Fun, Fizz, and Friendship Under Bolinao's Spell



It was as if all the stars in the universe converged and the most awaited, long overdue get together of the year was finally in place. Everyone in our group was swamped with work throughout the year, so this quick escapade was no less than well-deserved. Our destination? Off to the Sundowner Vacation Villas in Bolinao, Pangasinan.

The land trip took about eight hours (including our quick stops for breakfast and lunch) via the NLEX-SCTEX-TPLEX route. Travel time could have been shorter, but we did not want to rush. After all, vacation starts as soon as we left Manila and we wanted to enjoy every single detail of it--meals together included.

At TPLEX Uradaneta exit, we turned left and continued on, passing through Dagupan, Lingayen, Sual, Alaminos, and finally, Bolinao. While the trip was butt-numbing, the views and the panoramic villa itself at the Sundowner made it all worthwhile. It was already dark when we arrived there but the pool and the bar were still aglow with charm. We had dinner, warmed up our vocal chords with the videoke (which we rented for our entire stay), and capped the night with a few shots of vodka and whiskey. One last shot and the next thing we knew, it was already day two.

The infinity pool
The bar, morning after
The Panoramic Villa was one of the newest addition to the roster of chic Santorini-inspired accommodations at the Sundowner. The resort is owned by a Filipina married to a French guy (who, by the way, is very hands-on in managing and maintaining the property). It has three floors: the first houses all the three bedrooms, which all have a toilet and bath and a flatscreen TV--each room can fit around four people with its double beds and extra mattresses; the second floor that has the spacious living room with daybeds and coffee tables, the kitchen complete with an oven, a microwave, a rice cooker, two two-burner stoves, and the veranda where the alfresco dining area and the bar are; and lastly, the rooftop with an unhampered view of the sea and the nearby Santiago Island, which also has a double-sized bed, a hammock, and another set of coffee tables and stools perfect for cocktails and drinks.

All the three bedrooms are identical, except for one which also has a bunk bed aside from the double bed
The toilet and bath features a bamboo shower--a unique Filipino touch it is!
The daybeds at the living room which can accommodate three persons
The kitchen
The alfresco dining
The famous Instagramable hammock

The bed at the rooftop
Where the broken hearts go. Kidding!
The view from the rooftop
We all woke up late on day two as we were all trying to cherish that more-than-eight-hours-of-sleep moment, which, we were all deprived of through the entire year. Yes, we were all workaholics (well kinda, hehe). What better way to start the day but with a hearty breakfast of sinangag, longganisang Cabanatuan, sunny side up eggs, tuyo, and coffee to boot while enjoying the unimpeded view from the second floor veranda,
View from the second floor. You can actually dive from here.
The nearby port as seen from the veranda
The rooftop is love
The pool on the other side of the property
After breakfast, we took a dip at the postcard-perfect infinity pool, ordered some drinks from the bar, and lounged at the cozy chaise longues and outdoor beds. That carefree moment was priceless.

The pool
Reflections
Poolside lounge

It might have been fun to drink here!
Ang mga huwarang empleyado ng taon.


We took advantage of the fully-equipped kitchen and had all our meals prepared there. At lunch, we indulged in grilled liempo, bangus, salted eggs, tomatoes, bagoong, and green mango. Best meal ever.

Grilled liempo
Bangus

Bagoong, green mango, and tomatoes
Booooze!


We were told that the popular Patar Beach was just 15 kilometers away, so after lunch, we all hopped inside the van and off we went there. It was almost a 20-minute ride, passing through concrete streets with no rough roads. At an intersection  was the Bolinao Lighthouse, another famous tourist spot in the province.

Bolinao Lighthouse
Patar Beach is an average stretch of sand off the western coast of Bolinao, facing the controversial West Philippine Sea. The cream sand was powdery fine unlike other beaches in Pangasinan such as in San Fabian and Dagupan. Cottages and native huts are available for rent, both for day tours and overnight. There are eateries (paluto-style) and sari-sari stores where you can conveniently buy snacks and booze. 

Cottages by the beach
With my best boss ever.
Ang mga ulirang empleyado ng taon, part two
On the far end is a popular resort called Treasures of Bolinao
What  like most about Patar Beach is the spectacular view of the sunset. Since it is located on the westernmost side of Bolinao, there were no island, no mountains to obstruct the dramatic view of the fiery sun slowly disappearing in the horizon. A stunner!

Bolinao sunset
As the sun set and our stay in Bolinao came to an end, we couldn't thank God enough for bringing us together; for making all the pieces of the puzzle fit; for another year of friendship. Here's to many more fun, memorable years together in the future! Cheers!

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