The city sizzles in an amazing mix of urban and rural vibe as we navigated its streets. Its locals were already out doing their usual morning routine as my habal-habal coasted through the city center. From my vantage point, I caught a glimpse of Dapulisan Bay at the end of the the famous sloping boulevard of this city. Finally, I am finally exploring the city popular for its uniquely-angled tricycles - Pagadian City!
Pagadian City blossomed, from being a stopover town for traders plying the Zamboanga Peninsula, to become the second largest city the region. The city, nestled along sloping terrains, serves as the provincial capital of Zamboanga del Sur and gateway to the region through the Pagadian Airport. The city is relatively new in the tourism front and most of its destinations are off-beat and raw. But that did not stop us from my birthday exploration in search for its unadulterated attractions.
The sound of the water cascade can already be heard from the highway. There are no signboards that direct you to Pulacan Falls. It was with the help of google maps that I figured where the jump-off point was but there were no visible trail leading to the falls. I asked one of the locals in the area who pointed to where I would find the trail to this beautiful waterfall.
Pulacan Falls is a waterfall located in Upper Pulacan, about 30-minutes away from city. Surrounded by forest cover, the lush greens hides the waterfall from full view along the highway. One needs to make a short two-minute trek through a dirt trail to get to its base where you get an amazing view of Pulacan Falls.
Water cascades in streams on a huge rock wall surface from the top, creating an image of an inverted fan. The water then flows downstream as a water source for irrigation. A small trail on the side leads up to the top of the falls.
Pulacan Falls is a real beauty to admire from its base. What makes it more appealing is its rustic feel that remains untouched despite its relatively easy access. You can enjoy the tranquility of the place while getting immersed with the sights and sound of nature. It is an unassuming beauty that managed to shy away from the eyes of most travelers.
Getting there: Take to tricycle to Pagadian City Integrated Bus Terminal and hop on a bus bound for Ozamiz. Ask the driver to drop you off at Upper Pulacan. The trip takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Landmark is the Tabak Base on the right. Ask the conductor to drop you off at the waterfalls of Upper Pulacan. From the highway, you need to take a 5-minute hike on a dirt trail down to the waterfalls.
Santo Nino Cathedral Parish Church
Pagadian City's veneration to the Santo Nino de Cebu was due to migration of Christians to the area during the early 20th century. In 1938, the first Catholic church was established to cater to the spiritual needs of the new settlers. The site of the original church was right across the Plaza Luz.
The present-day church was built in 1968. Its simple green facade blends perfectly well to the simple and laidback feel of the city. Its interiors evoke the same feel with its elegance and a simple cross as the altar's main highlight. Large windows provide natural lighting inside giving the church a more homey feel.
On one area of the church's courtyard is a small altar that honors the image of the Santo Nino. Devotees honors their patron saint by offering a candle and a short prayer.
Pagadian City Hall and Plaza Luz
At the heart of city, the Pagadian City Hall is the center of local governance. Similar to most governance halls in the Mindanao area, the city hall sits on a vast area with a park situated in front of its main building. Our national hero, Rizal, is the highlight of the park with a globe underneath its pedestal.
Right across the city hall courtyard is the sprawling Plaza Luz. It is a huge area that features an open-space park. The main activity area features a clam-shaped stage where most of the city's activities are staged. Basketball courts are located beside the main activity area which indicates a strong thrust of the local government towards sports activities.
Zamboanga del Sur Capitol Building
Pagadian City, being the provincial capital, also serves as the home of the provincial government offices. The Capitol Building sits on one of slopes of Pagadian City, overlooking Dapulisan Bay.
The sprawling compound houses most of the provincial offices of national agencies. The compound also features a small park in front of its main building.
The Rotonda Park atop Bulatoc Hill offers a panoramic view of Pagadian City and Illana Bay. From the vantage point of the Rotanda Park, one can have a picturesque view of Pajares Avenue sloping down the hills of Pagadian City towards the bay.
The park also offers horseback riding activities for its guests. It is undergoing improvements at the time aof my visit and I hope that, after these changes, the park will be able to offer its guests more activities in the future.
