Pangasinan is the third largest province in the Philippines. One common bit of knowledge about it is that it got its name from salt (asin in Filipino). But if you look at the provincial logo, it tells a different story.
They say that the logo’s shield shape draws inspiration from the story of Princess Urduja, a legendary warrior princess of Kingdom Tawalisi. Many people, including Dr. Jose Rizal, mentioned Princess Urduja in one of his writings and believed that the kingdom was real and located in the northern part of Luzon. Meanwhile, Austin Craig, an American historian, also asserted the same and stated that the kingdom is located in Pangasinan. The shield that represents the unbeatable princess is also a symbol of protection for the Pangasinenses (locals of Pangasinan). Pangasinan also has an Urduja House, which is equivalent to the Malacañang Palace; this serves as the official residence of the governor and is located near the capitol building.
THE CAPITOL BUILDING
The capitol building, also found in the logo, is located in the heart and capital of Pangasinan, Lingayen. It resembles the national museum, which is not a coincidence because both structures have the same architect. The current architecture of the building is the same as its original look in the 19th century. It was only renovated after being damaged during World War II. The spacious, bright, and cozy interior of the capitol building earned an acknowledgment as the most beautiful capitol in the Philippines. It is also recognised as one of the architectural treasures of the country, the only one that is located outside the National Capital Region (NCR).
If you are visiting Pangasinan anytime soon or just planning to pass by, make sure to bring an ice chest with you so you can take home Pangasinan’s freshest catch straight from the waters. One more thing the province is famous for is bangus (milkfish). Ever wondered why Dagupan’s bangus are the best? Bangus can actually live both in fresh and salt water, and there is a place in Bonuan, Dagupan, where the salt and fresh water meet, a perfect living environment for bangus. Here’s a tip from the locals when buying bangus from the market: You can be sure that the bangus is a Dagupan variant if its tailfins are not of the same length. This is because the seaweed that the bangus loves to eat is found underneath the river. They would swim deep to catch the seaweed causing the water pressure to scratch their tails.
PANGASINAN’S AGRICULTURAL AND INDUSTRIAL RESOURCES
As most people know, Pangasinan is named as such because it is one of the largest salt producers in the country. But did you know that Pangasinan was formerly known as Caboloan? It is derived from bolo or bamboo because Pangasinan was surrounded by small bamboos. When the Malayo-Polynesians came, they introduced saltmaking as a means of livelihood to the people in the province.
Aside from salt, Pangasinan has also been recognized for its capacity to produce rice. In fact, during the time of Governor Don Manuel Maramba, he was commended by President Emilio Aguinaldo for the province’s contribution to rice production amidst the crisis in the country.
Meanwhile, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan, is known as the brick town. The municipality produces high-quality bricks using their special mixture that is prepared with the help of carabaos. According to the history of the province, the bricks used in building the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman and the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) were produced by the municipality of Sta. Barbara.
VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK
The Veterans Memorial Park is located behind the provincial capitol of Pangasinan and adjacent to Lingayen Gulf, where General Douglas McArthur and his forces landed to fulfill his famous promise, “I shall return.” It was built exactly 50 years after Pangasinan declared its freedom from the Japanese troops. The memorial park was enshrined to honor the men and women whose bravery contributed to the freedom of the province.
Here, visitors can look at the actual planes and tanks used by the Japanese army in World War II. Two of the tanks are anti-aircraft tanks, which are believed to be among the seven such tanks in the world that are still existing today.
The park also exhibits photos during the landing of General McArthur and his forces, the encounter between the American and Japanese forces, the casualties of the war, as well as the inauguration of the provincial capitol and its original look in 1919.
BELLA’S CALASIAO PUTO
Aside from bangus, you cannot leave Pangasinan without taking puto (rice cake) Calasiao with you. Bella’s Puto (rice cake) is one of the oldest producers and sellers of the delicacy in the province. The store is named after the eldest child of Rudy and Leonora Dela Cruz, who started making puto in the 1970s. Before venturing into this kind of business, Tatay (father) Rudy used to only sell bitso-bitso (fried rice coated with muscovado sugar) until he met his wife and had children. During that time, Tatay Rudy realized that the income was not enough to sustain his growing family, so they started making puto. From the simple dream of being able to afford quality education for their children, Tatay Rudy shares how grateful he is to receive more than that through their business.
Bella’s produces 6,000 pieces of puto everyday which they distribute to four branches within the province—two in Calasiao, one in Bayambang Lingayen, and one in San Carlos. What makes Bella’s puto distinct is the kind of rice grain they use. According to Tatay Rudy, they carefully assess the rice grains before accepting them from the supplier for processing. He also emphasized that they deliver freshlysteamed puto everyday. Whenever there are leftovers for the day, they no longer sell them. Not just that, Tatay Rudy also makes sure that the water they use in making puto is safe because he had it checked by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). Puto Calasiao is available plain, with cheese, buko pandan, and more. Special flavors, however, are available for preorder for a minimum of three kilograms.