In the Philippines, almost every place is named after a folklore, a tradition, or a people’s way of life. Children grow up to stories that end with “…and from then on, the place was called [insert the name of a mountain, city, forest, village].”
Bearing this in my subconscious, when I visit a place for the first time, I always ask how and why a place is named.
What’s in a name?
Lingayen, dubbed as the “heart, soul, and the face” of the Province of Pangasinan, derived its name from a local term, “lingawen” which means, “to look back.” It was said that there used to be a humongous tree in its town plaza, so big that it dwarfed all other trees. Locals and visitors could not help but look back as they pass by the tree. The way of looking back to the tree became a landmark for most people asking routes to and from the province. When asked which way to go, they’d say “through lingawen” (or where you look back [to see the tree]).
Indeed, names can impact the way a person lives, or in this case, how a place comes to our senses.
Lingayen, while only one among Pangasinan’s 48 cities and municipalities, stands out to be the home to its provincial government. It boasts of a palace-like capitol, a governor’s home similar to the residence of presidents and royal families, and a public beach that is clean and well-kept by the government itself.
Last February, one of our partners invited me to represent our organization in a municipal meeting. My role in our organization has its own ups and downs but one of the things I love most is meeting our partners in the countryside. It warms my heart when they are so proud of their local community, eager to show visitors around their version of our pretty country.
We arrived in Lingayen a night before my scheduled meeting. Our friend from the Provincial Health Office of Pangasinan, Al Kienz, did not waste a second in giving us a few things to taste and see (and later, look back on).
When in one of the Philippines’ provinces, never underestimate a local food joint (carinderia). Especially those that locals frequent. Remember that Filipinos love to cook and eat, in general. So if they choose to go outside their own houses and eat some place else – that place must serve really good food.
When in Lingayen, make sure to stop by it’s best nipa hut grillery–Gibb’s. Most, if not all locals know about this place so it would be easy to find.
Cities and municipalites who preserve their beautiful old structures are commendable. Here, the Provincial Capitol building illuminates its surroundings.
Locals of Lingayen, and the entire Pangasinan are proud to say that their former governor, now-Congressman Amado Espino, Jr. was the one who took great strides in beautifying the capitol building from the inside out.
If possible, try to go up the rooftop of the Capitol to breathe in the fresh air around the building, although the view could be breathtaking.
Urduja, The Governor’s House
I found it really cool that Pangasinan has a government-owned mansion which houses the sitting governor. It resembles the idea of Malacanang Palace for Philippine presidents. The guards let us in despite it already past 8pm which proves why it is fun to explore a town with locals.
This public beach has benches and tables perfect for picnics and afternoon strolls. However, evening strolls could be made better if there were more lampposts; Christmas lights won’t hurt, too.
Myra and I rose up early the next day to catch the sunrise by the beach. Fortunately, we stayed the night at the Capitol Resort and Hotel which is just a block away from the awesome view below.
True that the huge tree that attracted attention from passersby is no longer alive. But for those in Luzon who get hyped by road trips, I’m certain this well-kept beach (no entrance fee!) could easily satisfy your sunrise/sunset chaser soul. I’m betting it would also make you look back at Lingayen.
Are you planning a trip to Pangasinan soon? Make sure to include a day or two for Lingayen in your itinerary. You may stay at the Capitol Resort, or you may also explore other accommodation options via Booking.com.
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