It’s no surprise if Pangasinan has popped out in any conversation you’ve had. With its stretches of white, sandy beaches, scenic terrains, caves, and even religious & miraculous destinations, this place is a melting pot of culture. Its name is derived from the word salt or “asin”, owning to the rich and fine salt beds that are the locals’ main source of livelihood. Being a gateway of sorts, this province is a go-to for most families. Some would head towards the Our Lady of Manaoag Church to pay tribute to Lady Manaoag’s divine powers. Adventure junkies would go island-hopping in Hundred Islands. Beach bums would sunbathe along the shores of Bolinao, a place dubbed as the Boracay of the North.
For our family and I, we wanted to go somewhere that isn’t as crowded and known. We stumbled upon Oldwoods By The Sea, and I never thought we’d instantly fall in love with this place.
Oldwoods By The Sea
Tucked in the seaside village of Dacap Norte, what was once a private family vacation getaway of the Navarro’s turned into a nature resort that harnesses the ecotourism potentials of this town. Oldwoods By The Sea is owned by retired doctor Elizabeth Navarro, and [her husband] former Mayor Marcelo Navarro.
Meeting them was great! You’ll know how much time and effort they invested in creating this seven-hectare haven. Sir Marcelo & Dra. Elizabeth are very hands-on with the place ~ Doktora focusing on the staff and mouth-watering food they prepare, while Marcelo with gardening and architectural design! Each space has its own personality – each one unique and having a story to tell.
Nakakaaliw yung mga pangalan ng mga cottages ~ Balay Bato, Timpuyog, Anahaw. Some cottages were named after the trees near them— Santol, Dayap, Oldwoods, Mangga, etc. As a matter of fact, Dra. Elizabeth shared that Balay Bato got its name because when it was being built, the deeper the workers excavated the land, the more rocks and stones they encountered.
We reserved two Deluxe rooms, each costing around P 4,000. Yñigo’s grandparents took the one on top of what we got — the one with a balcony and picturesque view of the West Philippine Sea.
5 Things to Do at Oldwoods By The Sea
What do you do in a place isolated from the rest of the world? It was refreshing to have had no access to internet, television and social media during our stay. It gave us a breather! Not knowing what’s up with the outside world can be quite scary, and unsettling for kids who are used to TV or iPad exposure. Nonetheless, it gave all of us more mindfulness in finding activities that would help us reconnect with one another.
1. Spend REAL unplugged time with the kid/s.
Bobby & I are busybodies. Sometimes, it felt like we were doing more work rather than being hands-on with Yñigo. We turned our phones off and spent time bonding with the baby over books and toys we brought. We’d spend the mornings roaming the place – appreciating the numerous flowers, herbs and trees around us, and observing little critters (which Yñigo was fond of). At times, we’d go to the swimming pool to take a dip, or we’d stay on our balcony to enjoy the view of the endless sea amidst us. Overall, this trip refocused us and gave us a better appreciation of our roles as parents.
2. Take a walk around their beautiful, thriving garden.
All of the cottages here were built without damaging what was already here. So much win for a place that is grounded by the goals of ecotourism!
We love their appreciation of nature.
Oldwoods by The Sea is seven hectares of pure bliss. Nature lovers will enjoy the resort’s waterfall, nearby mangrove forest, and sanctuaries for fish and birds. During our stay, we saw different species of plants, flowers, bugs, frogs, fish, birds, and anything else you can imagine seeing in a rainforest. It makes me wonder if Bobby and I could ever own such a place. Imagine, you have a house in a mountain, overlooking the sea, and so much life around you. We couldn’t ask for more. Sir Marcelo would tell us the story behind each plant or give us tips on how to grow them. He’s not much of a talker but he has this great interest in gardening and preserving nature. He will be more than willingly to school you on how you can take part in saving this planet of ours, even with just eeenie weenie steps.
3. Enjoy reading books or listening to music from their open library.
After dinner, during the evenings, we’d all go to their lobby area which is like their open library. Here, they have books dating back to the 70s that you can leisurely read over a cup of coffee. Yñigo would entertain himself by running around, writing on scratch paper, or counting the number of shells he could find on the tables. Also, they have a DVD collection where you can rent out some movies during your stay (free of charge of course). You can also meet new friends here! Strike a conversation with other guests, or invite them for a round of drinks.
