Both of my parents are natives of Pangasinan — my mother is hailed from Panakol while my father is from Calasiao. That’s why I and my siblings grew up wanting to explore the wonders of the province.
Our favorite place to unwind is the Villabalinmanok in Dasol. We’ve been there three times already and it’s because of its calm, crystal clear waters, and sugar-like sand. The untouched forest behind is also worthy of your time.
On the way to that serene place is Labrador, a seaside town where most locals depend on the blessings provided by the ocean. One main road of it is filled with stalls of freshly-caught seafood. I used to see boats arriving from the sea, unloading fishes with some were still jumping.
This Labrador stall is heaven, especially for seafood lovers.
I love oysters. So, when I stumbled to a stall selling a bucket, I immediately went and asked. Surprisingly, a bucket is only worth less than P100. I didn’t bother to huggle, I just took my money and gave it to the seller. Later, it turned out that the price given to me can still go down.
While walking around the area, my eyes widened. It’s the first time I see shrimps bigger than my hand. I took a photo and showed it to my family. They, as well, were amazed. Unfortunately, the shrimps were expensive — the two pieces are already worth P310. I didn’t buy them.
I always go to the wet market so I know the color of crabs being sold in the urban areas. The ones being sold in Labrador are bright blue, almost luminous, which, according to locals, is an indication that they are fresh. We bought 3 kilos.
My sister bought 2 kilos of medium-sized shrimps. They look and smell fresh.
Again, while strolling around, my attention was captured by this weird-looking horned fish. I nudged my brother to show it to him that prompted him to blurt “anong isda yan?” I joked that it’s Lady Gaga fish.
The horned fish with hard and not-so-scaly skin is called sinungay in the Philippines. It came from the local term “sungay” means horn. After a Google search, I found out that the local name is not far from the English counterpart — it’s called unicornfish. Well, after cooking it, I can say that the price is worthy (almost P700 for a whole fish). It’s like milkfish but tastier and meatier.
Popular fishes such as milkfish, grouper, tuna are also offered. The sellers claimed that their prices are way lower than those in the cities. I can’t disagree more.
Some stalls also offer seaweeds, bagoong, vegetables and many more.
We went back to our van with smiles on our faces knowing that we closed the greatest seafood deal of our lives. Me, personally, my soul is jumping out of happiness knowing I have a bucket of my favorite delicacy. When we arrived at Villabalinmanok, the staff and crew welcomed us. They even volunteered to clean and cook our seafood for us. Later, we had a feast. All of the plates of seafood feature firm meat with slight kicks of sweetness. They are indeed fresh.
The Labrador stall is a paradise. The seafood bargain, friendly smiles of the vendors, the dogs waiting to be petted, and the ocean view are kept in my memory. I’ve been to the place twice, and I know if time permits I’ll return. This is truly a recommended place.