THE WEB JOURNAL OF JOHN RAY

To Puerto Princesa and Back

Posted in Family, Photography, Travel by J.R. Bumanglag on August 26, 2009

Cover

The last time we had a trip beyond the Luzon area was when I was just but a wee ten year old running around in his short shorts. So when I found out that we were going to Palawan for the weekend, I just had to bend over. But knowing that I still had a lot of responsibilities to finish, second thoughts began to boil. Instead of missing out of the fun, I took my work with me so at least the guilt could melt on the way.

Day 1

The trip lasted for about an hour and we arrived in Puerto Princesa at about 4 in the afternoon. The weather there was warm, as the setting sun was burning brighter than red. Dad’s work acquaintances were already waiting to pick us up at the airport. We proceeded to the Palawan Village Hotel to settle down and get ready for the long weekend. While we were waiting for dinner, dad and his workmates were busily planning for the schedule of activities. I nestled myself in the room for awhile, watching cable TV and setting up my camera.

Day 1a

Dinner came and we were off to Kalui, a Filipino-themed restaurant in the city. The place reminded me of a bahay kubo, albeit better built and lavishly decorated. We had to leave our shoes and sandals by the door, quite the formality I long for in today’s Filipino homes. The ambiance was warm with varnished bamboo walls and wood floors. The decorations were undoubtedly beautiful, full of Filipiniana themes and images of the life in the farmlands.

Day 1b

Day 1c

Behind it all, the food was the highlight of the night. I’m a seafood lover –which is really weird because I grew up in sea-less Baguio – and have always longed for a taste of lobster. That night, I did devour this unique crustacean and was left satisfied. Compared to the usual crab, it was easier to pick off the white succulent meat. The vinegar was special as well, having a sensation of sweetness. I also enjoyed eating our national hero Lapu-Lapu along with shrimps.

Day 1d

After dinner, we went night-seeing at the city baywalk. We rode a tricycle with a less than practical design but way cooler than most of what I’ve seen in Luzon. The nightlife here was alive and kicking, all thanks to the numerous tourists who come here. Arriving at baywalk, the place immediately reminded me of MOA’s baywalk. Unfortunately, the place is still under construction. We learned that the place used be a squatter area but was eventually burnt down in order to give way to modernization. A lot of people were there from different walks of life. There were kids and adults who were making rounds with their rented bicycles and pedicabs. Some were relaxing in the company of friends and family. After we made a round for ourselves, we went back to the hotel and slept like kings and queens.

Day 2

The next day, we woke up as early as we could. After a quick breakfast, we went off to a two hour land trip to Sabang Beach at Barangay Cabayugan, Sitio Sabang. One of the best things about Palawan’s tourism is that it is well implemented and planned. Tour guides and tour transportation are bustling in and out of the city continually circling the visitors around the island. We had a very good tour guide who was full of information about Palawan. Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan, is the largest city in the Philippines in terms of total land area. The city has 31 urban and 31 rural barangays, a total of 66 barangays. Recently, Puerto Princesa was declared a highly-urbanized city.

Day 2a

The trip to Sabang Beach brought us into the thick forests and high mountains along a winding road. We would seldom pass by farmlands and rock formations. As we were nearing the beach, a beautiful resort stood over the distance. The place was packed with a lot of tourists like us. Good thing lunch was already served as we proceeded to the huts and ate to our hearts delight. After I ate my share, I toured myself to the beach and took photos and such. I enjoyed the serene seascape and mountain range, the quietness of the moment was more than welcome to a busy life.

