The 7 Rivers of Dagupan
A travel journal that will give you a pleasant view of people, places, food, culture, history and events from a refreshing perspective
FROM a land of “just a marshland covered with mangroves and nipa palm trees” in 1583, Dagupan blossomed into the regional market center that it is today because of its rivers. It is in the riverbanks of Dagupan where the communities arose and developed and where the betel or bangus in the vernacular, acclaimed as the world’s tastiest milkfish, flourished into a multi-million industry today.
The seven rivers of Dagupan City are so important that it is represented by seven waves in the city’s official seal. The 7 rivers are: Calmay, Pantal, Dawel, Tanap, Mangueragday, Patogcawen and Bayaoas. Calmay River extends from Lucao, Tapuac, Poblacion Oeste, Carael, Calmay, Lomboy, Salapingao and Pugaro Suit. Pantal River which is connected to the Sinocalan river spans the barangays Pantal, Barangay 1, Barangay II and III, Pogo Chico, Pogo Grande, Lasip Grande, Malued, Bacayao Sur and Lasip Chico. Dawel River is along Dawel area where Silverios restaurant is located and where the defunct Dawel River Cruise once operated. Patogcawen is in Tambac. Bayaoas River runs through Mamalingling, Bolosan, Mangin and Salisay. Tanap River is in Bonuan Gueset and Mangueragday is in Bonuan Binloc.
I was able to locate the rivers by going to the bridges. Almost all of the bridges are named after the river that runs through it. My trip led me to the Victorio Edades Dedication marker (unveiled on the centennial birthday anniversary of the national artist in 1995) near the bridge that connects Bolosan and Mangin and to the old heritage house (built in 1880) of Don Pedro de Venecia, one of the top Katipunan leaders of Dagupan, near the Bayaoas river.
To fully appreciate Dagupan’s rivers, I tried the Dagupan City Island Tours. There are three catamarans for the cruise. The Philippines boat is designed like the Filipino Bahay Kubo; the China boat, a Chinese pagoda; and the USA boat, an American steam boat. Aboard the Philippines boat, our cruise started at the dock near the Star Plaza Hotel. Along the way, you can see the Pantal signage and the docked fishing boats. At the left side are the Magsaysay Fish Market and the boat terminal for the ferry going to the island barangays. As the Pantal river joins the Calmay river, the cruise will pass through the majestic Pantal bridge that connects the De Venecia Extension road. At its foot is the Franklin bridge ruins that used to span across the Calmay river until it was destroyed by a big flood in 1935. As you go further the clean river, you could see the four island barangays Calmay, Lomboy, Salapingao, and Pugaro; all with big signages to identify them. The highlight of the tour is a stopover at the sand bar of Pugaro just across Bonuan Sabangan, where the river meets the sea. We were able to see managsigay (fishermen) catching bulasi with their nets along the shore.
The Dagupan City Island Tours operate daily but I advice a morning to noon trip as waters in the afternoon are rough. Also, bring your own food as there are no provisions yet for a restaurant onboard. The cruise which lasts about an hour can be availed by reserving at the City Tourism Office. Rental fee is Php 500 for two hours for a maximum of 20-25 persons per boat. With this, I could say it’s really more fun in Dagupan!
Simon Francis Blaise R. Vistro