My home for 17 years before I left for college in 1992, Palawan will always hold the deepest place in my heart. When I left, it wasn’t much of a destination but it was already on the rise. In my unsubstantiated opinion, Palawan rose to fame when its capital, Puerto Princesa, won the “The Greenest and Cleanest City” award in 1993 and repeatedly in the succeeding years to come, thanks and praises to Mayor Edward Hagedorn, whose wife spearheaded the “Tapat mo Linis mo” movement (Your area, your responsibility to clean) and this was implemented by all mayors in the province. I, personally, met Hagedorn in 1991 when I first joined colporteuring. He was such a down to earth person. This is where I should have begun, as my dear brother strongly suggested. But when I created this website, I felt I didn’t have enough photos to share. Luckily, I spotted this postcard I sent to my then boyfriend now husband. And now, let me introduce to you the land where I came from, Palawan. It is called Philippine’s Last Frontier of Flora and Fauna. It is 9 times as long as it is wide and 70% of its land area is mountain. According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), there are only 3% virgin forest left in the whole Philippine archipelago and much of this is in Palawan. This island province boasts of breathtaking sceneries and naturally beautiful resorts from Coron in the north and the World Heritage Tubbataha Reef Marine Park in the south. Virgin forest, virgin beach and all other virgins, Palawan has got them. Growing up in this island, my idea of a trip to the beach means collecting shells, eating young coconut, enjoying fresh sea breeze, and sometimes picnicking on roasted fresh-caught fish.
Hollywood Films shot in Palawan
In case you didn’t know, the movie The Beach by Leonardo Di Caprio was filmed in Palawan because of its isolated islands which is ideal for filming. Another famous film, James Bond, The World Is Not Enough also found their way to Palawan to shoot some of their scenes. I suppose it’s that bit when they were jetskiing.
The Amanpulo Resort is a luxury resort which I can never afford to visit. Local travelers have noted sightings of Hollywood stars like Robert Di Nero, Al Pacino, Tom Cruise, Mariah Carey and many more. The resort doesn’t accept too many visitors at a time as the place is meant to be a quiet and secluded island paradise where the “rich and the famous” go when they want a respite from their paparazzi-plagued life. According to those who have been there, the sand was finer than Boracay’s but I have yet to prove it. It’s just a matter of when.
A small island which I think is an atoll really or at least part of it, Arena Island, is near my town. I visited it in 1997 with my Korean friends long before it has become a private property. I actually fumed when I learned it was sold to a private owner. I really think it should remain a government property. But, nevertheless, my memory of this island is that when our boat was approaching the shore, the water was so clear we could see the corals as clearly as if we were looking at a life size aquarium. We couldn’t go swimming because the sand underneath our feet was full of shells and broken corals. Would have been good if we had a snorkel.
It’s an island town in the north of Palawan and is famous for its white beaches. I had the unexpected chance to see Coron from the top deck of my ship when I went home from Bangkok in December 2007. We stopped over for a couple of hours but unfortunately, we were not allowed to get off as we might miss the boat, no pun intended.
Calauit Safari Park
One of my dream destinations, Calauit is home to wild African animals together with local endangered species. I should not include it here yet because I haven’t been there but I thought it’s imperative that I should, to cover as much information as possible. According to an article I read a long time ago, the animals arrived from Kenya and by the decree of the then president, Ferdinand Marcos, they found a sanctuary in this island.
One place off my dream destinations list, El Nido, captivated my heart and I think I left it there. It’s so much more beautiful than in pictures. Comprised of about 50 islets, this world-famous resort is a must see. There are 4 categories of island hopping and it would take about 3 days to get around them all. We did categories A and B only and took us one day. It wasn’t enough but we didn’t have enough time and the sea became troublesome towards late afternoon. But it was a very enjoyable and unforgettable adventure. I will talk about it in a more detailed post later on.
Also known as St. Paul Subterranean Bay and recently winning sixth place in the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011, Underground River is said to be one of a kind. Another UNESCO World Heritage because of its rich biodiversity. Here is a video of what La Venta Geographical Exploration Association unearthed about the Underground River. I was lucky to have visited it in 1991 long before tourists from all over the country and beyond have heard about it. It was a lot different then. There were only a few tourists and no ripoff photographers. There was no need to book because everyone could be accommodated. And back then, the cave was still full of bats and it smelled of bats pee. But when I revisited it 20 years later in 2011, there was hardly a bat anymore. I think the non-stop lights from tour boats distracted them and they moved further inside. That’s what I’d like to think what happened and not that they have become extinct. Obviously, it doesn’t smell bats pee anymore.
Visited it in the early 90s before I found out I was night blind, Tabon Cave is a set of caves located in the western coast off southern Palawan and can only be reached by boat. It was a difficult exploration for me because we didn’t have tour guides and nobody told me to bring a torch. Another UNESCO World Heritage, Tabon Cave showed evidence of the oldest homo sapiens in Southeast Asia, according to unesco.org. There were still antic jars and tools left in the cave for tourists to see. But I don’t know if they had been removed to the museum by now.
Something for everyone
Whether you are a diver or a spelunker, an explorer or adventurer, honeymooners or holidaymakers, there is always something for you in Palawan. I have just mentioned here the places I have been to and a couple that I haven’t been to but worth mentioning. Not only is Palawan replete with sceneries, food abounds too and the people are friendly.