Much has been written about Puerto Princesa city in Palawan, the place dubbed as the “City in the Forest”. When I visited the place last October 18-20 for a special trip with my colleagues, I validated everything that has already been inscribed and I couldn’t help but affirm all the good things of the city that has long been part of my bucket list.
|The new Davao-Puerto Princesa flight courtesy of Cebu Pacific Air has given us opportunity to explore Palawan easier|
When we arrived via Cebu Pacific flight from Davao (this flight was only launched last August this year), we instantly noticed the warmth of the people residing in Puerto Princesa as we were treated with an affectionate reception right at their airport. And when we were ferried to our transient house, the other thing that captured my interest was the city’s hygienic thoroughfares. I couldn’t remember other places in the Philippines as clean as Puerto Princesa, and it will be worthy to be emulated, if not surpassed. My salute to the local leaders of this place for crafting a very comprehensive clean and green policy and for religiously implementing it.
Our visit to the Underground River was scheduled on October 20, but we already secured the permit on the 19th with the help of the travel agency catering us in the city. Another thing I admired about this place is that travel agencies are taking care of the tourism sector especially in arranging tours to the famous Underground River. Unlike any other places in the country where most of the natural park tours are still being partly managed by the national and local governments, Underground River tours are solely handled by the private sector, that’s why the tour rates in Puerto Princesa are way cheaper as compared to other popular destinations in the Philippines.
The local government in Puerto Princesa is also exceptional in terms of placing the city in the chart of Philippines’ growing cities. According to Mayor Edward Hagedorn, they only have two priority programs: Agriculture for food security, and Tourism to basically augment livelihood for its people. When these programs are stable, the rest of the programs would just compliment. In terms of agriculture, Puerto Princesa has been a major supplier of food products (most notably marine products) to Luzon and the rest of the country. Its tourism program, on the other hand, is also anchored on the protection of environment, proof of which is that it is the only city in the entire country that the forest cover is increasing every year. In Puerto Princesa, there is no mining, no logging, no hunting whatsoever which made its forest cover still unspoiled. Another salute to the local government officials for that.
|This is a towering karst formation covered with thick forest vegetation|
I was amazed then when we traveled to Underground River the next day because the infrastructure needed to support tourism was in placed like roads and bridges. Local and foreign tourists alike are flocking almost everywhere. Sabang Bay, as a jump off point to the sub terrain, is also amazing. Just before we headed to Underground River, we were treated to a sumptuous lunch which was already part of the tour package. I also used to taste their native delicacy called “tamilok”, a fresh and very delicious mangrove-living sea worms.
|Left: My wifey Michelle taking a pose at Sabang Bay. Right: Glenn Mark eating a fresh "tamilok" during our lunch on October 19|
After a 20-minute boat ride from Sabang Bay, we were face to face with the magnificent Underground River with beauty beyond compare. The huge cave formations inside has fascinated us. Indeed, this piece of our natural heritage is worthy to be declared as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites and one of the world’s Seven Wonders of Nature.
On the third day, we availed of a seascape tour in one of their known islands comprising the Honda Bay as part of maximizing our time in Palawan. While enjoying the island tour, we witnessed the other side of Puerto Princesa, a pristine environment in the ocean. The water was crystal clear, the coral reefs are simply abounding and the fishes always try to befriend with humans.
|One of the islands in Honday Bay|
Our 3-day trip to Puerto Princesa was very fruitful. My wifey Michelle also enjoyed it very much along with my other companions Hardi Joy, Glenn Mark, Camila, Cheryl, Liezel, Baran, Kendall, Anne, Zaldy, Mam Flor, Ate Vivian, Engineer Susie and Charina. It was one of my most memorable travels.