One of the joys in traveling back to the Philippines is the opportunity to reconnect with my relatives. When it comes to my Tito Danilo, you can always expect a food feast. I recall when I was younger, my uncles would also plan a trip to different parts of Northern Luzon to destinations that were well off the beaten path. This time, we ventured to the Port of Dingalan in the north-eastern region of Philippines in the province of Aurora. It’s a five hour drive from Manila, six if you count the time we spent buying fresh fish at the local fish market.
Arriving in Dingalan was the easy part. Getting to my uncle’s resort property was a bit of a trek along a 7km dirt road before we arrived to a coconut tree filled plot which opened up to the Pacific Ocean. It might sound glamourous but the thought of a five-star hotel resort is far from what was there. This part of Dingalan remains undeveloped with very few commercial resorts, hence the dirt road. Nevertheless, I knew we were in paradise, or at least pretty close.
I love food. I love food even more when it’s grilled over charcoal. On the menu for today was freshly grilled fish and pork, fern salad with kalamansi, red chili and Magic Sarap seasoning and finally, a healthy serving of mango-tomato-bagoong (shrimp paste) ensalada. There was no need for plates or utensils as we ate off banana leaves and ate “kamayan style” (with our hands). A truly Pinoy experience! To wash all that down, we had our finest selection of fresh coconut juice and meat which was taken from the trees on the resort. Pretty tasty, pretty convenient too!
After a hearty lunch and short power nap (food coma), we finally made our way down to the black fine sandy beach in front of the property to dip our feet into the Pacific. Looking along the coast line was an endless stretch of black sand with literally nobody except local fishermen over a kilometre away. The only thing you could hear were the waves crashing along the beach. Again, it was paradise.
Four hours in paradise under the hot Philippine sun, my uncles, cousins and I were done. With the second round of naps complete under the shade of overhanging fruit trees (I say fruit trees because we didn’t know what was growing on them), we decided to call it a day and head back home. However, the trip was not complete without stopping at the fish market for pasalubong for the relatives that couldn’t make the day trip to Dingalan. I’ll give you one guess what we had for breakfast the following morning?