Pagadian Iconic Tricycle
Of course, one should not miss out a ride on Pagadian's iconic tricycles. The city's tricycles are inclined by 45 degrees for the utility vehicle to easily navigate the steep slopes of the city. The incline gives its riders a different feel.
I tried riding the tricycle both on the high end and low end, and each gave me a different feel. Riding at the front was more comfortable because of my height. But that did not stop me from trying out the back end of the tricycle.
Isla Puting Balas
Off the coast of Dapulisan Bay is a small white sand bar called Isla Puting Balas. The sandbar reveals itself only during the lowtide so right timing is necessary when you plan to visit Isla Puting Balas.
Isla Puting Balas is unspoiled and raw. It gives you that unique feel of being in the middle of the sea. The sandbar also gives its guest a nice view of Pagadian City from the sea. I was lucky to have the sandbar all for myself that afternoon - a cool birthday treat from Pagadian.
The trip to Isla Puting Balas takes about 45 minutes from the San Pedro Port. One needs to charter a boat and one needs to make sure that your boatman knows how to get to Isla Puting Balas. You can contact Kuya Rico at (0948) 4859544 to make boat arrangments to the sandbar.
Getting there: Take a tricycle to Port San Pedro where you can charter a motorized bangka to Isla Puting Balas. You can contact Kuya Rico at (0948) 4859544 for boat arrangements.
Dao Dao Islands (Daku and Gamay)
On the way back from Isla Puting Balas, I requested that we pass by the Dao Dao Islands - a popular beach destination of Pagadian locals.
Daku Gamay is the largest of the two islands located around 10 minutes from the port. Daku Gamay is actually a sandbar that emerges during low tide. Both islands were developed for tourists and locals with resort facilities. Guests can enjoy swimming and snorkeling in the waters surrounding Dao-Dao Islands.
Just before leaving for Ozamiz, I made a quick visit to the Pagadian Boulevard. The boulevard, located close to the seaport of Pagadian, is a favorite morning/afternoon spot of locals where they can do their regular exercise, relax and enjoy the view of the sea, or simply chill out and enjoy the evening breeze.
The boulevard still needs a little improvement on the business side to make it a watering hole for locals and guests. It is a great place where locals and tourists can converge to enjoy a quick morning run, a lazy afternoon sharing stories, or an evening cap off over a few bottles of beer.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
Every year I have always strived to explore a new destination during my birthday month. Pagadian was one destination that's been on my list for the past two years and I am happy that the city was my trip opener for my 2019 birthday trip dubbed as #ByahengPaDODO, short for Byaheng Pagadian-Dipolog-Ozamiz-Dapitan-Oroquieta.
Pagadian's beauty is raw and unadulterated. Most of its destinations still shy away from the eyes of the usual travelers. As I was doing my research and even during the actual trip, I always had to ask "San sa Pagadian?" to make sure that I don't get lost trying to find the spot that I am looking for. Pagadian still has a long way to go on its tourism front. There are still a lot to be explored and discovered - the small hills that rise from its flatlands, a waterfall hiding behind the trees, or the sandbar that requires an appointment to fully enjoy its beauty. What is good about having to explore these now is that you get to see and enjoy its raw beauty ahead of everybody else.
Getting There: Philippine Airline and Cebu Pacific Air offer regular flights to Pagadian City. I highly recommend Chandler Suites for overnight hotel accomodations.
Travel Notes: Here is the sample itinerary of a day trip in Pagadian City.
#ByahengPaDODO Day 1 (Pagadian City)
8.00am – Arrival at Pagadian via Cebu Pacific / Drop off bags at hotel.
9.00am – ETD to Pulacan Falls
9.30am – Pulacan Falls
11.00am – Brunch or Early Lunch (Suggested: Brew and Bake)
12.00nn – City Walking Tour (Santo Nino Cathedral Parish Church/Pagadian City Hall/ Plaza Luz /
Zamboanga del Sur Capitol Building / Rotonda Park)
3.00pm – Isla Puting Balas / Dao-Dao Island
5.30pm – Walk around Pagadian Boulevard (You can also opt to do this in the morning to catch the sunrise)
7.00pm – Dinner then back at the hotel
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.