thought that this hip and charming food destination once started as just a simple nipa hut with a videoke rental option? Owned by the couple Jing and Teodorico Ramos who’re part of the fisheries and aquaculture industry, the cafe opened on April 12, 2021. 

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

Their predominantly orange and yellow signages feature witty quips, like one saying, “Outing…minsan sa dagat,. minsan sa gc (group chat)”. A souvenir you can opt to buy if you’ve enjoyed your stay in Bueracay is a tie dye shirt.

The Pugaro virgin beach is indeed aproving to be a viable option for relaxation aside from the popular beaches of Tondaligan and San Fabian.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

Sarag Mi at the MacArthur House

An all-female art collective based in Dagupan City, Pangasinan, Sarag Mi’s name is derived from a Pangasinan phrase meaning “we can”, promoting women empowerment. 

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

As part of the Galila Arts Festival and in celebration of Women’s Month, they mounted the exhibit named ‘Panangidayew Ed Kinen Bae Nong’ (Praise for Auntie Nong) at the MacArthur House located in West Central Central Elementary School. It opened to the public last March 11 and closed last March 19.

The exhibit was a tribute to the late gallerist and patron of the arts Norma Liongoren, who was touted the “midwife of art” by her peers, and known in the region as “Bae Nong”. It featured 30 Pangasinan artists and aimed to honor her works and impact.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

Sarag Mi was founded by Aileen Dela Cruz, who’s also one of the participating artists, showed Bae Nong in an acrylic on canvas painting, titled ‘One of a Kind’ framed by weavelike earth-toned patterns.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

All of the artworks displayed are for sale and 25% to 100% of the funds generated from each artwork will go to the cancer treatment of Alfredo Liongoren, Bae Nong’s husband. 

Some of the paintings which got sold were Alpha Woman by Angelika Panlilio and Paraluman by Mona Vince.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

Other participating artists are Abby Novelle Ugaban, Ann Theresa Bolos, Carissa Mai Siapno, Catherine Perez, Ginie Biagtan, Janine Vargas, Jean Delos Reyes, Jelly Jimenez, Jess Racraquin, Maria Judalyn Ynzon, Kara Crisologo, Kate Cayabyab, Kathrina Ragadi, Kim Golea, Leidy Evangelista, Liz Rafanan Magno, Lyantra Kryzelle Pasion, Nicole Vale, Pa Nim Dim, Paulyn Albino, Preciosa Paz Quinio, Rachel Anne Lacaba, Shaila Conde, Vanjie Tia, and Vern Pascual.

The Department of Education as well as the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence (MADE) were Sarag Mi’s partners in mounting the exhibit. The MacArthur House was called such because it is the Home Economics (HE Building) he utilized as a command post in 1945 for three months. It formally opened on Sept. 8, 2021 after restoration and has been host to a variety of events. The pergola of the old HE building was retained and there was faithful adherence to the original architectural blueprint.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

One of the tourist attraction inside the house proper is his white freestanding bathtub. Visitors are also curious about his dresser and china cabinet. 100 square meters is the floor area and GI sheets make up the roofing.

The entire structure is predominantly wooden, and the topmost windows are adorned with stained glass in a variety of hues. The three-sided pillar below the front terrace has marker that reads: “Luzon Landing. On this site. The West Central Elementary School Home Economic Building, Dagupan City, was used by General Douglas MacArthur as his official headquarters after his landing in Lingayen Beach on 9 January 1945 to liberate the Island of Luzon, thus fulfilling his promise to the Filipino people ‘I Shall Return.'”

Randy Valiente/Facebook

The MacArthur House has been host to some undertakings vital to the arts and culture of Pangasinan like the Anakbanwa Creative Residency Project Arts Exhibition.

*Thumbnail Photo/Cover Photo from Buzz Beat Media

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