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Pangasinan - Hundred Islands And A Hundred Flavors

The province of Pangasinan is frequented for its beautiful beaches. The summer is always a festive season for Pangasinenses when the beaches – such as those that lie in one portion of Lingayen Gulf adjacent to the Provincial Capitol – and other such destinations come alive as color-filled festivals are mounted and an array of fruit-bearing trees are at their peak. Foremost of the attractions are the “Hundred Islands,” a long-popular group of islands and islets, looking like giant turtles, scattered off the coast of Lucap in Alaminos. Now develop, they lie ensconced in the 1,844-hectare nature and recreational park called the Hundred Islands National Park.

But it is Pangasinan’s delectable cuisines that bring out the true flavor of the land's origins. Etymologically, the term Pangasinan means “the place where salt is made," owing to the rich and fine salt beds that were the prime source of livelihood in the province's coastal towns. Today, salt is still being produced in abundance, creating not a few fortunes for some enterprising families, although much of its use is for industry. Another name for the region, but not as widely known, was Caboloan. In the native language, the word Bolo refers to a species of bamboo that was abundant in the interior areas, and favored in the practice of weaving light baskets and winnowing plates called bilao. Historians believe that both names may have been used at the same time.

A local product that has become synonymous with Pangasinan is bagoong, or fermented fish sauce. Salt, of course, is its prime ingredient. Mud-colored and with a strong smell, bagoong has captured the national palate. Native cuisine, mostly Ilocano in origin, owes its authenticity to the lowly bagoong. Taking from the spare and starkly humble lifestyle of the Pangasinense, with his dependence on the sea and rivers and the land, bagoong lends itself well to the local diet. Mixed with plain, fresh vegetables – like okra, squash, and eggplant – in an invigorating broth or as a dip for grilled catfish or Bonuan bangus (milkfish), bagoong has become a familiar sight at the dinner table of most households.

Due to its coastal towns, Pangasinan also has an abundance of bangus. The bountiful harvest of milkfish is celebrated through the Bangus Festival, a merry feast highlighted by the “longest grill” competition, street dancing, and “101 ways of cooking bangus.”

In the 2000 census, Pangasinan including its 3 cities had a population of 2,434,086. The 2000 population count by the National Statistics Office showed a 2.41% increase in the population of Pangasinan from the 1995 records. Dagupan City's population reached 130,328, San Carlos City had a population of 154,264 while Urdaneta City had 111,582. The capital town of Lingayen had a population of 88,891.

Pangasinan's area of 5,368.82 square kilometers occupies the northern portion of the Central Plains of Luzon with an east-west configuration that extends into a peninsular form jutting into the China Sea. Its boundaries are Lingayen Gulf, La Union and Benguet on the north, Nueva Vizcaya on the northeast, Nueva Ecija on the east, Tarlac on the south, and Zambales and China Sea on the west.

Language / Dialect
English and Filipino are widely spoken and the basic tools of instruction in schools. Pangasinense is spoken in the central part of the province while Ilocano is spoken mostly by the people in the western and eastern towns. Bolinao has a dialect of its own.
Political Subdivision
Pangasinan has 45 municipalities and 3 cities which are in turn sub-divided into 1,355 barangays. The municipalities are: Agno, Alcala, Aguilar, Alaminos, Anda, Asingan, Balungao, Bani, Basista, Bautista, Bayambang, Binalonan, Binmaley, Bolinao, Bugallon, Burgos, Calasiao, Dasol, Infanta, Labrador, Laoac, Lingayen, Mabini, Malasiqui, Manaoag, Mangaldan, Mangatarem, Mapandan, Natividad, Pozorrubio, Rosales, San Fabian, San Jacinto, San Manuel, San Quintin, Sta. Barbara, Sta. Maria, San Nicolas, Sto. Tomas, Sison, Sual, Tayug, Umingan, Urbiztondo and Villasis. The cities are Dagupan, San Carlos, and Urdaneta.

The province experiences two pronounced seasons: dry from November to April and wet during the rest of the year. Maximum rainfall is observed in August. Average monthly temperature is 27.91°C with the highest occuring in May and the lowest in January.
Major Industries
Agriculture-based industries remain to be the source of income of many. Prominent industries are bagoong making, handicrafts and gifts, toys and houseware making.