Pagadian City, the capital of Zamboanga del Sur is situated at the crossroads to Iligan City, Zamboanga Sibugay and Ozamis City. Being a local of a nearby province, I never considered Pagadian City as a popular and exciting tourist destination. I thought that Pagadian is just another boring commercial capital and never did I imagine that I will be celebrating my birthday in Pagadian. I used to consider this city as a lazy stop over for lunch. But the city surprised me in so many ways which made my big day extra special. With a little less than 12 hours to go around the city, I made sure that I get to enjoy the best that the city has to offer. Here are the five things I loved the most in Pagadian City.
The iconic tricycle of Pagadian City
The noble tricycle is one of the most popular mode of public transportation in the Philippines especially in provinces. Tricycles in Pagadian City are different from what you normally see in other provinces because the inclined carriage on a 25-40 degree angle in order to be suited for the elevated terrains of the city. I never thought that tricycle rides would be that fun and thrilling. Riding it was comparable to a roller coaster’s ups and downs on the roads of the city. I felt like a kid while riding the peculiar tricycle and I just wanted to ride some more! The tricycle can fit six passengers and my favorite seat is at the back of the carriage because I can feel the wind on my face as the tricycles goes down the slopes.
Going around the city on an empty stomach would definitely ruin your day. Our first stop was at the very popular Pidro’s lechon. Charcoal roasted chicken lined up on the grill in the display area lured us into the restaurant. We did not hesitate to enter their newly renovated dining area which is very spacious and could accommodate hundreds of diners. I asked the waitress for their menu and found out that have only roasted chicken, rice and nothing else on the menu! A whole chicken costs 190.00 and believe me, it will be the best roasted chicken you’ll ever try! Juicy and well marinated on the inside, the meat is cooked to perfection. The skin is brown and full of flavor after being roasted in charcoal! At 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning, Pidro’s was already starting to get crowded with families who came from church. Pidro’s lechon is the best way to start your adventure in Pagadian!
Isla Puting Balas
Sandbars are trending right now and each province in the country seems to have a popular sandbar. Most sandbars are not very accessible and hard to go to, but Isla Puting Balas is an exception. How to get there? Ride a tricycle from the city proper and tell your driver to drop you off at Santiago Port. Ask the locals around the area for boats that you can rent going to the sandbar. Isla Putting Balas is not yet a very popular destination so make sure to ask if your boat man knows its exact location. (Note: Isla Putting Balas is different from Dao-Dao Dako and Dao-Dao Gamay). We rented a boat which can accommodate six to eight persons. Looking for the sandbar during high tide made it bit difficult. After 40 minutes, we saw cerulean waters amidst the deep blue sea. Submerged under a feet of water, we felt underwhelmed with the sand bar at first. I later realized that for the first time in my life, I was swimming in the middle of the sea without any fear of drowning! The experience was awesome and we really felt the serenity of the place, after all, it was only us and our boatman. I would definitely go back to the sand bar next time and I’ll make sure that the tide is low.
Labangan is a nearby municipality from Pagadian City. We took a twenty peso bus ride and asked the driver to drop us near Pulacan Falls. Locals who took the same bus as we did were very friendly to give us directions, I can feel that they were excited for us. After 20 minutes and a very steep ascent, the bus stopped nearby a military camp. As we alighted from the bus, we can hear the sound of water gushing from the falls which is just a few steps down the road. It was peaceful and quiet in Pulacan Falls. Trees, bushes and a worn out cemented lane paved the way to the waterfalls. We arrived at the middle tier of the three tiered waterfall. We had the waterfall for ourselves and there was no trace of commercialism. It was a very beautiful waterfall with water gushing from different directions. Trees surrounding the waterfalls provided shade to the basin where one can sit on the boulders and just marvel at its beauty. Too bad I was not able to bring extra clothes, the water was very inviting!
If my research will serve me right, chicken binakol is a famous Ilonggo recipe. It is similar to native chicken tinola made with a twist by adding fresh young coconut meat and coconut water into the recipe. I read from another blog that Kamayan sa Pagadian serves very good chicken binakol. After our whole day of exploring Pagadian, we decided to try the chicken binakol. The presentation in a buko shell was a bit fancy but the cost is not very pricey. Tangy and a little bit sweet, the broth was very delicious with a tone of lemongrass blended with the fresh coconut water. Our meal at Kamayan sa Pagadian wrapped our adventure in the very unique way with their chicken binakol.
We had very little time to spend in Pagadian and had to skip lunch to get to the waterfalls before sunset. Passing by some sari sari store on our way, we were left with two choices: chips that are not enough to fill us or instant noodles that needs hot water. Good thing that Rod of JustGoPilipinas was able to bring packs of 555 tuna rice. No need to add hot water, the packaging was easy to tear. Not only that it gave us an instant solution to our hunger, it tastes really good too! The unique stand up packaging made it a lot easier for us to eat even if we were in the middle of the waterfall. Confused of which of the three flavors to choose, we decided to try all three flavors (sisig, afritada, and adobo). Each easy to open pack costs only 27.50 pesos each. I’ll never go on the road without my 555 tuna rice again! It’s very convenient and you can have it #KaEatSaan and #KaEatKailan!