Last January, our family went on a short trip to Dagupan. It was a business trip for Ezra and my mom (for their Milkfish Project), but my dad and I were free so we decided to tag along.
The drive to Dagupan takes about 5 to 6 hours, depending on traffic. On our way there, we stopped by Our Lady of Manaoag. My parents love visiting churches around the Philippines, so whenever they have a trip to Dagupan they make it a point to stop here. We didn’t stay long since there was a wedding going on at the time. We prayed for a while and lit some candles before continuing our drive to Dagupan.
Replica of Our Lady of Manaoag in the candle gallery
We arrived at NIFTDC at around 4pm. Doc Westly was kind enough to let us stay at the new Asian Fisheries Academy dormitory.
After dropping off our luggage at our room, we visited Doc Westly in his office to thank him for accommodating us. My mom also grabbed the chance to schedule a meeting with him and his staff.
We had to leave after this because Ezra and my mom had to meet with another collaborator at a restaurant called Jacobo’s
Such a beautiful place. It reminds me a lot of Kilika Island from Final Fantasy 10.
My dad and I walked around and took pictures while Ezra and my mom had their meeting
Rare shot of Ezra being so hardworking 😄
My mom didn’t have to work the next day so we decided to drive up to Baguio for some sightseeing. The last time we were there together as a family was back in 2008.
My grandfather was a member of the Lions, so we stopped by the Lions Monument to take some pictures
We also made a quick stop at the Kenon Road Viewing Pavillion.
After this, we went to the Lourdes Grotto to pray and light more candles
We saw this adorable pup there 😀
We also dropped by Bell Church, a popular Taoist Temple in Baguio.
The last two times we were here, we were able to get our fortunes told by a monk. Both times gave me accurate results, so I was hoping to do it again this year. Unfortunately the main temple was closed when we got there. However, we were free to explore premises and take pictures.
We were getting hungry after this so we decided to head to Camp John Hay to have lunch.
Since we were already in the area, my mom requested that we stop by The Manor. It has always been a dream of hers to stay at this hotel, but unfortunately we’ve never had the chance. Perhaps in the future we’ll find a reason to stay here, but for now she was happy just to see what it looked like inside. She and my dad headed straight to the counter to inquire about their room rates.
The staff was giving out free tea to their guests and offered some to Ezra and me. I forgot what flavor it was, but it was citrusy and very refreshing.
After my parents were done, we walked around the hotel grounds.
We found these rocking chairs in the garden. They were super comfy.
They’re called S.I.L.Y.A. Rocking Chairs
I would have been happy to just spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing on those chairs, but it was getting late and we had other places to see.
No Baguio trip is complete without a visit to the Mansion and Good Shepherd, so we headed for those places after we left The Manor.
My parents bought lots of ube and strawberry jam at Good Shepherd while I bought some choco flakes as pasalubong for my friends
Ezra found this rainbow tree near the parking lot
Check out that colorful trunk
It was getting dark after this so we said goodbye to Baguio and made our way back down to Dagupan.
The next day, Ezra and my mom had their meeting with Doc Westly and his staff. My dad normally participates during these meetings, but he decided to sit this one out because he wanted to show me around the compound.
NIFTDC stands for National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center. It’s a government agency that deals with the development and sustainability of local fisheries and aquatic resources. My mom has been collaborating with them for many years now, so she visits the place a lot. I’ve only been there twice before, and they’ve renovated since my last visit so my dad wanted to show me the new facilities.
My dad loves visiting this place because Doc Westly always gives him lots of ornamental fish for his aquariums at home.
My dad picking out the fish he wants
We went to see the Westly Solar Salt facility, established by Doc Westly himself.
We also dropped by this oyster farm
My dad took me to see the Rotifer tanks.
I had no idea what a rotifer was prior to this, but apparently they are little microorganisms that they grow here to feed the milkfish larvae.
Harvesting the rotifer. You can’t really see them with the naked eye though.
This is what they look like under the microscope
And this is a giant model of them.
Next to the rotifer tanks are these huge pens where they keep the milkfish broodstock. We were fortunate enough to drop by during their feeding time so I got to see some of them – they were huge!
Perhaps the most interesting part of my tour was this Fish Cemetery.
When Ezra first told me about this place last year, I thought she was kidding. I had flashbacks of the book Pet Sematary by Stephen King. But this place is actually pretty cool. It’s where they bury big marine animals such as whales, dolphins and sea turtles. This place aims to give respect to the endangered fish species in our country, and hopefully make people realize that they should do their part to protect them.
There were even headstones for the animals buried there.
Some of the headstones have names.
This one says Moby Dick. If I’m not mistaken, s/he was the first one buried here
Here lies Roxanne
There was also a pavillion which contained the skeleton of a dolphin, as well as several newspaper clippings about the Fish Cemetery. Doc Westly told us that people, especially the media, take special interest in this place every year during All Saints Day.
After the Fish Cemetery, my dad took me to The Aquarium to look at some live fish
Another big fish!
We also checked out the small Aquatic Garden they had outside which showcased some aquatic plants.
My mom’s meeting was still not finished by the time we were done with our little tour, so my dad and I went back to our dormitory to rest while waiting for them. After about an hour, they called to tell us that their meeting was over. We picked them up and Doc Westly took us to his patis and bagoong facility.
Lots of plastic drums where they ferment the bagoong and patis
I never knew that you could make patis and bagoong together, but I learned that patis is actually a byproduct of bagoong fermentation. The patis is the clear part on top, and the bagoong can be found at the bottom.
Stirring the mixture to ensure that the salt is evenly distributed
After this we headed back to the NIFTDC compound where Doc Westly and his staff prepared lunch for us
This is a picture of Ezra looking so happy after she managed to trick me into thinking that a rabbit fish had long ears like a rabbit. Pfft. I’m a Physicist okay! I know nothing about fish species!
Obligatory group photo after our delicious meal
We spent some time napping in the shade after this. When we got our energy back, Doc Westly took us to a nearby fishing village where they make dried fish
Look at all that dried fish!
My mom bought a large bag to take back home with us.
We ended this day (and our trip) with a yummy dinner with Doc Westly at this lovely restaurant called Dagupena. Early the next morning, we made our way back home to Laguna.
I’m really glad I got to go on this trip with my family. It was a short weekend getaway, but I really learned a lot, especially about what my family does. They all work in the same field and often have projects together. Sometimes I get jealous since they take these business trips together and leave me at home alone. It’s nice that I was able to join them this time and take a peek into their world 🙂