If we went through NLEX and Tarlac to get to Pangasinan on our way, we wanted a different route for our way back. Instead of going the same way, we decided to roadtrip a different way to Manila – the Zambales way so we could go to Bataan.

My father was hesitant to drive on Good Friday, but we set off as early as 6am so we could at least get to Botolan by noon.

Our drive along Zambales was wonderful – particularly because I’m not driving, but also because there are so many places to see and fall in love with in Zambales.

Zambales is a long stretched out province that is connected to Pangasinan on the north, Tarlac and Pampanga on the east and at the south – Bataan.

Since it’s also Good Friday, on our way down the map of Zambales, we went through a lot of places that I’ve always wanted to go because of the famous Zambales islands.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz

The first town we passed through was Santa Cruz. The border from Pangasinan to Santa Cruz is a long bridge that opened up to the sea where we saw some boats. While we went through this bridge, we found ourselves stuck in traffic. Why?

Well, because it was Good Friday, there was a procession going on and we found ourselves looking at a group of men who where all carrying crosses with crowned thorns. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to picture them and passed through the town.

The family wasn’t in a good mood then and we were scrambling for a place to stay just in case we couldn’t make it to Botolan by half day.

When we reached Candelaria, there were already a lot of resorts along the way. I knew about Candelaria before already because it was the jump off point for Potipot Island, a must see island for me in the future.

Fields in Santa Cruz

Fields in Santa Cruz

The road from Candelaria to Masinloc was long and part of it was coastal while some were rice fields. We also went by another group of men who were carrying crosses for their own penitence.

Penance at Candelaria

Penance at Candelaria

Masinloc is the jump off point for Magalawa and San Salvador Island so imagine my pain in going through the places without even getting off from the car.

In Masinloc, we also went through the Masinloc Power Plant site and although we couldn’t get down to see it, the plant was visible from the road.

River in Masinloc

River in Masinloc

Palauig was the next town and I knew it to be the jump off point for Mt. Tapulao and can also be the jump off for Magalawa Island. Like Masinloc, Palauig is a coastal area and there are a lot of wharfs and beautiful beaches, however, if you stay on the national road, it won’t feel like it because the road sits on higher grounds.

Penitence at Palauig

Penitence at Palauig

After Palauig town, Iba, the capital town of Zambales is next. In Iba, the town is more developed and the national road goes through the main town. If you’re on a roadtrip like us, you can make this stop for food and drinks. There are a lot of people here, mainly because aside from this being the main town, it is also a coastal town with a lot of beaches.

We arrived at Iba at around 10am I think and we were severely lacking time.

Iba Public Market

Iba Public Market

After stopping over at a 7/11, we bought some food and then headed off to Botolan where we were booked at a resort. Although it didn’t look like Botolan was coastal, we did find a lot of resorts along the way.

Beach in Botolan

Beach in Botolan

The resort we were booked at didn’t impress my family and we decided to look around for more, after all, the resorts at Botolan were just along the road next to each other.

Lava Remains in Botolan

Lava Remains in Botolan

We visited different resorts and beaches along Botolan and Cabangan.

We also went through San Felipe and San Narciso which were the two Zambales towns that had been destroyed by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991 that also caused my asthma.

Maculcol Bridge at San Narciso

Maculcol Bridge at San Narciso

The Maculcol bridge which once had a healthy river flowing below – or so they say – is now filled with the remains of the lava and the damages of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. Although now it looks quite like the beautiful remains of a memorable eruption, I imagine it must’ve been such a huge eruption to build a wide field now filled with white sands or remains. It was so beautiful.

Beyond the Mountains in San Narciso

Beyond the Mountains in San Narciso

Over the mountains beyond the field filled with lava remains, is Mt. Pinatubo that I still have yet to conquer.

We also stopped in some resorts in San Felipe and San Narciso. These two towns are known for their being capitals for surfing, however, when we checked the beaches, the waves were just okay, the sand was black or dark and really hot and the water was deep even just a few steps farther from the shore.

Beach at San Narciso

Beach at San Narciso

As we were going into San Marcelino it was quite clear we weren’t going to find any place in Zambales except if we go into Subic – which I predicted would be filled with people because it was – after all, Good Friday.

In San Marcelino we saw another procession – this time a group of men were hitting themselves with – I don’t know, some kind of ropes? Their faces were covered; they had some sort of crown or something and on their lower waist, hang some laced plants.

Penitence at San Narciso

Penitence at San Narciso

Their bodies was covered in blood and even in the car, I could hear the slap of the rope on their backs. From inside the car, even if the car was kind of going fast, I could see their backs bleeding and wounded and I wondered what the hell did they do to push them to do that to themselves. I mean, are they criminals? I understand – somewhere deep in my conscience that it’s a form of penitence, but if they don’t actually do good deeds everyday of their life, what’s the point?

Anyway, leave that to debate another time. We passed through Castillejos and then we stopped at Subic. It was already noon and I was really hungry. We couldn’t find any resort in Subic that still had an availability and I was already feeling sorry for my father who’s been driving since morning. We needed to find a place to stay – fast!

Subic Bay International Airport

Subic Bay International Airport

As we went through Subic, my family loved the wide and clean roads, the forestry and the cool weather because of the clean and well-kept forested environment. We also saw Subic Bay International Airport, ISST Ecocenter Campus, Subic Bay Freeport, Ocean Adventure, Tree Top and Zoobic Safari (these three only from afar) and vast forests. By 3pm, we had entered the Morong Gate and was only a few more kilometers to our reserved hotel at La Primera Playa. We stopped for awhile to rest and as respect for the 3 o’clock time.

 

Subic Bay International Airport runway

Subic Bay International Airport runway

Vast forests at Bataan

We got lost for a bit in Morong looking for our resort and missed the turn to where La Primera was located. We reached up to where Manager’s Place was located so we had to turn around to look for the right turn.

Thus, this ends our roadtrip to Bataan.

Zambales Roadtrip April 22, 2011

Roadtrip Destination – Bolinao to Bataan

Hours Traveled – 10 hours including stopovers

Main Stopovers – 2 (Iba and Subic)

Resorts visited:

Johneva Beach Resort, San Narciso
Botolan Point Beach, Botolan
Rama International Beach Resort
West Coast Beach Resort

Brenna is the sole owner of The Philippine Travelogue, an online journal of her travel adventures and experiences. Brenna is a freelance writer, online marketing and social media specialist and a blogger with a constant itch for adventure and thrill. For inquiries, suggestions and invitations please send a message.

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