4. Trek to the secluded beach!
Three things to keep in mind when you go to Old Wood by the Sea’s nearby beach:
Bring ribbons or little things you can use to mark your path.
It’s not a 10-15 minute walk.
So Bobby & I woke up late on the day we decided to go to the beach.During breakfast, my parents & Yñigo sat down, tired, but happy. Apparently, Yñigo trekked with my parents going to the beach early in the morning. They asked our nanny to carry him down the path. After they shared their morning adventure, everyone headed back to the rooms & rested. Bobby prepared our things for the beach. I was so excited. Finally, we get some couple time in this secluded beach they were all raving about.
lets go to the beach
We found the path to the beach and started going down the stairs. But at some point, the steps vanished. There was a vague path of dirt that we presumed would lead us to this so-called beach paradise. It took us a good 10 mins to get down, but we reached an opening and heard the sound of the waves as they gently kiss the shore. The scene was just breathtaking, like those scenes from the movie but without the cheesy orchestra playing in the background. We spent a good amount of time, around 2-3 hours, on that beach just taking in the sun, the fresh air and the sand.
We made our way back to the inn. For some reason [we can’t quite understand], we got lost on the way back. I don’t know if we took a wrong turn, which was quite impossible because the path was pretty straight-forward, or if an “engkanto” was playing with us but it literally took us 45 mins to get back. Picture this, a couple, who haven’t had time together, taking a walk in the woods.
Picture this, a couple, who haven’t had time together, taking a walk in the woods.A pleasant scene right? NOPE! I was panicking around 15 mins into the walk back. Bobby was lugging a beach bag full of snacks. The humidity, the mosquitoes, the sweat and the stress of the thought of being lost got to both of us. Thankfully, we found our way back, exhausted and hungry just in time for lunch.
5. Start catching up with the people you’re with.
Yñigo would start running after his Papa Jojo who stole his milk bottle… or we find ourselves in some areas in Oldwoods By The Sea where we could just catch up and talk about life. I remember our second night there. We had just finished dinner around 8:30 pm. We headed to our rooms to lay down, and rest from a day’s adventure. Yñigo had fallen asleep so I started reading a book.
In the middle of it all, I felt like the words were running across the pages. I thought it was just my brain fucking with me. When I looked up the ceiling, the lights, the wood, the decor started moving. Next thing we knew, the bed was shaking really hard. Yup, we were in the middle of a 5.6 magnitude earthquake. I was holding Yñigo close to me, and Bobby was trying to keep us calm by giving us safety protocols. After 30 seconds, which felt like an hour, it stopped.
My dad started knocking on the door. He peeked into the room, and asked us, “O ano, ayos nun no?” then I rushed to him in the designated smoking area and lighted a cig.
We found ourselves talking about the earthquake. Shakened and traumatized, I hear my Dad say:
Tama naman siya, at least walang nasaktan at magkakasama kami. From there, we shifted to politics and the war on drugs. A few minutes after, we were talking about future plans for my boys & I (ex. business, career, schooling and all that adulting stuff). Dad was giving me so much life advice. We were outside for a good hour and a half. Eventually, Mom & Bobby joined in. Another thirty minutes passed, then we went back to our rooms and dozed off. It was this supposedly normal conversation where I felt reconnected again with everyone.
Being here brings out a similar feeling we experienced being in Luljetta’s — a trip we actually took months after this one. Use a few days before the trip to get used to the walking. You’ll be doing lots of it when you get here. Another tip is to bring snacks with you (especially if your kids are hungry 24/7) because the nearest grocery store / tindahan is a few kilometers away. Also, don’t forget to bring lots of toys – bring board games, cards or painting equipment if you must. In fact, this would be the perfect to start on a hobby you’ve been wanting to find time for.
If you’re a workaholic, finish your work before going on this trip because you’re not going to get as much signal. Plus, there’s no WiFi. Leave your officemates or clients a notice to contact you after a few days. Trust me on this, it was hard trying to do work in a place where the nearest signal spot was 7 kilometers away. Not sure if the cell tower was broken, or if malas lang talaga ako sa signal during the trip.
Overall, Oldwoods By The Sea brings you closer to your loved ones by detaching you from the rest of the world [with nature’s hand at play]. It satisfies your need for peace and serenity in a fast-paced life. So if you’re planning to go on a getaway, take a trip to this secret haven!