If you are from Pangasinan, I'm sure you've been to Tondaligan at least once in your life. In one of your visits to the park or the videoke sheds along the shores of Bonuan Blue Beach, you probably bought mangoes or boiled peanuts from an old woman with a faint smile and mellow voice. It could be out of compassion or maybe you just couldn't resist how the green mango made your mouth water.
Her name is Nana Violy (Violeta Landingin Cornel). According to her, she's been a vendor in Tondaligan for more than 40 years. Long enough to send her children and grandchildren to school. Long enough to remember that Tondaligan has changed name numerous times before. It has been named National Children's Park, Ferdinand Marcos Park, Tondaligan Park, and Bonuan Blue Beach People's Park. We shared the same sentiment that the names Tondaligan Park (to describe the park) and Tondaligan Beach (to describe the beach) are misnomers. Tondaligan Park is redundant as tondaligan in Pangasinan means a place to rest or a place of recreation - meaning, a park. And to describe or name the beach as Tondaligan Beach is absurd as literally it would mean a park beach. History is clear that the beach’s name is Bonuan Blue Beach. But somehow the names Tondaligan Park and Tondaligan Beach stuck the way most of us Pangasinenses have accepted Panggalatok (which I vehemently detest) as the same as Pangasinan.
I observed that her basket of goods was still full even if it’s already late in the afternoon. She lamented that sales have waned through the years and the Tondaligan she knew has changed. She didn’t ask me to buy her stuff. With enthusiasm she smiled and said: “Tomorrow’s another day, sales will be better!” Before parting, I asked her if I could take a picture of her to which she reluctantly agreed. She said a lot of photographers have taken a snapshot of her with the promise of her picture reaching overseas and different magazines. All she wanted is that they give her a copy of her picture when they see her again but years have passed and none have returned. I said, I will not only show her photo to many people but share her story as well. She smiled profusely and said goodbye.