Day 2b

Day 2c

Day 2d

After lunch, we went to the nearby port and road a banca. The trip to the underground river lasted about thirty minutes. The scenery reminded me of the movie King Kong, with all the rock formations, blue-green waters and unending jungles. I was trying to be very extra careful with my camera, covering it with my vest because the waters were not very friendly. We landed on another beach, the final step towards the heritage site. We could already smell the stench of the river as we were wearing our safety helmets and vests. One boat accommodated eight people with the front passenger in charge of the spot light. The entrance of the underground cave was already a sight to behold with natural rock formations greeting her visitors. Our tour guide estimated that the round trip into the 8.2 kilometer river would take 45 minutes. Nearing the belly of the beast, a lot of bats and other-worldly creatures were creeping around us. Stunning stalactite and stalagmite structures played images in our minds, creating a scatoma effect. They formed religious icons of Moses, Mother Mary, Jesus’ face and the three kings; animals such as snakes, horses, dogs and bird feet; vegetables such as pumpkins, eggplants, banana hearts and whatnot.

Day 2e

I realized how important nature really is to the human race. These natural wonders will not last forever, not unless we as stewards of this Earth will take care of them. So play your part. Vote the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in the Search for the New Seven Wonders of Nature at New7Wonders.com

Day 2f

Reaching the dead end of the cave, the boat turned around and we were headed for the exit. Approaching the light at the end of the journey, we cherished our final moments with the majestic. The experience was definitely unforgettable and probably once in a lifetime. Another photo session at the welcome sign and we were headed back to the city proper. At this point, I was already tired and slept all the way.

We arrived at the hotel at about 5 in the afternoon already. I was just in time to watch the DLSU-UP match and that just made my day. A little shower here and tidy there and dinner time came. We headed to another well known restaurant Kinabuchs. It was like Gerry’s Grill or Dencio’s. I enjoyed my favourite appetizer Kilaweng Tanigue and Baked Tahong (a variation of Baked Scallops). I avoided eating rice again to not quickly find myself full. We walked our bellies off at the baywalk again. Another day done, one more to go.

Day 3

Day 3a

In our last day, the family sans dad went to the middle of the sea and took a peek into the life in the coral reefs. We rode a banca at the port and were dropped off at a man-made kubo-island. I didn’t join with the activity because I just wanted to take photos. If only I had the proper gear for underwater photography, that would have been great. There were still a lot of tourists, with a moderate amount coming and going. With little equipment, you could already look into the underwater world. After this activity, we rode the banca again to our next destination.

Day 3b

Day 3c

We proceeded to another island where there was a clear beach waiting for us. Like any other beach, huts were lined up for tourists to enjoy. But one thing was special about this beach. This time, I joined another snorkelling activity and was stunned. Not far from the shore, there was already a coral reef and marine life was bustling. You wouldn’t really notice it at first, not until you take a look under you. There was a fleeting feeling of flight as I was trying to reach the bottomless abyss. This moment was very inspirational, a feeling of a meeting with God himself. I wish I could stay there forever. What an experience!

Day 3d

Day 3e

Day 3f

Day 3g

Day 3h

We didn’t have to change our clothes and made the wind dry ourselves. Not long after, we were back at the hotel. We took our last shower and readied our things for checkout. For lunch, we went to the Badjao Seafront Restaurant. As soon as we were walking through the bridge, I knew the place was great. Surrounding the restaurant was a gorgeous mangrove forest. The water was clear and tiny fishes were swimming about. The place was welcoming as the afternoon breeze greeted us inside. If I had a house of my own, I would base it on this – with less people and more room of course. The food was great – as I’ve always been saying so far. The view from the veranda was breath-taking.

Day 3i

j

We went to the Congressman’s house atop a hill over-looking the island. Then we headed to Baker’s Hill, a sort of bakery-theme park-zoo mix up. The houses there were top notch, homes of the kings. Statues of looney toons, animals and pirates inhabited the place. There were some real animals too like a cat-like owl. We bought pastries for pasalubong and snacks. I also bought pearl earings for Joy waiting for me in Manila. After Baker’s Hill, we passed by the Puerto Princesa City Hall and then headed to the local tiangge. And after a very long weekend, we all headed back home to our lives. Back to Manila. And back again.

***

Check out the photos below!

Puerto Princesa Food Trip

Puerto Princesa Part 1

Puerto Princesa Part 2

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One Response

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  1. Ivy said, on August 26, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Nice work.. thanks! =D


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