History and Culture
Renzelle Ann Palma | Apr 18, 2013
Now that summer is upon us, footloose travelers need not look down south for a compleat hideaway that is ideal forthe family or the barkada and more importantly, friendly on the budget. For just a few winks north of the big city, Zambales offers a zestful mixture of culture, adventure and nature, and sought-after beaches which span for over a hundred miles.
Constantly named as among the country’s leading destinations, here is a list of must-try and must-do as you do the Zamba for a sizzling summer.
Be a culture vulture. As one of the first provinces established by the Spaniards, Zambales is dotted with heritage churches and ancestral homes, attesting to its rich culture.
You can hop around the postcard-pretty Spanish-era churches such as Botolan, Iba, Sta. Cruz and Masinloc. The latter, made up of coral stones, has been declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum and is undergoing a facelift to restore it to its colonial glory.
Swing by the Pres. Ramon Magsaysay House in Castillejos which preserves the memorabilia of the late great president. For a glimpse of the genteel lifestyle of the local gentry, make rounds and take snapshots of the old houses built in the classic “bahay na bato” design in Iba, Sta. Cruz and Masinloc.
For a dose of classical music, chill out at Casa San Miguel, the art community of renowned violinist Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata, right in the heart of San Antonio’s mango plantations. Treat yourself to free concerts and exhibits at the annual Pundaquit Festival which runs for the whole of summer.
Meanwhile, for a dash of indigenous culture, immerse yourself with the Aeta communities which abound in Zambales and sway to their tantalizing tribal music and their own brand of spirituality.
Be an adrenaline junkie. Ride the waves at the famed San Narciso surfing spot or skimboard in Iba’s seven-kilometer beachfront, dubbed as Luzon’s “beach capital”. These waters are friendly to newbies in surfing and skimboarding, and soon enough you’ll find yourself hooked to the sport.
Indulge in kayaking, a new watersport recently introduced in Candelaria. Guests can quietly paddle at Uacon Cove and cross Potipot Island or at Uacon lake and admire the contour of the Zambales Ranges. The more agile paddlers can kayak on both bodies of water through a tranquil river channel.
In addition to its beguiling beaches, Zambales has an equally lush underwater world ideal for snorkeling and diving. One of these is the Taklobo Farm in San Salvador Island in Masinloc where one can get enraptured by its comely coral gardens.
Moreover, outdoor lovers can scale the 2,037-meter high Mount Tapulao in Palauig which takes climbers through various ecosystems on the way to the top.
Go nature tripping. For the more orthodox tourists, enjoying nature is to lazing around, catching up on a pocketbook or simply whiling away time while gazing at the horizon. With its coastline facing the West Philippine Sea, virtually all of Zambales offers a front seat to a dazzling dusk.
Another spot for nature tripping is at the placid Uacon Lake, constantly adjudged as the Cleanest and Greenest Lake in Central Luzon.
Island hopping is a must in San Antonio which will take you to the islands of Capones and Camara, and the campers’ haven in Anawangin Cove. In Sta. Cruz town, the sister islands of Hermana Mayor and Hermana Menor beckons with their powdery sand and crystalline waters. These isles are so idyllic and the wind condition ideal for sailing that the regatta of the Philippine Hobie Challenge has sailed here several times.
Savor the sweet life. There is nothing better than enjoying the sweet life in Zambales and sinking your teeth in its “dinamulag” mangoes, reputedly among the sweetest varieties in the world.
And there is no better time for this feast of the senses than in the forthcoming 13th Mango Festival which unreels from March 19-24. The festivity features colorful a float parade, street dance tilt, entertainment shows, beach fun, special events and culinary activities highlighting the versatility of the local mango.
In addition, there will also be the 15th National Mango Congress, the annual confab of mango growers, which will tackle vital issues on the global competitiveness of the national fruit.
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